Sunday, May 8, 2011

Tips for Business Traveler in Amsterdam

In Amsterdam the public transit system includes rail, bus and ferry so that visitors and residents often have multiple public travel options. There's an extensive taxi system in place in Amsterdam, though it operates somewhat differently from those in large cities in other parts of the world. Pickup points are strictly identified and adhered to. "Treintaxis" (train taxis) are designated for travel to and from train stations. Passengers save money by sharing these taxi rides at specific times of the day.

If you plan to use the city's trams, buses or subways, you need to first know about the city zoning. The city is divided into areas known as zones and the number of zones you'll be traveling through is important. To use the public transit system, you purchase a "strippenkaart" (strip ticket) - available at terminals and many stores, even from vending machines. Tickets are stamped for each trip either by a conductor on a tram or by the traveler in one of the machines available in trams or at train/metro stations (tip - remember to stamp one more strip than the number of zones you intend to travel in, i.e. if you're travelling in two zones you need to stamp the third strip, strange but true.

For visitors or the occasional traveler, a 24-hour ticket can be purchased that will allow unlimited traveling for any 24-hour period. It's not financially practical for the daily traveler, however. You can also purchase an eight-day ticket for occasional public travel needs - again, not practical for the longer-term resident who depends on the system daily.

Parking is at a premium and is typically very expensive. If you plan to drive a private car in Amsterdam, parking may be more of an issue than navigating the streets. Parking regulations are strictly enforced, especially in the inner city area.

Bicycles are very popular in Amsterdam and you'll find that most city streets include an area for bike traffic. Many of the streets are narrow, making them more suited for bicycles than for cars. Think you're not up for a bike ride? Think again. The city boasts "taxi-cycles," small vehicles powered by pedals and a driver but with a seat for up to two passengers.

Remember that Amsterdam's history includes the construction of two major canals. The Amsterdam-Rhine Canal provided direct access between the city and the Rhine. A second canal, the North Sea Canal, was created to provide similar access to the ports of the North Sea. As a result some places in the city are simply easier to access by water than by land. Canal bus boats are one of the popular water travel options. Regular routes are run to several major areas of town, including the shopping districts.

Multiple ferries in the city can provide fast and easy transport to and from points in the city. There are several ferry options, including those just for cyclists and pedestrians, and some that are free of charge.