What does Amsterdam have to do with a Greek Island Hopper? Very little, in usual cases. For us, it was the first stage of our adventure, as we enjoyed a brief layover in the city. We spent one night in Amsterdam on either side of our trip, which started and ended in Athens, so these two cities formed the beginning and end of an amazing adventure.
How does one spend a brief stopover in Amsterdam? Being a typical tourist of course! Given that we didn’t have long to spend in the city, our main sights were Dam Square, Anne Frank’s House and a very quick stroll through the Red Light District.
We started our day at the Leidseplein, a busy square at the bottom of the city, and made our way towards Dam Square, almost getting wiped out by a few trams along the way. This area of the city is hiving with gorgeous shops too – I for one had my eye on the Make Up Forever and & Other Stories stores. If you follow the tram lines from the Leidseplein, you will reach Dam Square, passing by the Delft factory and a number of popular shopping districts along the way. However, be careful to take in some landmarks along the way – we found out the hard way that using canals to track your journey never ends well!
Dam Square was more of a landmark for us than anything else, but it was the perfect pitstop for us in the sun, once we found a corner that was exempt from the overwhelming scent of weed. This was one thing that totally surprised us – we knew that the city was famous for the drug, but we didn’t expect it to be radiating from the locals’ very pores.
Next on the list was the Red Light District, but our visit was fleeting to say the least. We knew that we would have to visit it at least once, and to call it an eye-opener is an understatement.
But the most special of all of our destinations was Anne Frank’s House, which was well worth the one hour wait in the freezing cold (we seriously misjudged the weather when we turned up at the airport in our summer wardrobe!). Having read the book as a child, it was amazing, and incredibly poignant to see it brought to life, almost reminding me that it was a real life story with devastating consequences.
As for meals, our evening meal on our first stopover in Amsterdam was a quick enchilada in one of the many Argentinian restaurants that are strangely popular in the city, but our meal on our final evening was a delectable Indonesian delight. We had been advised by family and friends to seek out the restaurant on the flower market called Sampurna, and I had done a ton of research on Indonesian cuisine for my old job, so who were we to argue? If you travel to Amsterdam YOU MUST GO. It’s a tiny little nook with a great atmosphere, and the food is to die for, if perhaps a little spicy! What’s more, you don’t even need to get dessert, as there is a little cafe next door that serves traditional Dutch pancakes!
Also – for anyone visiting the city for a short time, I would SERIOUSLY recommend a stay at the Ibis Schipol Airport Hotel. It’s about a ten minute drive from the airport, but regular shuttles are on hand to get you to and from the airport. As for getting to the city, you’re right across the road from the bus station, where you can hop on a 197 to the city centre, which takes around 45 minutes and runs every 20 minutes until midnight, and every hour after that.
Stay tuned for more posts on my adventure – next up, Athens!