Amsterdam is one of Raj’s and my favourite city in Europe. During our last trip, we took it easy and didn’t sight see too much. Instead, we walked around different neighbourhoods, had lunch with the locals, enjoying watching lovely tulips along the canals and wind down in the evening with an Amstel beer or two in lovely vibrant Jordaan.
So if you asked me, what are 7 things that reminded me the most about Amsterdam, it would be these below.
Anne Frank House
You could possibly say that this was the main reason why I chose to visit Amsterdam. I’ve been a huge fan of The Diary of Anne Frank for years and to be able to see and experienced the Anne Frank House during my trip – I wouldn’t miss it for the world.
The experience was both – amazing but heartbreaking at the same time, and this deserves a whole blogpost to itself. Read all about my experience in the Anne Frank House here.
I’ve got to say this – I’ve had the best Heineken while in Amsterdam! That goes without saying of course as Heineken was founded in Amsterdam. Because we loved it so much, we ended up going for The Heineken Experience, and had a tour of the historic brewery while learning more about Heineken. It also comes with a couple of free pints of Heineken during our ‘beer tasting’ session.
Upon entering the building, you get to learn all about the history of Heineken. Then you learn about how it is made and what ingredient it was made of! Then, you get to experience “The Brew You Ride” simulator, which was my absolute favourite part of the whole experience. Basically you stand on a platform in a small room while holding on to a rail. You will be facing a screen and then watch and experience the journey a beer takes through the brewery. After that, comes another fun part – beer tasting and 2 mugs of free Heineken beers! Drinking Heineken in the original Heineken brewery is an experience not to be missed.
Icing on the cake? The tickets we purchased comes with a canal boat trip too! So we actually got to save on spending for the canal boat ride.
Amsterdam and Cycling are synonymous with each other. Every where you turn, you see someone (or a family) on a bicycle. You get bicycle path everywhere – whether in the city or in smaller towns. We have had to watch out more for the bicycles while in Amsterdam compared to cars. Just look at the sheer number of bicycles in the picture below!
Smell of Cacao
While in Amsterdam, we stayed in this lovely Dutch town called Wormeveer. Right opposite our apartment is a Cocoa Factory, which means we wake up to and sleep to the smell of cacao every day! I swear, that was the best kind of intoxication one can ever have.
We stayed in this lovely AirBNB belonging to Jaap and his wife. If you’re new to AirBNB, sign up through this link and get $25 off your first booking!
They say; you learn something new everyday. How true. It was only during the trip that we learnt about the histories behind how Dutch houses were designed.
These iconic narrow houses that lined Amsterdam’s canals are unbelievably picturesque and in the olden days, because of space restrictions and also hefty building taxes that was based on the width of the houses, these canal houses were built in a tall and skinny style. Due to the nature of the width of the building, it is naturally tougher to move big furnitures in. This is the reason why most canal houses have huge windows and a large beam sticking out from the roof to hoist the furniture up and down!
Apart from that, most of the roof on these canal houses are different. Back in the past, these were used as identifiers for post men to do their deliveries! Interesting, isn’t it?
Amsterdam is known as “Venice of the North”. Sounds a little Game of Thrones-ish, I know. With it’s 165 canals, the Amsterdam Canal Ring made into the UNESCO World Heritage list in 2010. Amsterdam canals are all inter connected by 1,281 bridges – which is 3 times as many bridges as there are in Venice!
Raj and I loved taking slow walks along the canals, any time of the day. In the evenings, we enjoy spending some time in the lovely vibrant Jordaan neighbourhood, having a nice cold Amstel beer by the canals while people watching!
The canals were quite frankly, my favourite part of Amsterdam.
Dutch Iconic Windmills
It had to take us a trip to Zaanse Schans to truly enjoy the iconic windmills of Amsterdam for we can hardly see one in Amsterdam’s city centre. Zaanse Schans was a perfect location for us as we only had to take a 20 minutes walk there from where we were staying in Wormeveer.
I was initially a little sceptical. Let’s face it, it is one of the most famous tourist attraction in Amsterdam, and needless to say, will be filled with throngs of tourist and busses! In fact, it received approximately 1.6 million visitors and more, every year! So, Raj and I decided to get there early. We started our little stroll as early as 7.30am. The stroll was an interesting one, as we walked past quaint atypical Dutch neighbourhoods.
And then, a huge windmill at the crossroad came to sight. We knew that we were close. First sight of the windmills took my breath away. It was something I’ve only seen in pictures and books but is now something I’ve seen with my own eyes. Zaanse Schans is terribly picturesque, and because we were there early, there was hardly anyone! We had the place to ourselves and managed to get all our pictures taken, uninterrupted. Couldn’t say the same after about an hour or so in, once the visitors starts arriving, though. So after getting enough pictures taken and to avoid the crowds, we hop into a chocolate and cocoa shop and enjoyed a hot cuppa cocoa and bought some dark cocoa chocolates to bring home as souvenirs.
There were of course, more things to do in Zaanse Schans, but the main intention of our visit, was to see the windmills, so we never got around to doing other things, as we wanted to take our time and enjoy the beautiful sights instead.
Have I had enough of Amsterdam?
Quite frankly, I felt that with only four days in Amsterdam, we had barely scratched the surface. I felt very compelled to return to Amsterdam again, and this time, I’m hoping to get to know this beautiful city a little more deeper. See you soon, Amsterdam.