When one thinks of Amsterdam many things can pop into your head. The red light district, coffeeshops, and canals. There is all of that and even more! Upon arrival in Amsterdam I was greeted with some cloudy and overcast weather, making me even more sleepy after my ten hour flight. I stood in line and watched the impressive organization of the taxi cabs as they lined up and quickly widdled down the line of people waiting. I felt almost as if I was in taking a step into the future because all of the taxi cabs were teslas or another type of electric car, coming from the states that was impressive to see.
On the short drive to the hotel it became apparent to me that bikes were very popular and seemed to be more dominant than the cars driving on the road. The streets were also very unique, curving and winding, I was defiantly thinking to myself that I was going to get lost when I would attempt to walk somewhere! Once I got to the hotel I was pleasantly surprised at how quaint and welcoming the staff was!
I stayed at the Pillows Anna van den Vondel Hotel! It was located just a short walk from Vondel Park which was perfect for me since I love walking. It is Amsterdam's largest park and is home to the Van Gogh museum. Once I arrived, early am, I was expecting to have to wait until 3 to check in but to my surprise they had a room available and I only had to wait 45 min for it to be ready for me. The staff took my coat and luggage and set me up in their sitting room. It was very different from your run of the mill chain hotels that have you line up and wait for your turn to be serviced at the desk.
One of the hosts brought over an espresso and water for me which was exactly what I needed after that day of travel. The coffee was spectacular, the host then sat down with me and proceeded to check me in. After I was checked in he pulled out a map of the city and highlighted the main attractions people want to see while visiting. He also asked me what I liked and gave personal recommendations about the city and where to go! This was one of my favorite parts of the visit, he was very knowledgeable and helpful when it came to picking out the things I wanted to see and do while I was there. And before I knew it we had chatted and talked about the city until my room was ready! He then took my bags up to the room and showed me all of the features available to me in the room!
My favorite part about the room was the French doors that let in an abundance of light and fresh air. I had these open basically any time I was in my room!
Once I had my room to myself I was very excited to lay on those crisp sheets and take a nap! 4 hours later I had to peel myself out of bed and down to get another espresso before heading out to walk around the city!
I quickly noticed once I started walking around that bikes have the right of way to pedestrians. The host at the hotel told me the fun fact that Amsterdam actually has more bikes in the city than people, which made sense as to why I saw so many bikes along the streets as well as people actually riding them. I was surprised at the ease I had navigating through the city. I was convinced after looking at the map I would get lost but I did not and it was fairly easy to get around with the help of google maps!
I was very lucky with the weather, it was sunny and warm most days aside from the first day I got there! Summer in Amsterdam is beautiful, there was flowers blooming everywhere and a great energy that vibed through the city.
There were so many quaint doors and picturesque locations that I saw when walking around.
After a day of walking around my favorite thing to do was to head back to the hotel for a glass of wine and some snacks. The restaurant in the hotel was very good, having a selection of fresh foods that could be ordered in the living space or ordered to your room! Having this as an option was great for the midnight snacks.
The rooms were all equipped with an iPad that you could use to request room service, give suggestions, and order extra things like hangers and dry cleaning services. This was an awesome perk to the guest experience.
Although during this trip I didn't have time to rent a bike and really experience the city like a local I did have the chance to take one of the famous canal rides. (Get ready for some canal ride spam!) I did some research and came across a new boutique boat rental company called Pure Boats Amsterdam.
Once aboard our guide told us a little bit about the history of the city and continued to point out the historical features of the city as we cruised by. He also informed us that up until last year the whole tour ride experience was a monopoly. Bigger companies were the only ones offering rides throughout the canals.
I was so happy to have experienced the canal ride like a local, we had the boat to ourselves and had space to take photos, ask questions, and we also had unlimited drinks. Since I set this up so last minute they did not have time to arrange the typical snacks that are offered on the private boat rides.
Being able to experience the boat ride in such an intimate way really made the experience stand out during my trip. During the ride we saw the other large boating companies pass us by and the people were packed into the boats almost like sardines, definitely with no potential to take a great gram photo!
The architecture in the city was one of my favorite things to admire throughout the cruise.
The weather was perfect, I thought I was going to be cold but there was the perfect amount of sun and shade. We went around 8pm which was the perfect time to go, the sun was softer and there was the right amount of light for taking photos. Since the sun in Amsterdam didn't set till like 10pm I felt as if this whole 2 hour experience was taking place in the golden hour!
Cruising through the Red Light District!
Mural just entering the Red Light District.
Gorgeous buildings were everywhere! One of my favorite things in the city was how much character everything had.
Golden hour lighting.
Some modern architecture!
At the end of the cruise I didn't want to get off of the boat, the experience was one that I will remember for a long time! I would never want to go on a cruise with another company either! Physically seeing the difference in the boats and comparing experiences I knew that choosing Pure Boats Amsterdam was a good choice! If you are looking for a luxurious personally tailored experience I would book with them right now. They were extremely responsive on instagram, where I initially found them, and made the booking process super easy! 10/10 would recommend.
And with that my time in Amsterdam came to an end. There were so many amazing things I saw and was able to do, I will have to visit again because I wasn't able to accomplish everything I wanted to on this trip but now I know what I want to cross off my list next!