Europe, Netherlands

My Journey to Amsterdam

Europe Netherlands

Coming to the end of my year-long study abroad in Germany, I knew I wanted to do one last big trip before heading home to America. Amsterdam had always been on the top of my list of places to visit. Early one August morning, my boyfriend and I packed our bags and drove around seven to eight hours by car to the Netherlands. We arrived at our hotel later in the night because we took a quick sightseeing day trip to Köln before crossing into the Netherlands. The Best Western we stayed at wasn’t directly in the city, but rather a couple minutes outside, near Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport.

Early the next morning, we took about a 10 to 15 minute train ride into the city. The weather was overcast with a bit of rain, but that didn’t bother me. I was very excited to start exploring the city. The first iconic photo spot was right next to the “I amsterdam” letters. These letters can be seen in and around the city. Another pair of letters is located right behind the famous Rijksmuseum.

Photo by the “I amsterdam” sign outside of Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport

We got into the city around 8:00am and it was very calm and peaceful. Not a lot of people were out yet. The first stop was to the Bloemenmarkt or Amsterdam’s well-known flower market, containing various small flower shops along the Singel canal. I was amazed to see so many different tulip bulb packs for sale. Tulips were definitely the most popular flower to purchase, but I also saw other various ones such as sunflowers! Even though I wasn’t there during their spring tulip season, it was still a great place to visit and smell all the lovely fragrances from the flowers. Another popular place to see is Anne Frank’s house. Unfortunately, since the line to get into the house was so long, I decided not to go inside.

View of Amsterdam

The rest of the day consisted of walking around the city, taking in all of the gorgeous sights and scenery. Luckily, the dreary grey hues of the morning sky eventually gave way to bright blues and the sun even came out. One of my favorite things about Amsterdam is its intricate system of canals. I enjoyed sitting and watching all the boats pass by. Another thing I found interesting were all the unique buildings in the city and their wonderful architectural designs: from some being extremely narrow and lean, to others having crooked roofs. After briefly walking through the infamous Red Light District and finally enjoying an Amstel beer, we returned back to our hotel for the night.

View of boathouses in Amsterdam

The next day we took a nice free ferry ride across the river IJ and then decided to travel around Amsterdam the way many natives do: by bike! One famous sight that we biked to was the De Gooyer Windmill, the tallest wooden windmill in the country. When in the city, I highly recommend trying out the delicious fries. They are thick and crispy. The crispiness comes from the fries being fried twice I believe. Many natives prefer eating them with mayo (as do I), but they can also come with a curry-based ketchup.

By night, I was on a photographic mission to capture some nice shots of the canals. The best area to capture a night photo of the many bridges in Amsterdam is at the Seven Bridges, also known as Reguliersgracht. Other nice areas to capture the canals are at Prinsensgracht and Keizersgracht. Another popular photo spot in Amsterdam is at the Kalverstraat, a busy shopping area close to the train station and the Bloemenmarkt. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get the best pictures because that area was under a lot of construction.

Overall, I had an amazing weekend trip in Amsterdam. I definitely am planning a trip back during the spring when the flowers bloom!

View of the canals at night from Reguliersgracht (Seven Bridges)
View of houses along the Kalverstraat