Thanks for checking out my Taking Time Off Tour Guides! Today, I’m going to be talking about perhaps one of the best places I’ve ever visited in my life. And no, I’m not just saying that so you’ll keep reading. This is perhaps one of the most progressive places I’ve ever visited. It’s a vacation spot that will make you feel like you’ve entered a different world that is miles ahead of America, socially and culturally. It’s an anything-goes-sort-of-town of bikers, artists, and free thinkers. The architecture is unlike anything I’ve seen and it was hard for me not to take a picture of any old street we walked down because the buildings and the canals were so stunning. Here are some things to know before you visit beautiful Amsterdam! Genieten!
Before you go:
Language: Dutch. A language that is not really close to the Romantic languages I’ve studied, so it’s a little more difficult to figure out what they’re saying. For instance, let’s try a translation. Bikes are everywhere in this city = Fietsen zijn overal in de stad. Pretty difficult to figure it out. Luckily, this is such a tourist spot that many speak English and post English on their signs and menus.
Currency: Exchange your dollars for Euros. Current exchange rate as of March 2019: 1 Dollar = 0.89 Euros.
Transportation: I don’t think we took an Uber anywhere except from the airport. The go-to method of transportation is the bus or tram line. They come frequently, everywhere the city, and are inexpensive. 8 euros for a one day pass, or options to buy multiple days, up to a week. During my time there, I realized the city is quite spread out and at that time it was also very chilly so we opted for the buses and trams instead of walking. I imagine it’s nicer and more doable in the summer. If you’re a local, you’re probably riding a bike. I probably would have rented a bike if it was a bit warmer out.
Miscellaneous: The power outlets are different there. Be sure to buy a couple Type E two-prong plugs so that you can keep your phone charged and ready to take pics!
When you get there:
Where to stay: We found this amazing AirBnB in Westerpark, about a 10 minute walk from the city center. It was the definition of sleek and sexy European living. However, one thing I learned about the real estate in Amsterdam is that the staircases are SO NARROW AND STEEP. The buildings are all designed that way and I was not used to it and almost fell multiple times– so be careful!
When we were looking for somewhere to stay, we originally wanted to stay on a house boat that was on the canal, but they were extremely expensive. Some day, when I’m rich and famous I will definitely opt for that experience.
Where to eat: It was getting towards the end of our European trip and all I wanted was food that was more familiar by now. My favorite place we stopped at was at Aran’s Irish Pub. We sat in there for probably 5 hours, listening to different bands playing, and eating and drinking food that was more in our wheel house. It was a blast and everyone there was having a great time. I did get to experience some more traditional Holland cuisine in the way of desserts, such as Stroopwafels and Pannenkoeken. Had I been with friends rather than my parents, I would have tried their world famous Space Cakes (a delicious weed infused dessert that is apparently all the rage), but that’s a different trip!
What to see:
The absolute musts… and What I wish I had time for…
Canal cruise * Anne Frank House
Red Light District * Rijksmuseum
De Negen Straatjes (9 Little Streets) * Day trip to Zaanse Schans Windmills
Van Gogh Museum * Bike through the tulip fields around Haarlem