Europe

IAmsterdam

5:17:00 PM


The city with the Red Light District and the Anne Frank house and….. that’s all right?
NO WAY!

Amsterdam is like a second Venice, with glistening canals around every corner.  The architecture is interesting and different, with buildings of all different heights and shapes in a row.  (I’ll tell ya why later!)  The food was delicious and can be really inexpensive.  And I kid you not, I had the best chocolate I have ever had in my life.  I repeat, without exaggeration, the BEST I have EVER had. All females should flock there now. 

The Dutch people were fun and kind.  I chose to stay at an airbnb here, with some college students.  It was fun to stay with young locals, as they guided us on places to go and things to try, and told us about the touristy things that we didn’t need to do.  Airbnbs are always so great for a more local experience.  They speak Dutch here, but most people you encounter will know some English.  Maybe learn how to say thank you and other small phrases, as people always appreciate you trying to use their language. 

Amsterdam feels surprisingly intimate and small.  I think that my favorite thing to do was zigzag through the streets and stumble upon things.  The city, to me, is designed like a horseshoe, and isn’t difficult to navigate!

Things to do:

Bikes: To start, if you can, rent a bike and ride around the city. The trams seem simple enough, but I found that I could walk everywhere I wanted if you were up for the exploration and had the time.  I also hear there is a really awesome free walking tour.  I didn’t have time to do it, but I had a friend that did, and really recommended it as one of the best things to do there!
 Anne Frank House: If you like history and studied the book, it is really moving to go see the house and the museum items they have in it.  If you don’t care about the story, then it’s probably not for you even though it’s a top tourist stop.  Book your tickets ahead of time, as they can sell out way in advance.  They do have a few hours set aside for walk up tickets, but you do have to get up early to get in line for these.
IAmsterdam sign- This is just an iconic symbol for the city.  Go and take a picture if you are interested!
Coffee Shops: Know that a “Coffee Shop” isn’t what we know coffee shops to be.  Amsterdam is known for it being legal to buy and smoke marijuana.  These coffee shops are where you purchase it, although they aren’t allowed to advertise it.  Weird name for it huh?! So, don’t go in expecting coffee ha!  If you want coffee, go to a cafĂ© instead.  Also, these coffee shops are not allowed to sell alcohol.  So if you are wanted a drink, you need to go to a bar. 
Red Light District: I don’t think I really need to explain the Red Light District.  I do think it is something everyone should at least walk by if you’re going to be in Amsterdam as it’s a huge part of what the city is known for.  Most blogs won’t talk about it because they want to pretend they didn’t walk through this area out of fear of judgement or feeling dirty.  But just walking around is harmless, and it doesn’t suggest you partook in any risky business.  It felt safe as lots of people are walking around, and the people in the red lights weren’t flashing any nudity or anything like that.   It’s also where a lot of the bars are around.  You may get knocked at as you walk by, or asked by a bouncer to go into sex shows.  I didn’t go see one, and they were expensive, so I can’t speak for that experience.  But some locals I was staying with told me they are full of “tricks” and “performances” that are crazy and bizarre. They also told me there is one place that has “peep” shows- 2 euros for 2 minutes of peeping. 
Architecture and canals: As you stroll around, pay attention to he buildings and their architecture.  They all look like they are leaning over.  I found out this is because the Dutch lift furniture up on a pulley through the windows, so each building has to be at a different slant, depending on the height, in order to not have the furniture hit the other floors on the way up.  And since they don’t have to get furniture up the stairs, the stairwells and steps are steep and TINY!  Be careful going up stairs, especially if you’ve had a drink!  You can walk along the canals too, or even take a boat trip along them if you want!  It can be a very romantic and soothing city.

Museums: There are lots of awesome museums you can visit and walk around- the Van Gogh museum being one of them.  If you like museums, it would be worth researching the many options!
Vondelpark is a large park where you can walk around, bike, picnic, relax, etc  It’s like their version of Central Park (and much smaller)
Heineken Experience- Do you like beer?  If so, you can tour around and learn about how Heineken is made at this brewery!  I didn’t tour this particular one, but things like this can be fun, and informative too!
Ferry to Noord - I love ferries and being on the water.  So, I try and ride them whenever I can! The ferry is free so you can just go for a ride and come back.  If you want to see a different part of the city, you can explore over on the other side for a bit.  The famous film institute, the Eye, is right across the water.  They have some interactive things you can do in their building.  I didn’t find that to be an Amsterdam necessity though. 
Markets- Waterloopein Flea Market and Foodhallen food market are two of the most well known markets you can visit to poke around if you are wanting some knick knacks or local treats. 
  

Things to eat:

Puccini Bombonii- When my friends tell me they are going to Amsterdam, this is the one place I tell them they have to go!  I truly believe it is the best chocolate I have ever had!  They are expensive, but the truffles are worth every cent.  The flavors are delicious and unique, so be sure to try a few.  I’m remembering a cinnamon one that was out of this world.  It’s near the Anne Frank house!
Poffertjes- These are like little mini pancakes!  You can get them many places, but it’s a must have item in Amsterdam!
Dutch cheese!-  After all, it is one thing they are known for isn’t it?  You can go into cheese shops and try samples, or buy some for a picnic.  Yummmmmmm!  Be sure to try the cheese, not cut it…….
FEBO vending machines: For what I believe was less than 2 Euros, you could go up to these machines and get a hot snack.  Try one you’ve never heard of like a Croquettes (kroket)!
Fries!  After all, Amsterdam is near Belgium, where fries were invented!  You can get delicious ones from street venders.  They are great plain, but they also have different types of toppings to experiment with flavors.
Doners and Durums : This was my favorite thing to eat here-  DELICIOUS AND CHEAP!   Similar to Gyros type food, the meat was delicious, and they didn’t skimp on the toppings.  A doner is a kebab with essentially pita.  A durum is the meat and toppings in a wrap.  I had a durum where the wrap was a Turkish pizza!  YUM!
Stroopwafel: If you’re wanting something sweet, try this waffle cookie from a street vender
Raw herring – I didn’t get the chance to try this, but apparently Amsterdam is known for it.  If you’re feeling adventurous with your eating, I think this is something you should definitely seek out. 


If I could, I would go back to the Netherlands and spend more time both here, as well as exploring other cities.  It’s a bucket list item of mine to see the tulip fields some day. 

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