Are you excited! I am since this post is about an absolute favorite city that I had the pleasure to visit and experience.
I visited this city with couple of friends of mine and we had some real fun and some unreal moments all of which I would share soon. So sit back with a cup of coffee and read on 🙂
I flew from my hometown, Chennai to Amsterdam and as soon as we landed we started off hunting for the places that we had marked to visit. We were super excited and did not want to waste any time at all. No bath, no relaxing! We just dumped the bags at the hostel, cleaned up in a public bathroom and headed off to check out the city. I mean, that is the whole charm of backpacking, isn’t it?
Since I was city hoping, I only got to spend a day in Amsterdam as the next couple of days were spent visiting other cities in Netherlands. In this post, I shall be sharing my adventures of that one awesome day that I got to spend in Amsterdam city!
We stayed at the Stay Okay hostel and the accommodation was pleasant. We took a 6 person occupancy dormitory with bunk beds (yaaaayy!) which came with a single bathroom.
For local transport, we took the 24 hour pass which gives you access to travel in local trams, trains, buses etc and it came up to €19. According to your requirement and the duration of the stay, you can take the relevant passes. I referred this link for all my passes.
First up, we went for a walking tour around the city. It is a free tour for around 2 hours where the guide takes you through the old city explaining its charming history with intricate details. It was both fun and extremely informative. There are also cycling tours as well which you could take if you fancy.
The tour starts from Dam square and ends with the cheese tasting at Centrum.
Some of the interesting facts & totally random quirky things about the city that I learned and noticed when I was on the walking tour.
- I was flabbergasted when I happened upon to see random previous century horse carriages strutting around in full glory. Totally contrasting to that there were a parade of biker boys on bullets with full dapper suits on. Best of both worlds right?
2. See that 3 crosses? You will find this everywhere in the city. On the road, on buildings, on lamp posts etc. It actually represents the Amsterdam’s coat of arms which stands for St. Andrew’s crosses. However this is highly misconceived as the short form of the Red light district of Amsterdam (XXX – wink wink got it?)
3. As you are taken along the interesting old households, you can notice that the houses are skewed or leaning from the top at a different angle. In the picture below, can you see that the top of the house leans a little bit towards the front than the bottom and that there is a hook at the top? This is because all the old houses in Amsterdam where built right next to each other with narrow staircases. So the furniture could no way be taken up the front door. It had to be lifted up, Rapunzel style from the top of the house.
4. Another interesting fact that you will see are the hofjes. This is originally a Beguinage and a Beguinage is a housing complex for religious women who lived in a community without taking their vows. Basically it was a women’s hostel of olden times. The community is still functioning as a women’s hostel and the waiting list to get placed takes years.
5. This is a city opposite to conservatism, so keep your judgements at bay. Here, marijuana use is legal and you may enter a coffee shop and be handed a menu which sells magic truffles, weed etc. So be mindful of what you want, if you really want just a coffee, hunt for “cafes” not “coffee shops”.
6. When I visited the “I AMSTERDAM” sign, it was still up and very much crowded. Interestingly, this sign is now taken down by the Netherlands government as they thought it was garnering lot of tourist attention to Amsterdam and lot of other cities in Netherlands were neglected. But don’t worry, they are working on installing these signs in all major tourist spots around Netherlands.
7. Anne Frank House is very much in Amsterdam, and I being an all time admirer of her and her bravery wanted to visit the house. I must warn you, it is quite depressing and sad to see her final abode but one must wonder how out of all that misery and formidable conditions came out a really sunny and hopeful piece of literary brilliance.
8. There are people paid with full time salary and benefits to fish for bikes from the Amsterdam canals. Around 10,000 to 15,000 bikes are fished from the canals every year. Crazy isn’t it?
The “I AMSTERDAM” sign and “Anne Frank House” was not part of the walking tour and we visited these places after the tour. We ended the very very long and interesting day at one of the “coffee shops” doing what every youngster would do in Amsterdam and had the most amazing night.
I only spent a very short while in the city but this is hands on one of the cities I absolutely love as it was very culturally and historically rich. I shall definitely be making another longer visit to this city along with the best of my girlfriends to have a time of my life 🙂
Also in one of posts lined up, I shall be taking you through the other places in Netherlands that I had the pleasure to visit!
Comment if you would like to share your thoughts on this post!