Amsterdam is on almost everyone's travel list, be it for a perfect bachelorette trip or a vacation with friends. And I am lucky enough to call it "home". Although known for Weed & Prostitution it has a lot more to offer than that, Trust me I have been living here for 1.5 years now and if I am being brutally honest, I am still discovering something new everyday.So here I am writing this blog to share the top 5 "To do things in Amsterdam".The first thing I did after coming out of the Airport is - Got clicked at the IAMSTERDAM letters !!! ????
Last summer, I was interning in Dortmund, a city in Germany known for its football and more so for the club's loud fans. I hadn't been in Germany for more than 2 weeks, but the prospect of travelling to Amsterdam , the city most famous for its red light district and it's progressive tolerant policy to soft drugs was quite an idea I had been harbouring in my mind for a long time. Booked my tickets via Eurolines, a meagre 9€ for a 6hr ride. That's pretty cheap compared to European standards, and don't ever make the mistake of taking Eurorail unless you have too much money to throw away ! But Amsterdam turned out to be much more than just a land of legalized prostitution and weed. Also called the 'Venice of North' , a lot many canals criss-cross the city. This city has more bicycles than their population, a plausible explanation to the fact as to why Europeans stay so healthy and fit compared to their counterparts on the other side of the Pacific. The place is beautiful, the people helpful and sweet. Travelling unlike tourism doesn't have a pre-planned trip itinerary customised for you by a tour company, it's about making spontaneous decisions. So unlike other tourists, I decided to take the free shuttle ferry 'Buiksloterweg' across the IJ harbour to visit the Eye Film Museum, which most people skip on their trip to Amsterdam. The museum collection was comprised of movie posters dating back to origin of cinema itself, a chronology of film equipments from the time it all started to all the modern technology in use today. Enamoured by the collection , coupled with a discount on movie tickets for students , I ended up watching a critically acclaimed short movie. Another advantage of this place is that you can get clicked at the iconic 'I amsterdam' letters which is quite crowd-free at this location unlike the other one where a lot of people throng by. After a couple of pictures later ,I returned to the mainland by the next ferry which runs every 3 min, picked up a map of the city from the city help desk, and was off to the city centre more popularly known as the Dam Square. The neoclassical Royal Palace, the Madame Tussauds wax museum, the National Monument ( a stone pillar to commemorate World War 2 victims) and a fancy department store make the 4 sides of the square. The atmosphere here was electric, the crowd crazy. Took me a few moments to take it all in , Europeans surely know how to have fun. By the time I realized I should move on, it was dusk. The next destination was clear in my head : De Wallen or Amsterdam's Red Light District ! The whole street was bathed in neon lights , a large number of bikini clad heads were propping up from the windows in all directions ,women of various ethnicities, built and age groups. Call the Europeans crazy or educationally oriented, they have as many museums as any popular junk food chain counter. I decided to check out the Prostitution Museum, and it turned out to be quite a learning experience, a typical insight into a prostitutes' life. Well atleast they have got one thing right, they treat prostitution as a regular respectable job.The right light district did get me taking a round of the whole street, doubling back and running up the whole street again till I could take in all the color and the glamour. Next I decided to try the Leidsplein pub crawl and it turned out to be much fun. A little bit of boozing and hell lot of partying, it was already 3am when the music stopped. It was quite late and I didn't have a hostel booked so I decided to spend the night at the Central Railway Station. Bad idea. I would advise anyone against doing that, the weather was super cold and windy, and I barely slept the night, desperately waiting for the sun to rise.
You do know why Amsterdam is on this list, right? If not, you can go watch the cult Kangana Ranaut-starrer Queen once again and you would know. Along with that, there's so much more that you and your guy gang can do in Amsterdam, and if all of you have a thing for art then it'll be a paradise for you. You can boat around aimlessly in Amstel river till the night dawns and then go out partying again.Must do while here: Admire art at the Van Gogh Museum. Drink and watch movies in the open-air theatre at Vondelpark.Average cost per day per head (excluding flights): Rs. 3,500Best Hotels.Read more about Amsterdam.
