Day 14 | Amsterdam
I fell in love with Amsterdam at first sight. There is something about it that I can’t quite describe, it just felt different than the other cities we had been too and I loved it. We arrived by train and it was a quick 5 minute walk from Central Station to Dam Square. It was raining when we arrived but that didn’t stop the crowds.
Floating down Amsterdam’s canals is one of the most memorable ways to discover the city. Most of the cruises are about an hour and there are a number of cruise companies to choose from. Amsterdam’s 165 canals were created over the centuries to stimulate trade and transport. In 2010, Amsterdam’s canal ring was recognized as a UNESCO world heritage site.
The architecture that I think of when I picture Amsterdam are the rows of 17th century gabled houses lined along the three main canals. These houses belonged the rich Amsterdam merchants of the Dutch Golden Age. The stairs in the buildings are very narrow and steep. So much so, that furniture did not fit up the stairs. If you look at the top of most old houses in Amsterdam center you will see a hook. This pulley system is still used today. The other crazy thing about these houses is that they are leaning on the house next door or over the streeet.
We took a tour of the Red Light District early in the evening. It is the oldest area of the city (14th century) and has beautiful architecture. The Red Light District may look sketchy but it is very safe and well monitored by policemen. Don’t miss out on this beautiful area of town.
Day 15 | Anne Frank House
The next day we had a 9am tour of the Anne Frank house. Be sure to book your tickets ahead of time. The line to buy tickets was around the building and many were not able to get tickets.
In the afternoon we took a free walking tour of Amsterdam. This is a great way to discover little known areas of the city you may not find on your own.
Day 16 | Windmills and Cheese Making
The Netherlands is a beautiful country. To really experience it you have to go outside the city. We took a tour of Zaanse Schans Windmills and Volendam. Walking through the collection of well-preserved historic windmills and houses in Zaanse Schans is like taking a step back in time.
Where We Stayed
Our hotel in Amsterdam was a bit quirky. Hotel Nadia is a two star hotel in a historic canal corner gallery building. The location is perfect for exploring Amsterdam and the Anne Frank house is right around the corner. There is a gate to the hotel that is always closed. You have to ring a bell every time you return to your room. The design of the building is typical Dutch design and has a very steep narrow steps to access the hotel. Only one person can walk up the stairs at a time! Never seen anything like it.
Our Top 5 Experiences in Amsterdam
- Day trip to Zaanse Schans Windmills and Volendam
- Anne Frank House
- The Food
- Walking Tour of Red Light District
- Canal Cruise
Books I read before going on this trip:
- The Last Painting of Sara de Vos by Dominic Smith
- Amsterdam: A History of the World’s Most Liberal City by Russell Shoro
- Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl