Amsterdam makes Las Vegas and New Orleans look like the Vatican or a yuppie suburb of California. Amsterdam is the original Sin City, a borderline lawless land. With coffee shops, hookers, and general lack of police presence, pretty much anything goes in Amsterdam where I spent almost exactly 48 hours. Here’s how that went:
To save money, we booked a flight into Eindhoven, Holland and took an hour-long bus ride into Amsterdam. I immediately noticed how attractive the people are; everyone seemed tall, healthy & clean. Even the children were little blonde, energetic cherubs and this was before I even left the airport Starbucks (a note on Dutch: caramel = karamel; hazelnut = hazelnoot…). We got off the bus and immediately got lost and let me say, there are few things as frustrating as post-bus ride hunger and 4:30 am wake up call exhaustion compiled with backpacking gear, an AirBnB to find and a Dutch map. So naturally, I stopped for a smoked salmon sandwich.
What to do in Amsterdam in 48 hours or less:
(1) Rent Bikes: I spent all morning in a bike renting induced anxiety attack, terrified of the trams/cars/other bikes/canals/pedestrians that could potentially maim/kill me (Amsterdam EMS response time… eh didn’t want to find out). However, I rode and didn’t die and it was the best decision ever! The entire city is set up with a real car road system and a bike road system that runs parallel to that, complete with bike lane street lights. Genius and super fun. Visit MacBike Amsterdam!
(2) Vondelpark: Bike to Vondelpark for lunch and beautiful scenery. It’s full of amazing things -children, puppies, grass, fresh air, ponds, bikes. People were setting up an entire table of cakes which we thought they were going to pass out to everyone around them. It turned out to just be a child’s birthday party but add tables of cakes to the great things in Vondelpark.
(3) The Pancake Bakery: Right down the street from the Anne Frank Haus, The Pancake Bakery was the perfect way to end a day of biking. I’m pretty sure we all agreed our #1 goal of Amsterdam was to eat giant pancakes (sad but true. also accomplished!).
What to do if you aren’t with your parents or grandparents or any close family:
(4) Walk through the Red Light District: Self-explanatory. Worth it only to say you’ve done it and seen this famous (pretty gross) side of Amsterdam. Don’t let this area define your perception of Amsterdam!
Not to be cheesy but my original thought on biking was that I could never manage it and come out alive and I almost let this uncertainty stop me from doing it. However, after spending all day easily exploring via bike, I quickly learned how important it is to be fearless & to not hold back when exploring a new city. Taking chances on things you don’t think you can do leads to greater experiences and greater faith in your own capabilities (plus cool t-shirts).