Destinations Magazine

Amsterdam // Day One

By Laurawh77 @travladventurer


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The morning of May 5th, we were on our way from Iceland to Amsterdam. Our flight was at 6am in the morning so we had to wake up at 4am. Luckily, our hotel was nice enough to open the breakfast buffet early for those of us leaving so early. We knew we had a long day ahead of us so we stocked up on food and drank a few cups of tea – I needed the energy. We then had to catch a bus to the airport which although kinda convenient, was quite the run around. A bus picked us up at our hotel, seemed to drive around the entire city, then dropped us off at a bus depot where we boarded another bus that took us straight to the airport. On our way, we saw more and more people come in, all wearing the same jumpsuit, it turned out that they were an Icelandic Olympic team – but we never found out what their sport was….There were so many different kinda of dudes…water polo maybe?

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We finally arrived at the airport after nodding off now and again on the long bus ride. Even though it was 5:30 in the morning, the airport was packed with people. We checked in and went to the lounge and I sat down with a lovely and soothing chai latte. I dove in a chocolate brownie as well, reveling in the sweetness of the moment as I took in our last few minutes in Iceland.

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We bought a traditional Icelandic pastry while in the airport and I gave it a try on the plane. They had said it was Iceland’s version of a doughnut but it was really hard, dense and although sweet it tasted somewhat of a sausage, which was both weird and yet appetizing.

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We boarded the plane without a fuss and we ready to fly across the ocean, arriving for the first time in the Netherlands. I adore traveling but flying is not my strong suit. For the most part things were fine but as we got closer to our destination the turbulence kicked in and I white knuckled it for the rest of the ride into Amsterdam. Poor Sarah had to deal with all my crazy fears…she was so sweet about it though.

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The Amsterdam airport was really easy to navigate, thank you info graphic artists, and we made our way to the train terminal to board a train over to our house that we were renting while in the country. The Amsterdam airport train terminal was gorgeous. It had a huge ceiling and was so open and breezy and although packed with people, never seemed crowded.

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As we flew by in the gorgeous European trains, we starred out the window at the amazing modern architecture framing even the boundaries of the city. Everything was green and bright, a stark contrast to the moon like surface of Iceland. We rode the train over to Amsterdam Zuid (south) and departed there.

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As I dragged my suitcase and Sarah donned her backpack we strolled through the suburban streets of south Amsterdam. The sun was shining and we walked down countless tree lined streets and lane ways. The houses were neatly pressed together like a big sandwich before you bit in. We finally arrive at our street, Milletstraat and gleefully ran up to the doorstep to meet our hostess.

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We were staying in four level house, on the top floor. We got our room from and we were very satisfied with the result. Our lovely hostess brought us up the four flours to our room at the top of the stairs. It was not only a beautifully decorated room but the perfect size for both of us. Amanda (our host) really did all she could to make us feel at home. There was a small kitchenette that she stocked with milk and juice and on the desk there were maps, books and guides to different things around the city. We lay on the bed for a few minutes as we recovered from the long travel day, it didn’t help our schedule that it was most comfortable bed in the world….but eventually we got up, put our stuff away and set out to see the city.

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We strolled through the streets, Sarah my constant navigator guided our way into the city center and we made our way to the first stop, the Rijksmuseum and the Museumplein.

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The Museumplein is a huge grass covered area surrounded on all sides by museums; the Rijksmuseum, the Van Gogh Museum, the Stedelijk Museum, and the Diamond Museum, hence its name – Museum Place. It had just been used for a huge outdoor concert so workers were re-sodding the lawn and imprints of picnic blankets and stage scaffolding were embedded in the grass like a huge letterpress print.

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We approached the main square in front of the Rijksmuseum where we could plainly see the “IAMSTERDAM” sign. Although simply the brain child of the city’s tourism department, this sign has become in itself on of the most popular a notable sights in Amsterdam.

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Children were playing all over it and there was a sense of fun and joy that seemed to emit from them and surround the square. I sat for a moment as Sarah explored and reveled in this one, lovely moment. The sound of children playing and giggling echoing in the background and the sun gently falling on my face.

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After finishing up at the Rijksmuseum we made our way through the winding canals and streets, over to Max Euweplein. The square is dedicated to the famous chess player Max Euwe and in the center is both a giant cheese board, surrounded on all sides by smaller groups of people gathered to watch players face off against each other on the various smaller tabletop cheese boards around the square. The bridge leading to the square provides a beautiful view of the old buildings which line the canal. Hundred year old bricks seem to almost lean over into the water, trying to catch a glimpse of their reflection. The raucous diners and drinkers sitting outside on cafe chairs filled the square and their loud and excited conversation made it feel like you were crashing some sort of party.

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As we were in the area of Canal boat rides, we went in search of one. We wanted something that would be informative but wasn’t a hop on hop off tour since it was late in the day and wouldn’t be any use to us. We split up to ask around, trying to get the best deal. I waited forever inside the tourist information booth on the bridge while Sarah met a nice old man from the “Lovers Cruise Line” company who was offering a special deal of the day since some of their routes were different due to some parts of the canals being closed for the festival. For only 10 euros we happily paid the friendly man who delighted us with some hilarious Dutch humor before we departed on out way

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For more on the Canal Tour continue reading here….

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