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EUROAD Trip 2023: A (Half) Day in Amsterdam

Submitted by Bethany on Sun, 07/02/2023 - 10:12

Before we knew it, my time in Amsterdam with my parents was coming to a close. They were here at the tail-end of a 3 week trip through Europe, so as much as we enjoyed our time together, they were ready to get home. We enjoyed breakfast together at the hotel, then said goodbye in the lobby while waiting for their ride to the airport. I miss them and hope the next time I see them they are coming to our home in Wales!

Shortly after they left, Joel and Steve arrived from their place in the country, and we set out to enjoy the city for the day. We wandered towards the city center and decided to hop on the first canal tour that we spotted. Pro tip: don’t do that! We paid a little bit too much, and the quality was way lower than the tour we did in Bruges. We were the last ones on the boat which meant we got stuck in the center seats and barely had any view. The boat had a glass ceiling but even with that it was really impossible to see anything from where we were. They gave us headphones to plug into the speakers where we could get commentary in several languages but it was very disappointing. It was constantly repeating itself and often talking about buildings that were nowhere near where we were. This was our view for most of the trip, so not worth it!

So after that disappointing start, we wandered around a bit and started looking up various things we wanted to do. It turns out that you really need to plan ahead when you visit Amsterdam! The Ann Frank house? Totally booked until the middle of May (a month out.) The Van Gogh museum? Totally booked until the middle of May. The flower market people rave about? Now costs about €12, not worth it. We even asked ChatGPT for suggestions on what to do and they were all either expensive or fully booked or both. So we kept wandering and made our way to the famous red-light district. It was interesting in principle, but not really my jam. (We did find an alley that had all the goods on full display, but pictures are not allowed, for obvious reasons.)

We also found the other shops Amsterdam is famous for, but we didn’t buy anything. I was starting to think Amsterdam really isn’t our kind of city!

We started to get hungry and it was difficult to find somewhere we wanted to eat that didn’t cost an arm and a leg. We finally ended up at a kebabi that is exactly like anything we could get in the UK, but we were hungry at that point! The kebab was delicious as was the falafel they said was a house specialty. 

This was actually one of the highlights of our experience as the girl who worked there (her dad owns the shop) was delightful. She was very friendly and funny despite her shirt warning people off! (I did ask permission to take this photo.)

The city itself was beautiful with gorgeous architecture and stunning canals…but it turns out, it’s just really not for us. While this photo is one I might have shared on Instagram…

…this one was more like the reality. I found it really hard to walk around the city - if you were too far to one side bikes were running you over - if you were too far to the other, cars were running you over. I was literally thisclose to getting hit by a car once when a biker knocked me into the street. At this point, we were getting hot and sweaty and increasingly frustrated with the crowds and the prices and the lack of getting into things we actually wanted to see. 

We paused for a selfie with a view, and took one appropriate for social media…

..and then took one that actually depicted how we felt about being in the city. 

Eventually, we all agreed we weren’t really having that much fun and it was time to leave the city. We were ready to cut our losses, save money on parking, and get out to explore other parts of The Netherlands. While I can see Amsterdam being a really fun place for certain people or certain events (hen or stag do anyone?) and I might have liked it more in my twenties…at this time I found it overhyped, overpriced, and overcrowded. So we got back in the car and headed out to the countryside. Ahh…that’s more like it. 

We drove rather aimlessly but in the general direction of the cabin we had rented for the week and the boys had already been staying at. We stopped when the mood struck us, which led to stopping in a random little town for ice cream…

…with this gorgeous view of the water without lots of people around!

We then spotted signs for a local bakery that was open for just another 20 minutes, so we rushed down the road to see what we could find. We asked the proprietor for recommendations and spent about €20 on a whole bunch of random items, including these weird salty chocolate sprinkles Steve had been wanting to try. They go on buttered toast and they are not my fave, but the guys both liked them!

Then we made our way back to the small town near the cabin where we ordered Chinese food for dinner (a place Joel and Steve had already vetted.) The weather was perfect so we ate dinner out on the picnic table outside our cabin. 

Dessert was this incredible almond something or other from the bakery - we tried similar things from many places throughout the trip, but this was hands down the best one. 

I ended the evening sitting outside reading on my Kindle with this tranquil view. I know some people love cities, but it is country life for me!

So what about you? Do you prefer city or country? I’ve always known I would prefer to live in the country but I’ve always said I enjoy visiting a city for a short time - turns out in Amsterdam it was for a very short time! 

XOXO, Bethany