For those wondering where I have been these last few days, I took time off for my birthday—and a break from Paris. We took a trip to Amsterdam and really enjoyed our time there. In brief, the city of bikes was refreshing to us, and we enjoyed some amazing food. I will share a series of posts on Amsterdam, but my posts may be sporadic as we’re busy doing last-minute stuff in Paris, running errands, cleaning, and dealing with the hectic mess of packing for Aix en Provence in the next three days.
This was our first trip to Amsterdam, and those of you who have been to the city know that biking is big there. We thought it was great. The bike and scooter lanes were so well routed, making the city biker friendly. Central Amsterdam is situated within dividing canals with brick homes along the sides of the water. The homes are built stuck together with their neighboring homes, but they all have their individual design and look to them. The city as a whole was easy on foot, and the use of maps were effortless. We walked everywhere, taking the tram only once to the train station on our departure.
We had the pleasure to visit almost all of the neighborhoods in Amsterdam: Oud-West, Oud Zuid, Leidseplein, De Pijp, Spui, Jordaan, Spiegelkwartier, De Plantage, Centrum (Red Light District and Dam Square). In my opinion, central Amsterdam is not very big, so you could walk from point A to B easily. Compared to the walking we do in Paris, Amsterdam was a breeze.
The city offers a plethora of museums, nightlife and shopping. We experienced a little bit of all. The people are friendly and speak really good English. In fact, it seems the Dutch like to speak English to each other as well. It wasn’t a big deal to speak English there, and we were thankful for that. The atmosphere was laid back; things were more logical (than Paris), and of course loose and liberal. The city has something for everyone, but it is a haven for young fellows in their twenties to travel in groups seeking to smoke cannabis and try out “magic” mushrooms. Of course the city of bikes is known best for that and the legal escorting from girls, but it is so much more than that. Besides exploring the city, we came to enjoy the works of our favorite artist, Van Gogh, at the Van Gogh Museum and to visit Anne Frank House. The Van Gogh Museum is a must-see for Van Gogh lovers. And on a sadder note, the Anne Frank House will leave you wondering how and why history had played out the way it did. It was not a happy visit, but an awakening one that reminds you how cruel people can sometimes be.
In my short summary, Amsterdam is a great city that has a lot to offer for people of all taste. Wandering through the neighborhoods and streets can be quaint, artsy and romantic. There is some interesting history as well, and the city is hip to health and green living. I love that the city is clean, and the vegan dining options there are spectacular. We believe it’s better than Paris. And although the weather can be a bit chilly there, the fresh air was refreshing. I would recommend a visit for those who haven’t been yet. We really liked this city of bikes.