Amsterdam. Where it all began.
My trip to the Netherlands in 2015 triggered a movement. It was my first time on a plane, and since that trip I’ve visited 15 countries.
Arriving in Amsterdam with my sister, as soon as we landed we paid for a 35€ taxi – note, taxi, to our hotel – note, hotel. Not hostel. This trip enabled me to pick up some travel tips.
Firstly do not use taxis, they are so expensive and not a necessity. There are always signs pointing to where to get the train from and the ticket machines are also in English so it’s easy to understand. Second, taking the entire contents of your wardrobe is not necessary!
We took the typical photograph with the ‘I AMsterdam’ sign outside the Rijksmuseum, just like any other tourist does. We made our social media mark, we were here.
Once we’d settled in at the hotel, we went for a walk around the city. Instantly taken aback by the beauty of Amsterdam, it was overwhelming for a first time over seas. There’s bridge after bridge of the endless canals, flower beds and bicycles on every inch. Amsterdam is a well cared for place.
The architecture is magnificent. I love its endearment so much, how every building is similar yet so different. Dam Square allows immersion into the expensive shops, and in Vondelpark you can walk around for hours taking in the beautiful nature or hire a a bike to fit in with locals.
Find a map if possible, you can pick them up from most tourist exhibits and public transport stations. It will help you with getting around and it means that you don’t need to use your mobile data. It’s a good time to have a break from being on your phone and instead be at one with travelling. A lot of maps will also have tube lines on so this will help you massively when moving from place to place. If you’re bad at map reading, then you’ll find adventure instead.
Leidseplein is the main area for restaurants and bars. You’ll be haggled into going in but don’t be fooled by their deals. You can have hours of fun going from place to place, checking out menus and seeing who has the best talk.
We decided on a little Italian restaurant, Ristorante Italiano Peppino, and ate delicious pizzas that were bigger than the plates that they were served on. We actually went back to this restaurant the next night and because the owners recognised us they gave us free shots and garlic bread. This warmth and kindness means that this restaurant is my ultimate recommendation whenever people I know visit Amsterdam.
A trip to Amsterdam isn’t really complete without a wander into the ‘cafes’, as curiosity gets the better of you. Bizarre and novelty almost to us, a walk down the red light district, was a trip highlight. We enjoyed a wonderful night exploring the night life, and with sore heads the next day saw us back in tourist state and making the most of the museums.
Whether you’d like to spend a few hours browsing the Van Gogh museum, or grab your photo with the giant penis at the Sexmuseum (at a bargain 4€ entry cost), or visit the Anne Frank house, a heart touching experience – there’s a museum for all interests. Just remember to book online, as queues do get long all year round.
Amsterdam was a delight. It sparked the beginning of travelling for me, and the knowledge and love I have for travelling just keeps on growing.
Words by Emily James