Fresh off the train from the remarkable city of Paris, we were in for a different kind of treat in Amsterdam. After doing some research before the trip, we realized that this city is not just the cannabis capital that most of the world views it as, but it is truly a paradise for the artistic minded and free spirited. With awesome museums, unique architecture, numerous bike trails, and an overall friendly atmosphere, Amsterdam is certainly a fantastic place to visit for more than just a few days!
Amsterdam strikes an interesting balance with its quaint, cozy charm complementing an overall active city feel. With the exception of the rapid current of cyclists flowing through the canal streets and over the bridges, there is little disruption to disturb the precious peace that’s so precisely preserved.
But yes, there is action for those curious for it. Like the Red Light District – woah! Sure you’ve heard things, but to actually have some beers at the Old Sailor and peruse the alleys of sensuality is quite the unusual adventure. What’s interesting about the RLD is its not this grimy, raunchy place you might imagine. Sure there are low to high grade peep shows and almost naked women in the red tinted windows, but its an experience of Amsterdam worth having and despite the promiscuity, there seemed to be an all-ages crowd enjoying the scenery!
Our first taste of Dutch cuisine was a brunch of bitterballen (fried balls of deliciousness) and a Dutch pancake at a little cafe near our room. The bitterballen was a personal favorite and I ordered it every chance I could during our two day visit. One of the best parts of traveling is undoubtedly trying the foods typical to the region. Doing so creates a rich collection of memorable tastes that will be with you forever. Love it! Some other bomb bites we indulged in were a mouth-watering shrimp croquette and the famous frites with dutch garlic mayo. We also tried the raw herring sandwich….that was more of a must try after **herring** about it in videos of food tasting in Amsterdam.
There is a really cool opportunity we highly recommend for anyone who likes wine, cheese and canal cruises! Look out for a cheese shop called Reypenaer which offers a one hour wine and cheese pairing class as well as a separately scheduled one hour canal cruise all for under thirty euros. We had eyes on the deal from our research back home, but we waited until the last minute to lock it in. Don’t do this! We advise reserving your spot on their website because the course was full. We were lucky that they fit us in as we would’ve missed out on such an awesome experience. The wine, cheese, and canal cruise were absolutely delicious!
Given the two day time constraint, there was only so much we could squeeze in. That just means we’ll have to go back and explore the city more with a wider window!
Some take-away advice to our fellow travelers:
- Don’t steer away from visiting Amsterdam because of its 420-friendly reputation! There is so much more depth to this charming city that we wouldn’t want you to miss.
- Make sure to give yourself enough time to walk the canal streets, explore, and ride along some of the bike trails – you’ll be happy you did!
- Eat, Eat, Eat! Though a lot of the Dutch bites aren’t exactly healthful, eating during your travels creates memories so leave your diet at home!
- Learn from the locals. Sure you can google and visit museums to learn about Dutch culture and history…but there’s no better way than conversing with the locals. They’re quite friendly!
- Treat the city and its locals with respect. Tourists and visitors have made a bad name for themselves across Europe – let’s change this! Talk with them, learn from them, buy from them – and leave knowing you contributed.