I know that it has been a while since we blogged, but the holidays were a busy time for us. Let me explain. After missing our connecting flight home, we arrived a few hours later than expected (1am on Christmas Eve). As if that wasn’t enough bad luck, Mark and I were both sick during the short 6 days we were home. However, we somehow we managed to visit with all of our family and friends, and get better before heading back to Europe. After one more missed flight (thanks to ice in Boston), we finally made it to Amsterdam one day later than expected, on New Years Eve! Now for the good stuff…
We stayed in a quaint Airbnb in central Amsterdam. I highly recommend the room we stayed in if anyone is planning to visit Amsterdam in the future, it was a great location for the price.
Besides gawking at the beautiful vistas and canals (Amsterdam is known as the Venice of the North) there are plenty of things to keep you entertained in this lively city. Amsterdam is known for being a very liberal city (for example, marijuana is legal and can be bought /smoked in one of the 2,000 coffee shops in the city.) Amsterdam is also known for being a bike city. It seemed like almost everyone owned a bike and they lined the canals, stood outside apartments and whizzed past us as we walked. Amsterdam was one of the coolest places I’ve ever visited and I’m already dreaming of going back–next time hopefully in the Spring so we can see all the tulips!
After a four hour nap to help us recover from our jet-lag, Mark and I set out for dinner, drinks and New Years festivities in Amsterdam. We quickly learned that many people set off their own personal fireworks in the streets on New Years Eve. I was shocked by the craziness of it all, but everyone else seemed to accept its normality. (The fireworks that are illegal in some states in the US were just being set off in the middle of crowded streets!)
The following day (after sleeping in), we visited the “I amsterdam” sign, which is outside the Van Gogh museum. Although we did not have time for the museum, we did have time to climb up on the letters and take some pictures, like any good tourist would. (;
Later that evening, we visited the Heineken Experience. The tour is self-led and very interactive. You learn a lot about how beer is brewed and the history behind Heineken! I won’t say too much on this, since Mark will be writing a blog post about beer (we learned a lot while in Amsterdam & Brussles), but I do recommend you buy your tickets online to avoid waiting in line!
After finishing the tour and eating some dinner, we decided to venture to the Red Light District. This is a famous part of Amsterdam where prostitutes stand behind glass doors/windows to attract customers. (FYI prostitution is legal in Amsterdam). There is usually a red light above their door, so in the evening there is a red glow along the canal. Although it was an interesting experience to see, that’s not all Amsterdam has to offer, so don’t let that deter you from visiting.
For our last day in Amsterdam, we were out the door early to wait in line at the Anne Frank House. We tried to get tickets online before our trip, but they were already sold out. However, they let people into the museum throughout the day and after about an 1 1/2 hour wait, we were able to go inside.
It was very shocking to see the small attic that Anne Frank, her family and another family (8 people total) shared. They were not allowed to use water during the day–including the toilet–because the factory workers in the warehouse below did not know that there were people hiding. Anne Frank and her family did not leave the secret annex for 2 years, which is where she wrote her diary.
In 1944, they were caught by SS police and brought to concentration camps. Only Anne Frank’s father survived the war and was given Anne’s diary from the people that hid them (who had kept it in hope of Anne’s return). He decided to publish it later on. I highly recommend this for anyone visiting Amsterdam, it is an inspiring, thought-provoking and moving experience. (Just try to buy your tickets online to save you some time!)
Overall our experience in Amsterdam was amazing. We only wished we hadn’t missed our flight and had an extra day there–however we made the most of it! From Amsterdam, we caught a bus to Brussels where we stayed another four days before flying to Sevilla. Check out our Amsterdam video blog below & let us know what you think!! (Please note that we filmed the beginning in Brussels due to bad weather/timing in Amsterdam). Stay tuned for posts about beer (yay) & our adventures in Belgium!
Much love, Amanda