The day had finally come. Almost a year in the making, I set out on Iceland Air from Boston to Amsterdam to meet up with one of my best childhood friends, Brianna. I landed in Amsterdam around 12:30 p.m. on July 22 and walked through the doorway to the arrival area. The was a flash of clothing running towards me and next thing I knew, Brianna and I were embracing.
We had gone seven months apart and planning a 2.5 week backpacking trip in time zones six hours apart had been somewhat of a struggle. But we made it work! Here’s the first chapter of our travels…
After grabbing lunch at Albert Hein and leaving the airport, we jumped on a train to Amsterdam Amstel station. It was a a five minute walk to our Airbnb, a cozy private apartment. We dropped off our backpacks and then took transportation into the city center.
We started off at Dam Square, the city’s most popular square known for its vast amount of pigeons and street performers.
We walked along the canals and made our way over to the Rijksmuseum. We didn’t go inside, but there is a beautiful park outside it that is home to one of the I Am Amsterdam signs (there is another outside the airport).
You can also find the Van Gough Museum a short walk from here. Unfortunately, we didn’t have time to stop in, but I intend on stopping here on my next visit!
We grabbed dinner at De Carrousel Pannenkoeken, or Carousel Pancake House, which literally housed a carousel inside. It was also nice because it was tucked away from the hustle-and-bustle of the main strip. Prices were fair and the food was delicious.
Afterwards, we made our way to Vondelpark, the largest city park in Amsterdam. This beautiful park has millions of visitors every year and features a statue of the poet Vondel. It had a very relaxing environment — you see people sitting on the grass by the water, jogging, walking their dogs or listening to music. There were a couple fountains and a trail that lead through the park.
There was also a beautiful gazebo overlooking the water, which was unfortunately gated off.
Then we continued walking throughout the streets of Amsterdam and along the canals.
Before heading back to the apartment, we walked through the Red Light District. For me, I was surprised at just how big the area was. I thought it was just a street, but it is truly a district. I had also previously heard about the women in lingerie standing in glass windows, but seeing it firsthand was another thing. It was definitely an interesting experience.
The next morning, our first stop was the Anne Frank House. I bought tickets two months in advance (the earliest you can purchase them) for a 9 a.m. slot, which I recommend because the lines become long throughout the day. The ticket comes with an audio guide, which provided insight additional to the information found in each room. It also synced with video displays throughout the tour.
After reading The Diary of Anne Frank in lower school, it was surreal to be standing in the house that kept multiple families safe from the Nazis for years. I loved that the museum did not stage the rooms to how they had originally looked after the Nazis cleared it out, as this was Otto Frank’s request. Overall, it was a truly impactful experience and I recommend it as a must-see in Amsterdam.
Our last excursion in Amsterdam was the Lovers Canal Cruise. The hour-long tour cost 16 euros, and we purchased tickets about 15 minutes before the departure from a stand close by. Prior to the boat leaving the dock, we received disposable headphones and were able to choose a language option for English. I really enjoyed it because I was able to experience a different view of the city and hear about the different sections of the city – how Amsterdam was settled, the varying periods in which houses along the canal were built, the different classes of people that lived there, what it is today, etc.
Afterwards, we returned to the hostel, grabbed our belongings and made our way to the airport to set off to Valencia, Spain. Even though I only had 24 hours in Amsterdam, I was able to see and experience a lot. I hope to go back in the future and experience even more!
Have you been to Amsterdam? I’d love to hear your favorite aspects of the city!
Author: Lauren Taylar
Lauren Taylar is a digital marketer and blogger. She is a graduate of the State University of New York at Oswego, where she earned her bachelor’s degree in public relations. When she’s not volunteering her time with Make-A-Wish, you can find her reading a travel magazine and sipping a glass of hard cider or wine.