I was surprisingly impressed by Amsterdam. The city is a hotspot for tourists and I was initially concerned that a four-day trip to the Dam for Easter break might have been madness.
We chose to stay in a hostel south of the city center, only a twenty minute ride on the metro from Centraal Station. We were far enough away to get some peace and quiet when we needed it, but close enough to ensure that we did not miss out from making the most of our time there.
The best thing about Amsterdam is that it is flat, like the rest of the Netherlands. While most people were cycling on the designated cycle paths, I enjoyed walking around the various districts, discovering interesting shops and views as I went along, not worring about climbing up steep hills for the first time in a long time. Sheffield is such a hilly city; it is one of its worst characteristics for those of us who live here without cars.
The Van Gough Museum was a definite highlight (order tickets online if you wish to skip the long queue). Though, like I mentioned above, walking was the best way to see Amsterdam. The Jordaan District was beautiful and completely void of tourists during my visit. I found some great bargains in some of the city’s incredible Vintage shops by stumbling upon them at random. I ate the most delicious Indonesian food, which I must say hands down is the best meal I have had in a long time! Kam was ill for a few days of the trip though and she was not very appreciative of the food, or me dragging her around the shops!
We hardly spent any time in the historical center. It is touristic to the point of excess, and that is where you will most definitely find some of the more negative stereptypes associated with the Dutch capital. Yet within only a ten minute walk down the road, it is easy to find cafés, restaurants and shops which offer a much more authentic (and affordable) experience, away from the crowds.
I would definitely return to Amsterdam. The food, culture and shops were all fantastic, and it was so relaxing to spend hours strolling along the canals, people-watching and admiring the distinctive architecture of the tall, thin canal houses.