Amsterdam: what I did

I’ve decided to put in a different post my personal tips based on my trip to Amsterdam. As you can read in my previous post, I just adored the city and it was all I was expecting and probably a slightly bit more! However, sometimes I need to make my brain stop being so poetic and philosophical about things, and get down to the practicalities.

As you probably know by now, Amsterdam has almost as many bikes as population. Bikes are literally everywhere, being the main transport in the city. For someone who’s not used to it, it can be dangerous. Not joking: cyclists seem to have priority over everything and everyone in Amsterdam, and they are CRAZY. They ride fast, and most cyclists are not even paying attention… wearing earphones, looking at their phones… just name it. It took me some time to get used to it and, after a few scares, I was looking at all sides of the road before crossing a street!

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WHERE I STAYED

My experience tells me that is actually difficult to find accommodation in Amsterdam. I started planning this trip 6 months in advance, and even back then I was already struggling to find affordable accommodation for three people.

The best option I found was the Hans Brinker Hostel. This hostel has actually ran a marketing campaign in the past entitling themselves as the worst hostel in the world. And yes, we still took the risk. I’ve kind decided to take it as challenge: let’s see if we can survive to the worst hostel in the world!

So, I survived and guess what, for an hostel, in Amsterdam, it wasn’t that bad. I’ve seen way worst! We stayed in a triple room just for ourselves, with private bathroom, which probably helped. The room was clean though, we got clean towels everyday, and a reasonable breakfast included in the price. Plus, the location was perfect, quite central, near everything you need.

We obviously had some issues: we could barely sleep, because of uncivilised guests. On the second day I woke up to find there wasn’t electricity in the room, which thankfully was sorted when we got back to the hostel in the evening. But no bed bugs were found, so if you’re looking for an affordable option, I’d say this is a nice choice for a short stay in Amsterdam.

WHAT I ATE

I didn’t find Amsterdam expensive in terms of food, pretty much average for Europe. But I what to talk about the delicacies you should try as a tourist.

Stamppot

It’s a traditional dutch dish. Yes, I know in my pic doesn’t look very exciting, and to be honest, it isn’t. It’s a sausage and a vegetable mash. However, it is quite tasty, and a good way to involve yourself in Dutch traditional cuisine.  We got this for €12 in a local restaurant called Sonneveld, very close to the Anne Frank House Museum.

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Dutch Frites

Everyone who knows me, knows I like fries. No, I just don’t just like fries. I adore them, I idolise them. Dutch frites are the BEST fries ever. It’s a sin to skip the chance to get your hands on some!

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Waffles or Pancakes

I didn’t get the typical dutch pancakes, as I have tried them before, and I much rather prefer a good chocolate waffle. They are also very dutch and you can get them pretty much everywhere. I went crazy and got one full of dark chocolate, strawberries and oreos… not a good time to think about calories!

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Cheese

Another temptation for me. Gouda dutch cheese is just fabulous and you’ll find cheese shops everywhere where you’ll be able to do some free tasting sessions. And you’ll want to bring some back home, I am telling you!

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WHAT I DID

Free walking tour

I’ve recently became a big fan of free walking tours. If you have the time, don’t hesitate on getting on one. Three reasons why I love them:

  1. The best way to get to know the little dirty secrets of the city! Great knowledge on facts that will help you to understand the culture and what you are seeing.
  2. Because the guides are usual locals and volunteers, they are truly passionate about the city, and we’ll make it all even more interesting!
  3. You pay what you want to pay in the end: you decide the value the tour had for you.

We did the Sandemans tour. It lasted for about 2h30, and I got to learn about things I wouldn’t have known otherwise. The guide was incredible knowledgeable and helpful, giving us tips on where to go, where to eat, where are the best views.

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Anne Frank House Museum

This was compulsory for me. I strongly advise you to buy the tickets online in advance though, as queues are huge and you might not get the opportunity to get in, as it sells out pretty fast. It’s an amazing museum so I strongly recommend you to go. The tickets go on sale online 2 months in advance.

Van Gogh Museum

Van Gogh is one of my favourite artists, so again this was something I had to do. If you like Van Gogh, don’t miss the opportunity to visit the largest collection of his works in Amsterdam!

Future post on Van Gogh works will be on my blog pretty soon.

Canal Cruise

I try to never miss the opportunity to see a city from different angles. Cruises cost around €15, and are the best way of getting to know the city in a whole complete different perspective. We got ours from the Blue Boat Company. The cruise was “subtitled” meaning you could hear a recorded guide telling you about all you are seeing.

Floating Flower Market

For the famous dutch tulips, this is the place to go!

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Red Light District

You obviously need to see how the sex market is in Amsterdam. It’s definitely done in an unique way, and I strongly recommend you to have a walk there at night. The streets are full of people, just be careful with the photos you take, as you’re not allowed to photograph any occupied windows.

These were the highlights of my short stay in Amsterdam. Would you like to share any other tips for next time?

Yes, because I am already thinking on a next time… need to visit the Rijksmuseum, and I’d love to visit the countryside and see some windmills in person… perhaps next Spring!

Love,

Nic

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