I am back in the States and sad my Europe trip is over but I have so much to share with you guys!!
In case you missed it: Europe Trip Part 1 – Paris.
After our 2 days in Paris, we took a train to Amsterdam where we were going to be spending one day. We had tickets for the 7:16am train but we got to the train station super early and there was a train about to depart for Amsterdam at 6:20am and we were able to get on board! So we arrived in Amsterdam an hour early, which was great!
Although it was still cold and a bit dreary, I absolutely LOVED Amsterdam!!
I found it so cute and charming with all the bicycles and canals.
We stayed at the Mr. Jordaan Hotel, which was absolutely wonderful and in a great location – less than a 5 minute walk to the Anne Frank house and everything we wanted to do.
We walked around the city and enjoyed the beautiful canals.
We had lunch and then went on the Free Walking Tour through New Europe, which I heard about from Chelsea (thanks Chelsea!). The walking tour was great! It lasted about 3 hours and there were probably 30 or so people in our group. Our tour guide was a seasoned traveler and did a great job with the tour.
We learned the canals are not very deep and the bottom is full of bicycles and sewage from houseboats so they are not a good place to swim!
The idea behind the free walking tour is that the tour guides get paid by tips. They do not get paid by the company at all. Our guide said this is because the founder of the company thought if a tour guide is getting paid regardless of how good the tour is, they have no incentive to give a good tour. So the guides now have a reason to give a good tour – the customers are paying their salary!
We learned the 4 Best Things to Purchase in Amsterdam are:
We had 2 of the 4. I’ll let you use your imagination 🙂
We went through the Red Light District, which was interesting to learn about. We were there during the day and I didn’t even know we had entered the district until I looked to my right and saw a half naked lady in the window! It is certainly not how I imagined. But VERY INTERESTING!
The tour guide said the girls in the RLD are categorized so there are different alleys for the elite (beautiful, skinny, etc.), larger women, different races, and even “Granny Way” (old lady prostitutes). She told us there are 73 year old twins that have worked the RLD for 30 some years. They retired (one had a bad hip) but they are back now due to popular demand!
We also learned that the buildings in Amsterdam all lean. If they lean left and right, that is not on purpose and rather is due to the city being built on stilts and things shifting.
But the buildings also lean out front and have a hook on top so people could pulley up their furniture since the staircases inside are very narrow and spiral. They built the buildings leaning outward so the furniture would not scrape along the front of the house on the pulley ride up. So cool!
We also saw Amsterdam’s version of a tiny house (the skinny red one). I would love to take a tour inside and see how small it is!
The free walking tour ended right by the Anne Frank House where the line was about 2 hours long to get in. Our tour guide said the worst she had seen it was 5 hours long. So we went to get some food and warm up before getting in line to see the Anne Frank House.
We had Heineken with our meal.
After dinner, we got in line for the Anne Frank House. It only took about an hour to get into the house but there were so many people and I felt like cattle being herded through, which I thought took away from the experience a bit.
I had read the Diary of Anne Frank right before the trip in preparation so it was cool to see the house where Anne and her family and others were in hiding for 2 years. I cannot imagine! The main thing that surprised me about seeing the hiding space was the lack of natural light. Since the windows had to be covered all the time, the only natural light they had was up in the attic.
We had thought about going back to the Red Light District after dark to see it all in action, but we were tired and cold and headed back to the hotel.
Stay turned as we head to Italy next!