Overview: Amsterdam is a city that I have been wanting to explore for quite some time now. I have had a ton of friends that have recently visited and said that it is one of their favorite cities. Since Amsterdam is very close to Paris, I figured, why not add it to our trip. There are tons to do and see. The people are wonderful and it is a culturally stimulating city. I HIGHLY recommend that explore this wonderful place.
I do admit, we indulged in the coffee shops as it is a must! I didn’t really do much research, so I didn’t know which places were legit. If you do plan on participating, I suggest that you look into it. Also, bring cash, they do not accept credit cards.We tried the space cake prior to visiting the Van Gogh museum. Needless to say, it was a mistake. I couldn’t move my feet while my friend’s eyes kept shuttering as if it were a camera. We sat silent for hours both trying to hide how high we actually were.
There were so many places that I didn’t get to touch. But it just gives me another reason to come back 🙂
How We Got Here:
Rail Europe y’all! I bought Euro Passes for my friend and me, because we were bouncing from country to country. This way I was able to bundle up our package and save some money. Now, if you are a free-spirit and go where the wind takes you, then the Euro Pass is all you need.
It allows you the freedom to take any train, anywhere, at any time, as along its within the allotted time.
However, I’m too high-maintenance for that. I need a schedule, and need to know where that I have a guaranteed seat, on the train that I want. So in addition to the pass, I reserved seats for us. So that way we wouldn’t have any issues. Paris is only three hours away from Amsterdam and the train station was less than three blocks from our hotel. It was perfect! We had first class seats that was accompanied with a lovely breakfast.
Where we stayed:
Renaissance Amsterdam– perfectly located between all the highlights of the city. To the left- a 15 minute walk to Anne Frank’s house. To the right- a 7 to 10 minute walk to the canals and coffee shops. The rooms at this particular hotel had rooms that were slightly dated, but the lobby was bright and beautiful! Check-in and quick and very easy. I would stay here again, purely on location. Rating: 3.5 stars
What we Did
Anne Frank’s House– unfortunately we were not able to purchase tickets in advance as I waited too long. They also only allow ticket holders access to the house before opening to the public in the late afternoon, and the line can be quite long. Cost: €10
Coffee Shop– I can’t pretend that I didn’t partake. I totally did! It’s all about the experience. There are so many to choose from, it’s hard to know who is legitimate. We picked one called Bulldog. They played great music, tons of people were coming in and out. We selected a brand named two sisters. Our package came out to be four cigarettes in a box, approximately €24. We found a place right outside and enjoyed our purchase. It’s very amazing to see how well-regulated coffee shops are. It definitely helps keep crime down and brings a nice profit to the city. Seems like some other countries need to take notes, cough-cough, USA.
Red Light District– We had to see what all of the hype is about. We strolled down the alleys during the day time, as it was just too weird to do at night. Every corner, you’d see a half-naked girl eyeballing every man who was nearby. Again, a highly regulated business and brings tons of tourism to the city.
Van Gogh Museum– We may or may not of eaten a space cake prior to going to the museum, which was not a good idea! None of the paintings I wanted to see were there, and probably for good reason. I would have seen shooting stars coming from Starry Night. Overall this museum is pretty cool, and is free to the public. Cost: €20
Heineken Brewery– This was actually very cool! Our package through Viator, gave us two complimentary drinks. They have an amazing simulation booth where you get to experience what it is like to be made into a beer and packaged. Strange, I know but pretty awesome. At the end of the tour they have a rooftop that overlooks a garden. Cost: Included in the Hop-On/Hop-Off Tour.
Where we ate:
Visaandeschelde– Located outside of city center. Known for their seafood dishes. Try to bouillabaisse-they claim it is better than the one you’ll taste in South of France. Cost: $$$
The Green House Kitchen– A local joint in a quaint neighborhood. The rustic feel and dim lights gives a very romantic vibe. The staff is extremely friendly and attentive. Cost: $
Things You Should Do
Anne Frank’s house– Go inside and buy your tickets in advance. This isn’t anything you can really wait to do last-minute and it’s super cheap!
Bloemenmrkt (Flower Market)– Where you can find the world’s best tulips. Cost: Free
Canal Dinner Cruise– As you may know, there are tons of canals that flow through the city. It’s an easy way to get around and view the city. Take a night cruise accompanied with a four-course dinner. Cost: €100
Eat Dutch Cheese– A staple in Amsterdam. Basically any store that you walk into has all different kinds and flavors. The best part is, is that it will stay good for up to two weeks while traveling. As long as the wax seal isn’t broken.
Ride Bicycles– Be careful though, if you do not know where you are going, you can easily get into an accident