Oh Amsterdam, how you took me by surprise and stole my heart.
My family and I started a new tradition two years ago where we’d leave the US and visit a new country during the Thanksgiving holiday. I actually find that international flights tend to be inexpensive during this holiday since many travel within the states. Domestic travel is where you’ll see those ridiculously expensive airfare prices. So, when I saw that there was a sale to Amsterdam from Virginia I asked my family if they’d be interested in going there. Although a bit hesitant due to the thought of Amsterdam not being exactly “family” friendly, I was able to convince them that it’d be a great trip. And at the price of $380.00 roundtrip, nonstop with KLM, it really couldn’t be beat. We’d get there super early the morning of Thanksgiving and return by the evening the Sunday after, so didn’t require any days off from work!
We had three full days in the city of Amsterdam which I thought would actually be TOO much time to spend there. Boy, was I wrong. My number one regret of the trip was the decision to take a day trip to Brussels, Belgium which gave me only two days to explore Amsterdam. But that’s okay, this just means that I need to plan a trip back to Amsterdam and I know to skip on Brussels the next time I’m in Belgium!
Now let me show you my journey through Amsterdam with my mom and sister! I’m splitting this up into two posts (three including Brussels) because there’s a lot of information to share!
We arrived at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport around 7:00AM on Thursday morning. Public transportation from the airport to the city is available by train, uber, or taxi. The cheapest option of course being the train. However, due to convenience we decided to take a taxi directly to our Airbnb (cost was about 50 Euro). During our ride to the home, I was in awe gazing out the window of the car. I was taken by surprise by the beautiful architecture and how modern everything looked. It was at that moment that I knew this was going to be a great trip. It was basically love at first sight.
The airbnb was in a quaint, cute neighborhood about 15 minutes away from the hustle and bustle of Amsterdam. I’d definitely recommend this place though! Location was great, home was spacious enough for 4 people, the host communicated extremely well, and the home was aesthetically pleasing. So, if you’re interested please feel free to reach out to me for the information!
I dropped off my bags, touched up my face, then went out to grab breakfast with my sister. That’s when I discovered just how precious this neighborhood was! It’s also when I had my first real encounter with the locals. Prior to my arrival I was told that the people in Amsterdam were mean and rude, which I of course took with a grain of salt. Everyone I met there was far from that! I kept thinking, okay maybe I’ll come across some individuals that aren’t too nice…but nope, never. My sister and I stopped in a coffee/bakery and the staff was so welcoming and accommodating! We completely forgot to grab our Euros from the airbnb and the shop only accepted cash, but they were so kind and trusting that they allowed us to order and eat first before going to an ATM across the street to pull money out of.
We ordered and devoured our coffee and sandwiches, which were delicious. Then we headed back to the airbnb for a quick power nap.
The nap did wonders and we were ready to explore what Amsterdam had to offer! We took an Uber to the Jordaan neighborhood to see the beautiful canals. This area is a must visit! It’s basically in the middle of everything and has a bunch of cute stores to visit. We were able to get so many adorable souvenirs to bring back for family, friends, and colleagues. I’ll be honest that I hardly ever buy souvenirs, but Amsterdam had so many beautiful and unique items that I went a bit overboard.
It was then time for a boat tour with Those Dam Boat Guys! I can’t recommend this company enough! I saw nothing but great reviews and received recommendations for them and was not disappointed at all. I booked the tour in advance at 25 Euro/Person, which I’ll admit is a little on the higher end of canal tours, but it was really great. The host was absolutely hilarious, engaging, and informative. We enjoyed our glasses of wine we brought on board and soaked in the beautiful sights as we cruised along the canals.
After the boat ride we stopped in a bar (initially for a bathroom break), but ended up knocking back a few drinks. My sister and I were sitting at the bar as my mom was outside taking a photo of the entrance as she likes to document every place just as I do, but as we’re looking at her we notice this elderly lady literally attempt to pick pocket her! Fortunately enough my mom doesn’t keep anything in her pockets. That being said, we actually got a good laugh at how obvious the lady was and how clueless our mother was.
We then headed to Anne Frank House for a tour that was booked about 3 weeks in advance online. The total was 28.50 Euro for 3 people. I’d highly advise you to book tickets in advance as they sell out quickly! During our visit it was actually required to book online as they’re going through renovations and couldn’t queue a long line for day of ticket purchases.
This experience was so heartbreaking. Walking through the halls, stairwell, and behind the bookcase where Anne Frank and her family hid for years was so unreal. I knew of the story, but to be there just really hit my emotions. What hurt even more is to know how much racism still exist. Part of me is thankful that this world has progressed greatly, but then the other part snaps me back into reality and realize that we have such a long way to go. The Anne Frank House is a must visit when in Amsterdam.
We ended the night with dinner at an Italian restaurant, which honestly isn’t worth writing much about. We just stopped in the first nearby place that didn’t have a ridiculous wait. After our meal we headed back to the airbnb to get a good night sleep so that we could have lots of energy for day two!