Whoa nellie, I’ve got a lot of catching up to do! It might take me a while, but I promise lots of pictures and stories of adventures over the next few weeks. I have thousands of photos to sort through, but lets get started with some fun in lovely Amsterdam.
A good friend of mine from Philmont, Sibyl, came to Germany for a few months to do her student teaching. Naturally, we wanted to meet up somewhere, so when she suggested a trip to Amsterdam over Spring Break, I was 100% in favor of the idea.
We stayed at a hostel called Bostel Amsterdamse Bos, which is about 30 minutes outside the city. It’s surrounded by a lovely forest, and had a kitchen, a little shop, bike rentals, and bunnies! Sibyl and I decided to forgo the optional heating for the first night since we both felt like we could survive the mild child.
Nope. Nope nope nope nope nope. I thought I was going to die, I was so cold. It was well worth the €6 to pay for heating the next night…
In the morning, we rented bicycles and rode into the city. The first 30 minutes through Amsterdamse Bos (the forest) was quiet and peaceful. It was a bit foggy, but we could see small canals and lots of birds. There was even a bridle path with lovely, soft dirt that made me pine for a saddle and an equine buddy. We didn’t see any riders that morning, but we did see a couple out for a hack when we rode back at dusk. 🙂
I’ve heard that the Dutch love their bicycles, and that is definitely the truth. There were cyclists EVERYWHERE, and they were incredibly patient with a certain pair of American tourists who didn’t quite know all the rules. We got it sorted, though, and had a lovely time riding through the bustling streets of Amsterdam. There were a few times when I was legitimately terrified—heavy traffic with narrow spaces to ride your bike through? YIKES!—but for the most part, there were wide bike lanes that made it a breeze to get around.
Sibyl’s main goal for Amsterdam was to see tulips, so when we spotted some, we stopped to take a look.
The number of varieties and color variations was absolutely mind boggling. Tulip season wasn’t quite in full swing yet, but there was certainly no shortage of them to enjoy.
Our flowery find was close to the Rjiksmuseum and the Van Gogh Museum, so we took a little walk around the grounds. Both museums were too expensive for our tastes, so we satisfied ourselves with playing on the I amsterdam sign instead.
MY main goal was to eat some fresh, hot stroopwafel, a thin waffle filled with caramel sauce. We found a little stand near between the museums that sold it, and MY GOODNESS, MY LIFE WILL NEVER BE THE SAME. Wow. I could feel myself developing cavities as I ate it, but it was well worth the impending dental costs. Seriously. That stuff is amazing.
Next, we were off to try to visit the Anne Frank House. This was #1 on our shared Must See list, so we were rather disappointed when we arrived to find that the line stretched around not just one, but two blocks. Sibyl had heard that sometimes it’s easier to get in if you go a the end of the day, but when we checked again at 7, the line was just as long. And since we only had 24 hours to explore the city, we decided not to spend most of our time standing in line for one attraction.
As disappointing as it was to not make it into either of the museums we had planned on visiting (Van Gogh and Anne Frank), it meant that we had time to just explore and be spontaneous. When we found a cute little Tulip Museum with a far more reasonable entry fee (€3 for students) and no line, we decided to check it out.
It was really neat to learn about the history of these beautiful flowers. I had no idea that they originally came from the Himalayas. They were considered sacred by the ancient Turks, and when Tulip Mania hit Holland, a single bulb of the most popular cultivar cost more than a house. That particular cultivar had “broken” (wrinkly) petals with red and white stripes. Turns out, it’s caused not by selective breeding, but by a virus that attacks the bulb! How’s that for a “viral sensation”?! Haha!
And I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that my favorite part was learning about the process of growing, harvesting, and storing tulip bulbs. I’m such a farming nerd…
Amsterdam is a very colorful, fun city. I loved the random little details that gave it character.
Stay tuned for Part II, in which I eat literal blue cheese and visit a cathedral that has been on my list for 2 whole years.
If you're planning a trip, here are some sites that I've found especially useful:
Booking.com is a great resource for cheap accommodations. They have a good variety of both hotels and hostels, so no matter your budget, you're bound to find something to suit.
Hostelworld is also good for cheap accommodations if you're digging the hostel scene.
TripAdvisor has a lot of very useful information, from reviews of attractions and travel-related businesses to forums where you can ask your questions and have them answered by locals or travel experts.
If you found this post useful, please share it! Thank you!