Before I delve into where to go and eat and explore in Amsterdam, there are a few things to know about the transportation system in Holland that are imperative.
Single Journey: €2,90
OV Chipkaart: €1,20
Chipkaart Non-Refundable Fees:
Anonymous Chipkaart Cost: €7,50
Personal Chipkaart Cost: €7,50 (Residents only)
It’s cheaper to buy a chipkaart if using public transport and trains frequently. Otherwise, buy single journey
There are a few rules in using both regular single journey tickets and chipkaarts. You must always check-in and check-out. If you have a single journey ticket, and you don’t check out, you cannot utilize the free transfer that comes with the ticket. Not checking out invalidates the ticket and will generate some annoyance with the bus drivers. Chipkaarts have the same rules but there are monetary penalties, which are outlined below.
Minimum card balance of €4 (public transport) and €20 (train)
ALWAYS CHECK-IN AND CHECK-OUT ON THE CARD READER
If you forget to check-out, €4 will be deducted from the chipkaart for public transport and €20 will be deducted from the chipkaart for trains
I borrowed my friend Sam’s chipkaart since I was staying with her for the week – if you’re staying in Amsterdam for at least 5 days, I definitely recommend getting the anonymous chipkaart. You can easily make up for the non-refundable fee after a few rides. In addition, I managed to go on a few days trips and the best way to plan the routes for the trains or buses is 9292. You can also budget properly as you can see the full pricing online.
The first thing on my list for Amsterdam was breakfast. I had a few options but I ended up choosing The Pancake Bakery. I ordered the luxury breakfast and poffertjes, which are baby pancakes covered in powdered sugar and butter and are highly addicting. The luxury breakfast comes with a croissant, scrambled eggs on toast, orange juice, and coffee with a glass of Prosecco. The menu can be found here.
After breakfast, I decided to walk around the main street of Prinsengracht and eventually made my way to Bloemenmarkt which is the Floating Flower Market in Amsterdam. The markets are actually floating! You can get a variety of tulip bulbs and other flower and marijuana seeds. I’ve never seen so many different colors of tulips in my life! Tulips have always been significant to Holland; back in the day, there was a period in the Dutch Golden Age during which contract prices for bulbs of the recently introduced tulip reached extraordinarily levels that exceeded prices of houses. A single bulb of the Viceroy tulips was worth upwards of five times the cost of an average house at the time! Thankfully, the bulbs in the floating markets are fairly cheap and I bought about ten bulbs for roughly €6.
If you want to bring back tulips bulbs from Holland, you need to ask for strains that are certified to bring back to North America. The sellers will have a certificate to go with the bulbs so that you don’t get stopped by Customs officers and have the bulbs confiscated. Bulbs that are allowed in the US are only available in the autumn – you won’t find any in the spring
I did end up spending the rest of my afternoon shopping in Amsterdam while I was walking around. After all, as a non-EU citizen, I can enjoy the benefits of tax-free shopping. I stumbled upon a store called Denham that mainly sold denim jeans but had some really great jackets. I purchased a black suede leather jacket that is one of my absolutely favorites to this day. There is also a really cute store called Pull & Bear where I found a sweater that said, “I speak fluent sarcasm” and a pair of burgundy slip-on shoes that read “SHUT” and “UP”!
JUST SO YOU KNOW:
Albert Hejn is a supermarket chain and only takes debit cards and cash
An activity I totally recommend is visiting Oude Kerk in Amsterdam. It’s literally the “Old Church” of Amsterdam and several centuries ago, the tower was utilized by the guards as a watch tower. One of their tasks was to alert the city, when an enemy boat would approach Amsterdam. The guards would see them from miles away and subsequently alarm the others. It’s located in the Red Light District and really hard to miss. There are two entrances: one for the tower and the other for entering the actual church.
Oude Kerk Entrance Fee: €10
Oude Kerk Tower Entrance Fee: €7,50
Founded in 1213, this 800-year-old church is the city’s oldest building but also the youngest art institution. The tower also offers amazing panoramic views of Amsterdam so it’s definitely worth stopping by. They do guided tours every half hour from 13:00 to 17:00. I had a really embarrassing moment after visiting Oude Kerk. I didn’t realise that the church was located in the Red Light District and because it was daytime, it looked very nondescript. So while I was walking around, what I thought were mannequins were actually transexual prostitutes on the window displays. Because I thought they were mannequins initially I kind of screamed out loud when they started moving! Because mannequins moving are like one of my worst nightmares. And of course, the resident Dutchies looked at me like I was crazy. Go figure.
Also, I have to insert my Dutch apple pie recommendation here. There are two recommendations upon my research but one clearly beat out the other. While Cafe Papeneiland has been around since 1642 and is also supposed to have one of the best appeltaartje, Winkel 43 for me clearly won out. Winkel 43 is considered to be the best apple pie place in Amsterdam by locals, and for a very good reason too. You have to order the pie with “slagroom” (whipped cream) and is only €5. And true to Amsterdam, there is outdoor seating so it’s great to sit and people-watch while you stuff your face with pie.
I met up with Sam around this time for dinner because my main reason for coming to Amsterdam was to spend time with her! She took me to this amazing fried chicken and burger place called Rotisserie. It was reasonably priced and the food was amazing! Their drinks are also only $9-10 so coming from someone who is used to Manhattan-$16 cocktails, you better believe I ordered several of them! They’re obviously known for their rotisserie chicken but we ordered the fried chicken and crack cheese garlic bread for starters and their Royale burger with cheese (no pickles for me). As the host’s shirt says: “Best cock and burger in town”!