Amsterdam is a city full of history, wealth, and modernity, and also a city that I hardly knew anything about before arriving. In this blog post I will talk about my three day weekend adventure in Amsterdam, now one of my favorite cities in Europe! I will be skipping over our food adventures though, which were so amazing that they warranted their own blog post, titled Eating My Way Through Amsterdam.
We arrived at the airport in Amsterdam and were amazed to see how beautiful it was. The main area was an open terminal space all decorated for the holiday with lights. The airport is connected to the train/metro station, making it super easy to hop on a train and go anywhere in the city of Amsterdam, rather than having to take a bus or shuttle from the airport. I recommend buying a day pass for unlimited transport on the buses and trams because we ended up using them pretty frequently to get around the city.
To get to our hostel we took a train to the central Amsterdam station, where we then took a quick (and free) ferry to the Amsterdam Noord area. We arrived at our hostel Clink Noord, an incredibly modern and fashionable looking hostel. My friends and I were supposed to be in a room with two strangers, but the hotel staff switched us to our own private room, with 3 bunk beds, our own bathroom, and shower.
After settling in a bit, we headed to the Albert Cuypstraat Market, where we looked at the cute stalls, tried samples, got incredibly fresh stroopwafels and other food. We also walked around the canals near the Heineken factory.
We had gotten a quick taste of the beautiful center of Amsterdam, but now we headed to the Zuidas business district, to check out the Edge office building, the greenest and most intelligent building in the world. One girl on the trip’s dad has an associate who works there, and he was able to give us a tour of the building. The lobby is an incredibly tall atrium, with natural sunlight and a hanging installation. It was buzzing with people taking a lunch break, having casual business meetings, and just passing through. We were shown around several floors, and we really enjoyed learning about the different techniques that make the Edge so sustainable, cutting edge, and a great environment to work in.
After checking out the Olympic Stadium nearby, we headed back to the center of the city, where we explored the adorable canal-side buildings and beautiful lit canals.
The next day we ate a quick breakfast at our hostel before heading on a free walking tour with Sandeman’s New Europe Tours. I really recommend these tours because you learn so much about the history of the city and buildings. We learned about Dutch history and its influence on the rest of the world. We then headed to a canal boat tour. It was super relaxing just sitting inside the covered boat, looking at the buildings float by, and getting a different perspective of the city.
That night, we went to a comedy show at a cultural center called Mezrab. We were recommended by our Sandeman’s tour guide to come here, and it did not disappoint! The show was in English but featured standup comedians from around the world. I thought it was really cool to see how comedy could bring all kinds of people together in one space. Later after grabbing some food, we headed to Amsterdam’s Red Light District. It was a bit shocking to see the girls in the windows, beckoning for customers to come in. I had never seen anything like it, and it was a little awkward but I was glad I got to see something so culturally different.
Our final day we went to the Van Gogh Museum and the Rijksmuseum. I really enjoyed the Van Gogh Museum because it so beautifully told the story of Van Gogh’s life, connected it to his art style at the time, and showed artwork of contemporary artists that influenced him. The Rijksmuseum also had several incredibly pieces of Dutch artwork, such as Nightwatch by Rembrandt. Two museums in one day was a bit much, but we got to see a lot.
To finish of our trip, we headed to the Foodhallen, a hip and upscale food court in Amsterdam’s West neighborhood. They have food from so many cultures there, and everyone was able to get what they wanted.
Overall, I was impressed with how hip, beautiful, and forward thinking Amsterdam was, with its canals, bridges, and incredible eateries, though still incredibly rich with history.