“I amsterdam”. A unique, little place on earth, built on a swamp below sea level. It’s a miracle you can actually visit the place with those foundations. And what a place it is.
I don’t consider Amsterdam as being a beautiful city, because it’s not. Or at least, there are cities that have far more exclusive buildings and history than Amsterdam. There are cities that are bigger and more enchanting than Amsterdam as well. So why would you go and visit a little town in the Netherlands? Because you just have to be there once and have a sniff of the charming and relaxing city it is. I find Amsterdam a very welcoming and open city. If I ever go there again, I would rather just ‘live the life’ there, than go and ‘visit’ the city. Strolling around the streets, ordering a small beer in a café, buying some little things around the marketplaces, … there is plenty to do.
Amsterdam is a very tolerant city. They let you be, if you let them be. It’s an open culture. I think you all heard of the famous coffee shops in Amsterdam and the Red Light District. For those who haven’t been there, it’s probably more than you can imagine. There’s a coffee shop every 5 meter and in The Red Light District you can’t only look at the ladies of pleasure, but you can also buy an entrance ticket for a real life sex show. Yes, you can. We didn’t do that though. Not only because it was way too expensive (€ 40 per person, € 50 including drinks) but also because that’s just wrong. I have my limits of tolerance ;-). We actually didn’t visit any coffee shops either. We’re not interested in that kind of things. But the people who were sitting there, enjoying all kind of things, didn’t seem to have such a bad time. So if you’re into that you can find multiples coffee shops in every district in Amsterdam.
We went three days to Amsterdam in the beginning of April. We were lucky to have two beautiful, sunny days and one day with a bit of rain. We stayed in the Amsterdam House of Arts and Crafts. Which was actually some sort of art gallery where they built a few rooms. Ours had an infrared sauna in it. The room wasn’t that cheap. But with the sauna and the fact that it was more or less like a little apartment (you have the ability to cook there) made it worth the price. More or less :-). It was located nearby the city centre. I think that within a 15 minute walk you could be in the Red light district for example. The room wasn’t totally noise-free from the outside and the lights didn’t stay entirely outside either. But it was okay. And with the breakfast they served (in the room!) you could start the day with an excellent (and full) feeling! Yummy!
We started our first day with a walk around the environment of our hotel. Just strolling around the canals, walking in the streets, … That’s the fun way of getting to know Amsterdam. And there’s a lot to get to know! The first day we passed by the central station, the Damrak, The Beurs van Berlage, the Dam, the Royal Palace (or the old one), the New Chruch and the Old Church, the Magna Plaza, …
We also visited the Amsterdam Dungeon. We bought the tickets upfront. I don’t know if that was actually necessary. I think you can buy them all around the city as well. And was it worth it? I would say no. we had high expectations because we went to the London Dungeon a few years ago and that was actually amazing. Because we didn’t knew what to expect. Now we knew. Stories about the Middle Ages in the Netherlands. Scary stories. And although the actors were good, I wasn’t really amazed like I was in London. It was also a lot smaller, without the surprising act in the end. So I would skip this one in the future. Maybe if you have kids (above 10 years old) who aren’t that easily scared, this is a nice activity to do for them.
In the evening we walked around a bit in the Red Light District. Of course. Funny to see that they organize actual guiding tours (of about two hours) through the streets. But you have to be over 18 years old to participate, I think.
For diner we went to one of the Burger Zaken. It’s plain. It’s a burger. It was fine. It tasted good, we got our food rather quickly. But if you’re looking for that something more, I don’t think that’s the place to go to.
The second day we started out with a visit to the Verzetsmuseum. A museum that gives you more insight of the people living in the Netherlands during the World War II. I actually didn’t liked the museum that much. I don’t know why exactly. It was too crowded, too much noise… It wasn’t serene enough. Plus I got the feeling that they wanted to explain why they surrendered so quickly to the German (which we also did…). But it was bad for everybody that time, not only for the people living here… I don’t know. I wouldn’t recommend this one.
We also stopped at the flowermarket to buy some tulips – as we’re not passing by the airport, where they are cheaper. I don’t know about the quality though as I found them to be mouldy a few days after buying them…
When in Amsterdam you need to take a tour on the water. Especially of you have really nice weather, like we had. We chose an alternative boat tour, via, Those Dam Boat Guys. Three guys from America, who ended up in Amsterdam, started this company and they offer you an “out of the ordinary boat trip”. And that was what I wanted. Because I really didn’t want to sit in a huge boat, without any information, and without being able to sit in open air. And I have to say, none of those people looked really happy neither. Our trip was exactly how I imagined it to be: you get some nice information about the city, mingled with a good sense of humour. You can eat, drink and smoke all you want on the boat, which makes it either cosy or frustrating (if you have young children and you don’t like that kind of stuff). But all those things are mentioned on their website. So you can’t say you didn’t know that. We were with 8 people on the both, another couple and a family with three children. Nobody brought something to eat or drink, only the other couple brought something to smoke. And I actually hate it that nobody brought something. So my tip: book a tour with these guys and please (!) listen to what they say and bring a bottle of wine and a snack to share with the others! It will only make the trip more memorable.
From our guide we got the tip – as Belgians – to go and have a drink in the Arendsnest. A bar with all kinds of beers. They also had a lot of salamis and cheeses to choose from. We enjoyed it there!
For diner we went to Kantjil & de tijger, an Indonesian restaurant. The food was really good, although it got cold really fast…
On our last days, the rainy day, I planned a visit to The Rijksmuseum and the Van Gogh Museum. We bought the tickets upfront. Which I would recommend for the Van Gogh Museum, but not for the Rijksmuseum. There wasn’t a waiting line at all, so we could’ve spared us the time.
I didn’t like neither of the museums. I actually was really disappointed because I had high expectations. But, for me, the Rijksmuseum was a mix up of all kinds of things: not only paintings, but also cabinets, pieces of a doorway, some part of a church, weaponry, models of boats, … It was chaotic. Too chaotic. An not only the exhibitions were chaotic, also the way you needed to visit the museum. I think it took us ten minutes to found the starting point. I don’t know what they did in that museum, but ‘oh my god!’.
I liked collection in the Van Gogh Museum, but I didn’t like visiting the museum. There just was way too much people in there. We couldn’t enjoy any of the paintings there, because the rooms were just too crowded. I think we did the museum in one hour or so… which is a shame. But we just wanted to get the hell out of there and away from all those people. It was nice to be in the open air again and be able to breathe… that’s how bad it was.
We also walked a bit around the Vondelpark. The green lung of the city. It was nice. But nothing more than that. Maybe I’m a bit harsh because the weather was bad that day and I felt that I lost time in the two museums. Could be.
We tried a few times to visit the Anne Frank House. But they only sell a couple of ticktes upfront and we were too late for them. So every time we got there, it didn’t matter if it was morning, midday or evening, there was a huge waiting line. I hate waiting in line, so we didn’t bother standing there. Maybe next time.
If you have some more tips, places to visit, to have a meal, to sleep, … let me know in the reactions below!
See you soon!