I love Spring, and it just seems to keep getting further and further away in England! As soon as it starts to look like the weather is getting warmer we’re thrown straight back into wintery showers again! However Spring had definitely sprung in Amsterdam, and the streets and the markets were full of beauuutiful buds and flowers!
I am such a tourist, and wanted to get as many museums, galleries and attractions in as we could in three days! The first day was my sister’s birthday, so we started off with a champagne lunch in Plantage – a stunning conservatory-style restaurant at the entrance to the city zoo.
Our first stop after a mouth-watering lunch was Anne Frank House. After reading Anne’s diary as a child, I have always wanted to visit the secret annex in which her family and four others hid from the Nazis for over 2 years. It was certainly an emotional experience – the annex was tiny and I cannot even imagine having to hide quietly there in the dark, never being able to leave. Anne’s diary is a unique insight into this life, and seeing both the diary and the place that it was written was so moving. The stories from the death camps are harrowing, and a shocking reminder of what human beings are capable of. I think this is such an important place to visit if you are ever in the city.
A short walk from Anne Frank House is Dam Square and the Royal Palace. We only had about 45 minutes to spend in the Palace before it closed for the day, however without the audio tour that was plenty of time to see all the stunning rooms.
No trip to Amsterdam would be complete without a canal cruise, and there’s so many different options – dinner cruises, cocktail cruises, pizza cruises, day and evening trips. As we weren’t sure how many would be running midweek and at this time of year, my sister and I hopped on the first one we found, which was an hour long trip through the city’s canals in the early evening.
Watching the sun set over the water was spectacular, and as the day got darker, twinkly bulbs and fairylights started to light up the many bridges over the canals. Amsterdam in the evening is just enchanting.
Before dinner we had an obligatory trip to the SexMuseum – which was hilarious if nothing else – and then had an amazing steak dinner at Loetje Centraal. All of the cafes and restaurants we visited during our stay had the most sensational food – we had traditional dutch pancakes at the Carousel Pancake House, a delicious candlelit dinner at Haesje Claes and yummy brunch and smoothies at some lovely local cafes.
The next day we had a whistlestop visit to the Rijksmuseum before heading to the Van Gogh Museum, which I think might have been my favourite. Delving into the short life of this amazing artist was fascinating, and seeing how his painting style and technique developed over his decade as an artist was so interesting. (We weren’t allowed to take pictures in VG, so here’s a taster of the Rijksmuseum instead!)
One exhibition both my sister and I were unsure about attending was BodyWorlds, however we wanted to see and do as much as possible so we took the plunge! In BodyWorlds you explore the anatomy of the human body through real specimens, and it was intriguing to see what is inside our bodies, but also did make me feel a little queasy, and uncomfortable – my stomach actually just turned thinking about it now.
Our final stop before hopping on the ferry back home was the Museum Ons’ Lieve Heer Op Solder (Our Lord In The Attic). I’d not heard of this, but my sister had seen it on Travel Man and was intrigued. In the 17th Century it was prohibited for Catholics to practice mass in the then Protestant city, so secret churches were built in the attics of houses. This little hidden gem is definitely worth a visit.
I’d love to know your favourite places to visit in this city!