God created the world and the Dutch the Netherlands : exploring Amsterdam

We decided to spend a weekend in the beautiful Netherlands. The capital, Amsterdam, is very charming, romantic with its little canals and easily accessible. And if that’s not enough for you, there are plenty of nice little villages around the city ! Dutch cheese, the countryside, a charming atmosphere, flowers, windmills… Are you ready ? Follow us, we’re leaving!

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Getting to Amsterdam

Since we wanted to visit the capital, but also the surroundings, we decided to take the car to get around more easily. A three-hour trip from northern France, the capital can also be accessed by Thalys train and by bus (Eurolines etc), but if you come from further away, the best is to get to Schiphol Airport. To reach the city center from the airport, we recommend taking the train, because the price (€3.20), frequency (every 20 minutes) and travel time (15 minutes to downtown) are clearly more advantageous than the public bus (€5 for 25 minutes).

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Where to park in Amsterdam

The center has many parking facilities, but they are obviously expensive (it is a capital that attracts many tourists!). You can park in the Arena for 7 euros a day with the metro ticket included to access the city center. There are other parking areas closer to the center of the city, but prices go up to forty euros a day!

Where to sleep in Amsterdam

There are many hotels in the city center, but wanted to stay in the countryside around the city, so we chose an Airbnb in the city of Westbeemster, 20 km from the center. The place was extremely beautiful, in the middle of nature and near the canals. The house was perfect, easy to park and fully equipped. We didn’t lack anything, quite the opposite. The owners had everything planned, and had a folder full of explanations (where to shop, how to get to the center faster, etc.), and they even offered us a bottle of wine and typical cheese from the country! We thank them, we were very pleased and we highly recommend this place!

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Amsterdam by quarter

Beguinage 

The Begijhnof is a nice place where only women live. It’s where the beguines lived, unmarried women or widows who were part of a community. Their time was divided between prayer, charity and manual work. Two places of worship are to be found in this courtyard: a Protestant church (Engelse Kerk) and a small Catholic chapel (Begijnhofkapel) established illegally in a house in 1665. A place of absolute serenity.

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Jordaan

It’s the working district now transformed into a bourgeois and bohemian place. It’s compared to the Marais in Paris. It’s a small neighborhood in the west of Amsterdam, which was built in the 17th century and has been an area for artisans and laborers. The names of the streets of this neighborhood are named after flowers.

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In this area also we visited the museum of the boathouse Hendrika Maria, which is very interesting! We discovered how they lived on a houseboat built in 1914! Admission is €4.50 (or free with the City Card of Amsterdam) for a visit of about 45 minutes. You can even have a drink and chat with the owners !

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Flowers Market BLOEMENMARKET 

This market is open daily 9:30-17:30 and Sunday 11 am to 17:30. It’s a famous place in Amsterdam, on the Singel canal. It’s a floating market installed since 1862. It contains several stands where you’ll find many bulbs, and of course lots of flowers and souvenirs. The market is very small, we finished it very quickly. We confess we were a little bit disappointed by its size!

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Canals (boats)

By midafternoon, we decided to take a short boat ride (we were starting to have sore feet and what better way to visit the city than its small canals!). We stopped to buy tickets with the company Tours & Tickets near the Anne Frank House, and embarked almost at the same place. We enjoyed the tour and we were able to take pretty pictures, but the information provided was somewhat limited and we would have appreciated having some more. The tour costs 16 € and the journey is 1 hour and 15 minutes. There are several companies offering boat trips but only did this so we can not recommend one in particular.

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The Dam

This is the historical center and the main square of Amsterda. Around the square there are the two main streets: Damrak and Rokin. On this site there are several monuments such as the obelisk which is 22 meters high, the National Monument, the Royal Palace (Koninklijk Paleis) and New (Nieuwe Kerk). We did not stay because there are a lot of people, but we crossed it several times to access certain areas and get to the shopping streets.

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The Jodenbuurt

Is the Jewish quarter, where we strolled along the canals. It is in this area that the artist Rembrandt had his house, now a museum (Rembrandthuis). A little further up front, we find the science museum, which is an impressive building coming directly out of the water (we also saw it during the boat trip). It has a large terrace that we didn’t visit, but it must certainly offer a very good view of the city! If you know this place, please share with us in the comments!

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Miam YummyYummy

Febo We had seen these strange machines in the capital and we wanted to try. We took two different croquettes, delicious even if we didn’t really know what was in it!

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Casa Nostra An Italian restaurant where we stopped by chance! We were surprised for good, the food is plentiful and tasty for reasonable prices!

Caffé Il Momento We stopped for a coffee at this place! Great coffee, the decoration is very nice! Note that there are not many places to sit.

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The Cold Pressed Juicery It’s a juice bar that we tested. It’s the decoration that attracted us because it’s very nice, but we did not like the juice and the prices are quite high.

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Helpful hints:

  • The easiest would be to park in a parking lot and do everything on foot.
  • Beware of crossings, there are bikes everywhere.
  • Take a boat trip through the canals, it’s very nice after a journey of walking, and it allows you to discover the city from another point of view.

 

Positive
Negative
- Everybody uses bikes here! It's really nice and quiet, we've never seen that anywhere in the world!
- All the interesting places to see are close to each other, so it's fairly easy to walk around the city.
- There are lots of interesting cities and villages surrounding Amsterdam.

- I's an old city with a modern soul, welcoming and open with a very nice atmosphere.
- The city is really well preserved and clean, the Dutch take very good care of their land!
- Amsterdam is a beautiful city that offers amazing oportunities to photographers.
- Some areas get really crowded at times.

- The local food here is not precisely tasty. But this is largely compensated for with international restaurants!
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