Friday, 17 March 2017

What To Do In A Day In Amsterdam.

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After visiting Amsterdam twice in the space of just three weeks, it was basically inevitable that I was going to fall head over heels for the beautiful Dutch city. On just the first visit, I fell. I fell hard. Truth be told, it's very difficult not to.

Two trips to Amsterdam in the space of just three weeks wasn't exactly intentional in the beginning... then again, it wasn't totally accidental, either. Adam and I found out that both of our favourite bands were playing live shows just weeks apart in a city that we had always wanted to explore together - end of story, there were no further questions asked, we were set to go. With a pretty tight budget and a limited amount of time available to book off work, each visit was somewhat fleeting and our primary concern each time was making it to the shows. Nevertheless, we managed to cram in a surprising amount of activities during our time there and ended up seeing some truly wonderful parts of the city.

In a bid to share some of the knowledge I've gained from our trips, if you ever happen to find yourself on a tight schedule during your visit to Amsterdam, here's a bunch of things you can do in a day to make the most of your time in the city.

Pancakes for breakfast.

When in Amsterdam, it's only right to have pancakes for breakfast. On our first visit we discovered Pancakes Amsterdam and we didn't look back. One is located just a brief five minute walk from the train station, which makes it the perfect stop for a delicious bite to eat in the morning before setting off to explore the city. There's a few others situated in popular Amsterdam locations, such as next to the Anne Frank house. Their menu is entirely pancakes, but with surprising variety. Whether you prefer traditional Dutch pancakes, fluffy American pancakes, sweet or savoury pancakes - it's all there.

Explore the canals.

Truthfully, I quickly found that one of my favourite things to do in Amsterdam was simply wander. We spent our first morning in the city walking up and down the canals taking photos and I thoroughly enjoyed it. If I'd had more time there, I could have wandered along the canals for hours. If you like architecture, pretty bicycles, quirky bars and coffeeshops - the canals are for you. There's also the option of seeing the canals from the water by taking a canal boat tour, most of which cost around €18-€20 for a one hour cruise. Of course, I can't talk about the canals without mentioning the Red Light District - and what a wonderfully bizarre place it is. It has to be seen to be believed - although, I would highly recommend paying it at visit at night when it's full of life and fellow tourists, as it's a little lackluster during the daytime.

Grab a snack.

If you're feeling peckish in the middle of the day, Amsterdam certainly isn't short on its offering of tasty street food. Adam fell head over heels in love with Maoz Vegetarian, a fast service restaurant that originated in Amsterdam which serves authentic falafel and freshly made vegetarian food. Seriously, if I had a pound for every time Adam talked about how good this place was, I'd be a rich girl, la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la. Meanwhile, I fell in love with Manneken Pis - a small street stall that sells fries that are chunky, fat and crispy on the outside and velvety soft on the inside. Yum.

Visit a museum (or two, or three).

There's certainly no shortage of museums in Amsterdam. From the Van Gogh museum, to the Anne Frank House, to Moco Museum, all to name but a few - you're bound to find something that appeals to your interests. Unfortunately, we couldn't realistically make it to all of them during our visits alongside everything else, but we did set aside some time for the Banksy exhibition at Moco Museum (€12.50), as well as some time for a visit to Body Worlds (€18). If you're unfamiliar with Body Worlds, it is an exhibition that tells the story of the human body and the impact of happiness on our health. It showcases more than 200 anatomical specimens of real human bodies to show complexity, resilience and vulnerability. A word of warning, it's certainly not for the faint-hearted (or those with a weak stomach) but it's one that I would wholeheartedly recommend as it's unlike anything else I've seen.

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Eat, eat and eat some more.

As cheesy as it may be, whenever the opportunity arises, Adam and I love to visit a new and unfamiliar Hard Rock Cafe. Amsterdam was no exception to this, located just a short five minute walk from Leidseplein and right on the waterside. It's certainly not the most budget-friendly of places to eat, but we decided to go there on the evening of Valentine's Day for a tasty meal. We also decided to try Pasta Pasta one evening, which serves fresh homemade pasta in a number of restaurants situated around the city. It was some of the most delicious pasta I've ever tasted.

Walk it off.

After a big meal, there's nothing quite like having another pleasant stroll around the city, perhaps another wander up and down the canals. Though if you happen to dine in the Hard Rock Cafe or somewhere close, Vondelpark is located right on the other side of the road and is the perfect place for an evening walk. It's peaceful, pretty, and full of cute dogs.

Watch live music.

As mentioned in the beginning, we ended our days in Amsterdam by watching live music. On our first visit, we watched Touche Amore perform at Melkweg, and on our second visit we watched Pinegrove play at the Paradiso. Both venues were big and beautiful in their own respect, and were able to house more than one live show at a time - so it's always worthwhile researching who might be playing a show when you visit the city. Alternatively, we stumbled upon a great bar located in Leidseplein called The Waterhole which houses live music almost every night. With super cheap drinks up until 9pm and a wonderful atmosphere, it was easy to fall in love with the place.

Quick-fire Amsterdam tips:

  • Be alert. Cyclists will mow you down and there are tram tracks everywhere.
  • Drinks are not cheap in and around the RLD. Venture to Leidseplein (10 minutes by tram) for lower prices.
  • Avoid queues at popular attractions by pre-purchasing tickets online.
  • Coffeeshops and caf├ęs are two totally different things.
  • Buy an OV-chipkaart - it is the public transport ticket that gives you entry to trams, buses, metros and trains.
  • Despite what I've mentioned above, pancakes aren't just for breakfast.

Have you ever been to Amsterdam, or would you like to go there?

Katy Belle.
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