It was three years ago when I first traveled to Europe. I visited Sweden, France and Belgium. This time around, I was super excited to finally go to the Netherlands for three days. Fa -the man- and I drove to Amsterdam from Brussels and it was a two hour drive. We decided to book an Airbnb instead of a hotel because I mean who wants to go for an expensive hotel when you can find a cheap and cute bungalow. We stayed in a small town called Noordwijk, 30min away from Amsterdam.
The sky decided to bless us with some good rain the day we had planned to visit the city. We thought we would drive from Noordwijk to Amsterdam, park the car and take the public transport or walk around the city. Needless to say, we ended up staying in the car for some time because it was pouring outside and also because we couldn’t find a cheap parking lot.
Here are some things you definitely need to know before you embark on your endeavours to Amsterdam:
- Amsterdammers are SUPER lovely!
I am not exaggerating when I say this. Whenever we were lost and needed help with directions or anything, we would ask someone in the streets and they would answer with a smile on their face. We teased that everyone in Amsterdam is always happy because the wiet is legal there and it apparently makes you happy 😊
One night, we drove to the nearest pizzeria but they were about to close. They still took our order and only when the pizza was ready, they asked for payment. Turns out, we didn’t have any cash and their machine wasn’t accepting our credit cards. So the guy (not the owner) told us not to worry and to come back and pay the next day. (insert extremely surprised emoji). Who does that? Who says that to strangers?
- They make pretty good cheese and hot chocolate.
If you’re a cheese lover, you’re definitely going to love Amsterdam. I am not too sure if it is the best place for it or if there is other better places for that but for sure, you’re going to find many shops where you can taste and buy different kind of cheese.
And hot chocolate? Oh Em Gee! My favorite drink while there. No matter what time of the day it was, I would always order some hot chocolate. Also because it was the only thing I could read and understand on their Dutch menus. 😊
You can pretty much eat anything you want when in Amsterdam. One day we had pizza, the other day Chinese food and I heard there are some cool Caribbean and African restaurants we didn’t get the chance to go to.
- Driving in the city is cool and all but finding a parking lot is a REAL struggle.
You will never guess how much one hour parking is in Amsterdam. Be ready for this: 24€ . Say whaaaat? After driving in Paris and Brussels, we were NOT expecting the parking to be that expensive. We found on Google these places called: Park and Ride which are supposedly cheap and an easy way for drivers to visit Amsterdam but the closest to where we were was full and not that cheap either. So we ended up parking close to the Amsterdam Centraal Station, hoping we wouldn’t get a ticket for only paying for half an hour.
- No More IAMsterdam sign in the city! Don’t trust Google.
Yet another disappointment! And another proof that you can’t always trust your dear friend Google. He/She had told us to drive to the Centraal Station to get a picture at the IAMsterdam sign. You should have seen our faces when we were told an Amsterdammer who works at the station that the sign was removed from there years ago and that the last one is at the airport. And guess what we did? We drove all the way to the Amsterdram Airport of Schiphol, paid 2€ for 10min parking, pretended we were going to pick up someone, ran to the sign, asked strangers to take a picture of us, ran back to the car laughing at how crazy we are, looked at my phone to see: HORRIBLY taken pictures of us at the sign. Cried a bit and moved on.
- The canal cruise is a great way to visit a good part of the city.
We had not planned to go cruising but since it was raining outside and walking around was no longer an option, we decided to pay about 15€ each for a one hour cruise that took us along the canal. The boats have recordings in 13 different languages of historic facts about the places you get to see. Take a peak at my Instagram highlights for more on that.
I know I probably visited and only saw a quarter of what Amsterdam has to offer and that is why I wouldn’t hesitate to go back. Would I stay in the same area and in the same bungalow? Absolutely yes! Would I choose to go the same time of the year, Probably Not! I blame the rain for missing out on the beauty of the city.
‘Til Next time