1) 1:55 pm Train I took the train from Schiphol Amsterdam Airport to Amsterdam Central Station. One of the amazing things about traveling is that not only do you get to meet really cool locals, but also some pretty cool tourists from across the globe. The guy next to me on the train had come all the way from Ghana and he told me a little bit about his country. I know it can be hard sometimes, but I’d highly recommend making an effort to talk to other tourists (as long as they don’t seem sketchy – use your own judgment).
2) 2:05 pm Embarrass Myself I did a little happy dance and was like, “I CAN’T BELIEVE I’M IN AMSTERDAM THIS IS SOOOOOO COOL!” I looked appreciative, not stupid. And when it’s late at night and I can’t convince myself of that, I remind myself that it was in a different country and that nobody there knew me. Except now they do.
3) 2:10 Desperate Searching I was smart enough to mapquest my hostel ahead of time, and I wrote down great instructions on how to get there. As I therefore knew my hostel wasn’t that far away, I helped lost people on the street find where they were going. JK… I wandered the streets asking for instructions.
4) 2:30 pm Hostel… aka Stairs I got settled into my hostel. I was super glad I packed light, because my dorming room was on the fifth floor, which is European for the sixth floor.
5) 3:00 pm Dutch Pancake (Pannekoek) I wandered around a bit and found an amazing Dutch pancake place. I’m American but I was still on the Spanish meal schedule, so this didn’t seem like a strange time to have lunch.
6) 4:00 pm The Jordaan Neighborhood I explored the famous upper-middle class Amsterdam neighborhood. There are a lot of families living in this area and while it’s in the city it feels like an American suburb. Picture kids returning from field hockey games and families with bicycles built for two. I was in a foreign country, but I couldn’t help getting a bit of déjà vu.
7) 8:00 pm Surinamese dinner Just like you can’t go to NYC without trying Chinese food, pizza, and bagels, you can’t go to Amsterdam without trying Surinamese and Indonesian food. Suriname is a small country in South America that was colonized by the Dutch (it’s culturally part of the Caribbean, not Latin America). It was absolutely delicious and quite unlike anything I had ever tasted before! I’ll write more about it in the post about amazing Dutch food I’m posting soon. The other customers were so cool and answered all my annoying questions about both the Netherlands and Suriname.
8) 9:45 Exploring
9) 10:30 am Another Pannekoek I got another one of the Dutch pancakes for breakfast. If you go to Amsterdam you’ll understand why.
10) 11:00 am National Monument This was also the meeting spot for the Sandeman’s tour of Amsterdam. You were apparently supposed to sign up and get a ticket. I made the slightly questionable decision that since the tour was free it wouldn’t be unethical to pretend I didn’t realize that I didn’t have a ticket. I later found out that it wasn’t free. That’s what Sandeman’s gets for completely dishonest marketing. I will post more about the Sandeman’s tour company soon.
11) 11:15 am The Sandeman’s Tour of Amsterdam Our tour guide took us past countless famous sites including:
12) Oude Kerk (Old Church)
14) The Red Lights District (I’ll post about my opinions on that soon)
15) The Royal Palace <– front view <– back view
18) the front of the Anne Frank House, and the widest bridge and the narrowest house in Amsterdam.
I think that most tour guides are generally pretty knowledgeable about their cities, but I really felt that ours went above and beyond (ask for Michael). He told us so much about Amsterdam and the Netherlands (I’ll include some of what I learned in my facts/observations post) and I was so grateful to have such a great tour guide.
19) 2:00 pm Dutch Bar The great thing about tours is that they’re a great way to meet other travelers. I explored Amsterdam with two of the guys on my tour. We hung out at a beautiful bar and talked about Amsterdam, Europe, and life.
20) 4:00 pm Very Early Dinner/Spanish Lunch I had a sandwich with whole grain bread (hard to find in Europe) and the Dutch version of lox. It was amazing (I know I overuse that word, but this is a travel blog, a lot of things are going to be amazing).
21) 5:00 pm De Negen Straatjes (The Nine Little Streets) We explored this famous area of Amsterdam, which is known for its beautiful architecture and various shops.
22) 7:00 pm Cheese Tasting So it wasn’t technically a cheese tasting, but this cheese store had free samples of about 15 delicious types of cheese, and people gathered as if it were a cheese tasting.
23) 7:00 pm Souvenir Shops I said goodbye to the guys I met on the tour and spent the next two hours exploring souvenir shops and trying on sweatshirts I had no intention of buying. I took the approach of photographing items I liked so I could print the photographs out in the US for memorabilia (click here for my souvenir shop photography tips, I’ve learned a lot about how to take nice photos, and more importantly how NOT to take nice photos).
24) 9:40 am Breakfast: Dutch Salmon Sandwich I realized I’d ate every meal at a restaurant the day before, so I found a local food store that had pre-made sandwiches. I had the same whole wheat, smoked salmon, and lemon thing that I ate the day before and it was beautiful.
25) 10:45 am Floating Flower Market To be completely honest, this was a bit overrated. Most of the flowers weren’t actually flowers but instead fake flowers intended as home décor. There were also a lot of seeds and bulbs. Maybe if you go during a different time of year you’ll have better luck. That said, the floating flower market is famous, and exploring it is free, so I’m extremely glad I went.
26) 11:30 am European Starbucks Experience The cool thing about Starbucks in Europe is that you can often get your drink either to stay (in a coffee mug) or to go (in a normal American plastic cup). It’s cool to see how even the most mundane things can be completely different in a foreign country.
27) 11:45 am Herring from a Food Cart I forced myself to try this Dutch specialty and I was shocked by how delicious it was. It tasted a bit like smoked salmon and came with diced onions and some pickles.
