August 21: Day 1
Today was our first day in Amsterdam and boy did we see a lot! We landed in the city around 5:30 am and did not stop moving for long until crashing into bed that night. We started off by going to a family friend’s to drop off our luggage and freshen up. Then we headed to the Albert Cupmarkyt, to see the market being set up and opened for the day. Since we had our large backpacking backpacks on us still, we went to the hostel to drop off the packs.
From here we started out our adventure for the day: walking the entire city. James’ dad had informed us that the best way to beat jet-leg was to walk, which we found to be true. Both of us have switched over to the time zone pretty easily. I’m just going to list everything we saw and then describe them a bit.
- Albert Cupmarkyt: the market where the locals shop
- Bejinhof: this is a 14th century convent where we think a Eucharistic miracle occurred (the sign was in Dutch)
- Centraal Station: The main transit station in the heart of the city. All the city is wrapped around it.
- St. Nicholas Basilica: a basilica that was a nice retreat from the chaos of central Amsterdam; it is right across from the Centraal Station
- Dam Square: this is one of the main squares in Amsterdam, I would liken it to Times Square: crowded, street performers, and probably pickpocketers.
- New Church: this was on Dam Square, it is a Catholic church that has been turned into a museum and cheesy store
- Blue Amsterdam: This was probably my favorite stop of the day. It was a restaurant shop located at the top of a tower near Spui Square. We sat here for an hour enjoying coffee, tea, and one of the best views of the city.
- Mint Tower: right near Blue Amsterdam, this tower is famous among Potheads for being built in the year 1620 (4:20 pm)
- Floating Flower Market: The different stores stand on floating platforms and have many tulips, both live and wooden!
- Nine Streets: An area of shops and restaurants that was close to our hostel that was definetly the arts area of Amsterdam.
- Skinny Bridge: This is the one of the oldest bridges in the city and I was surprised to find that it was a drawbridge.
Besides seeing all of these highlights, we just got to experience Amsterdam. As a local told us the best way to see it is by walking through the streets and walking along the canals, which we surely did. We also got to to marvel at the vast transit system Amsterdam has. They have high speed metros, trains, double trams, trams, busses, and ferries. We rode on all of them except the busses. I think our biggest surprise was getting on the double tram and finding a man working at a full-size desk on it!
August 22: Day 2
Today was a bit less chaotic than yesterday. We were very appreciative of a good night’s sleep and made an effort to pace ourselves more today, since we almost fell asleep at dinner yesterday. We got to enjoy a hot breakfast at the hostel, including hot drinks to help us wake up.
Today was museum day. We started off with an early morning to Anne Frank House, which brought her story to life. We took an audio tour through the building, which read different bits of her diary aloud. The moment I walked into Anne’s room I knew it was her room before I had seen a sign or heard the guide tell me.
After leaving the Anne Frank house, we took the tram to Vondelpark for a walk and picnic. We picked up sandwiches and carrots at the grocery on our way over. The park is very large and was full of people. We ate lunch under the shade of a tree near a splash pool where children were playing. We found the most magical tree, which reached out over the water. We sat in its boughs for a good rest,enjoying the tranquility of the park.
The Rijksmuseum has a large collection of art from many centuries and includes many famous artists. We saw work from Goya, Van Gogh, and Remembrandt, but our favorite pieces were not from the famous of the famous. We also walked around the museum gardens, but they were nothing compared to Vondelpark. We did see a movie being shot though.
We tried stroopwaffels after the museum. I found them to be very sweet, but James liked them a lot. We spent the evening hanging out at the hostel, talking with the other visitors and the workers there. We had the chance to eat dinner with them as well and found ourselves switching between 3 different languages! We both really enjoyed just getting to sit and talk with people, swapping cultures and stories over Indian food.
That night we went on a canal boat tour, which allowed us to see parts of Amsterdam we hadn’t seen on the great walking “tour”. All the houses have hooks on them, so that they can lower furniture out of the windows when moving instead of taking them through the house because it is so narrow. The tour was in an old canal boat and was a great way to spend our last night in the city.