Amsterdam: City of Canals, Bikes & Weed

Amsterdam. A beautiful, magical city. The buildings, the history, the culture, the canals… And also the smell of weed and the constant fear that a bike is going to hit you. I’ve spent a week in this magnificent city and I fell in love. If you’re thinking about visiting the capital city of the Netherlands – stop thinking and start packing!

I got this trip as a gift from my grandparents. I went with my younger sister Nela and we spent an amazing and adventurous week there. Here are some bits and pieces of our trip.

We stayed at this hostel called ClinkNOORD which was honestly amazing. The rooms were spacious with all the things we needed, the bathrooms were (mostly) clean, the communal kitchen was big and useful and the staff were just super nice.

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The hostel was in a part of Amsterdam called Noord: it was right opposite the Centraal Station and we got to cross a canal everytime we needed to go to the centre which we thought was super exciting. The boat ride was free and there was a new boat every 5 minutes or so. As ClinkNOORD is so close to the central station, it is also very close to the centre. Just the perfect location for exploring Amsterdam.

It is also worth mentioning that it was Pride week during our visit in Amsterdam which meant a lot of colourful flags and balloons everywhere. I swear every shop we went to had some Pride decorations in the shop window. It was amazing!

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What I loved about Amsterdam was that all the stereotypical things you hear are definitely true: there are tulips everywhere (tulips were basically the first thing we saw in Amsterdam as there are fake tulips all over the airport), the canals are the most magical thing I’ve seen, all the houses look the same (and they are beautiful), there are bikes and bikers everywhere and you simply cannot escape the smell of weed.

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One of the most random and weird days we had in Amsterdam was the first day. We went for a walk to explore the city a little bit and some funny things happened. Firstly, when we were sitting on a bench somewhere outside the centre, a man came to me, gave me a bunch of wildflowers and said: “For you from Amsterdam.” I thought this was quite cute (and also a little bit creepy as the man was much much older than I was).

Another thing happened on the same bench. We were talking about something in Czech and this man came to us and asked us what language we were speaking. When we told him, he started to name a lot of famous Czech people and even said one or two phrases in the language. He then invited us to a Holocaust museum nearby which we unfortunately didn’t manage to visit (hey, maybe next time!).

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We did visit the Van Gogh Museum though which I loved so much. To be frank, the Van Gogh museum was the main reason I wanted to go to Amsterdam so much. I just love his paintings and his tragic story (and the Doctor Who episode about Vincent which is one of my all time favourites). We considered visiting other museums as well but the tickets were too pricey for us so we only stuck to the Van Gogh one. (Although we went to see Rijks Museum because the building is so lovely).

I did spend quite a lot of money in the museum shop though – I bought a Van Gogh themed mug and a Van Gogh poster (check it out here).

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He’s more than an athlete, he’s an artist!

The last weird thing that happened that day was that when we were in our exploring mode, we somehow managed to get into some area that might or might not have been a zoo… and we definitely didn’t pay. We didn’t stay long but it was kind of hilarious. We didn’t have any idea how we managed to get there.

I managed to take some pics:

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This was super cool!

Because we spent a week in one city, we managed to see a lot. I wasn’t sure how to best approach this post so it isn’t chaotic and all over the place and I decided to divide it in a few categories. Firstly…

Food in Amsterdam

Eating in Amsterdam was both amazing and frustrating.

Amazing because we got to taste the famous dutch cheese, poffertjes, apple pie, stroopwafels etc. We went to the famous Foodhallen and we bought fries with different sauces.

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1 – Chicken Sesame Balls in Foodhallen, 2 – Fries with garlic sauce, 3 – Fries with peanut sauce, 4 – Dutch apple pie with coffee

Frustrating because whenever we wanted to buy something cheaper (neither of us is rich – we’re both students and we were on a budget), it seemed almost impossible. The first couple of days we only managed to find HEMA and Albert; both of which didn’t have almost any food you could buy cheaply (and don’t get me started on wanting to buy something you could actually cook – like pasta -, it was just impossible). Luckily we found Lidl later in the week which saved our asses (and wallets).

Centraal Station

We spent a lot of time here because we had to go through it every day in order to get from our hostel to the city centre. The building is quite beautiful but unfortunately it was under reconstruction so I couldn’t take many photos.

Rembrandtplein Square

We didn’t spend much time here but it was a really beautiful (and crowded) square with a magnificent statue of Rembrandt.

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There was also a street artist who we listened to for a bit. He was really good!

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We wanted to buy some ice cream that day because it was quite hot but we only found one shop with ice cream close to the square and it was so overpriced we decided not to buy it.

Openbare Bibliotheek

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I was really excited about visiting this huge library but – again – it was under reconstruction so we couldn’t get in. Still, the building was really interesting from the outside too, so at least we got to see that.

If you’re ever in Amsterdam, please go check out the library on my behalf. I hear it’s wonderful – there’s even a café at the top with an amazing view on the city.

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Vondelpark & Sarphatipark

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There are some amazing parks in Amsterdam and we visited two of them. The famous Vondelpark and a park called Sarphatipark which we found by a happy accident. To be honest, I enjoyed the second one a bit more as there were fewer people.

Oude Kerk

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Oude Kerk (“old church”) is a 800-year-old building and the oldest building in Amsterdam.

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We didn’t go inside because we didn’t really want to (we’re not church people) but it was still worth it viewing it from the outside. It’s a really beautiful piece of architecture.

Noord

As I said before, we lived in this area of Amsterdam called Noord. It’s quite a new and modern area and we thought it proper to go for a short walk around on our last day because we haven’t really looked around before.

I’ll be honest – I didn’t really like Noord. Compared to the rest of Amsterdam, it is very modern and feels much less historical and magical. It wasn’t ugly or anything, it just didn’t feel as charming as the other parts of Amsterdam (such as Jordaan).

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Here’s a picture of me in Noord.

Aaand… that’s it. I know this post is super long but I really wanted to share as much as I could with you guys. There will be another (shorter) post about the different Amsterdam Markets we visited.

I hope you enjoyed this post – it is this blog’s first proper travel post. Let me know in the comments if you’ve ever been to Amsterdam and what did you think; or if you haven’t been, would you like to visit it one day? And what is your favourite spot?

Veronika x

10 thoughts on “Amsterdam: City of Canals, Bikes & Weed

  1. Good post, great photos! I’m already looking forward to that shorter follow-up post on the different Amsterdam markets. I’ve never visited Amsterdam, perhaps one day I will… who knows when that will be.

    Liked by 1 person

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