Easter weekend 2016 in Amsterdam (I know!! I’m super late… might as well don’t post right? But I want to look back on my time in Europe and remember what I did, so I’ll still post, hehe)
Each time we get a long holiday, I would request for a trip out of Germany. It revitalizes me when I get to hear a different language other than German (it’s so stressful to listen to German all the time). We went to Copenhagen for Christmas 2015, and decided to go to Amsterdam for Easter 2016. It was convenient with the different travel options from Bremen, but we decided to go with Flix Bus in the end.
Accommodation: ZH had booked us a campers’ cabin at Lucky Lake hostel, and while I usually shun backpackers-style accommodation, I was instantly taken by the place when I saw the photos online. It was definitely a unique choice, even to my Dutch colleague! My verdict: the place is nice but not suitable for families and princesses, though it might be more comfortable in late spring and summer when temperatures are warmer. We were there early spring and the cabins were a little too cold for us still, even though they had heaters within the cabins.
Transport: Our usual modus operandi is to get the tourist attraction card which includes free/discounted entry to various attractions and/or unlimited transportation. It was the same for Amsterdam: we bought the Amsterdam Card for 72 hour period (75 Euro) and planned our trip around the card.
My verdict: the value of the card is absolutely worth it if you plan your trip around the attractions the card has to offer.
We bought the 72H card for 75 Euro.
- Van Gogh Museum (17 Euro, free with card)
- Micropia (14 Euro, free with card)
- Hermitage (17.50 Euro, free with card)
- Artis Royal Zoo (20.50 Euro, free with card)
- One hour canal ride (16 Euro, free with card)
- Amsterdam museum (12.50 euro, free with card)
We spent the day around the central station, taking a canal cruise, visiting the Sex Museum and Red Light Secrets (museum about prostitution, admission fee 10 Euro) and just walking the area. The Sex Museum was interesting but very crowded since it was very close to the central station. I felt that the Red Light Secrets was more educational and raised awareness about sex trafficking. Towards the end of the ‘tour’, there was also a display wall with names of the ladies who were murdered in the course of their business. It is really sad that they are so vulnerable trying to make a living.
Amsterdam being a city of canals and waterways, canal cruise companies are aplenty and we enjoyed a canal boat ride with our Amsterdam card (many operators to choose from). It was always fun to enjoy a relaxing cruise because you get to take in the sights of the beautiful city in a short period of time, plus the guides provide insightful information that you may not have read online or in your travel guidebook.
We saw many locals and tourists snacking at Febo, a popular fast food style kiosk, and we couldn’t pass it up. It was quite fun buying hot food from the vending machines! You don’t have to worry about the food getting cold or past its prime. In the short time that we were eating there, we saw a high turnover of items so the food was kept fresh all the time. The sex museum is located just a short walk from Febo, so you can do both together.
We visited the Van Gogh Museum early in the morning, to avoid the long queues. Thankfully it was only a short wait as we could join the express queue with our tourist card. I can safely say that I don’t know how to appreciate art. So we decided to skip all the other art museums in our itinerary after browsing through Van Gogh Museum.
We had lunch at Foodhallen which reminded me of Pasar Bella in Singapore. It is essentially a big food court with many food stalls. We enjoyed a variety of food here.
Next, we headed to Begijnhof . You will find the oldest wooden house in Begijnhof, dating back to 1528. Please be aware that the Begijnhof is still an active ‘community’, so there are still residents living in the houses there. Please be respectful and do not create a ruckus.
If you’re interested in the history of Amsterdam city, you will be pleased to visit the Amsterdam museum. There are also special exhibitions from time to time.
The Old Church was one of the places that left us in awe, mainly because of how well preserved it was.
I have read that there is a large population of Indonesians in the Netherlands as Indonesia used to be a Dutch colony and therefore the migration of Indonesians into the Netherlands. The Indonesian food in the Netherlands was also purportedly quite authentic so we had planned to have a ‘rice table’ meal. We came across one such restaurant near the city centre and decided on it. We ordered a set meal for two and the food was quite good. I was still a little greedy after the meal, and ordered a rojak. Now I had thought that the rojak would be similar to the one we have in Singapore but I was sorely disappointed. The rojak did not have the sweet thick peanut sauce and the variety of vegetables was disappointing for the price we paid.
If you’re visiting the Hermitage Museum, you might want to be there a little earlier just to walk along the river and view the Schaduwkade. It is not a tourist attraction per say, and you won’t be able to find this on the Amsterdam tourist website. Basically, the Schaduwkade is a tribute to 200 residents living along the canal, who were persecuted because they were Jews. There’s also something similar in the area where I live in Bremen. It still shocks me and makes my heart sink whenever I think of it.
It is not a complete trip if we did not visit the zoo and/or aquarium, so we went to the Artis Royal Zoo and the new Micropia (just next to the Zoo). The Micropia was a new experience for me as it features microorganisms! I didn’t think I’d like it but I did! Maybe I’m a closet nerd.
In the evening, we had dinner with a local Dutch host at his apartment, organized via WithLocals.com. It was our first time using the services of WithLocals and I wish it was available in more locations! I think it allows us to have a better understanding of the local lifestyle since we like to go off the beaten path when we travel. We try to cover “top ten things to do/eat/visit” as recommended online but we like to mix it up a little as well.
Thanks to the wonderful pancake experience we had, I started to have a lot more pancake breakfasts when we returned to Bremen.
Our bus back to Bremen was around lunch time, so we woke up early to have sufficient time to wash up, have breakfast at the breakfast bus, pack our luggage and take the shuttle bus out to the train station. As the bus journey was quite long, we tried to find some snacks when we arrived at our bus departure point but there was nothing worth the money as with most convenience stores. I wanted some hot snacks from Febo but there was no Febo available. We ended up having an early lunch at Julia’s, a make-your-own pasta café.
We did not visit the Anne Frank house because 1) we are not history buffs, 2) we read online reviews that the site was overrated – small and nothing much to see, plus there’s always a long queue to enter the place.
Contrary to popular belief, “magic brownies cafes” are not everywhere, or at least not that I can see.