A few weeks ago, I took on Amsterdam by myself. I had multiple sets of directions from the train station, a set from the hostel and a set I had copied from google maps. I stubbornly decided to use my directions because they were more direct. I quickly found out why the hostel gave the directions they did… I ended up in the heart of the Red-light district. I couldn’t believe it! I had been in Amsterdam for less than an hour and was already strolling through the Red-light district, suitcase and all! Eventually, I was able to locate my hostel. I decided to stay at a drug and alcohol free hostel. I thought this was the best option for traveling alone. After putting my things away, I headed out to find a bite to eat. Walking around Amsterdam at night is magical. The light from the buildings reflects off the canals and creates a dreamy atmosphere.
I could barely sleep Wednesday night because I was so excited to start exploring the city the next day. I started off my day with the free breakfast at the hostel. I was surprised by how good it was. I was given french toast, juice, and a hot drink. My first stop of the day was the Van Gogh museum. I grew up recreating so many of his works in elementary art class, so I really enjoyed seeing the actually pieces. After the museum, I wandered along the beautiful canals and grabbed lunch at Pancakes! Amsterdam. I read in multiple places that it was a must. The sources were correct, it was delicious. I ordered a swedish pancake with slices of bananas baked into it and chocolate sauce drizzled on top. Once my belly was full, I started in the direction of the Anne Frank museum. The building she and her family hid in during the war has been opened to the public. The line to enter was long, but it went fast and was definitely worth it. Walking through the house was incredible moving.
I made the treck back home to rest for a little bit and recharge my phone. After a quick rest, it was time to try out some more of the local cuisine. I headed to Vleminckx to try their french fries with mayonnaise (talk about a heart attack waiting to happen). The rest of my night consisted of walking up and down gorgeous streets and checking out 9 straatjes- 9 streets with great shopping!
I got an early start on my last day in Amsterdam. I wanted to see a few more things before jumping on a train to meet my friends in Brussels, Belgium. Once again, I had a great warm breakfast at the hostel (I definitely recommend staying their if you’re ever passing through). I rented a bike for 3 hours from Star Bikes near Centraal Station. I was able to rent the bike for a good price. I was so happy that the bike did not have a ton of advertisements like the other rental shops. Biking was a great way to see Amsterdam. I rode my bike to the other side of the city to check out Vondelpark. The park was still recovering from winter, but I am sure it will be absolutely gorgeous in a month or so. I locked up my bike for a little bit and walked around the flower market. The flower market is the only floating flower market in the world.
I headed to the city center for a walking tour after my bike excursion. The tour was similar to the one my friends and I took in Valencia. The tour is free and at the end their is the option to tip the tour guide. The tour guide led us around the Jordaan neighborhood and brought us into Begijnhof- a hidden courtyard. If I remember correctly, catholic women lived there during during 17th century.
Tips for traveling alone:
- Plan, plan, plan! Before going, I knew which places I wanted to visit, where they located, and I had a rough idea of cost.
- Maps- I took screen shoots of maps on my phone and had a paper map
- Look into apps- I was able to find a very helpful Amsterdam app. It recommended places to visit and gave a small description of each place. It also included a map which I used a ton.
- Day of the week- (this did not cross my mind before traveling) I am glad I traveled during the work week. I think I would have been a little uncomfortable walking around the city on the weekend as people were heading out for the night. I also did not have to compete with as many tourists at the museums.