This year (2015) my birthday fell on a weekend and the best part we were in Europe. And Chalukya was all keen on making it memorable. He booked tickets to Amsterdam; no plans, no itinerary, just a day relaxing amidst the maze of canals relishing the embracing aura of Amsterdam.
Amsterdam, the Dutch capital is every travel fanatics dream and on top of the bucket list. Amsterdam has something to offer to everyone with its historic canals lining the streets, the romantic canal cruise, world-famous museums, lively Amsterdam nightlife and many cannabis coffee shops.
We reached Amsterdam airport early morning and boarded a bus to Amsterdam central station. We started our city tour posing for pictures with the city’s iconic landmark and the most photographed structure of the city – the large red and white ‘I Amsterdam’ slogan. Located at the back of the Rijksmuseum on Museumplein beckons all the tourists to hop on and around the letters for the best photo ops possible. As we visited early morning the area was desolate with only a couple of other tourists.
Gassan Diamond Factory
The city being the leading center for diamonds in ancient times our next stop was Gassan Diamond Factory. The factory is walkable from the central station. Sauntering through the canals and bridges and surprised by the overwhelming bicycle traffic we reached the factory.
A guide walked us through the diamond cutting procedure and explained us the 4 C’s of diamond – Carat, Color, Cut, and Clarity.
We had an opportunity to hold the sparkling precious stones with bare hands and wonder. And the prettiest of them made it to my priceless possession as my birthday gift.
We visited the flea market in Waterlooplein just a couple of minute’s walk from the diamond factory. One of the oldest and a big outdoor day market with around 300 stands exhibits new and second-hand clothes, leather items, Jewelry, paintings and lots of interesting bric-a-brac.
Eating in Amsterdam
We strolled around the cobbled streets of the city crossing numerous canals lined up with the elm trees and the bridges watching the canal cruises, colorful flower markets, street food stalls where we had some delicious chocolate crepes.
There is no dearth for coffee shops and outdoor cafes in Amsterdam which create a vibrant ambiance and a great meeting point.
Red Light District
The Red Light District of Amsterdam is no secret and everyone visiting the city must have heard about this neighborhood for sure. Though we did not have this on our list of must do we many times crossed paths with these alleys and several cannabis coffee shops as they are very close to the Dam Square.
It was near dusk and the weather was getting chilly hence, we decided to hop onto a canal cruise for a hour-long relaxing sail. Floating on the Amstel river through the enchantingly lit canal rings watching the historical sights backed by intriguing audio commentary was a great experience. If canals are your fascination then you should definitely make a day trip to Utrecht another beautiful medieval town 30 minutes train ride away from Amsterdam Central.
After the cruise, we walked down to the Dam Square to watch the most awaited Halloween Parade. By the time we reached the square the streets were filled with scary and spooky characters dressed for the event. The freaky procession with people dressed as zombies, witches, monsters, vampires and scary clowns was accompanied with band and music. We could spot the famed personalities Marilyn Monroe and Michael Jackson celebrating the ‘Immortal Fame’ theme for 2015.
We definitely missed a lot of what Amsterdam had to offer but visiting the city during the remarkable Halloween festival was an indelible experience. One can also take a break from the city life of Amsterdam and take day trips to many fishing villages around the city for a laid back experience. Click here for day trips from Amsterdam.
What are your views on visiting Amsterdam and how has been your experience? Do share in comments.
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