The bustling ‘City of Canals’ was once a quaint fishing village in Netherlands which flourished as a prominent port city. The UNESCO World heritage site of 17th-century canals is the major draw for tourists to Amsterdam famed as the ‘Venice of North’. Amsterdam had been on the list for long and a visit to the city came as a great surprise to me. 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; a romantic cruise through the labyrinth of the historic canals exploring the monumental buildings is an unparalleled experience. Amsterdam museums like Anne Frank House, Van Gogh Museum, Rijksmuseum are world-famous and tops the list of Amsterdam attractions for tourists visiting the city. The several quaint Amsterdam coffee shops lining the canals and the numerous jazz clubs make the Amsterdam nightlife vibrant and colorful.
Things to do in Amsterdam in a Day
We reached Amsterdam airport early morning and boarded a bus to Amsterdam central station. As usual, our Airbnb apartment (Use this referral code to get discounts on your first stay with Airbnb) allowed check-in only afternoon and hence we had to start with city tour before visiting our apartment. We started with the city’s iconic landmark the most photographed and one of the popular places to visit in Amsterdam – 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
It was a wonderful morning, we were in Amsterdam but the best part was yet to come. Our next stop was Gassan Diamond Factory. Yes, you guessed it right. My priceless birthday gift!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. During the Dutch Golden Age, Amsterdam city thrived as a leading Diamond center which indeed led to several factories set up around the city which even offers a guided tour of the processing of diamonds.
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.
The beautiful cobblestone squares and car free alleys make for a great Amsterdam shopping experience. Amsterdam has several markets like food markets, antiques, art, and paintings. Waterlooplein flea market a couple of minute’s walk from the diamond factory we visited is one of the largest flea markets which cannot be missed when you visit Amsterdam. The flea market one of the oldest and a big outdoor day market with around 300 stands exhibit new and second-hand clothes, leather items, Jewelry, paintings and lots of interesting bric-a-brac.
Food Market 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 in Amsterdam
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.
Halloween Festival and Parade
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 Halloween party had already began streets were filled with scary and spooky characters dressed in Halloween costumes 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.
Yes, the Zombies use mobiles too…
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 hop onto several day trips from Amsterdam to many fishing villages around the city for a laid-back experience.
What are your views on visiting Amsterdam and how has been your experience? Do share in comments.
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