September, when all the college kids and summer tourists clear out, might be a good time to go.
And if you do, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines has what may be a fun – free – travel gadget for you.
For travelers going to Amsterdam in September, KLM has created a “Care Tag,” which it describes as a smart audio luggage tag with a built-in offline GPS module and a speaker that automatically provides verbal tips (recorded by KLM crew members) on how to travel in the city.
KLM says the tips include alerts on busy intersections with a lot of cyclists, where and how to lock your bike, and when you should watch out for pickpockets, where to taste local food for free, where to see great street art, or where to rent a bike or boat.
How do you get a tag? KLM says passengers traveling to Amsterdam in September will be able to order their tag on line for free. The first batch of Care Tags will speak English, but Care Tags that speak Chinese, Portuguese, German and Russian will be available later this year.
I’m checking to see if just a speaker on the tags or if you can plug in a set of headphones.
And, while the Lost and Found pup was cute – but not real – KLM reps say the Care Tag is real thing.
Feline fans will adore the Cat Cabinet (Katten Cabinet) – a museum filled with artwork devoted to cats – while the Museum of Bags and Purses tells the story of pouches, pockets, clutches, suitcases and bags through the ages.
Micropia is a museum that tells the story of microbes and bacteria in a way that will have you rushing home to replace your toothbrush and kitchen sponges, while the Dutch Funeral Museum and the Museum Vrolik (a medical museum filled with anatomical anomalies) may leave you a bit shaken, but happy to be alive.
After spending a week in Amsterdam – including that touristy classic, a stay on a houseboat – I was actually pleased that bad weather in the U.S.delayed my flight home.
Because that gave me more time to hang out in Schiphol Airport, where I was really temped to buy these (somewhat corny, I know….) souvenirs.
The ginger cake would have been a nice gift for my neighbor (I bought her a tote bag from the Cat Cabinet – shh, don’t tell her..) and those wooden tulips – spotted for sale everywhere in Amsterdam that by the end of week I was tired of them – would have been a long-lasting spot of color in the gray Seattle winter I’ve returned to.
On Monday, ash from the Icelandic volcano caused the cancellation of a lot of flights and left a lot of people stuck at the airport.
I was one of those people. I’d booked a one-day return trip from Amsterdam to Liverpool just to tour the John Lennon Airport, where the slogan is “Above us only sky.”
The airport has this 25 ton, 51-foot long yellow submarine sitting out front and I bet a lot of volcano-delayed travelers would have liked to have fired this up as an alternative form of transportation.
There’s lot more to Lennon stuff – and a fun-looking fossil ‘mystery tour’ – at this airport, so I’m determined to make my way back there soon.
But since I was stuck at Schiphol, I used to the time to work on the slide-show-style story about Amsterdam I had due. You can see the full story – Cheap and Offbeat Amsterdam on msnbc.com, but here are a few photos that didnt’ make it into the story.