2 days in Amsterdam - How did I spend it?
Technically we had four days in Amsterdam but two of those days were spent traveling which basically meant that we had 48 hours on our hands and a whole city to cover. So we decided to focus on the things that we really wanted to do. In this post, I would like to share with you some of the fun activities that we did throughout the trip.
We landed in Amsterdam at around 6.45 pm and the check-out process at the Airport was a swift one. We collected our luggage and headed to the train station at Schiphol Airport. Amsterdam City is just a short 15-minute train ride away from the airport - so you can just hop on the train and get down at the Amsterdam Central station to get to the city.
At the station, we purchased the OV-Chipkaart which makes traveling convenient. This card can be purchased at the train station and this card can be used to travel by bus, train, metro, OV-fiets (public transport bike) and even ferry.
There are several types of travel cards available but we opted for the OV card as it was best suited to our needs. If your itinerary includes visiting many museums, art galleries, and other major attractions, then you should probably consider purchasing the I Amsterdam city card This card gives you access to top attractions, canal cruises, bicycle rent, and public transport among others.
During this trip, we stayed with our uncle and aunt who live in Apeldoorn. Apeldoorn is a small city which is located approximately 1.5 hours from Amsterdam. We were lucky as there was a direct train from Schiphol to Apeldoorn scheduled in the next 15 minutes. So #yayforus!
An hour later we finally reached our destination and my uncle and aunt were there to receive us. We were finally meeting each other after FIVE long years. My aunt cooked us a feast and kept food and drinks coming the whole night.
We stayed up till 6 in the morning, chit chatting over wine and snacks. My cheek muscles were overworked from all the crazy laughter. We exchanged so many funny stories and caught up with each others lives. They also shared some interesting insights about life in Netherlands.
Did you know that residents in the Netherlands are given RFID cards to dispose their household waste. Residents are also charged for their waste by weight. The rationale of this is to encourage recycling. I gotta say that the Dutch are ahead of us in so many ways! Eventually our bodies started giving in and we finally called it a night around 6ish and went to sleep! Welcome to the thirties club!
We slept in and started the day at 11 am the next day, had brunch and set out to explore the city. Amsterdam is so rich in history and home to exquisite museums. This city is an embodiment of art and culture and the dream of every art enthusiast. We got off at the Amsterdam Central station and wandered around the city.
We marveled at the traditional Renaissance period Dutch architecture, picturesque canals that ran across the city, cobblestoned streets and a sea of bicycles. God I have never seen that many bicycles in one place before. Lol.
We walked towards the Dam Square and made many pit stops along the way. We walked into most of the souvenir stores and had the best time looking at naughty souvenirs. We picked up a few things for friends and family just to tickle their funny bone. The Dutch sense of humor is creatively and cheekily displayed through their memorabilia. In these shops you can find so many fun things from keychains, fuzzy clogs, sex toys, various merchandises with saucy captions and marijuana souvenirs. We lost track of time while perusing these insanely amusing bits and bops.
Tip: You should visit Condomerie if you intend to purchase some cheeky souvenirs. You will find condoms in every shape, size and colour imaginable. However please note that photography is not allowed in this store
We then made our way to De Bijenkorf for some proper shopping. I finally bought my dream handbag which I will talk about in a separate post. We spent a good 4 hours perusing the stores and weighing our options before making the purchase. I skipped out of the store with a huge grin plastered across my face and I couldn't wipe off the grin all week. Heck I am still grinning! Lol. My husband got something out of this too; each time I try to start an argument, he just points at the bag and I retract my steps. Haha! So I promise it really is a WIN WIN situation!
We started to feel a little peckish after shopping, so we got some crispy french fries topped with some ketchup and mustard. It was soooooo goodd! The Dutch must really love their fries because the city is dotted with tiny stands selling piping hot fries with a variety of condiments.
Amsterdam is also famous for its cheese - we walked in an out of tiny shops along the way. These shops are so inviting with huge wheels of cheese displayed at their windows. We sampled various types of cheese and bought enough cheese to last us for a long time. I was also a sucker for their famous stroop waffles. They were DIVINE! I truly regret not buying more!
Tip: The best way to eat it is by placing the waffle on top of a hot beverage of your choice- make sure its piping hot. The heat from the beverage will soften the caramel filling. Enjoy while its still warm.
Like most tourist, the red light district was high on on our must visit list. We have only heard about it or seen it on television before, so naturally we were curious and wanted to experience it for ourselves. So our next stop was the Red Light District or De Wallen. The red light district is situated at the heart of Amsterdam and it is ten minute walk from Amsterdam Centraal Station.
De Wallen is easily the most talked about neigbourhood mainly because it is devoted to prostitution and other sex oriented activities. The legalisation of prostitution showcases Dutch pragmatism I am sure everyone has their own take on this matter. To each its own.
Despite the nature of this area, I find that De Wallen has a distinct charm to it given that it is the oldest part of the city. The area consists of medieval buildings dating back to the 14th century. As you navigate the narrow alleyways of De Wallen, you will find a myriad of bars, cannabis coffee shops, brothels, strip clubs, shops selling cannabis goods , peep shows, shop windows displaying all kinds of kinky sex toys, ball, gags and chains.
As you journey through the neigbourhood, you will come across red lacquered windows featuring scantily dressed working women soliciting customers.
Protip: Do not take photos of the sex workers as it is strictly prohibited.
