Oh, Amsterdam! My first trip to Europe began here in this big, beautiful city. From my first venture into Centraal I was in love! It is clean, walkable, bike-friendly, has great public transit, and most everyone speaks English. Aside from it being cold and rainy for most of my visit (in February), it was enchanting. I spent endless hours of my eight-day visit walking, wandering, getting lost, and exploring. I met up with a friend from Mexico who coincidentally arrived the same day. We wandered through the main tourist areas and accidentally through the Red Light District, tried stroopwafels, and had our first coffeeshop experience! If you haven’t been to the Netherlands before, you should be aware that coffeeshops and coffee shops are completely different places. The former is where you can buy marijuana and have a smoke, and the latter is where you buy coffee.
If you are wanting to do the Heineken brewery tour, might I recommend instead a tour at Brouwerij ‘t IJ, a local brewery located next to a windmill, where they brew their own (much tastier) craft beers. I had a pint of the Ijwit, and after the tour, walked over to a nearby vegetarian buffet called Spirit for lunch. I love that you’re not expected to tip here, it’s already factored into your bill. That’s the way it should be!
Can you spot the Dalmatian? harhar
While in Amsterdam, I wanted to visit Vesper Bar, a James Bond themed bar known for it’s unique cocktail creations. I mapped it out and trudged through the rain to find it. By the time I arrived, I was wet from the rain, and the place was tiny and packed. I didn’t feel like going in wearing my moist rain jacket that screams tourist, ha. I decided to keep looking and ended up walking all over and never going into a bar. I then decided my mission would be to find some stroopwafels, so I wandered around some more, in the general direction of the metro. I didn’t find any. Double-bust! Damp from head to toe, I resigned myself to a beer and a two-day old muffin back in my room. Even though I didn’t do what I set out to, I got some beautiful photos on my phone and really enjoyed the walk.
As it was rainy many of the days I was there, I needed to find something to do inside. Lucky for me, Amsterdam has enough museums to keep any art or history enthusiast busy for days… maybe even weeks! I opted to visit the Van Gogh Museum, as well as the Moco Museum which had Banksy and Dali exhibits.
If you like street art and enjoy the work of talented graffiti artists, then be sure to take the ferry (behind Centraal Station) across the water to the north part of Amsterdam and check out NDSM Wharf. A large area with tons of street art and graffiti everywhere! There were so many good photos to be had! I even met a graffiti artist who came out to paint that day and was nice enough to let me take photos of him while he worked.
I didn’t know it when I was taking the photo, but this is the Amsterdam NDSM Crane Hotel. It has been re-purposed from it’s old days of being used as a shipyard crane and now holds three luxury hotel suites, as well as a jacuzzi 50 meters in the air!