Post-internet break, I’m back to continue my Interrailing diaries for all you would be train travelers. Next stop? The Dam!
Stop 3: Amsterdam
Seemingly on-trend of us, we arrive in Amsterdam as the travel hype is slowing down. Nonetheless, we ventured on to the must-stop place for any young explorer – Amsterdam!
We arrived in Amsterdam by way of Osnabrueck which I’m told is a beautiful city (we only saw the tiny train station). Be warned in Germany and Holland, train stations have the bad habit of changing the given track at the last second, giving you a minute or so to jog across an entire train station at rush hour with a gigantic bag on your back.
Under recommendation from a Dutch friend, we stayed in Bob’s Hostel; a popular spot with the Irish it seems as our entire block was mainly lads from the mother country. We stayed in the hostel’s second building, behind the first and next to a really interesting The Doors themed pub. The hostel itself is well secured, with a security guard on the door at night but alas our stay wasn’t exactly…. rosey. We were put in a room at the top of 4 stories of what I can only call “suicide stairs” (think almost 90% vertical) and our across the hall neighbors were a group of rowdy lads who didn’t know how to correctly use our shared bathroom.
Food and Drink
For cheap and cheerful food, Wok to Walk is an ideal choice; fresh, quick and inexpensive noodle boxes. On our final night we went wandering and found Porto Carra where for €5 I had the greatest veggie lasagna of my entire life (and that’s including my trip to Italy); a definite must visit (and did I mention the entire menu is a fiver???). Bonus points if you like cake; check out the wonderful Mondaine café for HOMEMADE delights served by the nicest servers possible!
The To-Do List
Cycle Through Vondelpark (and Beyond)
Probably the greatest adventure of our entire trip, cycling around Amsterdam is something I was initially terrified about. In Holland, cyclists are king but that doesn’t mean cycle lanes are any less terrifying (especially those pesky mopeds who do not care who they push to the curb in all the literal senses). Despite this, cycling through Amsterdam was the most magical experience and I particularly loved getting to see the real side of Amsterdam with my best friends. Stop by the water, pick up some snacks on the way and enjoy picnicking in one of the most loveliest of parks in Europe.
Walk the Canals
Second, only to cycling, walking the streets and canals of Amsterdam is the best way to discover hidden gems and all the best spots. On our wonders, we found a tulip museum, several pretty boutique shops and a sustainable fashion center among other fantastic hidden gems. Amsterdam is made for exploring and by foot, the freedom of the city’s vibrant life is yours.
Experience the Redlight District (by Night)
The first question my mother asked me on my return from traveling is “did you go to the red light district” and never one to upset my poor mother, I did! Thronged with stag parties, men and giggling masses of girlies on nights out, Amsterdam’s Red Light District is a lot more than the seedy streets it’s usually depicted as. Okay, I wouldn’t walk it alone but with my friends, I enjoyed taking in the sights and people watching more-so than anything. Just walking the Red Light District is an experience in itself.
Take in The Art
If you have the time and the money, Amsterdam is a haven of hidden art and culture. While we didn’t visit any specific museums, we did get to take in some of their surroundings as we adventured by food and by bike. I will one day go back and see the Van Gough museum but we sadly arrived as it was closing. We found an amazing sustainable fashion exhibition by doing what we do best; wandering. This is also a really interesting Banksy exhibition in the Moco (very close to the I AMSTERDAM setup which you’ll have to get a picture with, it’s tradition!) and this shall run until mid-2018. If you don’t fancy forking out the fee to get inside… you can catch a glimpse of some pieces through the gate (spot the cheap sake interrailers!)
Cool Off on Thin ice
A cliché (and sometimes an overpriced one at that) Amsterdam’s ice-bar is my favorite of the few I’ve visited thus far. Not only is it pirates themed, the hosts are amazingly interactive (and the cocktails are delicious!)
Things to Note
- With lax laws on cannabis and a known party culture, Amsterdam is a lively city. If you value peace and quiet, stay outside the main city streets
- Moped drives (or in-a-hurry cyclists) won’t think twice about splattering you across the cycle-lane; proceed with care
- The queue for the Anne Frank museum is otherworldly. book in advance or get in line as early as possible.
- Don’t just follow the tourist trails; follow the locals too. Amsterdam has so many amazing sites and hidden gems that aren’t on plain site around your typical “touristy” streets – the sidestreet life is for all of us!