Tripwiser asked Harry Elmensdorp, a native Hollander, what we should include in our Road Trip Planners to create a perfect day in Amsterdam. "Amsterdam, the city of canals," he replied, "is renowned for its liberalism and art and is amazing with its openness and freedom of choice afforded to its residents and tourists alike. The winding canals, the streetcars' ringing bells and the vibrant nightlife make this a popular stop in Europe and in the Netherlands." Indeed, judging by the number of reviews Amsterdam's received on our Facebook application, Going Places, Amsterdam is one of Tripwiser's most popular cities. It's right up there with New York, London, and Paris. So follow Harry as he spends the day in his favorite city in the Netherlands (comments in parenthesis are Tripwiser's).
A day off, so my girl and I go to Amsterdam, a city rich in culture and history. We begin our rounds through the inner-city, starting by car till we get to the Transferium Amsterdam (a park and ride facility). Parking in Amsterdam is very expensive so I always take the Transferium Amsterdam for €6 a day including metro cards ($8.88 USD). My first stop is at the Ajax Stadium (home of the famous Dutch soccer club) on Arena Boulevard, where you can also visit the Ajax Museum and the Ajax Fanshop.
Back on the metro with one switch to Tram 12 brings us to the famous Albert Cuypmarkt. This is a market where you can find clothing, toys, food, furniture, a lot of inexpensive things and where you can bargain to get the right price!
I always walk from the market to the Rembrandtplein (Rembrandt Square) to enjoy a nice lunch with drinks while sitting in the sun. A good place to eat (and drink and dance) is Escape, which is right in front of famous painter's statue in the square. These are the images we see while sitting on the terrace, people watching and simply enjoying life:
- People passing by
- Tourists with their cameras shooting pictures
- Trams moving on
- People on bikes ringing their bells to clear the way in front
- A 60-year old man skating by, obviously enjoying this activity.
After a while, we resume our walk through the inner-city and pass Van Dobben, on Korte Reguliersdwarsstraat 5 (straat = street) where you can taste old-fashioned Amsterdammer snacks and sandwiches like the Kroket, a crusty ragout snack eaten with mustard (a local favorite). Amsterdam is known for its liberalism and tolerance and that is evident as we stroll further down Reguliersdwarsstraat, the street for gay Amsterdam. It's a pleasant street to wander through for straight and gay alike.
Now we arrive at the main shopping street of Amsterdam, the Kalverstraat. This is the place to get clothing, shoes, ties, food, gadgets and the things you're looking for, even a McDonalds. You'll be surprised because in between this shopping heaven is a tiny spot of peace called the Begijnhof (a courtyard and chapel created by religious communities in an attempt to retreat from the world and live their own isolated and devoted lives). This court area has been around since the middle ages so you'll find some old typical Amsterdam houses. To get there, you need to pass by the Amsterdam Historical Museum (definitely worth a stop because it contains artifacts from as far back as the seventeenth century).Continuing on through the Kalverstraat, we arrive at the center of Amsterdam, De Dam, where you come upon a few monuments in a row; the Royal Palace (built as the new city hall of Amsterdam in the 17th Century, this building was converted into the Royal Palace when King Louis Napoleon came to Amsterdam); and the National War Monument.
Here you'll also find, street performers, human statues, and Madame Tussauds wax museum.We walk further on the Damrak near the Dutch Beurs van Berlage, the former Exchange building. Also nearby is the Red Light District, also part of Amsterdam where the sex industry makes its money.
Between the Beurs van Berlage and Red Light District is the Warmoesstraat. Warmoesstraat is one of the oldest streets in Amsterdam, running parallel to the river Amstel from Amsterdam Centraal Railway Station to Dam Square. Its origins are in the 13th century. In the 16th and 17th century, it was the shopping street. Today, the busy Warmoesstraat has a variety of shops and bars - many of them aimed at a gay audience -restaurants, affordable hotels, coffee shops, and a few sex boutiques.
Finally, we arrive at the Amsterdam Centraal Station (that's one fancy station!).
From here we can take the metro again, back to the Amsterdam Transferium and make our way home!
We vary our trips to Amsterdam, sometimes having a picnic at Vondelpark; other times exploring the Heineken Brouwerij (but it always sounds like a great time).
Editor's note: Well, I for one will be adding a hotel to my road trip planner so that I can enjoy a few perfect days in Amsterdam! Thanks Harry for sharing this wonderfully rich city with us.