28) 12:00 pm Museumplein The park surrounding Amsterdam’s most famous museums was beautiful. I got some pictures in front of the famous “I AM STERDAM” sign.
29) 1:30 pm Van Gogh Museum This was such a surreal experience that I forgot I was in Amsterdam for a few hours and just got lost in the paintings. Van Gogh had such a talent for capturing movement and perspective that I almost felt like I was looking at scenes from my childhood when I saw his outdoor paintings. The ones that looked totally unfamiliar felt like looking at someone else’s memories.
30) 4:30 Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam’s famous modern art museum was interesting, and more or less avoided the trend of drawing an orange triangle on a canvas and calling it modern art. In my opinion it still didn’t hold a candle to the Van Gogh Museum.
31) 6:00 – 7:00 pm Dinner I had the most perfect salad with some cool, refreshing beer.
32) 7:00 Canal tour Only 5 Euros for an hour and a half tour of Amsterdam’s canals! The perfect way to say goodbye to Amsterdam.
33) 9:00 am Pancakes and Goodbye I had one last Dutch breakfast and tried a smaller, fluffier version of dutch pancakes. With apples, cinnamon, and walnuts.
After this pancakey goodness, I headed to the train station. It was time to say goodbye to Amsterdam and hello to Brussels.
Interested in visiting Amsterdam? If you want more ideas, check out my 24 Things to do in Amsterdam post, which has a color-coded map that will help you organize what to do when, prices for various activities, and links to where you can buy your tickets.
I love the way you wrote this post. I’m an exchange student in Europe as well and love these short and intense weekend trips. Amsterdam sounds amazing as well, loved that you visited all those museums (specially because I’m an art history student and came to Europe dreaming about visiting the Van Gogh’s museum).
Thanks! You’re so sweet. I hope you get a chance to visit Amsterdam and see the Van Gogh museum. 🙂
I love, love, love Amsterdam!!!! Can’t wait to visit again!
Plus, I just nominated you for the One Lovely Blog Award!
Check it out – http://missfrecklesblog.wordpress.com/2014/10/15/ive-been-nominated-for/
Aww thank you! You’re so sweet! I can’t wait to nominate some more blogs! 🙂
Anytime!! Can’t wait to explore new blogs myself. 🙂
I loved the way this post was structured, and it was extremely informative as I am going to Amsterdam in December:) I’m really excited to go, and you gave me some great ideas!! Thanks so much:D
I’m so glad to hear it! I hope you have an amazing time. I’m hoping to post a list of affordable things to do in Amsterdam soon, so keep an eye out if you’re interested. I can’t wait to read about your trip 🙂
I definitely will!:) I love reading your blog, and I plan on visiting Madrid sometime soon, so the information you have will be helpful!
Great post! I also LOVED Amsterdam! The Dutch Pancakes were my favorite! Thank you for the follow. 🙂 Looking forward to reading more of your posts!
Great post! I’m glad you posted the food in Amsterdam. We had a hard time finding Dutch food! Lots of Italian places. So very different than places like France and Italy.
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Thanks! Amsterdam definitely reminded me of the US in the since that it seemed to take more pride in offering a wide variety of food than in its own cuisine (which is also amazing).
I especially love the first picture! It looks like such a tranquil spot to hang out.
I first went to Amsterdam in 1968 – possibly the best year to go there – and fell in love with the place! Lying on my back in the Paradiso listening to the Jefferson Airplane, The Band, Dylan (no – just records) and Marc Bolan (live) amongst others… If you want some good literary (not guide book) reading about the place try ‘Amsterdam’ in the City-pick series (Oxygen Books)
thanks so much for the follow! Awesome blog you got going here, ive always dreamed of visiting amsterdam!!!
Thanks for this article! I’d love to go to Amsterdam one day and you’ve enticed me to go. I love pannekoek haha. How was pricing around the city?
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My son would love to go to school abroad but I am concerned about the costs and am looking for some ideas. Personally speaking, I have always wanted to visit Amsterdam – how exciting!
Does your son want to complete his entire degree abroad or just a semester? Also, what degree is he trying to earn? Make sure to check out scholarship programs. Even if you guys don’t find anything it will feel good to know you tried.
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Love your post! I plan to go next year and you gave me ideas . Thanks!
Thanks! I just added the following to the post “Interested in visiting Amsterdam? If you want more ideas, check out my 24 Things to do in Amsterdam post, which has a color-coded map that will help you organize what to do when, prices for various activities, and links to where you can buy your tickets.” I hope you have an amazing visit!
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This is great, I’m going over in January and needed some ideas of where to go, thanks for the info. I’m loving the photos on this blog as well.
Awesome tips, thank you!!!
Great header photo! Merci for following 24/7 in France, author of “Solitary Desire-One Woman’s Journey to France” See video http://youtu.be/xG_YTa5sDac
Love this post!! I started reading your blog after you followed me, and I have picked up on so many random similarities that made me smile! The picture you inserted of a little girl laughing was in one of my first ever blog posts, I happen to have come from Ghana before my study abroad began (like the man you sat next to on the airport), AND I was in Amsterdam the weekend after you!! Cool stuff; can’t wait to keep reading.
Aww! Thanks for your sweet comment, I love those little coincidences 🙂
Thanks for following – you travel at quite a rate!
sounds like it was fun
Good blog. Aren’t you busy! I grew up in holland and don’t think I did / tasted everything you managed in a couple of days! Totally agree about the pannekoek ..and the herring
There’s so much to do in Amsterdam.
Wow, glad I’ve come across your blog. I was so close to visiting Amsterdam, but living vicariously through your writing. Studying abroad has definitely been a great experience for me as well. Happy travelling!