Visiting Amsterdam for the first time is definitely an experience — no matter who you wind up visiting with.
Unfortunately, on this trip I didn’t take as many pictures as I typically do, but let’s see what I can wrangle together.
I flew into Amsterdam and met my mom and Scott at the airport. Upon our arrival, we did manage to figure out how to get from the airport to our AirBnb without having to resort to a taxi or Uber, so I felt a smidge accomplished. However, we did nearly get run over by several bikes due to unclear marking of the bike lanes. Essentially, if you’re anywhere on the sidewalk, you will get dinged at. There’s no way around it. But we made it to our delightful temporary living space and got settled before deciding to head out to see what the line to the Anne Frank House looked like.
We knew, going in, that we desperately wanted to see the Anne Frank House. We also knew that it was too late to try and get tickets online (as we had tried three weeks before our trip and they had already been sold.) However, the way the AFH works is that they only sell tickets for entry times up till 3:00pm. So anyone who shows up after that time can get a walk-in ticket.
We wandered over to the Anne Frank House and stopped in the line to establish a wait time. It was roughly three hours. Dissatisfied with that, we decided to wander around a bit through the canals to get a feel for the city. We went to a pub and got lunch and hopped onto a canal tour.
Unfortunately, unlike the free walking tours I typically delight in, this river-boat tour was pre-recorded (and kinda tacky at times…so many sound effects) so I was a bit lost at certain moments throughout the tour. However, it did provide a good opportunity to see plenty of things I wouldn’t have otherwise chanced upon. So that was nice.
Later on that night, we wandered into the Red Light District, because one cannot visit Amsterdam without visiting the Red Light District. As luck would have it, we arrived in Amsterdam on 4/20. The pungent aroma followed us everywhere we went, to my eternal dismay.
We wrapped up our evening with the knowledge that we’d have to be up early-ish the following day in order to make it to our entry to the Van Gogh Museum at 9:30.
After attempting (and failing at) a decent photo at the Iamsterdam sign outside the Rijksmuseum, we wandered into the Van Gogh Museum where you are 100% not allowed to take photos.
So here are some photos.
Also, this was the day that I learned there are SEVERAL paintings of sunflowers by Van Gogh out there. Here’s my picture from Amsterdam (left) next to my picture from the National Gallery in London (right).
But whatever you do, don’t take pictures in the Van Gogh Museum because you will get yelled at. I share this advice with experience.
After the museum, we were determined to figure out how to get to Keukenhof to see the tulips (because, realistically, that was like 70% of the reason I wanted to go to Amsterdam in the first place.) We sat down over lunch and mapped out how to make it happen. And when that proved to be too complicated, we found a tourist booth who quoted us a very good price and told us how to do it.
Our journey to Keukenhof took us out by the airport again, where I stumbled upon a much less popular Iamsterdam sign. Yay!
From here, we hopped on a public transit bus that took us out to the tulips!
What follows is a shitton of tulip pictures. I’m not even remotely sorry.
Once we left Keukenhof to make our way back into the city, we decided to stop one last place before making additional plans.
After this, we went and found sustenance (it had been a long day!!!) before making the decision to try the Anne Frank House again. We hit the line precisely when it started to rain and as it was getting dark. Luckily, we only had to wait 30 minutes or so before we were let inside.
Understandably, photos aren’t allowed inside the building and by the time we left, it was dark, so the next morning I went back and shot this photo.
On our last full day in the city, we did a lovely amalgamation of things.
Our first stop was pancakes at The Pancake Bakery which had been recommended in my Rick Steve’s travel guide. I got a caprese pancake and it was so large that I could only finish half (which was quite unfortunate…because it was delicious.)
Also, as we were right by it, I stopped at the Homomonument to snap a photo or two.
From there, we wandered to a Sunday market and meandered a bit before heading to the Jewish Historical Museum. Here, we were taught the history of the Jewish people in Amsterdam.
The ticket that we purchased to get into this museum, however, was good for several other historically Jewish places of note, so after we left there and wandered over to the Holocaust Memorial, located at the Deportation Centre (where everyone was rounded up before they were sent to the camps).
From here, we walked home (past a zoo! Flamingos!) and rested a bit before picking out a steakhouse, Restaurant Argentino Luna, for dinner.
After dinner, Scott and I decided to partake in a comedy show, while mom decided to go back to the AirBnb to rest and pack. We wound up at Boom Chicago (once again, on recommendation of Rick Steves) and enjoyed their 8:30pm show.
I felt the show itself was an odd mix of too American and too Amsterdammer at the same time. Parts of the show were in Dutch (odd, considering the show was marketed and introduced in English) and parts of the show were making fun of American politics (some of the bits were outdated). As a whole, the show didn’t work. But the bits in English usually worked for the English-speaking audience, and the parts in Dutch apparently killed with the Amsterdammer audience. Sooo…
Afterwards, craving something sweet, we stopped and got donuts from a Dutch bakery (and chocolate-covered strawberries) at the outdoor fair we were passing through.
We wended our way home and I spent the remainder of the night packing up my suitcase so I could leave early the following morning.
All in all, I accomplished nearly everything I set out to do in Amsterdam. I wanted to do the EYE Film Museum and the windmills up north, but I saw the EYE museum and visited the tulips instead.
I wouldn’t necessarily say that I need to go back, but it was fun once!
Next stop…Cardiff, Wales for the Doctor Who Experience! Until then!