Amsterdam: A Scenic Tour Of The City.

 

From Zaandam to Amsterdam. 

It was a free and easy day so we went on a city tour, on our own of course, stopping at any places that attracted us. The train from Zandam to Amsterdam Central station cost us Euro 5 (one way) and once we arrived, we got ourselves a day pass for Euro 7.50 for transportation around the city. Maneuvering the city became easier for us as we had ample experiences during this Europe trip. When we got lost, we would ask someone. When we’re not sure of which stations to take, we would look at the map before getting directions from the station staff. We became an expert in jumping on and off the trains, knowing which platform would head to which direction. That itself became an adventure.

1. Awestruck by Amsterdam Central Station. 

I didn’t realize how grand the Amsterdam Central Station was until I turned and looked back at it. It’s known to be the largest station in Amsterdam with 250,000 passengers going through it each day. What it reminded me of was the St Pancras International Station in London city, with a large clock tower, red brick walls and tall windows. Right in front of the station was the tourist information office, a busy tram station with trams criss-crossing each other and a boat pier which goes through the canals. The station makes for a convenient stop in the city for first timers like us.

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2. That popular ‘I Amsterdam’ sign. 

In front of the Rijksmuseum is the popular ‘I Amsterdam’ sign which have spurned ideas for similar signs in other parts of the world. It was crowded and we have to weave our way into the crowd to get a good photo with the sign. The museum is absolutely gorgeous by the way but we didn’t enter it because of the crowd. In front of the sign was an empty lake (I was told) would usually be frozen up for ice skaters during winter. The weather was definitely chilly but there wasn’t any water in it so we took the chance to walk inside the rink all the way to Van Gogh Museum.

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3. Admiring Van Goghs’ work up close.

Tickets to the museums can be costly here so we chose Van Gogh because I have an affinity with sunflowers and his painting of them are beautiful. We were about to walk away from Rijksmuseum when we saw an information counter beside it selling tickets to the museum for Euro 15 a person. When we arrived at the museum, there were 4 different lanes there and since our tickets were for 11am, we looked for our Pre-Sale lane and we entered right away. Other guests who had bought the Amsterdam pass were seen queueing for a long time as the line was all the way out to the end of the block. I guess we were lucky. The gallery had 4 floors with different levels dedicated to Van Gogh’s family upbringing, his relationship with his brother (whom he loved dearly), his time in a psychiatric ward where he cut off his ear, and how his brothers’ family kept his artistic legacy alive until today. A tortured soul, his artworks varied deeply throughout the years from portraits to landscapes.

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4. Canal rides in Amsterdam. 

The canal ride can be taken right in front of the Amsterdam Central station for Euro 8.50 per person. Our boat had a glass roof cover which allowed us to see the view of the lovely canals from our seats. We were also sheltered from the cold weather which was a plus point. The one hour journey came with a guide who shared with us the history of Amsterdam canal as we made our way out from the pier. Some highlights to look out for during the cruise are the Maritime Museum, Artis Zoo building, Hermitage City Hall, leidseplein vondelpark, Dam Square and Anne Franks’ House.

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5. Taking a break at the Nutella Bar. 

We took the tram to ledenweig for a quick lunch around the area. As we walked back to the tram stop, we noticed this Nutella Ice Bar and decided to have Nutella Cappuccino and ice cream. I’ve never seen such huge Nutella jars in my whole life and I wished I could bring one home. The bar had seats inside, but since it was packed, we moved out to the benches near the tram stop and had our dessert and drink there. Don’t get me wrong, I love the chocful taste of Nutella but it doesn’t go right with cappuccino especially when there’s a nutty taste to it. The ice cream was perfect though and tastes exactly like the spread.

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6. What about that Sex Museum?

It was getting dark and we went on to the city center, stopping at the Sex Museum. Our curiosity got to us and we decided to have a look inside. Tickets to the museum are Euro 4 per person and only 16 years old and above are allowed to enter the place. Let’s just say that the places houses 20 years of how sex was portrayed in films, in arts, photographs and other matters. Some of the exhibit items were rather obscene, but not in a pornographic sense. There’s even a mannequin of Marilyn Monroe, who was known to be a sex symbol during the old days. There’s also an exhibit on the legendary Mata Hari and her partners. Very interesting indeed if you’re willing to have an open mind and view the stories from an artistic point of view.

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7. Quirky shops to look out for. 

What would Amsterdam be without quirky shops to visit? As we walked back to the Central Station we saw a few shops which sold Adventure Time wallet, t-shirts, bags and other items. There’s also a Mannekin-Pis Fries shop selling the popular Belgium fries in the city. We got one of those which came in a large container, and huge fries of course, eating them along the way. Plenty of souvenir shops can be found along the street as well as restaurants selling ‘happy’ pizzas and brownies.

 

8. Having a cold or hot Chocomel before leaving.

Everywhere we went we saw these cute Chocomel drinks and we decided to have one before we left the Schipol Airport to Kuala Lumpur. The Dutch do love their chocolates and this was one item I wished we could find in Cambodia (but alas we can’t). The whole EuroChameleon trip was an interesting journey filled with new experiences. Despite rushing at certain places, we did focus on what we wanted to see and do so that itself was rewarding. We would definitely come to Europe again, but the next round we’ll take it slower and spend more time in one city.

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About Yafieda Jamil

A Malaysian girl currently working abroad in Phnom Penh city. I love a good road trip, hot cappuccinos, spicy food and staring at old buildings. My mission is to inspire people to see the world differently before we all get any older. Oh and giraffes are the most beautiful creatures on earth.

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