Friday, 1 June 2018
How to get to the Dutch National Ballet's Gala
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Tickets for the Dutch National Ballet's gala on Saturday, 8 Sept 2018 have just gone on sale and they are going like hot cakes. Last year they sold out well before I got round to buying one. This year I took no chances and ordered mine as soon as I could get onto the company's website. The tickets are not cheap but remember that there is a lovely party afterwards where you may get a chance to shake hands with such gigastars (if not terastars) as Artur Shesterikov and Sasha Mukhamedov.
I described the 2015 gala in The best evening I have ever spent at the ballet 13 Sept 2015 and Dutch National Ballet's Opening Night Gala - Improving on Excellence 8 Sept 2018.
So how to get to the gala. Well it takes place in the Stopera in Amsterdam which doubles as the town hall and the national opera house. The word "Stopera" is what we trade mark lawyers call a portmanteau combining the words "stadhuis" (or town hall) with "opera". Be that as it may, the Stopera is in a splendid position overlooking the Amstel river and there is no better way of spending the interval than gazing out over the river. Every seat commands a good view of the stage which is cavernous. I once stood on that stage as part of a birthday treat in 2015 (see Double Dutch Delights 17 Feb 2015). There is much less of a crush than at the Royal Opera House because the walkways and stairs are broad. There is plenty of seating for the intervals. It is also a lot easier to get served at the bar than in the West End and you don't need a second mortgage to buy a round.
The Stopera is next door to Waterlooplein tube station which is served by thee lines all of which go to the Central Station. From there you can get a train to just about anywhere on the continent and even to St Pancras via the channel tunnel nowadays. It also serves the airport which is a major hub from where you can travel to just about anywhere in the world.
When I am in Amsterdam for business I like to stay at the Radison Blu which is on a street called "Rusland" that I think means "Russia". It is a short walk from the Stopera. It is also close to a the Hemelse Modder (literally "Heavenly Mud") which Ted Brandsen once told me is his favourite restaurant and it is certainly mine. It is important to get a good meal inside you because there is no restaurant in the Stopera. There is a pub next door but it is not particularly special and service is slow. I recommend the Heavenly Mud and I have already reserved my table there.
If I am in Amsterdam for leisure I stay at one of the hotels in the Bastion chain. They are very like Travelodges, Fairly cheap and cheerful but not always in the best locations. Probably the most convenient is at Duivendrecht which is about 6 stops on the underground from Waterlooplein.
To get around Amsterdam you can buy a combined bus, rail, tram, underground and ferry card known as an Amsterdam Travel Ticket starting at €16 for one day and €21 for the weekend. Remember to check in and check out every time you use a public transport service.
You can fly to Amsterdam from Leeds with Jet2 or from Liverpool and Manchester with easyJet. There are probably more services from London than you can shake a stick at and there is also a through train to Amsterdam from St Pancras. I am sure there are good connections from Scotland, Newcastle, East Midlands, Birmingham, Bristol and Cardiff but I have never flown from any of those cities. There are some excellent bargains from both airlines and Eurostar if you book far enough ahead.
The Dutch National Ballet is one of the most beautiful, friendly, innovative and thrilling companies that I know with some of the world's best dancers. I do hope you can join me on 8 Sept.