I might as well say from the start that I can be incredibly anal-retentive about planning trips, and I always want to pack in as much as possible. Therefore, don’t try to see everything I did in 4 days unless you’re used to that kind of pace! My husband left for Amsterdam on Monday for the conference, and I flew to meet him on Wednesday evening after work. The flight from London Gatwick was only about 40 minutes. Amsterdam’s airport is about 15 to 20 minutes by train from Centraal Station, and it cost 3.90€ for a single ticket. Hubby met me at Centraal Station, and then it was a 10-minute bus ride to the Lloyd Hotel, which is east of Centraal Station in the docklands area.
For my first day, I got the breakfast buffet at the hotel, then attempted to make my way to Museumplein. Unfortunately, I missed the tram stop and ended up at Leidesplein, so I took the opportunity to go to the tourist info and got myself tickets for the Van Gogh Museum and Anne Frank Huis (the Anne Frank tickets were only good from 5 to 9pm). I paid 10€ to get into the Van Gogh and another 4€ for a recorded tour guide before I remembered that I’m really not an “arty” person and I get really bored by people talking about brush strokes, etc. I lasted an amazing 1.5 hours. After a quick lunch at a sandwich stand, I took a canal boat ride and got very sunburned. Then I went looking for Mike’s Bikes to decide if I wanted to take a bike tour, never found them, and went through the flower market (which was full of flowers, obviously, and crappy tourist stuff, like clogs and wooden tulips). I made my way to the Amsterdam Historic Museum, then had dinner at the David & Goliath Café. Afterwards, I walked up to Dam Square (touristy and crowded), then moved on to the Anne Frank Huis. Finally, around 8:30pm, I made my way back to the hotel.
On my second day of solo sightseeing, I started at the Bergjinhof and then walked to the Houseboat Museum. Afterwards, I walked to Westermarkt, had some of the raw herring everyone says you must try (fairly tasty!), took pictures of the Homomonument & Pink Place, and then did the tour of Westerkerk Tower. I caught the end of an organ recital in Westerkerk, then got the tram back to Centraal Station and wandered through the Red Light District looking for Museum Amstelkring. Then I made my way to Vondelpark but was called to meet up with hubby and his conference mates in Leidesplein. We had drinks and tapas, then all walked through Max Euwenplein to Vondelpark again and just crashed out on the grass enjoying the evening. Everyone got hungry after a while, so it was back to Leidesplein for some really mediocre Italian food at Pisa (not even worth a review). At least the company was good.
On the third day, hubby and I were incredibly lazy and finally made it to breakfast around 11am. We were informed we’d have to switch rooms due to a problem with the plumbing in ours, and since we were such good sports about it, they bumped us up to a 300€-a-night room, the highest they have. We couldn’t bear to leave our new gorgeous room, so we took a long nap on the big fluffy bed and never made it anywhere until around 6pm. We had dinner in Chinatown and then went to the Erotic Museum and the Sex Museum (yes, they’re different). Afterwards, we stopped into a coffee shop before returning to the hotel.
On our last full day, we were lazy again and didn’t even make it to breakfast. We had lunch at Chicano’s near Leidesplein, bought our tickets for Boom Chicago that evening, and then went to the Heineken Experience around 4:30pm. We made it to Boom Chicago at 6:30pm and finally got back to the hotel around 11pm.
One thing I really liked about Amsterdam was that it seemed so schizophrenic. There’s the whole sex/drugs thing bringing in obnoxious tourists, and yet it can be a really classy/cultured place! Normally once I’ve been somewhere and done a lot, I don’t want to go back right away, but I didn’t feel that way about Amsterdam—I’d go back tomorrow. There’s just so much to see and do, and every area is different. I really hope to go back there soon. My guide for this trip was a combination of the “Let’s Go Guide”, the “AA Guide”, and the yellow pages tourist guide from our hotel room. All had slightly different stuff, but if I had to pick just one it would be the Let’s Go Guide. It was incredibly comprehensive and had good maps and an index, which is what every obsessive planner needs!