things to try in amsterdam

 

Numero uno is to take pictures with the iconic I AMSTERDAM letters, located at the airport, and near the main tram station. My flight conveniently chose to land while a crowd was queuing up near the bold letters and I didn’t get a snapshot though.

Cycle through the Vondelpark. With the bronzed sunlight poking through the trees, and the people milling about with coffees, kids playing in the tall grasses, this is quite a social destination in Amsterdam. If you can’t cycle- don’t worry, you can grab your fluorescent running gear and jog around the multiple tracks.

A stroll down Prisengracht. This is the street of the famous Anne Frank House. Multiple canoe tours are all over this street, brick bridges, pancakes from the gods, and a cheese and tulip museum across the road.

Smoothies at a juice bar.  You’ll find plenty, tucked away on vintage streets, bustling with customers, or smelling of strawberries, banana and honey.

Visit all of the museums in the Museum Square. That’s the Stedelijk Museum, the Van Gogh Museum, and the Rijksmuseum not far away.

The Nine Streets. Also known to locals as De Negen Straatjes, these are nine quiet streets with plenty of vintage and designer shops. It’s a two minute walk from Prisengracht.

The Amsterdam Bos. For this, you may need a day as there is so much to see and do. You’ll also need to plan whether you’ll want to book climbing park tickets, visit the pancake farm, a jeep tour, the running trails, rent cycles or just walk along the huge lake.

Canal tours. Duh. Amsterdam is famous for its gorgeous waterways and bridges galore.

Central Station. This is the place where you can book tickets for any activities. Also the NEMO science museum is a five minute walk from here.

Lunch at a pancake place by the canals.

A random ride through the trams to discover the unseen parts of the city.

A Yellow or Red bike tour through the main tourist attractions.

A midnight walk past the lit, beautiful houses.

And one last picture with the letters before you board your flight again.

 

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museum-mizing

I’ve visited museums before, sometimes quite willing to explore the dinosaur skeletons and abstract art (a perfect indication of my inner Ross). However, my boredom level tends to rise fast, and inexplicably I land up waiting for the rest of my family at the giftshop.

When we arrived in Amsterdam’s airport, travel brochures on glass racks greeted us, and I picked up a few. Not surprisingly, Amsterdam is home to some of the most famous museums in the world, including the Anne Frank House, Stedelijk Modern Museum and the house of Rembrandt.

This time, I tried to conquer all of the museums. The Anne Frank House was the house that Anne had grown up in. The bedrooms were bare, stairs were steep and narrow. Her most famous quotes, lined the grey walls.

The Stedelijk museum was dedicated to modern art, and while yes, some of the paintings were really interesting, some had complex meanings behind them, and some bordered on totally abstract. The giftshop for this museum, however, was definitely worth exploring; it contained loads of weird stationery that could be used to take advantage of unsuspecting teachers and annoying partners.

Not surprisingly, we visited the Van Gogh Museum, and saw thousands of his famous sketches of flowers, trees and potato eaters.

While in a small Dutch village, Zaanse Schans, we went to a clogs museum, and I learnt that while a diverse selection of shoes is bound to make one feel better, clog should not be included in that diverse selection.2016-05-19 18.35.11.jpg

Top: Staircase at the Stedelijk

Lower: The Anne Frank Huis

amsterdam-bos

For a change of scenery from the narrow sloping buildings, we took the tram down to the Amsterdam Bos- the forest of Amsterdam.

The houses and mansions were replaced with dark green trees, long grey lakes, cabins and gazebos, trails and farmhouses.

I came with a goal, to get a chance to treetop-walk along one of the courses that the forest had to offer. Yet, my plan was sabotaged when it turned out that my group was full and I couldn’t take part.

Mellowed out, and walking under light drizzle, we headed to the different parts of the park. The national canoe races were taking place, and bright coloured long boats were speeding up and down. Every now and then, a cyclist would pass us with a large hearty cry in Dutch. Sometimes, we had to make way for a whole group.

Finishing the lake walk, we found a pancake farm. Yes, yes a common find in the Netherlands. Also, the drizzle had considerably lightened, and thin white clouds were shining. It was a perfect view for any nature trekker, I half expected Nat Geo to show up carrying all sorts of camera equipment. Then again, I expect a lot.

So yes, while in Amsterdam- plan a day to cycle, walk or even just be in the park. And be prepared to hear me say ‘I told you so’ when Bear Grylls walks in.

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Canoe Races.

 

canal tours

After a gargantuan lunch of pancakes, whipped cream and cherries, followed by Dutch koffie, we decided to take a canal tour. Being close to the sea, Amsterdam is famous for its canals, bordered by the narrow houses and drooping trees. There are around 250 bridges, of which some open to let the bigger barges in. Apparently, Amsterdam is home to the excuse for being late ‘The bridge was open- I couldn’t cross”. We hopped into our boat and headed through the still, green blue waters, adjusting our headphones for the audio tour. We passed the Nemo Science Museum and the National Ballet and Opera Building. We passed through the quiet backwaters, near peoples houses.

The boat driver stopped to tell us about the sloping houses of Amsterdam- the city was built on wooden poles stuck into marsh, so the houses slowly began to tilt. This gave them the effect of being drunk and the chance for the guide to tell us another Amsterdam joke- “Oh she fell out ‘cos she forgot to strap herself in”.

Although the canals of Venice are supposed to be scenic, the canals of Amsterdam could beat them hands down. We saw a canal with 7 bridges in a row, that went past beautiful houses. Also, when winter comes, the Dutch shut down their canals and let them freeze over so that people can skate or play ice hockey. And the canals in Venice stink.

The tour got over and we got out of the boat, heading towards the Anne Frank Huis, to be scared off by the 2 hour line.

We headed to the Centrum, along the misty green water of the canals.

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