Amsterdam, I’m sorry, let’s be friends.
At the time, I was tired. The canals were charming, the buildings even more so, but nothing could cheer me up after my tired feet and rain-soaked clothes were sleeping on a hard couch in a tiny (but gorgeous) flat in the Jordaan area of lovely Amsterdam. I drove the nearly 4 hours from northern France (rocking everything from the Sex Pistols, to Metric, to Kanye, to Otis) and parked my car in a garage that was underground, next to a huge body of water. Started wandering around with luggage in the extreme wind, trying to find a taxi stand (still have no idea what they look like, tbh). After saying excuse me (way too quietly, as always) to a group of men blocking the sidewalk, a man turned around with half-opened eyes and says “Oh hey, sorry, I’m like asleep,” — with a giant hand full of something green and potent apparently. He smiled, I couldn’t stop staring at his hands, and we all laughed — not in France anymore, indeed. Having no wifi access and no map, I found a kindly-faced woman and ask where I could find a taxi — the lovely lady called one for me. As always, I made friends with my taxi driver — Omer (a lovely man from beautiful Turkey) and me chatted it up about life, living abroad, beautiful cities, etc. I was greeted at the flat with a nice Belgian beer and a pretty blonde — the sister of my sister-in-law, Stacy. We walked everywhere, we spent an entire day as tourists (literally: the Van Gogh Museum, Anne Frank House, and the Rembrandt House museum followed by the best apple pie at Winkel 43) and we got rained on, a lot.
I feel bad, I took you for granted Amsterdam, and I appreciate you more now from afar, and I fully intend on coming to see you again soon. You, you were truly lovely actually, sorry I was such a grump. Dear taxi man who drove us back to the car on the last day, you should’ve been polite — we could’ve been friends! And I’m a bit salty that you stole my nice, new, large umbrella.
In all seriousness though, tips for Amsterdam:
-Walk, but wear comfy shoes. The city is very walkable!
-Do buy your tickets from one of those silly tourist offices! We saved some money by choosing to buy all of our tickets there.
-DO the canal/bus hop on tour, it’s fun + informative.
-DO visit the Van Gogh Museum, it’s beautiful! However, buy your tickets in advance AND choose to go at 9 am — there is NO wait at all. People were in line for HOURS, in the rain.
-DO visit the Anne Frank House. I know, everyone who visits Amsterdam does, but it really is powerful and moving. Again, buy tickets in advance. If they’re sold out, keep rechecking the site (more were released just before we arrived). Sometimes your hotel can help you out as well. If you don’t have tickets, seriously be the first person there or don’t bother.
-Have the apple pie at Winkel, it’s damn good.
-We stayed in an Airbnb flat, I’d recommend trying that if you can’t find a hotel you’re super happy with.