Jan 13, 2017

The Other Side of Amsterdam

In a typical fashion, Amsterdam has always been a city that is known for the Red Light District and weed legalization. Those who visited Amsterdam before can agree that there are so much more that the city can offer. For example, it is a city that is inspired by art everywhere you go. There's Van Gogh Museum, pop up exhibition of Banksy & Andy Warhol. When you have a city that is moved by art, you will have a culture that is so rooted by inventiveness.

This is the other side of Amsterdam...

Me, hoping to drop a Boom Clap but baby, it's cold outside

Oude Kerk

This is the oldest building in the city circa 800 years old. It is a breath taking monument located right across the Red Light District. It seems peculiar to have the good and evil living as neighbours, but this is the characteristic of Amsterdam - tolerance for difference, possibly a good place to travel for gay partners. Just like other big churches, it has a lot of hidden secrets. Request for the audio guide at the entrance counter for some juicy stories.


Can you hear Phantom of the Opera playing behind me from that organ?


Possibly the most artistic shot I took at Oude Kerk

Pancakes

The national food of the Dutch is pancake. They eat it for breakfast, it's like our roti canai. Unlike our ordinary pancakes, the Dutch reimagined the recipe and invented hundred of different ways to cook the pancake. One of the recommended place to have it is in Pancakes Amsterdam. The have 3 outlets, the best is at Berenstraat 38, 1016 GH Amsterdam. It opens from 9am to 6pm. They serve Stroopswafel (Dutch cookies) and present to you a small wooden clog keychain after you pay. It's kinda tourist-y but the price and taste aren't. That's the best thing.



Walking around

I stayed at Hotel CC, Warmoesstraat (street name) which the best spot for walking to most the city attractions. It is walking distance to Oude Kerk, Red Light District, Dam Square, Amsterdam Centraal, Royal Palace, Anne Frank House, and Magna Plaza. Basically I can cover all these location within a day and that save me a day worth of transportation. At night the street turns lively with restaurants, bars and cafe serving foods from around the world. You can also walk to Amsterdam Centraal and catch any kind of transportation.

Grand Palace

My reaction when I see a real Christmas tree that is this huge!

One of the thing I like to do is to wake up really early for a walk and see how the city gradually wakes up
View from my hotel room

Heineken Experience

Take note that Heineken Experience is not the Heineken factory. Do not expect to see how your beer is made, however, you can definitely learn how it is made here. Nonetheless, it is an extremely fun place to go. In fact kids are allowed as well. The tour starts with the walk of fame (boring) and you will come to a section where they place mock machines to explain the beer making process. Then you come to a section with high technology games and activities where you can send your photos or videos you made directly to your email. It is free! And the enjoyable part of all is there rooftop bar where you fresh Heineken beer are served.


The game section

The beer making process section
The beer is so good that my hair flies

Rijksmuseum & Van Gogh Museum

You need a day or at least half a day to visit the Rijksmuseum & Van Gogh Museum. The reason why I group the two of it together is because they're located side by side. The I AMSTERDAM sign is located here. And Van Gogh Museum is best to visit on Friday evening because the foyer will turn into a club scene with mind blown entertainment (no extra charge).





Canal Cruise

My experience of the canal cruise was really bad because we didn't know what to expect of it. First of all, we took the water colour cruise, which is a ride that brings you to all the lights installation on the water. This cruise is one of the winter highlight of the city. We found out later that the light installation has a better view from the street because you can stop at the area and take nice photos instead of passing it by on the water. Secondly, we went at a wrong time, which is during night. I recommend you to take the day cruise because you have a clearly view when the sun is still bright. Thirdly, we were seated at the wrong seat - in front where the window panel is raise. My vision was blocked by the window panel and my only choice is to stretch my neck and raise up my butt to get a good view. Lastly (possibly the worst thing that happen during the cruise), was a bunch of kids monkeying at the back of the boat. We couldn't hear the tour clearly. Although being complained a few times, the parents did very little to control the kids. They were literally screaming their lung off, laughing like a bunch of hyenas and jumping on the boat. Hashtag: WORST RIDE EVER! FYI, I slept during the cruise.




Quick Tips:

  1. Amsterdam is very safe for solo traveler despite its reputation for prostitution and weed.
  2. You can smell weed in every corner of the street, if you are sensitive to the smell, there's nothing much you can do about it.
  3. Don't bother to get the Holland Pass because it restricts your visit to the category they set. Besides, it doesn't save you much money anyway.
  4. If you go unprepared with an itinerary, grab a copy of the Tours & Tickets booklet from the Tours & Tickets outlet. They also have pop up stalls all around the city. The booklet gives you discount vouchers. And you can purchase tour packages directly from them at a very low rate. Also, they include free pickup service for their bus excursion. The booklet is also available in some of the hotel lobby. City map is included inside the booklet as well.
  5. Tram is the easiest way to get around the city. Purchase the ticket opposite the Central Station. Google Map is your best friend to find out which platform and which train to board.
  6. They're moving into cashless trading. Prepare your card everytime you want to make payment.
  7. Buy your attraction tickets online to skip queue. You can do that early in the morning in your hotel before going out to hitch on the wifi.
  8. I stayed in Hotel CC. Super awesome location, but extremely small room.
  9. Speaking of room, they have really small restaurants with small chairs. For those with bigger butt (ahem.. like me) be prepared to feel uncomfortable. Tipping is not necessary but welcomed.
  10. Plan a trip to Zaanse Schans, a typical Dutch village. It requires a day to explore the place. Best way to get there is to purchase a tour package at Tours & Tickets. It cost only 49euro for 6 hours tour which includes the windmill demonstration, clog making experience, cheese factory, boat trip to IJsselmeer, Dutch village and a meal. Extremely worth it.
  11. The I Amsterdam sign isn't worth it to visit because it is just a sign. It is located outside Rijksmuseum and you can expect busy crowd flocking around for the best shot. It is not easy to get a good shot because it is a big sign and you can't possibly fit it in the frame unless you have a good wide angle camera. Plus, you will get lots of photobomb in the photo. Not many people know this, but there's another I Amsterdam sign at the Schipol Airport with lesser crowd. To get a good shot, go to the Schipol Airport one, conveniently once you arrive or right before you fly out. 
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