Inside: A look back at exploring the best places to go in Amsterdam.
Miss Part I of this story? Read How I Spent my Birthday at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe
Hello, 4AM Missed Flight
After our multi-day wander through the entertaining region of Edinburgh, Graeme and I set off very early in the AM to the Aberdeenshire airport (darn 4AM wake-up call) to head for Amsterdam. A forgotten passport incident took place later at security, but with the item only a 10 minute drive away, the airport employee didn’t charge us full-price to get on the next flight (THANK YOU, MA’AM).
Understandably so, by the time we actually reached the ‘dam, I was tired and hangry. A train and a bus later, I had a mini crash on our bed at the beautiful Park Hotel, found right on the canal in the city centre, across from the casino and restaurants I can’t wait to return to someday.
Rock the Vondelpark
Once I got over my grump, we headed across the street to the Hard Rock Cafe for some familiar eats in a rock music setting (my pick). Well-fed, and even served by someone who transferred from Toronto’s former Hard Rock, we hit the trails of the gorgeous 120 acre Vondelpark. This area gave off a combination-feeling of Central Park and Trinity Bellwoods vibes but with lots of extra bicycles, ponds plus a few hipsters. If I lived in AMS, I’d see myself spending a lot of time there. It was so lush, relaxing yet still lively enough to not be just another park.
Fun Fact: You can catch complimentary music entertainment at both the Vondelpark open-air theatre and the bandstand. There are also sufficient play structure setups for children!
Further wandering the streets, it felt so great to just explore in what was very summery weather, a great contrast to the temperature and precipitation of our time in Scotland. Up next would be the canal tours, an attraction literally at the door of our accommodations. Midway back to the hotel, I requested a pit-stop at Boezemvriend, having spied a sign about frozen treats (I was melting!). Turns out, the shop was a baby & breastfeeding-centric retail store with a full menu of lunch, cafe and dessert options to boot. The raspberry hibiscus tea ice cream was super refreshing with real fruit taste throughout. I was a happy lady. I later learned that it, like my favourite Jarritos soda, is made from real cane sugar.
Canal Cruise of the City
There is so much one could say about seeing the rest of Central Amsterdam from the front and centre point of a City Canal Cruise open boat. Everything looks like a postcard as you’re coasting down multiple one-way canal paths, passing many major tourist attractions including historic sites and many occupied houseboats.
Although you could see all of such on-foot, the perspective from aboard is one not to be missed. Bonus points to our tour guide for having a sense of humour, great city knowledge and a Jason Statham-twinning voice.
Additional stops on our 4-day excursion included the Heineken Experience, Madame Tussauds™ Amsterdam, the Red Light District, The Cave Rock Club (best rock bar in AMS) and restaurants like Bakery Cafe (complete with Italian food, fresh gelato and a free-range kitty named Rocky!), Aran Pub (perfect for footie matches) and Graeme’s favourite, the Burger Bar.
Tourism Tip: I highly recommend buying attraction passes in advance from the hotel concierge, if available. Must-stops like the Heineken Experience and Madame Tussauds have express lines for those already with tickets, saving you a long wait in otherwise unorganized, slightly chaotic queues.
Have you been to Amsterdam? Wanting to go? Let me know your favourite part, or any questions about it, in the comments below.