AMSTERDAM: More Than Just "Coffee Shops"
Since Brussels is our home base (for a whole 2 nights), we're up bright and early to catch the 6:26 am train out to Amsterdam. Fare costs about 25 euro each way, and you're there within 2.5 hours. Leaving the train station, we're greeted by the friendly and extremely helpful peeps from the I Love Amsterdam Visitor's Centre - they hand you over a free city map and give you the main sights to see, as well as answer any questions about anything in the city.
Amsterdam is one of the best cities in the world for just walking. Head out in any direction and you'll stumble upon interesting architecture, green parks, narrow canals, brand name shopping spots, museums, restaurants.....and more (will talk more about the Coffee Shops and Red Light District in a separate post here). Be alert of the bike lanes (we came oh so close to a crash or two), but once you've mastered the art of dodging cyclists, all you need is a comfy pair of shoes and off you go!
Amsterdam's Old Town is home to the Nieuwmarkt, the ever expanding Chinatown, the 14th-century Oude Kerk (Old Church), De Waag, and of course the infamous Red Light District. The New side technically has Dam Square, the Koninklijk Paleis (Royal Palace), Nieuwe Kerk (New Church), Kalverstraat & Nieuwendijk (the city's prime shopping streets) and the Bloemenmarkt (Flower Market). I won't go into details about all of these places, just a couple below.....and of course an entirely separate posting for the Red Light District!
I'm a sucker of town squares. Why? Not quite sure. Maybe because it's usually where all the action is - located in the historic centre of Amsterdam and one of the largest squares in Europe, the Dam seems to be a natural gathering spot for both locals and tourists like moi. Surrounded by souvenir shops, cafés, it's here you'll find the Royal Palace and Madame Tussaud's - but other than that - it's simply a great spot to people watch for a bit.
BLOEMENMARKT (Flower Market)
So, the Flower Market wasn't quite what I expected. It's one of those places that totally doesn't live up to the expectations that I had for it. I expected to see tons of gorgeous flowers, especially tulips....but such was not the case. It's still a sight to see - it's been around since 1862 and the flower stalls are floating structures over the Singel Canal, but instead of actual flowers on display, all you get is bags and bags of bulbs and kitchsy souvenirs.
Waiting for the first train out from Brussels to Amsterdam!
2.5 hours later, we're at Amsterdam Centraal
The I Love Amsterdam Visitor's Centre is right outside the station to help with any questions
View of the train station on the left and the Church of Saint Nicholas on the right
Better view of the immense Amsterdam Centraal train station
Typical Amsterdam - bikes locked along all of the canals
The city slowly waking up
A bit early for Heineken, but I might be back for you soon!
Loving this sign!
Chinatown in Amsterdam
Cutest little cafe called Latei....no, it's not that type of cafe
They've got fresh juices and yummy pastries
And a super cute black cat guarding the door
De Waag, once part of an ancient wall is now home to a trendy organic restaurant in Nieuwmarkt
Red Light District
De Oude Kerk (The Oude Church), right in the middle of the Red Light District
Churches, houses, restaurants, coffee shops, exotic bars.....all exist in harmony in the Red Light District
Gorgeous terrace in the Red Light District....I wonder how much a spot like this goes for?
I think anyone that's been to Amsterdam has a shot of this particular row of houses
Beautifulness everywhere you look
One of many "bar boat" canal cruises you can take
Dam Square with the neoclassical Royal Palace
The Royal Palace - notice the wanna be Darth Vader in the picture!
H.H. Petrus en Pauluskerk - an old church that still remains, even though the entire street - Kalverstraat - has turned into a shopper's heaven
Amsterdam Cheese Company on Kalverstraat
Teeny tiny wooden shoes
Time for a quick lunch at La Place
You can find pretty much anything in here, and all reasonably priced
That's the Flower Market on the right
You will find flowers here, but not as much as I expected. You'll mostly find bulbs.
More stuff in the Flower Market
All kinds of souvenirs can be found here
The Munttoren (Coin Tower) on Muntplein Square
Good luck finding a spot for your bike here
View of the Singel Canal
View of Freddy's Bar from Doelensluis
Houses along the Singel Canal
Not sure what this is floating down the canal
Rowing down one of the canals
Super cute houseboats
Gardens on your houseboat, why not?
Maybe I should rent one of these next time
So peaceful here
Looks like a good spot for that beer
Bye bye Amsterdam - until we meet again!
Photos taken | written by JENNIFER MAHON
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Love it! Waiting on the RDL post now. Very curious to see that!
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