Travel Love: Amsterdam

I was very fortunate to visit Amsterdam last year, and promised myself to write something about the trip. Many months later, i still owe this blog that post, so here it is. I hope this does justice to this wonderful place.

The capital of The Netherlands, Amsterdam is also its biggest city. During a week-long trip around Europe, we passed by this amazing city to sample its beauty in two very short days.

Almost immediately the beauty of Amsterdam captured me. The air is crisp and cool, and people are just laid back and very chill. I encountered a few locals during our trip and they were just so lovely and helpful. More than once the thought of moving there crossed my mind 🙂

Two things come to mind when i think of Amsterdam: canals and bikes. Yes, this city is full of canals that weave through the city like roads; in fact, most locals have boats which they use to get around. It amazes me how this city works around its environment. Bike lanes are alongside the roads to give priority to bikers, a smart and green way to address transportation. Of course, their Metro system is easily accessible and quick to figure out, so in lieu of bikes, we hopped into one to get to key places we wanted to explore.

We wandered around through one of their  famous landmarks, Dam Square, which was pretty much the epicenter, as it was near the train terminal, had the city’s biggest department store, and a fabulous courtyard that housed a few old world buildings. People milled around to enjoy the day, walk around and check out the various items by both local and international shops.  We even got to taste their famous “Febo” treats — a fried variety of food items ranging from meats to fries on dispenser machines. It’s obviously both a local and tourist fave due to its wide variety and affordable prices.

So many things and sights to see, so little time! While we had a zillion things in mind, we made time for the Van Gogh Museum. Amsterdam’s love for Van Gogh is deeply shown through their AMAZING museum dedicated solely to the man himself.

picture courtesy of the museum website

picture courtesy of the museum website

For me, it was truly THE  highlight of this trip–unfortunately, they discouraged  photos inside the museum, so all i have are pictures outside of it. I guess my love for the famous artist is shared by a lot of people — the lines into the museum didn’t seem to let up! We were happy that out tour guide advised we buy from a ticket office nearby instead of the museum itself (a few euros more but it saved us a lot of time and waiting!) so we were able to go in without much hassle. The museum itself was astounding. I was truly happy to view such pieces like The Potato Eaters and Sunflowers in full display, as well as his sketches. Seeing all these artworks i’ve been studying in college, well, it’s truly something to see them “in the flesh”… it was truly exhilarating, to say the least!

The Netherlands is also known for its beer, cheese, windmills, and yes, tulip fields. As we were there during the fall, we failed to see the amazing tulips, but were fortunate to visit the “living musems” of Zaanse Schans (a vast expanse of land outside of Amsterdam which depicts the idyllic life of the Netherlands countryside) and Vollendam (a fishing village near the sea which fully functions as a town by itself) — fully working windmills, old houses, cheese makers , boat makers and shoe makers abound in this place where you can view and learn more about life in the Netherlands. Quite simply, it was marvelous.

There are still so many things i love about this wonderful place and maybe another post will follow this soon (fingers crossed!) I hope these pictures give justice to this place. It’s definitely in my top 10 places! 🙂

In spite of our short time exploring the place, we enjoyed ourselves immemsely. What’s not to love? Wonderfully preserved history and a rich culture that’s evolved alongside its natural enviroment, progressive living and laid back people — these are what i fondly remember of Amsterdam.  Amsterdam will always have a special place in my heart, and i really hope that we get to visit again someday.

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