Our liking of Amsterdam began as we rolled by in our evening train past a multitude of colorful and absolutely stunning tulip fields. Right then I knew that if I was to be a farmer in Amsterdam, I would definitely be a Tulip farmer, as seeing those fields everyday would be pretty amazing.
We arrived to Amsterdam’s main train station and made our way to our hotel on tram #1, which left us a couple of blocks away from our final destination. Our hotel was good enough for the three days we had scheduled in Amsterdam and was a close walk to Amsterdam’s tourist area.
The next morning we woke up early, had breakfast and went on a walk through Amsterdam’s streets, which were crowded with tourists, trams going every direction and bicycles everywhere that sped close past you, ringing their bells, and seemed to have the right of way in the city. After a 10 minute walk we arrived to our first destination, Mike’s bikes, in order to book a bike tour of Amsterdam’s countryside for the next morning. After securing our spot we headed to Dam Square, Amsterdam’s main plaza. As we scanned the place we noticed a girl holding a “free walking tour” sign surrounded by a crowd of about 20 people; we could not pass on that tour as we have confirmed that the best thing to do the first day while visiting a new city is to do a walking tour to get familiar with it and learn all the interesting bits about it.
The walking tour was led by Alex , a nice guy from Colombia who had been living in Amsterdam for the past three years, who asked us to please watch out for the bikes breezing by in all directions as most accidents in Amsterdam are collisions between bikes and people. The three-hour tour was very informative and fun. Alex shared a bunch of interesting tidbits and mentioned that in the early years, property taxes were determined by the width of the house you built, thus the Dutch focused on building thin and tall houses to save money, a fact that can be seen by looking at most houses in the city center. Also interesting was the fact that lots of houses we saw where obviously not straight and looked like the Leaning Tower of Pisa. In the early 1800s though, the government required houses to be straight, so you can clearly see the new houses from the old. We then learned of the Dutch people’s logical , and to the point, personality reflected on naming patterns for structures, specifically their churches and bridges – i.e the Old Church and the Old Bridge were named after the New Church and the New Bridge were built. After much learning and walking we got back to Dam Square where we continued exploring the city for the rest of the day.
The next morning we packed a lunch and put on several layers of warm clothing as we headed out for our four-hour countryside bike tour. After getting everyone ready, our guide Tommy got the whole group of amateur Amsterdam bikers out of the city (luckily there were no bike collisions) and into the beautiful countryside. Amsterdam is well-known for its party scene, but the countryside is something that often gets missed. On the first two hours we biked past Vondelpark, Amsterdam’s main park, and a pretty cool boathouse neighbourhood; crossed multiple bridges (or Amsterdam’s Alps as they are called) over the many canals and finally traversed some beautiful farms with their cute Dutch houses and farm animals all around, any of which I would live in happily ever after. We finally arrived to a cheese and traditional Dutch Clog farm where we got a tour of the facilities and were shown the how to’s of Dutch cheese and wooden-shoe making. We rested and ate our lunch for 15 minutes and biked back to the city, where I experienced first-hand the crazy bike driving as I almost got t-boned by some locals who were zipping all around, while trying to make a left turn.
After our fun bike tour some good, hearty food was in order. We followed the advice from a local and went to MAUDER’S (which means Mothers in Dutch) for a delicious traditional Dutch meal. The place was quite full and we were lucky to grab the last table as everything else was reserved. Every inch of the walls were covered with photos of people’s mothers (I believe that there is still some space to submit photos of more mothers to be put up on the wall) a décor that went pretty well with the delicious, motherly food that the restaurant offered. After our hearty meal a long walk was needed so we went for a stroll past the very famous Red Light District which was, as expected, interesting, entertaining and kind of depressing at the same time.
Amsterdam is a very cool city to visit and below is photo evidence of that. Enjoy!