Before my trip to Amsterdam a few weekends ago, it was just another city to check off my bucket list. I knew almost nothing about the city, and I didn't know what to expect.
Amsterdam completely exceeded my expectations. Although the weather was frosty, the people were welcoming and spoke great English. There were plenty of things to do and see, and the public transportation system was excellent and easy to understand. I also did a fair bit of shopping and had some really great meals during my weekend there. Seriously, I highly recommend Amsterdam to any study abroad student for a weekend getaway.
There are few things to keep in mind, however. First, it was absolutely freezing when we were there. This isn’t the norm, but I would definitely check the temperature (with wind chill) before you go. Second, make the first tourist-y thing you do a walking tour. My friends and I went on a FreeDam Tour, which besides being free, was so fun and informative. We learned so much of the city’s history, and our tour guide lent a great local perspective to our time there. And finally, if you want to go to the Anne Frank House (which you absolutely should) you need to get your tickets weeks (yes, weeks) in advance. Tour slots fill up fast so don’t miss your chance to see this powerful piece of history because you procrastinated.
Now scroll down to see my trip to Amsterdam in pictures! And, as always, if you want to see bigger versions of the pictures, click through the images at the bottom of the page.
This first picture I took in Amsterdam, of the Church of Saint Nicholas. Talk about starting on an absolutely gorgeous high note.
I've seen a lot of cafés during my time in Paris, but this one was seriously so cute. And served a mean hot chocolate. (Also, for those of you that are unaware, café and coffee shop are two very different things in Amsterdam. Look it up.)
Street art of my favorite artist. Van Gogh would be proud.
When the background is this beautiful, a cute pic or two is necessary.
And of course pics with all your friends (both new and old).
Heinekin signs dot almost every street corner in Amsterdam, and a lot of people reccomended the Heineken Experience to us, which is one of the city's main tourist attractions. However, if you're like my friends and I and are not really into beer, don't feel bad about skipping it. We had a great time even without the alcohol.
The Anne Frank House was such a powerful experience. She was such an amazing, talented girl, with a truly extraordinary story to tell. It's a tragedy that her life was cut short. I have no doubt she would have been an even more celebrated author than she is today. This quote alone is truly awe-inspiring.
I couldn't leave that Anne Frank House without a copy of her book, The Diary of a Younf Girl. I'm so exicted to start it!
I'm not a huge fan of riding bikes, but even I loved renting one for a few hours and riding around the city. And I only had a few near-death experiences!
Unfortunately, it's too early in the year to see Holland's famous tulip fields, but the Amsterdam Tulip Museum was a great substitute.
As already mentioned, the walking tour was one of the best experiences I had in Amsterdam. We walked through this absolutely stunning neighborhood on the tour, and I immediately decided it's where I want to live when I grow up.
Also! This adorable French bulldog was running around in the neighborhood's little park, and if that's not a ringing endorsement for a place to live, I don't know what is.
Not to worry, we did make it to the I Amsterdam sign! It was incredibley crowded and required a good bit of upper body strength to climb the letters, but if you wait long enough and have a friend to help you up, you might just manage to get a good picture.
Our final day in Amsterdam we visited the royal palace. Since the Netherlands still has a royal family (I know, it was a surprise to me too), it still functions as a palace.
My favorite part of the palace by far, Greek-inspired columns and Atlas holding up the starry sky on his shoulders.