Amsterdam was heaps of fun, but five days was far too much! If I were to go back again, I’d venture out into the suburbs and/or Rotterdam, as the “Amsterdam” experience probably isn’t the way to understand authentic Dutch culture. The Dutch are extremely friendly & polite, but w didn’t get the chance to meet many since our hostel area was bursting with tourists on the prowl for weed.
- Take a free walking tour with Sandemans New Europe. It’s a great way to brief yourself with the city’s history, culture as well as its restaurants. Walking tours are great for meeting new people too!
- Boekenmarkt – Book Market: Sift through second hand books (many are in English), old maps and post cards. I would’ve bought some maps but my backpacking lifestyle didn’t allow it.
- Hang out on top of the NEMO Science Centre and view the city from an elevated surface. Perfect place to play chess with life-sized pieces, bask in the sun, and read.
- Go to Museumplein – which is the museum square/district – and take a nap/have a picnic. This is great especially if you have no more money for museum entries!
- I forgot to include the Anne Frank House as a must-see in Amsterdam (I suggest for you to purchase tickets online prior to your visit.) The whole experience takes about an hour to an hour and a half and it was by far the most moving experience I had in Amsterdam. I recall watching an interview clip of Otto Frank, Anne’s father, speaking about his decision to publish his daughter’s diary. He spoke about how reading the diary gave him insight into the personality, hobbies and thoughts of his daughter – most of which he was completely unaware of. I immediately felt emotional hearing this, because I could immediately relate with Anne on this front! There are things I’m involved with and interested in that my parents are unaware of – not because they don’t love me – but because of our language, cultural and generational gaps. Also, I have the tendency to push my parents aside, especially when I’m feeling curt and impatient. As an adult, I’m starting to realize that I have to make the conscious decision to take the time to be patient with my parents. It’s too easy to push them aside when they ask probing questions, or when they re-ask the same questions…when really, all they’re trying to do is understand where I’m coming from. Parents are the world’s biggest heroes.