Second Time Around.
Ah, Amsterdam – the one place to live out your youth and make mistakes. My first trip to Amsterdam was in May 2008 with my best friend, K. It was part of a month long Contiki tour of Europe. If you’re in your youthful years and you’re reading this, I highly recommend this tour! It’s life changing. We made so many great friends, whom we still keep in touch with 9 years later. It is also the best way to see Europe with like-minded people.
I think everyone needs to experience Amsterdam at least once in their lives, as a rite of passage. If you’re going to experience it the first time, go while you’re young, you have no major obligations and have your whole future ahead of you. This place is one of the only places where you can feel free, do something stupid, eat some questionable “cookies” and never be judged for any regrets you have the next day.
So why should you go?
There’s something for everyone in Amsterdam. You can easily make it into a relaxed couples vacation to solo trip to find yourself to a wild weekend with your squad. My first trip to this city was mainly focused on arts, culture, history, 1 Euro Jager shots and “coffee shops”. I got the chance to see the Van Gogh museum , Anne Frank’s house and a few other artsy parts of Amsterdam. So this trip was more relaxed and gave J and I the chance to really take in the city and get to know the people who call this home. We had a better chance to try unique restaurants and see parts that were unknown to us. I had gained a better appreciation for Amsterdam.
Walking the streets and strolling by the canal brought back great but less sober memories. The city still felt familiar. I felt part of the city – one with the people-watchers.
I think Amsterdam is one of the only cities I would visit again and again.
Royal Palace of Amsterdam – Located in Dam Square
National Monument – Notice the phallus shape of this monument
Walk and if you’re really tired of walking then bike around or take the tram. Walking is the best way to see the city. You have a better chance to pause and take in the glorious wonders of Amsterdam. It’s not too big so it’s easy to cover a large area by foot. If walking isn’t your forte, luckily the tram system is very easy to use (it’s similar to the Toronto TTC). Most of the key points of interests are within 2 KM walking distance. You can also rent a bike for a very small price. Everyone, especially the locals bike everywhere! There are more bikes than people and cars in Amsterdam. It’s the best way to get around fast. Just be on alert with bikers – they will not stop for anyone!
Something to notice – pay attention to your surroundings. You will see how a lot of symbols and street objects are phallus-like.
Places to see:
- The Red Light District – it’s not for the faint of heart but I highly recommend exploring during the night time when the “women of the night” emerge from their slumber and put on a show in the small windows. If you’re extra adventurous, there are several “culture shows” (you can go ahead and Google that yourself) you can check out, just be careful of places that rip you off. If the raunchy night life isn’t your thing, the chilled out bars, restaurants and “coffee shops” in this area are really great.
- Jordaan – this is considered the “hip” area of Amsterdam. Loads of good bars and restaurants to check out
- Nine Streets – best place for shopping
- Van Gogh Museum
- Anne Frank’s House – A must do but book ahead of time or else suffer the pain of lining up. I was so moved by the experience
- Omelegg – fantastic brunch!
- Vlaams Friteshuis Vleminckx – best Dutch Frites!
I’ve been to Amsterdam during the Spring and Summer. Both times were mild in temperature. I got by with light sweaters or t-shirts with jeans. I didn’t experience rain or bad weather both times I went.
Amsterdam was relatively inexpensive if you know where to go and are selective with what you want to do and see. You can easily get around and go sightseeing without spending a dime but getting into museums isn’t too bad. This budget is based on two people (couple) and converted to Canadian dollars (CAD):
3 days, 2 nights:
- Accommodation (hotel): $500 total
- Food: $500 total
- Dinner: $40 per person per meal
- Fast food: $15 for a basic “fast food” take out
- Alcoholic beverage: $10 per drink
- Dutch frites – $5
- “Culture” show – $30 to $50 per person
- Tram: ~$3 per ride
- Bike rental: ~$20 per person for the day
- Coffee: $3
- Misc. expenses: ~$200
Beautiful alley on the canal. I really wanted to take this photo because it reminded me of Venice.
Indrapura – We asked a few other well-travelled people for restaurant recommendations in Amsterdam and this place came up a few times. It is a well known Indonesian restaurant. If you didn’t know, Amsterdam has a huge Indonesian influence due to early immigrants. This restaurant is popular for their Rijstafel (rice table) which is small dishes served on hot metal plates. Their menu is primarily sambal-based dishes. You can find a mix of curries, satays and spicy stir frys. You have to come here starving because this monstrous menu defeated us very quickly. I don’t think we ended up finishing most of these dishes.
Indrapura – We also had this amazing lobster claws stew just before this as a “starter”. It was amazing but my stomach regretted the abundance of food by the end of this.
Rijksmuseum – I really tried to get this famous sign without any tourists. I quickly learned that was impossible.
The beautiful Rijksmuseum
One of many canals in Amsterdam
Royal Palace during the day
I got excited over this. Febo brought back fond memories of my 2008 Amsterdam trip. Nothing was more amazing than cheap and greasy Febo at 2 AM.
When in Amsterdam – Dutch Frites with LOTS of this amazing mayo!!!
The famous Grasshopper
Drinks in the Red Light District before the sun goes down
Quick train from Paris to Amsterdam – great way to travel!Tips for the weary travellers:
- Coffee shops are DIFFERENT from Cafes – you will not find coffee at a coffee shop. Weed.. you will find weed.
- Smoking the green is only legal in a certain area of Amsterdam and not everywhere
- Find places with happy hour specials
- Windows with red lights around the pane means there’s a “working lady” in there.