Six Reasons Why You Need to Visit Amsterdam
I think I have a love hate relationship with the "On This Day" feature of Facebook. On one hand its a lovely tool that allows you to reminisce over past adventures and reminds you of silly moments and conversations you have long forgotten. But on the other hand, it can be a little depressing when it tells you that on this day a year ago or two years ago you were holidaying it up in a beautiful city when on this present day you are on you way to work. And its raining. So when Facebook reminded me that on this day two years ago I was sunning it up in Amsterdam, instead of getting down because I wasn't back there I decided to let it inspire a blog post!
When many people think of Amsterdam they think of the debauchery, the legal pot readily available and the Red Light District full of women to hire. The people that think this is all Amsterdam has to offer probably haven't been to Amsterdam. Yes, that is a part of Amsterdam but there is so much more to this beautiful city. And there are so many better reasons to visit (though, hopefully, no one visits a city for the sad industry present at the Red Light District), so I bring you seven reasons why you need to visit Amsterdam. And for those who already have Amsterdam on their destination list, I hope this gives you some ideas of what to see and do while in Amsterdam.
1) How Beautiful It Is
Amsterdam is one pretty city. The old buildings, the canals, the cute bridges covered in colourful flowers. This city feels so quintessentially Europe and walking through the city and observing the beauty filled with me happiness and awe.
2) The Heineken Factory
I hate beer so its curious why I went to a beer factory at all, but I went to Amsterdam with a friend whose favourite beer was Heineken and she begged that we visit as a favour to her. So me, and another beer despising friend accompanied her to the factory (aren't we lovely friends!).
Here is a hot tip- get your tickets beforehand at a tourist vendor so you can skip the long queue at the factory.
Upon entry you are given a Heineken band with three chips, two for free beers and one for a free gift. Despite my distaste for beer I did enjoy going through the factory learning how to make beer, going through a simulation where you get to be beer. Towards the end of the factory there is a bar area where you can collect your free beers. My lucky Heineken loving friend got to not only enjoy her free beers but also mine and my other friend (another hot tip, go with friends who don't like beer so you get their free beers)!
We found out the free gift was a bottle opener and you had a to catch a boat to collect it but when we went the next boat wasn't for another 45 minutes and since our Heineken lover friend had a plane to catch that evening we decided to skip it.
3) Pancake Corner and other "culinary offerings"
In the three days we were in Amsterdam we came to Pancake Corner four times. Amsterdam isn't known for its food but this place had a yummy range of pancakes (obviously given the name) plus a range of other offerings such as crepes, pizzas and sandwiches. It is also one of the places you can find Dutch pancakes (pictured above).
Another fun Dutch food offering is hot chips served in a cone. Okay it doesn't taste out of this world, but who can say no to some good hots chips and these are so portable!
4) Zaanse Schans a.k.a The Town That Smells Like Chocolate
We came to Zaanse Schans seeking windmills and we discovered a cute country town that looked like it belonged on the pages of a storybook, with chocolate scented air to boot.
Zaanse Schans is about a 15/20 minute train ride from Amsterdam (stop at Koog-Zaandijk station). You can hire bikes to ride around this idyllic town or explore on foot (which is what we chose). Zaanse Schans is like a picture book farm town so it was really nice just walking through the town, taking photos of the windmills, stopping into one of the cacao stores. I think we easily could of spent the day lazing around here, picnic-ing amongst the greenery if it hadn't started to rain.
5) The Shopping
Amsterdam has your classic European offerings such as H&M but I'm referring to all the stores that line their cobblestone streets that are aimed at tourists like me full of kitschy stuff like slippers shaped like clogs, giant wheels of cheese, magnet windmills, actual wooden clogs etc. The locals probably roll their eyes at these shops but we loved ducking in and out of all the stores and laughing at (and admittedly buying) the range of items for sale.
6) Anne Frank's house
This is the one thing on the list I did not get to experience but wish I did because everyone who has been said it was a really worthwhile experience. We had planned to visit on our last morning in Amsterdam but when we arrived that morning, only 5 minutes after the opening time, the line to enter wrapped around the block and we were told it was take two hours to get in and since we had to be at the airport in 3.5 hours we had to skip it. So there is a tip for you, make sure you get in early and allow enough time for waiting.