This is the second instalment on our fabulous Spring break to Amsterdam. We fell in love with Amsterdam the moment the tram took us through the streets to our park side apartment in Pijp.
Before arriving, we booked a 360 City Tour (link below), to show us the highlights of Amsterdam in two hours, and give us bearings on the city.
We met in Dam Square, by the horses (which were a hit with Lex) and soon listened to stories on their Royals (a far cry from our monarchy!!), Dutch jokes about the Germans (ahem!) and learnt about their attitudes and way of life, which surprisingly, explained a lot of things.
On this walk we discovered the beautiful district of Jordaan (which became my firm favourite), we were told where the best apple pie shop was (they were scrummmmy!), and were escorted down alleyways you probably wouldn’t otherwise go down, and resurfaced a little giddy and green (you catch my drift?).
The tour was free, but we gave a 20 EURO donation at the end, as it was incredibly informative and the perfect introduction to the city.
This tour is not the only thing you must book before arriving in Amsterdam. If you want the chance to see the Anne Frank House without the humungous queues, which are hours and hours long, I strongly recommend you book tickets online before going.
Tickets are released everyday, weeks in advance and sell out fast, so plan ahead and be quick. Unfortunately, I was not prepared to queue for hours with a little one, but was happy to enjoy the rest of Amsterdam with the perfect excuse to come back. I grew up with Anne Frank and read her diary multiple times and was consumed by her story.
Another reason I want to return is to travel to a real flower market and see how it’s done. I want to see the blooms, in all their glory. I’ve heard Haarlem is the place to do this.
The rest, such as museums and canal trips can be bought once you’re there. Infact, I booked a canal trip in advance, but probably could have got it cheaper via a discount with 360 Tours.
As for our neighbourhood where we stayed, well we struck gold. It’s was a vibrant mix of young trendy families rubbing shoulders with chic university students. And with the sun shining and the weather warmer, the swanky bars and restaurants at the bottom of our road were brimming with young bods.
Lex was on good form, so we braved a drink and dinner with the hip crowd, and even felt young again, for just an hour or so, while Lex enjoyed watching the bikes go past and playing with his new wooden Dutch toys.
A definite food choice for us was Bitterballen – a Dutch meat-based snack in fried crumbs – it’s a traditional dish in The Dam, we all loved it.
Pijp is great, full of bars, eateries, boutiques and a very lively daily market selling all sorts of things; flowers, toys, bikes, food. It’s called Albert Cuypmarkt and is well worth a visit.
As always, it’s easier to book a self-catering place with a child, so we always use AirBnb. However, we’ve been doing it since our travelling days because it really the best experience to see a new place from a local perspective. Had we stayed in the city centre we would have missed the market, the bars, the socialites, the family park.
In my view, there’s no better way to explore somewere, than in the eyes of a local.
Some useful links:
If you missed my first instalment of our trip to Amsterdam, you can see it here.