Left London early in the morning and took a train to Amsterdam. I pretty much slept a good chunk of the train ride (on and off). We got to our hostel, StayOkay. No pictures of the hostel, but I thought it was still great set up. There was six of us to the room. The nice thing about traveling in EF Ultimate Break, there was plenty of us to share these types of rooms, so it wasn’t a stranger. The shower was separate from the toilet, and was more a dorm shower than any of the other accommodations. There were bunks with plugs and lights in each spot, which was great.
From the hostel we to the tram closer to the center of the city for our guided tour. Our tour took us all over and we learned about the history of Amsterdam from how their buildings are made on slant to keep the lower level of the building dry, to the history of prostitution and that it is legal. Within the Red Light District the movement #NoFuckingPhotos is used to ensure the sex workers are able to do their job and to not have tourists or residents take photos. There is a statue of Alida Bosshardt, a Salvation Army worker who snuck Jewish children out into the countryside during WWII. The name of Amsterdam came from the river, Amstel, and city built around the dam within the river. And, of course, the canals. The city is seriously SO beautiful. Pictures do not do the city justice, the city looks like a painting, always.
After the guided tour I went to the Anne Frank house. I read The Diary of Anne Frank, and watched the movie in 6th grade, like many do. It was a very surreal experience walking through the very small space. We walked through the office space to the bookcase that hid the space that kept many. The stairs were steep, the rooms were small, and the floors made noises. I cannot even imagine what it really was like for Anne Frank and the others. I hope that if anyone has the opportunity to go to Amsterdam they are able to go through the experience of walking through the hiding space.
I had a lot of free time in Amsterdam. I didn’t choose to do any of the excursions that EF Ultimate Break offered for this city. There was a bike tour to the countryside (I do not ride bikes/have not ridden a bike since probably 5th grade. I had a traumatic experience on my bike when I was in 1st grade — eventually getting back on a bike for a few years — but it left me not interested in bikes. I cracked my helmet, got a black eye, cut up my fingers and knees. I am thankful for my helmet and think everyone should wear one always), and a chocolate and spice tasting (dairy free life, but actually found out they had a lot of vegan options).
One of the first stops that we did this day was get out to see the I amsterdam sign in front of A’dam Lookout. It appears that the signs move around, and were removed from its original location — mostly due to tourists. Amsterdam is not a huge fan of tourists because so many people are flocking to the city. The A’dam Lookout was a ferry boat away, just across from the train station.
I amsterdam sign outside A’dam Lookout
We actually headed that way to go to A’dam Lookout and do the Swing Over The Edge swing — Europe’s highest swing. There is also a 360 degree sky deck overlooking Amsterdam. There’s also one cool elevator to get to the sky deck. So, this swing is over 300 feet in the air — holy crap, I can’t believe I actually did this. It was cool, but also terrifying. What is a vacation if you don’t go outside of your comfort zone, right?!
Swing Over The Edge swing
The Lookout was very cool, there was a great atmosphere, and a lot of photo opportunities for us to take pictures — including a blue screen photo!
Blue screen photo
360 sky deck
We took the ferry boat back, stopped for some pictures by the canals near the train station before finding lunch — where I had gluten free dutch pancakes!
Near train station
Gluten free lemon and sugar dutch pancakes
After lunch we did more walking for photo opportunities. The canals are seriously so pretty, I could just stare at them for hours — but they also make a gorgeous backdrop!
I met up with another group to wait for our canal cruise, which was SO MUCH FUN! It was one of the highlights of the trip. The canals are gorgeous, had some champagne, and enjoyed the company my fellow cohorts, and the captains. Today I also had found a loaf of gluten free bread at a convenience store! One of the best finds in the trip.
There are bikes EVERYWHERE
Canal cruise captains
EUROPE IN MAY
EUROPE: Lake Como & Venice
EUROPE: Orvieto, Rome & Vatican