The forecast wasn’t promising, and after battling the rains the day before in Rotterdam, I was taking no chances.
Even though Amsterdam was high on our travel bucket list, we’d only allocated a day to the city on our trip. Well, actually less than a day, we weren’t able to find a good hotel in our desired area that fit our budget, so instead we chose to stay in Rotterdam and just take the train into the city. This meant we’d need to make every moment count, so as I said, I was taking no chances and was prepared for pretty much any kind of weather.
The skies in Rotterdam were cloudy as we made our way to the train station. Umbrella in hand, I was zipped into my rain jacket and just hoping that as the train pulled out of the station we would leave the clouds behind.
And we did!
As we arrived in Amsterdam, the train emerged from the underground tunnel and we were greeted by the city with gorgeous sunshine and brilliant blue skies.
Stripping away our various layers we walked down Damrak, popping into a McDonald’s briefly for breakfast, on our way to meet our SANDEMANs Free Walking Tour group. Given that we’d only allocated a day to Amsterdam, we thought joining the walking tour would be a great way to see the main sights and learn about the city in a relatively short amount of time. Tickets in hand, we stood in the shadows of the National Monument as our guide, Dominique provided us with an introduction to the city as the Royal Palace stood proud behind her.
After a quick explanation and warning about cyclists (they are not friendly, so watch out!) we were on our way. Over the next two hours, we walked up and down the streets of Amsterdam, along the iconic canals and explored renowned city spots like the Red Light District and Begijnhof, stopping only occasionally for Dominique to share with us the history and details that make Amsterdam such a unique and special city. We were introduced to the city’s facts and its fictions, it’s legends and legacies, and we learned all about the trials and triumphs of the Dutch throughout the ages. It was a whirlwind, but one couldn’t really ask for a better lesson in such a short amount of time.
In front of the iconic and sobering Anne Frank house, we said goodbye to our group and continued on with our day. As the sun continued to shine, we walked along the canals, marvelling at their beauty, each distinct but also very similar. We explored the quieter streets of the Jordaan district, where each house was adorned with brilliant and bright flowers, before making our way back to the crowded street of the Centrum.
As the afternoon wore on, we decided it was time to indulge in a local delicacy: the pickled herring, so off we went in search of a stand. While we had passed several of these famous stands while on the walking tour, now that we were looking for one they were nowhere to be found. We wandered the streets and walked along the canals in a desperate search for a fish stand. For more than 30 minutes we looked; we’d burst into each intersection full of excitement, hoping to see a stand only to find that either the intersection was empty or the stand was closed.
Just as we were starting to give us, there it was: an open stand! The line was long, but after so much searching we weren’t going to miss our chance. We found our place and just a few minutes and a few Euros later we had our herring in hand.
The raw, lightly pickled fish was placed on a plate, cut into chunks and adorned with raw onions and a sweet pickle; a combination of foods that made conversations throughout the rest of the day a little bit awkward. We wasted no time and sunk our teeth into the fish, savouring each and every bit of this local speciality.
The rest of the afternoon was spent wandering, admiring the playful and cheerful attitude of the city and its inhabitants. After a quick break for canal-side beers, we made our way back to the station, boarded the train and settled in for our 40-minute journey back to Rotterdam.
Although our time in Amsterdam was brief, it was wonderful. As we ate dinner that night, overlooking the Oudehaven (Old Harbour) of Rotterdam, we talked about our day, our impressions of the city, and we almost immediately began planning a return trip to the Netherlands’ capital.
Read other posts from this series:
- In Bruges
- Petite Adventures’ Guide to Bruges
- Surviving the Rain and Exploring Ghent
- Petite Adventures’ Guide to Ghent
- Top Ten Reasons to Take a Canal Tour in Bruges & Ghent
- Rain in Rotterdam
- Petite Adventures’ Guide to Rotterdam
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