Something that has been facilitated by the fact that I have awesome family living in the outskirts of Amsterdam and neighboring bordertowns in Germany, so coming here has mostly been family-related. And to be honest, I've always sorta kinda hated coming to Europe as a child, as I didn't really appreciate constantly spending my summer vacations between Asia and Europe.
But times have changed! I'm older, maybe wiser! My interests in Holland renewed! Particularly these past 2 visits to Amsterdam. Back in October 2007, I traveled with a group of friends and experienced the fun, crazy side of the city - something I could never do with my family. Let alone as a 12 year old. Now in October 2015, I get to experience the leisure side with my husband (and on a more explorative sense) before roadtripping to Austerlitz for my Aunt and Uncle's 25th wedding anniversary.
As it was my hubster's first time in Amsterdam, we squeezed in some touristy bits, but for the most part it was all about enjoying what the city had to offer. The second we stepped out of our AirBnB in the Jordaan neighborhood, we'd walk around aimlessly, delightfully getting lost amongst the beautiful canals. Found a few noteworthy restaurants to dine in, spotted a bunch of picturesque canal photo ops, and even sniffed out a snazzy cocktail bar as a nightcap. So good, we went back 2 nights in a row! On our last day in Amsterdam, we rented a car to roadtrip our way to my relative's town, oh, about 1.5hr south of Amsterdam. Driving in and around Amsterdam ain't no easy feat. (But less so in Rotterdam, Utrecht and Kinderdijk.) The separate cyclist traffic lights and random rogue trams complicated the right of way ... and those left turns? A nightmare! But we survived, albiet with a few annoyed Dutchmen in our wake as we made our way out of Amsterdam.
With each visit I find myself falling more and more in love with this country. Aside from London, I could really see myself living in Amsterdam. The laidback vibe. Quality of life. The gorgeous canal sceneries. It's all very infectious! Seriously, what's not to love?
-- AMSTERDAM - THINGS TO DO --
1 // HEINEKEN EXPERIENCE - Heineken beer tour. It's fun. Buy your tickets online beforehand.
2 // VAN GOGH MUSEUM - Great museum. Buy tickets online beforehand.
3 // RIJKSMUSEUM - Famous arts and history museum.
4 // COFFEE SHOPS - Get high since it's legal here. The most famous one is called THE BULLDOG.
5 // RED LIGHT DISTRICT - It's near Dam Square and it's super touristy. But something worth seeing since it's such an Amsterdam classic.
6 // RIDE A BIKE - You can rent a bike almost anywhere.
7 // LOOKOUT - Take a free ferry from CENTRAAL STATION and get one of the best views of Amsterdam.
8 // ANNE FRANK HOUSE - Prepare to stand in line for a long time! But do go during the evening hours, near closing time to avoid the uber long lines. Or the earliest time avail, but be sure you get there an hour or so before opening time. The line cues up really fast.
9 // CANAL CRUISE - See below for G's Brunch Boat.
-- AMSTERDAM - FOOD AND DRINK --
1 // NEW KING - Awesome Chinese Soup dumplings (Zeedijk 115-117, 1012 AV Amsterdam)
2 // G'S BRUNCH BOAT - 2 hour boat canal cruise while having brunch. Need to book in advance.
3 // FOODHALLEN - Hip and Trendy food court. Tons of restaurants and bars inside an old warehouse.
4 // SAMA SEBO - Cool and hip Dutch Indonesian food. Awesome presentation.
5 // BAKERS AND ROASTERS - Best brunch in Amsterdam
6 // DE YSBREEKER - Great Dutch restaurant. Get the roasted chicken.
7 // NYONA - Great Malaysian Food
8 // MANA MANA - Best Mediterranean food in AMS
9 // STARING AT JABOB - Go for the Chicken & Waffles
10 // LA PERLA - Best pizza in AMS
11 // HAKATA SENPACHI - Yakitori
12 // HOTEL DE GOUDFAZANT - Great French food
13 // WINKEL 43 - BEST APPLE PIE IN THE CITY! Since Apple Pie is more of a Dutch thing than American!
-- AMSTERDAM - BARS --
14 // TALES AND SPIRIT - REALLY AWESOME COCKTAIL BAR!!! Old timey feel.
15 // VESPER BAR - Great chill bar. Get the 'French Kiss'.