I started on the journey to find the Central Terminal. I have to say that this trip really tested my ability to get a sense of direction in each of the new cities and Amsterdam might have been the most difficult city of all three for me to get my bearings. I walked out of the hotel and started making my way in the direction I had come from on the shuttle and then realized that it had to be the wrong direction because I was going toward where I came from. So I stopped, took a look at the tourist map I got from my hotel and started backwards toward my hotel and then eventually began my actual journey to the Central Terminal.
The concierge at my hotel had mentioned that I needed to stop by Chinatown and the Red Light District but I needed to stop by at night time otherwise there wasn’t much for me to see. Luckily both Chinatown and the Red Light District were right next to each other and directly between me and the Central Terminal. I started walking through and was able to get an idea of what I would probably see when I showed up at night but continued speed walking through the city to make sure I could get to the visitor centre in time. To be honest, I didn’t take too much in during this journey because I needed to make it to the visitor center before it closed otherwise I would end up wasting a large portion of my “I Amsterdam City Card.”
Through my little journey there, I made a couple of wrong turns but eventually found myself at the Central Terminal which felt like the center of the entire city with all the hustle and bustle around that area. There were so many visitors all around and the trains were running on a full schedule so it was super busy. If you decide to go to the visitor center and are looking to pick up your “I Amsterdam City Card,” you need to go to the visitor center that is inside the actual terminal itself. Do not get distracted by the visitor center that is outside of the main terminal. You’ll need to go inside the main terminal and walk all the way through to the other side (toward the water) and you’ll find the “I Amsterdam” visitor center where you can actually pick up the card. It’s a little annoying that you can only purchase/pick up this card at two locations, the airport or the central terminal. So if you decided to do this, I would make sure you pay attention to the hours. I believe you can get on a later shuttle, even if you booked a specific time, from the airport to the hotel if there are too many people in the airport. If you show up to the visitor center during its limited hours, you’ll miss out.
After wandering aimlessly at full speed throughout the terminal and eventually ended up at the visitor center, I went through the relatively easy process of picking up my city pass. Included in the pass is a map, a list of all the places you can go for discounts, free items or free entry so it’s something you’ll want to keep with you. One thing about this card is that it will be activated twice. Once for the museum entries and once for the public transportation. You’ll want to make sure you scan the card when you board and get off the public transportation otherwise you can have issues the next time you get on another train or bus.
Once I was armed with my city pass, I began making my way through the rest of the city toward the Red Light District and Chinatown.