One of the biggest benefits of Peace Corps is the ability to travel the world for little to no money. Last week was fall break for all schools in Armenia. I had the opportunity to travel to Amsterdam to visit a friend from college.
First of all, I would highly recommend anyone visit Amsterdam. There is literally something for everyone there. I bought am I Amsterdam City Card which was an extremely affordable option. The card can be purchased based on number of hours, anywhere from 24 to 96 hours and includes entrance to over 60 museums and unlimited transportation within the city and surrounding villages.
I will be the first to admit that I have limited travel experience. And until my trip to Amsterdam, I had zero travel experience when I was totally in charge of what I could do. In the past I have always traveled with a group, and had someone who could translate, arrange transportation and plan itineraries. I was a little intimidated with the planning aspect of the trip. I knew I wanted to do a lot of things and make the most of my time in the city, but I had no idea how to do the research and plan my time there.
In the end, I decided to buy the city card and then make a list of things close to each other in the city. The city is so small and transportation on the tram is extremely simple. I found it was very easy to do 5 museums each day. In total, I did 16 museums and a variety of other things. here are some of my favorites below:
You can’t go to Holland, the land of tulips and not visit this museum. Since the tulips weren’t in season, I couldn’t go visit an actual tulip farm. The museum was the next best thing.
2. Pipe Museum
This museum was on the I Amsterdam City Card but was a little out of the way from anything else on my list. I went anyways and was so glad I did. I was the only person at the museum since it was the end of the day. There isn’t an audio tour or a booklet or any signs even. The museum attendants walked from display case to display case with me and carefully explained the history and origins of the thousands of pipes they have on display there. The artistic value of the pipes was just as interesting as the history.
I’m not even sure this one requires an explanation. Who doesn’t want to look at beautiful diamonds? This museum talked about how diamonds come from the earth and then are cut into what we see in jewelry. It also had replicas of famous diamonds and a vast collection of royal crowns from around the world.
I didn’t fully read the description of this museum before going, so I originally thought it was a museum about houseboats. I was pleasantly surprised to find that it was actually a houseboat turned into a museum (even better). The houseboat is still floating in a canal, nestled among many other houseboats that people are actually living in. So cool!
Besides the Anne Frank House, this is one of the most popular places to visit in Amsterdam. The huge line to get in reflects that. Overall, I am glad I went to this museum but I probably wouldn’t go back. After an hour and a half wait to get in the door, the three towering floors of art seemed like too much for my attention span. If i hadn’t been included in the I Amsterdam City card, I likely wouldn’t have went. The price without the card was 17 euros, a little steep.
6. Stedelijk Museum of Modern Art
This was another big museum that definitely went beyond my attention span. I enjoyed the art for maybe 10 minutes, but then wasn’t interested. It was included with my card and conveniently located right next to the Van Gogh museum, otherwise I probably would have skipped it.
This was one of the BEST places I went in the city, but I found it totally on accident. It’s part museum and part store and basically the cutest thing ever. Think a room full of dollhouse sized things, only built for little stuffed mice instead of dolls. Entrance is free as well.
Most knitters know the famous designer Stephen West has his shop called Stephen and Penelope in Amsterdam. This was the very first place I went the morning after I landed in Amsterdam. Of course it far surpassed all my expectations. As a knitter, going here is a special, once in a lifetime experience that I will always remember.
9. Zaanse Schans
On my last day in The Netherlands, I traveled outside of Amsterdam to a small town called Zaanse Schans to see the windmills.
At Zaanse Schans, there is a wooden shoe museum and shop:
Overall, I would recommend Amsterdam as a trip for anyone young or old. I could have spent many more weeks in the city and still not have seen it all.