I’m currently sitting on the train heading to Cologne, Germany. It has been quite a stressful morning but I am now sitting comfortably listening to music and reflecting on the past few days. Amsterdam is wild! I absolutely loved it there. Not only is it very different to any city that I’ve visited before (the Red Light District is something else), it is also stunningly beautiful. When most people think of Amsterdam, the first thing that comes to mind is usually the Red Light District and marijuana – but I assure you, there is much more to this city! See for yourself 🙂
- Moco Museum – Excellent museum with current exhibitions by street art legend Banksy and pop art master Roy Lichtenstein. It’s in a great location, just in the middle of Museumplein which is right near the famous ‘I amsterdam‘ letters and the Van Gogh Museum.
2. Van Gogh Museum – As an art lover, I did not hesitate to visit the Van Gogh Museum. It really was incredible. It houses the largest collection of Van Gogh’s paintings and drawings; including The Potato Eaters (1885) and Almond Blossoms (1890). They are open daily from 9am – 5pm (Fridays until 10pm) and 1 adult ticket costs €17. I suggest purchasing your ticket in advance so you don’t have to wait in line. Click on the link to book your ticket online https://www.vangoghmuseum.nl/en/plan-your-visit/tickets-and-webstore.
3. Day trip to Zaanse Schans – Considered by many to be “one of the most beautiful places in the Netherlands” – I would have to agree! There is plenty to do here; marvel at the windmills, check out one of the several museums and shops or rent a bike and tour around at your leisure. Make sure to treat yourself in the Chocolate Factory; you won’t be able to resist once the smell of cacoa hits you! It’s very easy to get to and well worth the trip – the train from Amsterdam Centraal Station only takes 17 minutes.
4. Anne Frank House – I had so many emotions during my visit to the Anne Frank House, the annex where Anne and 7 others hid during the Second World War. It was hard to imagine 8 people living in such a small environment and in constant fear that they could be discovered at any moment…I’ve read her diary several times; trying to imagine what it would have been like to be in her shoes. Actually being present in that environment was very humbling. Although heartbreaking, it was inspiring to see how such a young girl could be so brave during such a horrible time in history. For anyone visiting Amsterdam, I highly recommend visiting the Anne Frank House (online booking is essential http://www.annefrank.org/en/Museum/Practical-information/Online-ticket-sales/).
“We’re all searching for happiness; we’re all leading lives that are different and yet the same.” – Anne Frank, 6 July 1944
5. Markets – December is one of the best times of the year to visit Amsterdam. It can be cold (being Canadian, the cold doesn’t bother me as much) but it’s well worth it. The city is truly magical during winter – the lights, the smells, the atmosphere in general…everyone seems to be in the Christmas spirit. In addition to the Christmas markets, make sure to check out the Albert Cuyp street market and the indoor market De Hallen.
6. Vintage Shopping – I’m not a big shopper but I love a good bargain! Vintage shopping is one of my favourite activities, especially in other countries. I spotted some colourful granny sweaters in the window and I just had to go in. I didn’t end up buying anything because my suitcase is heavy enough but if that wasn’t the case, I would have been in trouble! Kiloshop is located at Waterlooplein 189, 1011 PG Amsterdam.
7. Morning strolls – One of my favourite things to do in a new city is to take a long walk in the early morning. It’s usually quiet and very peaceful; you can get a good sense of the city without a lot of people around. I was heading to the Van Gogh Museum and decided to take the long way, grab a coffee and take in my surroundings. It’s important to take a moment to “stop and smell the roses” now and again.
8. Delicious food – Pancakes! I usually don’t like pancakes (I know, I’m crazy) but these are more like crepes and boy, are they delicious. I had one with nutella (see below) and another one with ham and cheese when I was in Zaanse Schans. They are massive but very thin so you can eat a whole one to yourself. If you want something a little lighter and fluffier, try Poffertjes – they are basically a mini version, usually topped with powdered sugar and butter. If you’re visiting in December like I am, head to one of several Christmas markets – there you will find an array of delicious and inexpensive bites. Also try: stroopwafels (or ‘syrup waffle’) which is a type of cookie, haring (traditional Dutch food) and rookworst (sausage).