Next morning as the ship harboured at Amsterdam, the coach was ready at the Port to take all tourists for next part of the journey. The day was spent in visiting Historic Wind Mills of Holland, Cheese and Shoe Factory, Madurodam. Post Lunch the next city which is 1hour drive from Amsterdam was Brussels in Belgium. Overnight stay at Belgium. A city famous for rich chocolates and fine glass.
The first step in planning for a trip is deciding the itinerary and the ways to travel. I was travelling in the month of February and the ticket were comparatively cheaper as it was the low season and that really helped. I bought a 15 day EuroLines bus pass. The pass allows you to travel by any EuroLines bus across Europe in that 15 day period without any extra charge. The pass can be bought at the following rates (Youth- 26 years or Less):
Amsterdam is not a city but an experience. From artsy museums and Anne Frank house to the very famous red light district & up beat smoke joints , it is this paradox that defines the unique character of Amsterdam.It is impossible to cover everything in Amsterdam in two-three days, given the sheer number of museums & cafes & activities.Here are some tips that made our backpacking easy on the pockets.1. Staying near the airport: Though 20 kms from the city center, we had no difficulty in commuting due to free airport shuttles and metro. There are many hotels and hostels to choose from and helped us save few bucks.2. Getting a day/2 day pass: When in Europe; Never ever; travel by cabs. The infrastructure is so amazing that you can travel by public transport w/o any hassle. There are many cards that you can purchase depending on the number of days and places you want to visit. More info: http://www.iamsterdam.com/en/visiting/plan-your-trip/getting-around/public-transport3.Falafel, falafel & more falafel: Forget gourmet restaurants & refined cuisines, learn to live on falafel, fries & other street foods. It is okay to visit an Indian restaurant, once in a while, to satiate your tangy taste buds.4.Biking is the way of life: Do not opt for guided closed bus tours (Not sure if they are present in Amsterdam. But thumb rule for all travel. No hop on hop off tours) Instead, rent a bike from any bike rental company. You can ride through main square, Jewish quarter,flea market. Taking a canal ride is also a great option, especially if you love to have the wind in your hair and want to know a little bit about the place.Day 1:We were welcomed by heavy showers. However, the beautiful city doesn't let your spirits dampen. Amsterdam is quintessential European city adorned with long canals and medieval architecture. What sets this city apart is the boundless liberty of indulgence it offers to all who visit. Be it smoking joints or dark alleys of red light district, Amsterdam makes it all classy.As the rain abated, we spent the evening enjoying some delicious fries, walking in dam square,listening to some fabulous street artists, exploring the overcrowded red light district; in short, just taking in the spirit of this amazing city.Day 2:For artsy fellows, there are numerous museums this city has to offer; The most significant of them all being the Van Gogh Museum displaying some of Van Gogh's biggest works. Make sure to book the tickets online to avoid long queues.For lesser mortals like us, we headed to Vondelpark to immerse in the sunny day. After a sumptuous lunch at the Indian restaurant near Central , we headed to Anne Frank's house only to be greeted by long queues. Anne Frank's house is the mecca for avid book readers, for she has left an everlasting impression on the world with her mere words. A little girl who , in her 2 years of forced hiding, penned down a beautiful story of hope, despair , longing and an invincible spirit of human existence. It is amazing to see the well preserved rooms and secret annex, indeed a commendable effort.After a somber mood, we headed to the Heineken experience. It is indeed a beautiful interactive experience for connoisseurs.The advantage of having the 1/2 day pass is you can just hop on a tram and go wide and far in Amsterdam. We did the same and discovered a beautiful lake unknown in some suburb of the city. We spent out evening on the shore of this serene lake with no soul in sight, a welcoming change from the hustle and bustle of Amsterdam.Day 3: