I recently spent a couple of lovely, rainy days in the beautiful city of Amsterdam; a city that has been built on-top of canals and filled with winding, narrow cobblestone roads, tilted-gable buildings and the best french-fries around. Amsterdam has a reputation for being a sin-city because travellers often go there for experiences like the Red Light District and the herbal offerings at coffeeshops, but it has so much more to offer than that and I am so grateful I was able to experience it first hand.
Nick and I first arrived in Amsterdam late Thursday evening, we checked into our hotel room at the Hampshire Hotel - Eden Amsterdam. While our hotel room was small (like most places in Europe), it had a view overlooking the canals and a spacious bathroom with a bathtub. The hotel was comfortable and clean, but the wifi in our room was subpar; Personally, I’m a bit of a stickler for unsatisfactory wifi in hotels because in this day and age, two people should be able to access the wifi at the same time and not have an issue. It’s 2017. Everyone uses the internet for everything and hotels need to stop skimping on their internet providers.
Lucky for us, our hotel was centrally located and we were able to walk to the majority of the attractions we had gone to see. So, after dropping off our luggage we headed out for our first night in Amsterdam. Being as we got in late, our first night in Amsterdam was more relaxed. We spent the night getting dinner and drinks, walking around the neighbourhood we were staying in, and checking out a coffeeshop or two.
Our first full day in Amsterdam was jam-packed; we went to the Body Worlds museum, the Sex museum, took a break from museums to go on a canal boat tour and then we went to see the Van Gogh museum and the Anne Frank House. All of these museums were vastly different, but if I had to pick, I would say that the Anne Frank House or the Body Worlds museum were my favourites. The Anne Frank House was the one thing I had planned and booked ahead of time when we decided to go to Amsterdam; it’s one of those immersive experiences that are so important to have. It was emotional, eyeopening and enlightening. The Body Worlds museum was an interactive experience where we learned all about the human body, up close and grossly personal. Every other exhibit we looked at I would rotate between saying “Oh, that’s so cool!” And “Oh my god, that’s fucking gross.” I saw more of the human body than I ever thought I would in my lifetime. In between museum hopping, we went on an hourlong boat tour of the canals in the city. Our tour had an audio guide that gave you a historical lesson on Amsterdam as you cruised through the canals which doubled as inspiration for other tourist attractions to check out. After our day of museums and boat tours, we grabbed a quick dinner and then headed to another coffeeshop before calling it a night.
Our second day in Amsterdam we had one full day of glorious sunshine, and then we never saw it again the remainder of our trip. Taking full advantage of this sunny day, we decided to spend as much of it outside as we could; this took us to the floating flower market, Bloemenmarkt bright and early in the morning. This market is unique as the greenhouses attached to the stalls float atop of the canals and then the stalls specializing in all things floral are on more stable ground. After the Bloemenmarkt we headed to the Albert Cuypmarkt; a market of a different variety. This market is more of your traditional flea market, it had food vendors and miscellaneous goods on offer. We had a some nibbles for our lunch, most notably a couple of famous Amsterdam Stroopwafels (so good), and browsed what was up for sale before heading out for our next adventure. When traveling, I always try to make my way to the public parks that are available. They’re free, perfect for exploring and taking photographs and usually have some hidden gems. With this in mind, we made our way towards Vondelpark and spent the next couple of hours walking around in the sunshine, taking photographs and my personal favourite, watching dogs play. I’ve never seen so many dogs congregate in one space and just run around and play together. We met an energetic husky puppy named Cashew, it was a great time and I didn’t want to leave. Unfortunately, I was beginning to look a little creepy standing there and smiling at all these dogs that weren’t mine, so Nick made us leave. After leaving Vondelpark, we headed back to the hotel to freshen up before going out for the evening. Usually, you’re raised to avoid going down side streets and dark alleys, but side streets and dark alleys are some of the best ways to experience Amsterdam. This evening we did exactly that, we spent a good portion of our night checking out all of the nooks and crannies in Amsterdam before grabbing dinner at this small, hole in the wall Asian restaurant that had really good Pad Thai. After getting our fill of Asian noodley-goodness, we decided to brave the Red Light District. Let me tell you, I was going into this thinking I was going to experience a visual onslaught of tits and ass, but it wasn’t that at all. It was quite tame in comparison to what the rumours of the Red Light District would lead you to believe. In all honestly, I was kind of disappointed by the district. First off, it’s hardly red and that’s probably my biggest gripe. I feel like if you’re going to name yourself the “Red” Light District, there should be more than like four red lights. Second, if you’re not going there to pay for a prostitute’s time or watch a live porn show, there’s really not much else you can do there. I thought there would at least be a handful of bars that we could hop around but, there was like two on the whole strip and they were packed. After walking up and down the district, we decided to leave to find somewhere to grab a couple drinks. We bar hopped for a couple of hours before heading back to our hotel.
Sunday morning brought us our final day in Amsterdam but, our flight didn’t depart until nighttime, so we still had one last full day to explore the city. We decided to eat our way through the city up until we flew back to Berlin. Every morning we had gone out for breakfast, I was so disappointed with our breakfast food and by Sunday I was absolutely determined to find a good, authentic Amsterdam breakfast. We went to the well-know PANCAKES Amsterdam restaurant and were not disappointed, Nick opted for a sweet pancake and I got a savoury one and they were both delicious. We continued on our quest to eat everything by grabbing some fries; fries are a big deal there. They’re crispy on the outside but, soft and fluffy on the inside, you can get them with fancy sauces (my favourite combination was Truffle Mayo and Garlic Sauce) and they’re served in a paper cone. After walking around for a little bit, we bought some souvenirs and were miraculously still hungry, so we got more food. Fries. Again. We were addicted in Amsterdam, they’re just so good! Shortly afterwards, we had to head back to the airport to return to Berlin.
I feel like while we were in Amsterdam, we covered a lot of ground and were able to see a lot of the usual touristy bits. But, I still feel like there’s so much more to see and I can’t wait until I return so, I can see the rest of this pretty little city.