I just got back from a fun-filled week in Amsterdam and I could not wait to give you guys the recap. This was a special trip for me for several reasons:
- it was my first time traveling to Europe
- it was a surprise trip and the very first time I was able to take my daddy on vacation
- it was one of two birthday trips #LibraSeason
Earlier this year one of my homegirls added me to this Atlanta flight deals travel group that sends out alerts whenever flight pries drop or crazy deals come up. I was super excited to get into the group but every time I thought about booking one of the deals and going solo, I got scurred.
Going on a solo trip is on my bucket list but pressing that purchase button is a whole ‘nother thing.
After missing like 4 deals, I told myself that I was going to book the next great deal no matter what. So when Amsterdam popped up for $350, I had to get on it! But once again, I got scared and almost missed out.. Then, I thought about the one guy I knew would be down for an Amsterdam adventure: my daddy!
I was super excited at the thought of strolling down memory lane to my childhood as a daddy’s girl and having his undivided attention for a whole week.
I booked the flights back in February so I had a while to plan. When I looked at the hotel options, they all seemed to be single rooms (twin bed) or a double room with 2 twin beds.
That would be weird.
So, nah. On to Airbnb I went and found a cute little studio apartment about 10 minutes away ($12 Uber dollars each way) from the city. It ended up being about $980 for the week.
Uber definitely saved our lives on this trip — there’s literally no way I would’ve been able to communicate where I was staying or pronounce those street names. It did however probably end up costing me about $50/day to get around town.
We had such an amazing time waking up at 1pm every day and partying the night away (check this cute little video) but we also learned a lot about the city and tried to experience everything we could. One thing I loved the most is the spirit of the city. The people are free-spirited and open-minded and they really, really value money-making… they’re pretty much my kind of people.
And they’re diverse! I asked every driver I had where their parents were from and what languages they spoke. Surprisingly, several of them were black and their parents were from the Islands, Africa and India mostly. I really appreciated the fact that every single one of them spoke English fluently, that made our lives soooo much easier. (It also showed me the importance of making sure my children know multiple languages!)
If you’re ever in Europe, be sure to take advantage of this free walking tour. This is how we learned that the stock market originated in Amsterdam, it was the first country to legalize gay marriage and it was the only country who’s non-jewish population defended the Jews against Hitler during the Holocaust. Their country was literally founded on freedom (not the fraudulent freedom America claims.. but the real kind that allows you to be whoever you choose to be as long as you’re not harming those around you.)
This is where the legalization of erotics & narcotics comes in.. Amsterdam isn’t known for starting the stock market, it’s known for having 100% legal marijuana and prostitution. There’s no place on Earth like it.. it was literally mind-blowing. The crazier part is that their crime rate is much lower than the rest of the world and their unique crime stopping practices have really paid off. So much so that they literally do not have enough prisoners for their jails so they import prisoners from other countries. They also have radical reform programs that actually aim to rehabilitate their prisoners, not turn them into slaves … again, my kind of people. Oh and unlike my nightmare off-the-grid trip to Cuba, Amsterdam is a high-tech city with wi-fi everywhere. Whoop!
Other than the rich history and amazing people, here are 5 things you need to know before you go.
#1 One thing I always seem to forget when traveling Internationally is to select my seat in advance.. sigh. This time I ended up with a middle seat.. and my poor dad got stuck in the middle too.. eek. Be sure to set your alarm and save the date so you don’t forget to select yours in advance.
Also, if you’re bout that public transportation life and want to ride the train from the airport, it’s really convenient because the train station is inside the airport. I opted for the Uber because I didn’t want to drag my bags and my dad on the train.
#2 If you’re looking for weed you’ll find it EVERYWHERE.. there’s “coffee shops” on every corner which is the code word for weed. Very easy to find and there are tons of bars, lounges and cafes that allow you to smoke.
You ain’t ready for the Red Light District. That is something you just have to see for yourself because no one’s explanation of it will do it any justice. It’s literally mini brothel rooms up and down the street with women standing behind glass doors offering up their goods. I heard you can get 15 minutes for $50 if you’re bout that life… I did NOT let my dad get a way from me no matter how hard he tried lol
With sex and drugs, you know they have gambling too. Tons of tiny casinos but also a big one– the Holland Casino. If you plan to get your gamble on, be sure to dress appropriately. They have a strict dress code and we got turned away because of my dad’s jogging pants.
#3 The Dutch are NOT known for their cuisine so don’t plan to be amazed. One thing that’s great though is that they have food from all over the world (you’d be shocked how diverse the city is!) so I was able to eat Asian all week, Japanese, Chinese, Thai, they had it all. Plus, they had tons of steakhouses, pizza places, chicken joints, etc. One word of caution: be weary of the pancakes. I ordered a regular pancake and got a crepe the size of the entire plate and thin as a piece of paper.. very strange, pretty gross. They have all kinds of skinny mini pancakes if that’s what you like — they top them with everything from pizza toppings to beans and chicken and chocolate. Eww!
Sidenote: while you’re there you have to try the poffertjes — little dutch mini pancakes with butter and powder sugar.. they are delicious!
#4 Amsterdam is bike city!! They literally have more bikes than people and their traffic laws are set up in favor of the bikes, so beware. There are bikes coming down the street from different directions all day and night, we almost got ran over several times… several times each day.
#5 If you want to visit the Anne Frank House, get your tickets early because they usually sell out 3 months in advance. If not, you’ll be waiting in lines and it averages 1.5-3 hour wait.
In our 6 days and 5 nights in the city, we visited 7 coffee shops, 16 bars and saw the entire city. These are some of my favorite spots to check out:
- The Bulldog – this was my favorite spot! They have a bar/lounge with karaoke, coffee shop to buy trees and a cafe that serves food.
- The Stud – I didn’t get a chance to check this one out but one of my drivers recommended it as a better coffee shop that the locals use (better prices & products)
- Red Light Bar – loved this place! It’s right in the middle of the red light district and has 3 levels of parties & free entry!
- Rembrandt Square – this area was dope! tons of bars, restaurants and coffee shops and within walking distance of the red light district
- Metropolitan Bakery – this was the first place I tried the poffertjes and they were amaaaazing! check them out!
Hands-down this was an absolutely amazing trip and it exceeded my expectations! Not only did I get to bond and make memories with my dad, the city treated us well and showed us a good time. Amsterdam is on my list of top 5 fav cities, go see for yourself!!