Oh boy, where to start? Well, I’ll start by saying that Amsterdam is an amazing city and totally worth a visit. One of the coolest things about the city, especially while trying to live an active lifestyle, is the lack of cars and abundance of bicycles (check out the pic below). We walked everywhere, and it had a very different feel than Paris. It was more laid back and pedestrian friendly with beautiful cobble stone roads and canals everywhere to make it have a great old city feel. Our flight landed in the mid-afternoon and we got right to it with a free walking tour of the city (they worked for tips so not 100% free) which was a great introduction to the history and the landmarks to help us have an idea of where we were.
Later we went back to our hotel (The Melrose Hotel), which was very nice, clean and centrally located. The girls got ready while John and I grabbed some snacks and beverages then we headed off to our river boat tour. We decided to with “Those Dam Boat Guys” and I can’t recommend them enough. The guide was very knowledgeable and even had his own podcast if your looking for some info and history before or while you travel. The guide was nice and made a special detour to the “cat houseboat” just for my very own crazy cat lady wife, Leigh. After the boat it was time for an authentic Dutch dinner based on the recommendation of our guide that was right around the corner from our docking point. After dinner it was time for a big ol walk…through the red-light district! We went into a couple of bars and saw some of the infamous “red windows” but if I’m being honest unless you’re into that kind of thing then was something to see but was far from the highlight of the city. Believe it or not we called it a pretty early night as our next day was full of touristing. One thing to keep in mind is that we were there on a tues/wed so the nightlife may be a bit better on the weekends.
On the next day we hit the Anne Frank House, The Pancake Bakery, The A’Dam Lookout, and the Van Gogh museum. The Anne Frank House is a very humbling experience and I’m glad we did it earlier in the day because it allowed us to properly take in the scale of what she and her family went through. The house is something that should be on your Amsterdam to do list, but make sure to book online in advance or you may be disappointed as the only do a small number of tickets the day of. Next up was an absolute gorging of a breakfast at The Pancake Bakery. If you even kind of like pancakes, then you must try one or many off their great menu. The A’Dam lookout is a nice way to get an aerial view of the city and if your brave then go on Europe’s highest swing and scream like a child just like me. I found this one of the better valued things we did in Europe, our ticket was entry, 2 drinks, and the swing. Lastly was the Van Gogh museum, wow. I am not very big into art, but this was a very nice exhibit, and we may or may not have made it more interesting with what a lot of people go to Amsterdam for. This was a bit of an early night for us as the next day we rented bikes and got out of the city.
Our last day in Amsterdam was spent outside the city. We rented bikes and went on a 50 km (31.25 mile) bike ride outside of the city, through little towns, fields, and along the coast. It was easy to find our way (with a gps) as we mapped out our route the night before. We hopped on a ferry to cross the water and complete our loop back to Amsterdam just in time to almost miss our train to Antwerp for Tomorrow land!… but that’s a whole other adventure.