Ah, Amsterdam! I was really excited to visit this city, because everyone I know who has been has nothing to say but praise for how remarkable the city is. However, Amsterdam was more than just remarkable.. Even in my short time there, it surpassed any expectations I had, leaving me speechless and ready to move there in a heartbeat!
By the time my flight arrived in Amsterdam, it was already starting to get late out. Since my hostel wasn’t in the city centre, I decided to go directly from the airport to the hostel and wake up early for some exploring. The Schiphol Airport has a train station directly underneath it, making it extremely accessible to get into the city centre and to other areas near Amsterdam, which is really helpful. I took the train to the Biljmer Arena, and with the help of a security officer (who provided me with walking directions to where I was staying), I was on my way. I wish I could say that I arrived at the hostel quickly and with no trouble, but unfortunately, that wasn’t exactly the case. As I was leaving the arena,a guy walked up to me and asked if I had any cigarettes. I responded that I didn’t, because I don’t smoke, and continued walking. However, he kept walking alongside me and tried making more conversation, like asking me where I was going. Shortly he tried to get me to enter some store, so at this point I loudly stated that I wasn’t interested and for him to leave me alone. Thankfully, there were a lot of people around at this point, and he left me alone. I was slightly scared by this encounter, but I am also glad that I was able to stand up for myself.
I proceeded to walk down another walkway, even more sketchy than where I previously was, but I had no more incidents and arrived safely. The place I was staying wasn’t very clearly marked; it’s basically one floor of a big apartment building. It’s called Hostelle, a female-only hostel, and even though it wasn’t in the city and difficult to find, it was SO CUTE! Definitely the cutest hostel I’ve stayed at, with each part of the hostel carefully decorated. Though the décor was adorable, and it is very easy to get from the Arena into the city centre, if you are only in Amsterdam for a short amount of time, I would recommend just staying in the centre. It will simply save you travel time and money on transportation, plus it is a lot easier to come and go as you please.
The next morning, I awoke early and headed into the city centre on the metro (only after buying a train ticket and realizing the next train wasn’t for an hour… rookie mistake!). I arrived at Centraal station, right in the centre of the city, and I was ready to go exploring. But first, I needed some breakfast, so I stopped at a café and had some coffee and dutch pancakes! It was soooo good. Afterwards, I started walking towards the Jordaan area, near the Anne Frank House, and that was when I fell in love with Amsterdam. The architecture is unlike anything I’ve ever seen, people ride bikes everywhere, the canals are utterly gorgeous, and it was so sunny and beautiful.. Every part of it made me want to up and move there! Especially since Jordaan is a residential area and not extremely tourist-y, I felt like I was able to get a sense of what life in Amsterdam would really be like.
The Anne Frank House looked interesting from outside, because it really didn’t look like a house at all. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to go inside, but I’m glad I at least got to see it. (the Anne Frank House has recently changed their sight-seeing policy so that people who buy tickets online are able to visit until 3:30,and people who haven’t bought their tickets online are only able to go after 3:30. Since I had to leave before then,I wasn’t able to go. I’m not sure if this is just for the summer or a permanent change, but I would make sure to double check before you go so you can avoid disappointment.) Afterwards, I followed the canals throughout Jordaan and headed back towards the main city centre. I stumbled upon a flower market in the middle of the streets, which was super neat to see. Then I continued to one of the biggest canals in Amsterdam, which had so many houseboats lining the sides of the canal! I would love to live in one for a little while. Plus there are many boats that go along the canal throughout the day. Just sitting next to the canal and taking all of the beauty in is soo rewarding.
By this time, it was insanely sunny out. It must have been 30 degrees! So crazy. I literally almost went to buy a dress, because for some silly reason I decided to wear pants. However I still pushed through, even though walking around all day resulted in a few sunburns. Next I went to visit the Begijnhof, which used to be a nunnery. It’s in a busy area of the city, but tucked away so that it is nice and serene inside. The area has a lot of buildings for residents, a main church and a chapel. I think the church is still used for services. Plus, I saw a bride and groom there, which was pretty neat! Afterwards, I went from being a saint to being a sinner by walking through the Red Light District. I mean, who goes to Amsterdam without seeing the Red Light District? Here’s a spoiler though: it wasn’t as bad as I was expecting. Yes, there are a lot of coffee shops, sex shops, interesting museums, bars, private shows, sex theatres, and more. But, you can also find many of these features throughout the rest of the city as well, especially coffee shops (where you can get cannabis goodies). So, it may seem scandalous, but I was expecting it to be much worse. However, I visited in the middle of the day, so I imagine at night it is a whole different story. (A friend of mine advised me to not visit the Red Light District at night, even if you are with someone else. I would say visiting at night is probably only a good idea if you are with a big group of people or with someone who actually knows the area.) After strolling through the district, I headed a couple of streets East to walk through Chinatown and another market area. Definitely less exciting, but still neat to see. Unfortunately, that brought an end to my travels, and it was time to head back to Centraal station and take the train to the airport.
Though my time in Amsterdam was very fleeting (literally less than 24 hours), it was still incredible, and I am really glad I had the opportunity to see a bit of the city. I didn’t actually pay and visit any sites, because just wandering near the canals and in the city centre was more than enough to keep me occupied. I know that Amsterdam has a lot more to offer than what I saw, so I really hope I can go back one day! If you are travelling to Amsterdam, I would suggest to stay right in the city centre. I would also recommend visiting Jordaan, because it is lovely and a lot quieter than the heart of the city; also, seeing the Red Light District is a must, just make sure you are safe and aware when you are there. I hope whoever visits Amsterdam will fall in love with it like I did. It is definitely my new favourite city because of all the unique aspects it offers, and I truly hope that I can come back someday, and perhaps even live here.