A Weekend in Amsterdam

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Visiting Amsterdam was never a priority of mine. When my friends and I spontaneously booked our flights in November 2017 I was a little unsure about the decision and I thought to myself "Omg, I can't believe I just did that..." but a few weeks leading up to our trip I began to research on places to go aside from the usual tourist spots and that was when I finally started to feel the excitement. - Even moreso because I'm a "do it for the gram" kind of girl, #SorryNotSorry! And I found food spots with beautiful interiors plus the things they serve looked like they were worth giving a try. It was love at first sight on our first night in the city. I kept telling my friends that I wanted to stay behind and not return to Spain. - That's how good of an impression the city has made on me. Everything's so beautiful even at night. It's such a pretty, relaxed, but liberated city. Amsterdam has now made it to one of the top spots on my list of places I would like to live in.

Allow me to share more of my experience; here's my Amsterdam travel diary!


When: Winter, January 25-28, 2018

Transportation: 

  • Roundtrip via Iberia Express (€105,17)
    • January 25 • 19:45 - 22:20 - Madrid - Amsterdam
    • January 28 • 08:00 - 10:40 - Amsterdam - Madrid
  • Bus from Airport to the centre (Amsterdam Airport Schiphol - Museumplein [Hostel location]): €5
  • Tram €3

Accommodation: Hostel Van Gogh Around €30 per night. * It can go down to €20 each night

Weather: 4ºC - 8ºC, cold but bearable except for one evening when the wind was strong and it rained. - I wore 2-3 layers of clothing!

Amount of tourists: Not as many as we expected. There were no lines to enter the museums.


Thursday, 25 January 2018

We flew to Amsterdam from Madrid on a Thursday night. It was a 2.5-hour flight via Iberia Express. The flight was delayed at first but for some reason, we still arrived on schedule. We were ready to leave Amsterdam Airport Schiphol by around 23:00h. We took a 30-minute bus ride to the area of our hostel (Hostel Van Gogh). Warning: The bus we took (397 to Museumplein) cost us €5 and they didn't accept cash, so it's important that you have a card that you can use to pay in case this happens to you as well. 

We checked in then rested for a while before we decided to walk around our area before going to bed. We saw the famous I Amsterdam sign in front of the Rijksmuseum and took our obligatory tourist shots with it. Once we finished, we walked farther to see the canals. We wanted to eat something before heading back to the hostel and so, our first meal in Amsterdam was Falafel (LOL) at a place called Grill Steakhouse Oma. The establishment has been there for 30 years and is owned by a Dutch Indo woman and her Egyptian husband. The lady was friendly and she had a motherly, nurturing vibe. She told us that the sauces were homemade. - It was so good and spicy. I enjoyed the Falafel, I had heart-eyes the entire time while eating it! My friend Clarice and I split the meal as it was too big for us to finish. We each paid €3 for it. 

 

Friday, January 26, 2018

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We left our hostel at 10 in the morning and walked to The Breakfast Club to eat. There were so many bakeries and modern cafés along the way which made me fall in love with Amsterdam even more! After eating we walked to the centre where the Dam Square is located. Our friend Clarice met up with her Dutch friend who was an exchange student at our former university. He showed us around the city centre and told us a little about the history of The Netherlands. We went to the Bloemnmarkt, a street with food, stores, and stalls to see the beautiful tulips as well as to buy some magnets. Clarice and I bought the cutest magnets ever! Later, we entered the enclosed courtyard called Begijnhof which is also a residential area. After this, we rested for a while at the hostel before heading back out to walk to the centre again. We found an Indonesian restaurant named Kantjil & De Tijger and decided to eat there. The restaurant was on the pricier side (and my most expensive meal in Amsterdam). I still think it was worth it, though because for €16, we were able to try a little bit of everything from the menu. It’s a plate with rice and a small portion of several items on the menu. It was too much for me to finish but 2 of our guy friends inhaled the food and finished it quickly! I would still recommend the restaurant because of the good service and they served a lot of food for the price. Definitely a great value for your money.  

Clarice and I wanted to check Charlotte Tilbury because the makeup brand is not available in Spain so we went to de Bijenkorf to check it out. The department store is located near Dam Square so going there wasn’t a hassle. 

Later in the evening, we went to the Van Gogh museum. We ordered our tickets online to avoid having to queue for a long time. Our reservation was at 19:30 and we also rented an audio guide. I strongly recommend that you do, too if you’re planning to visit the museum! 

The museum experience left me sad but inspired. Van Gogh was a simple man who loved smaller towns over cities. He found joy behind the easel but he didn't have enough money to pay for models to practice. Thus, the reason for his many self-portraits. This led me to buy his book; Letters of Vincent Van Gogh published by the Penguin Classics. Even Clarice and Fonso bought the book! 

