When we decided we wanted to squeeze in time for Amsterdam, I think we thought there must have been a lot less to do there.
No, honestly. We gave ourselves a solid 48 or so hours in the city, and we genuinely thought we could everything. canals, streets, attractions, museums- you name it, we thought we could fit it in that time frame.
Plot twist: you actually really can't do all of Amsterdam in 48 hours.
That's not to say we didn't give it our all. No, no. After taking in the wealth of options, I like to think the six of us did a pretty amazing job experiencing as much as we did.
Departing from Stockholm, our plane landed in Holland late Monday night. Rather than coop ourselves up in the hostel for a night of rest (as any logical human would do), we dropped our bags and headed straight into the city.
Our hostel situation was an absolute curve ball. When Meg and I booked hostels back in February, we had no idea our accommodation in Amsterdam would be as remote as it was. The area was a little sketchy for my liking, though to be fair, everywhere seems sketchy when you're coming from Sweden. regardless, whenever we needed to get to and from our hostel to the main city, we had to take a ferry. I'm not saying the daily ferry rides weren't enjoyable, just simply that it took a bit more preparation and waiting than I'd have liked.
Upon debarking the ferry on our first night, we immediately noticed a difference in the "going out" culture of Amsterdam compared to that of the USA. As we were making our way into the city (at the young hour of 12:30 am), amsterdam's remaining population seemed to be heading back home. We were fish swimming upstream.
Discouraged by the lack of happenings, we decided to conclude our night with some late night grub. We located a kebob place tucked away on the most happnin' street in town and ordered falafel to-go. I believe our initial plan was to eat our food back at the hostel, however that plan went to hell as soon as we laid eyes on the artful arrangement of falafel and french fries. oops.
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Our second day was our only full day, and with a long list of things to do, we set our alarms and arrived in the city fairly early. As one might imagine, Amsterdam by night is a totally different beast than what we beheld that morning. Narrow buildings enclose the cozy streets and picturesque canals cut between city blocks. I cannot begin to explain the allure of the architecture and the charm of the city.
Our first order of business was purchasing tickets for a canal cruise. I mean- did you really go to Amsterdam if you weren't whisked through the city via network of canals? I mean....
Locating the company we wanted to purchase our cruise through proved to be somewhat of a scavenger hunt. One breakfast, a handful of side-streets, and some narrowly missed bicycle collisions later, we somehow stumbled upon the correct building and purchased our tickets. We rode through the canals, hopping off and on to see different parts of the city.
Being our own tour guides, we felt extremely triumphant when we thought we had accidentally found the Red Light District. We later realized that street with the red lampposts was not, in fact, what constituted the Red Light District- ha.
The rest of the morning was spent meandering though the streets. Amsterdam has some beautiful sculptures and historical buildings. And if you ask me, the window displays in every restaurant and sweet shop are a sight to behold. After lunch, the group went to the Anne Frank house. I opted out to meet my friend, Ben, who I volunteered with in India this past summer.
It was so great to catch up with Ben after half a year of doing our own thing, he in England and me in the USA. Since he had traveled to Amsterdam a handful of times before me, he was kind enough to tour me around the city. We ended up in a bar overlooking a canal and had a few drinks before the rest of my group joined us. From the bar, we went back out and explored the more hidden areas of the city. Some of the prettiest views and photo spots are tucked away in corners or little side streets that you would never find unless you were looking.
Dinner was pizza, which didn't sit all that well when we walked through the real red light district at dusk. Kudos to those women who feel empowered to make that their career. You do you ladies!
We hung around the city a little into the night, and I captured the amazing moments we spent hypnotized by the canals. The way the lights reflected into the water was nothing short of magic.
Because we wanted to fit so much into a single day, Tuesday turned our to be more hectic than I would have liked. Of all the days I've spent traveling, I have no doubt that this one was the most stressful. In hindsight, I wish we would have let the day unfold naturally rather than try to cram in as many things as possible. Either way, we really did get to see a large portion of the city and immerse ourselves in a lot of the cool quirks of Amsterdam.
Wednesday was- despite having far less time- entirely more enjoyable. We woke up and hit a dutch pancake place for breakfast. Zero regrets there. We hopped on our canal cruise and rode over to the I Am(sterdam) sign, and I think it was here where it hit us how little of the city we had actually seen. The area around the sign was so beautiful, it made me sad to think how much we missed on our first day. After we sufficiently monkeyed around on the sign, we headed to the flower market. Tent after tent lined the canals, each overflowing with tulips, bulbs, and every other flower-related item imaginable. I didn't buy any tulips, but I did take about a thousand pictures.
As per usual, I'm delayed in posting about my travels. I'm in Copenhagen now (and having the time of my life)- so stay tuned for updates on this leg.