Looking at the calendar earlier this year, I noticed my birthday falls on the June bank holiday weekend. Without a doubt, it’s going to be a weekend birthday trip.
Amsterdam was high on my to-go list – A city of canals, bridges and bikes. It’s a very unique city with coffee shops and the infamous Red Light District. Of course, it’s not all about that, but if it’s your first time, it’s probably worth a try.
Currency: Euro (€)
Language: Dutch, but English is widely spoken
Accommodation Price: €€€ (I find accommodation price slightly higher)
I left my itinerary entirely blank so that I can be spontaneous. Obviously it’s not a good idea if you have places that you wanna visit which requires advance booking. I missed out Anne Frank Museum because tickets are not sold onsite and visitors are require to book online months in advance.
There are plenty of things to do in Amsterdam including museums, parks and walking tours. Here’s what I did on my spontaneous trip:
- Canal Cruise
- Body Worlds Amsterdam
- Red Light District
- NEMO Science Museum
- Van Gogh Museum
- The Avocado Show (Viral Facebook Video)
Walking towards Body Worlds, we noticed a shop selling fries with a very long queue.
Let me tell you that my boyfriend is not a fan of potatoes, plus, the queue was so long that it’ll probably take half an hour just to get some fries. Later I got to know that place is Manneken Pis. Unfortunately, I didn’t try it. I partially gave up but still keen to try it. So after walking past that shop, we saw another similar shop, we went on an just ordered one. But we didn’t specify a sauce, and they just gave us something that looks yellowish. At first I thought it was cheese, but it was something more curry-like flavor. It was unexpectedly delicious! My boyfriend actually ate more than half it! (We usually share the portion). If you feel like trying their secret sauce, ask for “Yopi” sauce, I don’t know if I’m spelling it right.
Body Worlds Amsterdam
Since it’s a spontaneous trip, we didn’t book any tickets in advance. I got to know that we can buy combo tickets – a few attractions at a cheaper price. So we got the Body Worlds with canal cruise for 2 at the price of 60€.
The exhibition is about anatomy of the human body in the exploration of HAPPINESS Project.
The quest for love and happiness dominates our lives, but what defines whether we are happy or not? And what is the effect of happiness on our body? BODY WORLDS: The Happiness Project explores these questions throughout the seven levels of the exhibition.BODY WORLDS: THE HAPPINESS PROJECT
I love the following quote at the exhibition:
Our life is what our thoughts make it…Marcus Aurelius (121-180), Roman Emperor and Philosopher
It was a perfect sunny day for a boat tour. That’s the perk of summer – longer daylight. You’ll get to know more about the city along the boat ride as the audio guide explain the highlights and history. I got to know that most of the old buildings along the canal tilt forward and there’s a hook on the top. It’s to lift heavy objects to the upper floors because people back in the days move houses a lot.
But if I am going to Amsterdam for a second time, I’d hire a private boat 🙂
Red Light District
Yes, the infamous red light district that exists due to the legalization of prostitution and the history goes way back. Feel free to read more about it here. The interesting scene starts when it gets dark. Women with minimal clothing openly showcase themselves over a red-lid glass door. There are plenty of peep shows, sex shops, prostitution museums there. It feels like a very ‘touristy’ area. One thing I’d like to note is that, there are etiquette when visiting and one of them is no photography policy to respect the sex-workers. I feel as a tourist, we should abide to it.
NEMO Science Museum
If you love science, this is a great place to go. The museum is based on interactive learning concept and you can learn by doing it. Absolutely recommend this place for family with kids. We went there around one late afternoon and there was a demonstration about chain reaction using Rube Golberg machine – a complicated contraption which does a simple task. My favorite part of the exhibition is the dam area. You are given plastic building blocks to build a dam, it was super fun! Apart from that, the rooftop area has a nice panoramic view of the canals. If science is your things, this place is worth more than 2 hours.
Van Gogh Museum
This museum has the largest collection of Vincent Van Gogh’s art work. Unfortunately, I got to know that my favorite painting of his – “The Starry Night” is not here and located Museum of Modern Art in New York. Well, that’s one more thing added to my bucket list now. I’d highly recommend using the audio guide, especially if you want to know more about each painting and learn about Vincent’s life. It’s around 10€. The other thing I would say is to book the tickets online as it will be a bit cheaper. If you like art, it’s definitely worth a visit.
The Avocado Show
Lastly before we head back to Dublin, I wanted to try this place out which was pretty viral on Facebook called The Avocado Show. The name states the obvious, most of the item on the menu contains avocado. The queue wasn’t long so we got seated pretty quickly. The food they serve is aesthetically pleasing, which is Insta-worthy. I find the avocado fries and avocado ice cream pretty unique.
Tip for the day:
Before finishing this post, I’d like to handover a useful tip:
- Tap water in Amsterdam is safe to drink, see here for more information. Also, don’t throw your bottle, you can easily refill it while roaming around touristy spots
Amsterdam has a lot to offer especially on a nice summer weekend. I’ll definitely come back and visit this city again another time!