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Saturday, January 25, 2018

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We were exhausted from the day before so we headed out at 11 in the morning instead. We made our way to the place that I was most excited for. I found it a few weeks before the trip: Pluk Amsterdam. I first saw a picture of their unicorn jewellery container and I knew I had to buy it! I found Pluk's Instagram account and found out that they’re also a restaurant. I’m a sucker for anything related to unicorns so I had their unicorn bowl for breakfast! The smoothie bowl was sweet (because of the ripe fruit), healthy, and light. I’m not a fan of sour flavours so I was delighted that the smoothie bowl didn’t taste like that. I love it when you go to an aesthetically pleasing establishment and the food they serve tastes wonderful too. 

The next thing on our itinerary was the Anne Frank House but our scheduled visit was still after sunset so we went to more places that I found online. The cookie shop Van Stapele Koekmakerij was our next stop. The four of us split 1 cookie first and it was amazing. I ended up buying a tin of 6 cookies. - I’m sad that I can only buy the cookies there because they’re honestly one of the best cookies I have ever tasted! However, Clarice still prefers Mrs Fields.  

After all the sweet food I ate, I craved for something savoury and I bought fries from a place called Frietsteeg which was right across Van Stapele Koekmakerij. I paid €3,60 for the small size (but it was HUGE) with 2 sauces: mayonnaise and the famous peanut sauce. It was appetising. I snubbed the fries on our first day because it's such a simple snack that can be found anywhere but I kid you not, you MUST try Dutch fries with their different sauces! I ended up buying fries again later in the day but from Manneken Pis (Voted No. 1 Holland Fries) but I still prefer Frietsteeg much more because it was cheaper and it tasted a lot better.

We still had a lot of time to kill before going to the Anne Frank House so we went to Happy Pig Pancake Shop at 14:00h. I ate from 4 different places in a span of 2 hours. Did I regret? A little. Was I happy? Very.  I decided to treat myself because I only eat simple food back home in Madrid. 

We were already looking for other things to do so we went to The Fault In Our Stars bench just because. Then back to the Bloemnmarkt where Clarice bought a Stroopwafel. - I prefer store bought Stroopwafels!

We had Bitterballen an hour before our visit to the Anne Frank House. We entered the museum at 19:30h and finished after an hour. After having experienced the museum, I realised I should have taken the grade school reading requirement of The Diary of Anne Frank seriously because I learned so much. Perhaps I can read her diary once I finish reading all the books I recently purchased.

As we left the museum, the rain and wind were too hard for us to bear so we took a €3 tram to the closest drop off point to the Red Light District. What. An. Experience. My Catholic girl school-self was scandalised by the different sex toys sold at the area! Unfortunately I saw a man disrespect one of the sex workers, who thankfully stood her ground and fought him off. After that, we took another tram back to the hostel and ended our evening at 22:00h because we had to pack and get ready for our flight back to Madrid the next day.

 

Sunday, January 28, 2018

We woke up at 4:00h then checked out of our hostel. We took the same bus (397) to the airport and left at 5:07h and arrived at the airport 30 minutes later. Our flight wasn't until 7:30h so we bought food from the grocery inside the airport. - They had a wide array of microwavable food and I bought an Indonesian meal which I enjoyed. We also bought Stroopwafel and I wish I bought more.


I truly love Amsterdam and I am itching to go back because I want to visit more cafes and to eat more food! I expected the city to be expensive or just as pricey as Paris but I was wrong! It was only their lodging that cost us a lot because we booked later than usual. 

I actually overestimated my budget for meals and I was pleasantly surprised by the prices for food.  My list of places kept getting longer and longer each time I researched on places to go. I am glad that my friends allowed me to lead the way and they too were satisfied with the restaurants I brought them to. All of us wanted to have fun and eat a lot of fantastic food so we were lucky that the places we visited weren’t only aesthetically pleasing, they were delicious too. 

 

Tips:

  1. If you're planning to go (to any destination) during the winter, that means days are shorter. Do all the outdoor activities during the day and the indoor activities such as museum visits and the like after sunset!
  2. Bring a card that you can use. Some establishments and modes of transportation only accept payments done with a card. 
  3. The water in Amsterdam is potable! Bring a tumbler with you to save money and the environment!
  4. Stay in the Center (near the Dam Square, Jordaan District, or Leidseplein). My friends and I stayed near the Museumplein where the Rijksmuseum and Van Gogh Museum can be found. It was a 30-minute walk from the areas we regularly visited and it got too tiring to walk back and forth from our hostel to the centre. Stay in an area you plan to frequent or if it's around 15-20 minutes away by foot from your chosen destinations.

Have you been to Amsterdam? If yes, what other places can you suggest to me if I ever go back in the (hopefully near) future? If not, is Amsterdam one of your dream destinations? ✩