When I lived in Budapest, I met my friend Petra, who was originally from the Netherlands but had also moved to Budapest. We clicked, and since my grandfather (who died when I was a baby) is also from the Netherlands, I planned to stay with her and her mother for a few months and use her mum’s house as a base while we explored Europe.
Since we both work online, we would generally work during the week, explore the Netherlands during the weekend, and occasionally head off to another country in Europe for a week or two.
My favorite times were when we would explore Amsterdam. We would generally hire a car, since it’s an easy place to drive- even though it’s the other side of the road than I’m used to. Then, we’d pack a lunch and then drive from her town (Zaandam) to Amsterdam and spend a day or two in the city. I loved Amsterdam, although I can see why the locals get annoyed with all the tourists- it sure is busy during peak season.
Amsterdam is packed with excellent shopping, great food, and tons to do and see. I loved taking boat rides down the canals, wandering through the streets, and taking pictures of the tall, slim buildings.
Fun fact: the reason the apartment buildings are so tall and thin is that the Dutch were taxed based on how wide their apartments were. For this reason, most chose to build up high instead of wide, and it’s why you’ll see so many interesting colors and styles of apartments- particularly along the canals.
Another one of my favorite things to do in Amsterdam was visit the markets. Dutch food is delicious, particularly Stroopwafels. I thought I’d had good Stroopwaffles from the supermarket, but nothing came close to the fresh ones, which would be warm and could be a mix of both chocolate and caramel (absolutely delicious). Speaking of supermarkets, the Netherlands has some of the best in the world. It sounds weird, but I genuinely looked forward to grocery shopping. That’s because you pick up your own hand-held scanner and scan your groceries as you walk around the supermarket. Then, instead of needing to check out, you simply hang up your scanner and swipe your card. It’s amazing.
It was so nice to be able to bike around the small towns, take road trips, and learn about how my Opa must have grown up. I’m looking forward to visiting The Netherlands (and especially Amsterdam) again and again.
On my next trip, I definitely want to see the Anne Frank museum. If you’re also hoping to visit this attraction, be sure to purchase tickets in advance- I missed out because I hadn’t realized how popular it is. I also want to go when the tulips are blooming so I can take photos of all the different colors. While we took a bus trip to Belgium from the Netherlands, I’d also like to do some more travel within the Netherlands and explore the canals, take photographs of the scenery, and eat more Dutch food!