Amsterdam Diaries: Amsterdam, Netherlands, 2017
If you'd ever ask me which cities you liked the most amongst all the travel you did so far, Amsterdam would be in the top three for sure. The city is a treat to the eyes by itself and so are the people (to be honest, VERY friendly!!). You come to the city and feel the vibe of happiness already, maybe because of its beautiful buildings or the people who make don't make you feel like a tourist.
The canals, the Dutch, the high, the ever-evolving nature of the city, the breweries, the ART, the houses, the tourist culture, the warmth and the whatnot!! I literally ended up taking a part of Amsterdam back with me in my heart, such a beautiful city. You would not have any language issues too as most of them speak very good English here.
Amsterdam was a part of my ten days trip and I had to travel on a budget, therefore just like always, I ended up finding a cheaper way to travel, Ryanair!! Ryanair had started its services to Eindhoven which is not far away from Amsterdam and the ticket price was 9 Euros for one way from Bologna! I reached Eindhoven and paid 8 Euros more to get to Amsterdam! So yay!
I reached Amsterdam with a backpack and no idea as to how to explore it. I checked into my hostel which was quite famous for its backpackers and it cost me around 11 Euros a night. I am sure you'll find many hostels like this but just book them ahead, so that you do not end up staying at an expensive place. My hostel had travellers from all around the world and it was so much fun hanging out with them. If you ever visit Amsterdam, try staying in one of these hostels to experience a totally new culture!
Like I always do, I wanted to explore the city on foot and found out about a free walking tour, thanks to the reception of my hostel. I joined the group and for the next three hours I did end up getting a basic overview of the history behind various landmarks in the city.
I bought myself a day pass for the tram and went about using it for the next 24 hours. It was a suggestion given to me by one of the locals who saw me staring at my map with a confused look on my face. The Dutch can be overwhelming with their hospitality.
🚣 Canal Tour
Amsterdam is a city of canals and canal tour is a must. The civil engineer in me always found it fascinating as to how one city built dams and literally brought the Amstel river to its feet. Do not miss out on this tour because the view from a boat gliding through the canals is really beautiful. You'll be able to take a ride for a price of 20 Euros.
📍Van Gogh Museum
A visit to the Van Gogh museum is a must and make sure you buy yourself a souvenir from here. The tickets cost you about 18 Euros and students who are 18 or below get free access. Some of the best artworks of Van Gogh are present in this museum. The beauty of a Van Gogh is that you might not be an art lover but you'd still end up looking at the art for a very long time. Apart from Van Gogh, you can also get to see paintings from Monet and Matisse.
Rijksmuseum, which is located next to the Van Gogh Museum features works of one of my favourite artists, Rembrandt Harmenszoon. Make sure you do see 'The Night Watch' which is quite beautiful and I am sure you'll love it. It houses more than 1 million works of art and 7-8 thousand articles are on display, so make sure you have ample time to enjoy the museum.
📍 The Red Light District of Amsterdam
De Wallen street or like you have already heard it, The Red Light District is very famous and yes prostitution is legal here (just like weed). Amsterdam is very liberal when it comes to people's involvement in soft drugs, porn and prostitution, but I must clarify that Amsterdam is much more than weed and sex. When you walk through the streets, do not click photos as it is strictly not allowed. If you want to enjoy and get to know the real culture of the Red Light District, make sure you visit it during the night times as this is the time you'll see how things come to life over here. Women offering services behind glass windows, neon lights and curious tourists swarming the street can be witnessed mainly during the night as it is dull during the day time.
📍The Bulldog Cafe: The First Coffee Shop
When you are in the street make sure you visit the Bulldog cafe where you could get high by merely breathing the air over there. It is not legal to advertise weed but you will see bars and cafes with leaf signs on their doors and it's an open secret that you can get high over there or even buy marijuana. Furthermore, you could also try the local beers at this cafe as it is quite famous.
Take the Ganja tour if possible like I did and it will change your perception about the marijuana culture in Amsterdam. Our guide Hesse was super fun and gave us a lot of knowledge about the coffee shop and ganja culture. It was also fun because I learnt how to roll my own joint like a pro (it was super duper fun!!) and also got to visit some of the best coffeeshops in Amsterdam!!
🏘️ Dancing Houses
If you still have some time for yourself after all this, you could rent a bicycle for 11 or 12 Euros and explore the city or take a group bike tour. During my tour, one of the highlights was the dancing houses. The houses are constructed without any gap in between them and due to the wooden pylons sinking, they appear to be aligned in such a way that it appears as if the houses were dancing together. (Do not mind the tech explanation, just ignore the engineer in me and enjoy the view 😁 😜)
And finally, if you are a beer lover, do visit the Heineken museum in order to have The Heineken Experience. Although it's not a live brewery, you can still have fun as the tickets to the museum also includes two beers where you can also get to know the history of it.
Make sure you do click a few photos at the iconic IAMSTERDAM landmark before sunset.
Next stop, Keukenhof tulip garden! 🌷