Three Days in Amsterdam, Netherlands: The Essentials.

Hallo, Welkom in Nederland! I am travelling back in the time to take you on a journey to the beautiful tulip capital of the world, the Netherlands. Amsterdam is where we will start. If you are familiar with this part of central Europe, you probably can relate to what I going to share with you today.



I have a long list of silly but rather complicated quests that I’d like to complete in life. I guess you could call this my version of a bucket list. But no matter what you call it, my list of wants got slightly shorter after this visit.


Walk in Amsterdam

My earliest recollection of Amsterdam is breakfast with my parents next to a canal with windmills in the distance. The fresh smell of hot toasted bread and taste of sweet marmalade feel so real I can hardly believe I was only eight then.

Canals in Amsterdam

When I grew and began to understand the world around me more clearly, I read the memoirs of a child named Anne Frank, and her experience of hiding during World War II saddened me deeply. I yearned to pay tribute to her and the many like her who had gone through such ordeal. Starry nights and sunflowers reminded me of the great painter who had off cut his ear of because the world didn’t understand him. I felt a connection with him, some days, for I feel the world doesn’t understand me either. I was eager to see his work. Finally, I fancied a nice hot brew and some Ams-cake to go with it. All these opportunities only existed in Amsterdam.

Van Gogh in Amsterdam


Our trip was a short stopover on our way back from the United States, and it involved carrying a few heavy suitcases, which are usually a no-no for us. But these rules can be broken from time to time, especially for precious occasions like little Shruti’s wedding in Detroit. Just to side-track a bit – a couple of pointers to remember if you haven’t been to an Indian wedding yet. First, the music is never too loud, so enjoy the variety you hear. Everyone from young to less young can dance, so let your hair down, let go and join the fun. Second, make sure you have the right clothes for the events. In other words, pack ’em right! We did, but what we brought wasn’t exactly what you’d like to wear in late-autumn-early-winter Amsterdam. So, there was only one thing left to do. Stuff in the rest. **

Amsterdam city



How We Got to Our Hotel From Schiphol

Picture this in Amsterdam: Early morning, rain, strong winds, jet lag, heavy suitcases. Schiphol to Amsterdam Centraal Station. Cobblestone-paved streets, the wind almost lifting our umbrellas. Watch out! Bicycles in all directions but you can’t see them because of the rain gets in your eyes. Find the hotel. Found it! No lift? OK. Don’t panic. Time to build those muscles! Ugh. Hotel room! Phew!

Did I learn anything? Yes! Would I do it again? Naturally! Would I change anything? Add a pair of goggles to the packing checklist, and most importantly, while in Amsterdam call my dear friend Stephan! *

Schiphol to Amsterdam


Where to Stay in Amsterdam

Amsterdam offers a wide array of hotel options to suit any budget. We stayed at a very decent budget hotel approximately 300 metres away from Amsterdam Centraal Station. This turned out to be the perfect choice for our trip.

Hotels in Amsterdam


Cycling Around Amsterdam

About bicycles: Amsterdam is the most bicycle-friendly city in the world. There are approximately 400 kilometres of bike lanes and paths in the city. I had been warned to watch out for the bicycles, which are ridden in both directions. Every resident knows how to cycle. It’s the most efficient and environmentally friendly way to get to any place in the city, rain or shine. The Dutch are very eco-conscious by nature.  It’s even common for riders to hold umbrellas or have young children strapped on child-size harnesses on the front or back of their bikes. It’s hard to comprehend, but driving in Amsterdam is not a convenient option.

 

bicycle, cycle


Did You See the Dutch Canals?

While cycling or walking around the older part of the city, you’d notice stretches of canals – in fact over 100 kilometres of them. These canals were constructed in the 17th century mostly for residential development, defence, and water-management purposes. Today they are used for tourism, recreation, and private transportation. 


Canals Amsterdam Netherlands

The waterway you see in the picture below and, at the beginning of this article is Prinsengracht, which is close by to Anne Frank’s house.


Canals Amsterdam Netherlands

Amsterdam was originally a fishing village but became an important port in the 17th century, setting the stage for becoming the centre of trade and finance it is today.

 

Canals Amsterdam Netherlands


Popular Dutch Beers

Heard of Heineken? It’s a popular Dutch beer sold internationally. Other popular brands include Pale and Grolsch. Cheers mate!


Beer Amsterdam Netherlands

 


Tulip Season in the Netherlands

Since our visit was in early winter, we didn’t get a chance to see the summer tulips. Below are beautiful pictures of them and the spring daffodils taken recently.


Tulips  Amsterdam Netherlands



Dutch Windmills!

Windmills are another Dutch icon. We didn’t have enough nights planned out for this trip, so we decided to visit only Zaanse Schans, an open-air museum, on the outskirts of Amsterdam. 


Zaanse Schans, Netherlands

Getting to Zaanse Schans was a short and comfortable ride – just a 17-minute train ride between Amsterdam Centraal and Zaandijk and then a 15-minute walk in the chilling wind to the museum centre. We surrendered to the strong winds and took a bus instead. I am not sure if we were just there too early or if others were more sensible and decided to stay indoors, but Zaanse Schans was not very crowded during our visit. On the warm side of winter, I didn’t have to wait at all to get into these gigantic clogs.


Zaanse Schans, netherlands


Over at the museum, we got to see many historical windmills. Did you know that there were once around 10,000 windmills in the Netherlands? One thousand of these mills are still standing today. Some are opened for the public to visit, and others are actual homes! I wouldn’t mind staying in one. The windmills were particularly an important aspect of farming in the country. The mills were used to pump the water out of the canals and send it back into the rivers.

 

windmills Zaanse Schans Netherlands


Where Can We Get Cheese in Amsterdam?

Are you a cheese lover? Yes? Then no trip to the Netherlands is complete without visiting a cheese farm. Gouda cheese the most iconic cheese of the region. Doc loves cheese, but since I prefer the grilled version of it, we compromised on this: gouda from a cheese speciality store for Doc and a Dutch grilled cheese sandwich for both of us. Oh, yummy, yummy, yummy. Both of us were pleased. Thumbs up!

 

cheese, amsterdam, netherlands


Coffee in Amsterdam

The Dutch love their koffie. But do remember, if you want some coffee in Amsterdam, you should go to go to a café or coffeehouse.


And look, here is coffee from a coffeehouse from Stephan. Splendid! We are even happier now!


coffee, koffie Amsterdam, Netherlands, coffeehouse


The Dutch first brought coffee to Indonesia (then known as the Dutch Indies) back in the 19th century. They restructured the plantations and implemented a cultivation quota for coffee to be exported to the Netherlands. The Netherlands then and still is an important influencer in the international coffee trade.


You’ll also notice coffeeshops throughout Amsterdam, but note that there is a difference between a coffeehouse and a coffeeshop. At coffeeshops, people can legally buy soft drugs in addition to coffee.


So, if you just want a good caffeine fix, get one at a coffeehouse. And that’s exactly what we did to complete our trip to the Netherlands.

 

coffee, koffie Amsterdam, Netherlands



Sitting there at Schiphol airport on the way back, I couldn’t recollect whether Zaanse Schans was where I had first seen the Dutch windmills. Nevertheless, I was happy to see these once again. Over the past few months, I have come to accept that time is limited. Time waits for no one. When I do visit Amsterdam again, I would visit the same places all over again, taking back with me even more cherished memories. 😊 Counting stars, cherishing the pleasant memories in search Delphi…… ReachingDelphi.



* Thank you for the lovely photos Stephan. 

** for more an Indian wedding experience, join me in Nashik, India. 


amsterdam, netherlands

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