Amsterdam is the capital city of the Netherlands, known for its coffee shops, canals, bikes, tulip blooms and red light district. It was the first stop of our summer vacation. Growing up in a pretty liberating country, the United States of America and then to move to a very modest country, Qatar, can start to weigh on you after awhile. So I decided that a visit to Amsterdam for some fun was long overdue. Darryl and I flew into AMS on Friday, June 7, for the weekend, and my sista Michele and her husband Charles met us there. We were first timers to this city that everyone talks about and we couldn’t wait to explore.
Unfortunately, the weather wasn’t very welcoming. It was cold and rainy and our hotel was located outside of the city center. We stayed at the Residence Inn in Houthavens. It is a nice hotel overlooking the docks, with a mini kitchen, bed and sitting area. There is a bar, restaurant, pool, gym and spa. We cooked most of our own food in the room and breakfast was included with our stay. The hotel staff were very friendly. In fact, everyone we encountered in Amsterdam was friendly. It’s a very chill country.
We really only had 2 days to explore and one day was a complete wash but we made the best of our visit. On the rainy day, we visited a few coffee shops and supermarkets. In the evening, the weather let up some and we went out into the Red Light District. We weren’t aware that this was a holiday weekend in Amsterdam and it was quite crowded. Everywhere people were smiling, laughing, smoking or drinking, gawking at half naked women in front of red curtains or going in to establishments in search of something more. We decided to take in a show, it was rather boring until I coerced my husband into becoming part of the show. That made the 50 Euro price tag worth it in the end. Sorry, no photos allowed.
On our second day, it warmed up some and the rain held off. We were able to enjoy our booked small group canal cruise and tour. There were only two other couples besides us. I highly recommend this tour which came with drinks and snacks. Besides James, our guide, was very nice and knowledgable. You can book this tour by clicking the blue link above. It was an Airbnb experience. This was a much easier way to see some sights around Amsterdam.
We also took in some sights by foot and shopped on 9 streets. We tried Stroopwafel; they’re truly delicious when you get them fresh.
At night, we went to the Ice bar. It’s very touristy but it was a fun experience. You can purchase your tickets online using the link above and you get 3 free drinks. You will need them to warm you up.
We never got around to riding a bike or visiting Anne Frank house. Does that warrant another trip to Amsterdam, probably along with a few other reasons. We had a good time visiting this city but it was only the beginning of our month long trip to Europe.
Suggestions, Tips, Recommendations:
Where to stay: This depends on what you want. I do recommend the Residence Inn if you don’t want to be in the city center. However, when I return, I will stay somewhere in the city because uber trips add up. By the way the Ubers are super fancy, Audis and Mercedes.
Vegan Eats: Vegan Junk Food was the only vegan restaurant I tried since it came highly recommended by a friend. I had a burger and loaded fries which were delicious. The supermarkets have a lot of vegan food as well. This was my first time trying Beyond Meat. My husband cooked it up for me and it taste like a grilled burger. I think it was meat.
Sights: If you want to visit Anne Frank house, buy your tickets online 60 days in advance when they are first released. You can also get them online on the day of your visit if your lucky and are amongst the first 100 online to purchase them. Some tickets are sold on the same day on the website at 9am, they say, but I went online both days around 8:50 and there was already a queue of 100+ people. Needless to say I wasn’t lucky but good luck to you if you choose this route. I do not recommend it.
The IAmsterdam sign moves around, however, we spotted one near the Sky Lounge but we never made it there. If you want that picture go there. You can also ride the swing and get a great view of the city from up there. The weather prevented us from doing this.
Definitely check the weather when visiting Amsterdam and pack a jacket. Be prepared to walk or bike around to take in the sights.