In addition to my 2014 adventure to Africa, I flew with KLM who happily offer free stops in Amsterdam or Paris. I chose Amsterdam.
**Here I am at the canals!
My friend I thought we’d take a day to explore the city. We had 12 hours. First, we had to ditch our carry on luggage, it was far too much to carry around for the day. Luckily, Schipol International Airport offers tourist lockers of varying sizes. They were easy to find, had plenty of space for items like back packs, camera equipment, and extra shoes and jackets (we traveled in February, remember).
Then, we took the train from Schipol to Centraal Station right in the heart of downtown Amsterdam. First time tourists we are, we had no idea how to read the signs. We asked a friendly local lady how to get downtown, and after thanking her the ride took about 25 minutes and ran as smooth as silk.
What’s the first thing to do in Amsterdam? Take a canal cruise, of course!
Steps from Centraal Station is the canal cruise desk. Full of kitschy knick knacks, magnets and souvenirs, we purchased our passes for 5 euro and were off for an hour cruise. We cruised past homes, ultra modern architecture, the Anne Frank House, and more. This was a perfect way to orient ourselves on the countless bridges the city has.
After the cruise, we stayed at Dam Square for some time. After all, just in this small town square is the Royal Palace, the House of Bols, the Heineken Experience, Madame Tussaud’s wax museum, the Nieuwe Kerk (new church) and more.
We took a quick half hour tour of the Royal Palace public areas – be sure to check your bags and cameras at the check in area! Following our time at Dam Square, we continued on to the flower market – the only floating flower market in the world, operating since 1862.
Blown away by the number of tour booths in the city, we grabbed a few museum passes. We guided ourselves through the medieval torture museum, and the sex museum. Being just a short stop over, we didn’t think we could do justice to the grandeur of the Rijksmuseum or Van Gogh Museum.
We strolled past unique shoe stores, hostels, had the most amazing Italian Pizza at a family owned pizzeria, and explored the red light district. The rest of our day was spent strolling the cool city streets, people watching, and visiting various monuments throughout the city.
If you’re considering a stop in Amsterdam, you won’t be disappointed! The city is beautiful, they just ask that tourists be respectful.