If you wish to learn more about the history of this neighbourhood, you can sign up for tours that are available. For a more "cultural" experience" you can visit the Sex Museum or the Museum of Prostitution. If you are looking for some 18+ action, then you should totally visit Casa Rosso, the oldest erotic theater.
Church of Oude Kerk, the oldest parish in Amsterdam is located at the heart of the Red Light District -talk about irony. After walking around and exploring the area, we decided to call it a night as we were beat!
We came home to some delicious salmon briyani prepared by my aunt. I took a nice long shower to wash away the tiredness of the day. Nothing like a shower after a long day. We played some board games and indulged in some delectable treats while chatting. It was so nice to finally put our feet up and just chill.
The next morning we made our way to Zaans Schaans. Zaans Schaans is a charming Dutch village on the water located just outside Amsterdam. To reach the village, take a train from Amsterdam Centraal to Koog-Zaandijk, a short 15 minutes ride. From the station just follow the sign boards along the way for directions to the village.
As you approach the village you will be greeted by windmills, quaint wooden cottages, well manicured gardens framed by a flowing river and beautiful bridges. You will feel as though you have stepped back in time.
We took a leisurely stroll while taking in the scenery. We stopped by a few trade workshops and saw how clogs are made, caught a glimpse of how artisanal Dutch cheese is crafted and sampled a whole lot of cheese while we were at it. We bought some delicious gouda and smoked jalapeno cheese - cause you can never have enough cheese.
While walking a waft of chocolate tickled our nose-buds and we found our feet moving towards a small chocolatier nearby. They had all kinds of chocolate on display and we were eager to taste everything. They also had a station to build your own hot cocoa and as expected the line was crazy long. We didn't feel like waiting in line so we continued exploring.
We could not get over the lingering scent of cocoa so we popped into one of the cafes and picked up some Belgian waffle and hot cocoa to go. We sat by the river and savored each bite. It was the best that we have ever had! The melted chocolate over the warm fluffy and crunchy waffle was so sinful but worth every calorie!
We also spotted a barn with little sheep in it - a bunch of kids were trying to pet them. We stood and watched these adorable creatures for a bit. It was such a calming experience. It started raining shortly after so we decided to leave as we had tickets to the Anne Frank House at 5 pm.
I highly recommend that you pay this village a visit to get an authentic feel of the Dutch way of life during the 17th century and it it is a good escape from the incessant hustle and bustle of the city. You can cover the grounds in about 3-5 hours so in my opinion a half day trip should suffice. The opening hours are 9:00 am to 5:00 pm daily but please keep in mind that not every part of the museum operates on a daily basis. Each section has its individual schedule for tours and demonstrations. So be sure to check the official website for information regarding tours and demonstration before your trip.
We rode the bus back to the city and managed to get to the Anne Frank House on time. Ever since I read the Anne Frank Diary, I knew that I had visit the Anne Frank House and see it for myself ! I am so glad that I was able to do so during this trip.
In her diary, she chronicles vignettes of her life during the holocaust; she and her family went into hiding for two years until they were discovered by the Nazis. They hid in this exact canal house which has now become a museum. The Anne Frank House represents one of the gravest horrors of human history.
Tickets are almost always sold out so it is best to plan your trip early. We were lucky as we managed to purchase tickets two weeks before our trip.
From 10 to 17 years old: €4.50
From 0 to 9 years old: free
Online ticket: €0.50 supplement
You can expect long lines at the entrance at all times. We waited in line or about ten minutes before we were allowed to enter. Please have your ticket barcode on your screen before you reach the entrance.
You will receive an audio tour upon entering the museum. The audio is available in 9 different languages. During the tour you will embark on a journey that will give you an insight into the lives of those who were in hiding via quotes, video clips and photos. Original items from the house as well as excerpts from Anne's original diary and some official documents are on display at the museum. You will also see the original hinged bookcase that conceals the entrance of the secret annex. Seeing it in person definitely evoked a feeling of melancholy in us.
Photography of any kind is strictly not permitted within the premises. We took our time touring the place and you can't help but imagine what it must have been like for this people; living a life full of fear and uncertainty. Can you imagine a total of 8 people sharing such a small space. Unfortunately Anne did not survive the holocaust and the only surviving member of the family was Anne's father. Anne, her mother and sister all died in the concentration camp.
The tour ended with a video clip reimagining Anne's experience in the format of a vlog. You can also purchase the Diary of Anne Frank, postcards and other Knick knacks at the shop onsite. - proceeds from the sale will go towards conserving the museum. There is also a Cafe within the museum where you can just sit and grab a bite to process the entire experience. You can also the enjoy the beautiful view of Prinsengracht from the Museum.
I personally feel that the Anne Frank Museum is a must-see especially if you are keen to know about the Holocaust and the life of Anne. By the time we left the Museum, the drizzles transformed into a light shower.
My family was already waiting for us at the entrance as we had dinner plans. They took us to an Indian Restaurant called Madras Diaries as I was craving for ghee dosa. We had a great time bonding over food.
I must say that the filter coffee hit the spot after all that walking under the rain. Hehe
We took a stroll around the city and took a lot of photos together. We finally called it a day and headed home as all of us have an early start the next day.
We had the best time with my family and we are so happy to be able to spend some quality time with them. Thank you for the amazing time Amren Bhava and Tanuja Akka. Cannot wait to make more memories with you guys.
We left early the next morning to catch our flight. In a nutshell we had a wonderful time in Amsterdam and we are hoping to return soon as there is so much more that we would like to see and experience.
Till next time, toodles.