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Where We Are: Amsterdam, Netherlands

Amsterdam is a city of canals, tulips, bikes and “coffeeshops”. It’s the capital of the Netherlands and is located in the region of Holland. Although it’s known around the world for its Red Light District and liberal marijuana laws, as a whole, the city could not be more beautiful.

The city is built on a complex and beautiful canal system. In fact, it has more kilometers of canals than Venice. Central Amsterdam is encompassed by three major canals, which form somewhat of a rainbow over the city. The waterways are the heart and soul of Amsterdam’s culture.

Bikes & Canals in Amsterdam

Many of our friends have been to Amsterdam and not one of them had a bad thing to say about it. I had heard similar praises sung about Prague, though, so I was concerned. Truth be told, I didn’t love Prague. I thought it was too cramped, crowded, and a little anti-climactic.

I expected the two cities to be quite similar, but I was happily surprised with Amsterdam. After spending some time in Amsterdam, I actually would not compare these two cities at all.

First Impressions on Amsterdam:

  • It’s easy to explore. Central Amsterdam is pretty small and very walkable. Unlike many cities, especially our hometown of Chicago, its neighborhoods are not very segmented. Instead, there are great local shops, restaurants and pubs spread out evenly throughout the whole city. This relieves a lot of congestion that other cities have in central squares. It also means that you can always find a new street to wander through. 
  • The buildings are tilted. You might not notice it right away, but if you look for just a second, you’ll see that there’s something off about the buildings in Amsterdam: they lean. If they lean forward, it’s intentional. The forward lean makes it easier to hoist up goods using a rope pulley; the only way to get large items into the narrow houses. If the buildings lean sideways, it’s because the water has compromised the building’s foundation.
The buildings are Amsterdam often tilt, either forward or to the side.
  • The sweets are on point. Real Dutch apple pie is about four inches tall with a thick, crunchy crust, and stuffed with huge chunks of fresh apples. The best is from Winkel 43. Wander through the markets and you can’t escape the smell of Stroopwafels, super thin waffles filled with ooey-gooey fresh caramel syrup. Or let’s talk about Poffertjes, fluffy and delicious mini dutch pancakes. Everything is so good and so delicious. Go to Amsterdam and eat it all!
The Apple Pie from Winkel 43

What you need to know — Amsterdam:

  • Population: 800,000
  • Altitude: 2 meters
  • Temperature: June average highs are in the 60s, lows in the 50s
  • Exchange Rate: 0.86 Euro to $1 USD
  • Primary Language: Dutch
  • Walking Tour: Yes. We took the Sandeman’s Free Walking tour and it was the absolute worst walking tour we’ve ever been on. So maybe don’t take that one.
  • Time Zone: Central European Summer Time, UTC +2 (7 hours ahead of US Central Time)
  • Taxi: Yes
  • Uber: Yes
  • Public Transit: Trams, trains and buses
  • Emergency Number: 112
  • Running: We did some running through Ooster Park and have a long run planned for Vondelpark.
  • American Football: No longer in season.
  • Starbucks: Yes
  • Local Starbucks Specialty: No
  • McDonald’s Veggie Burger: Yes!
  • Coffee Price: About 3-4 Euro (~$3.50 – 4.50 USD) for a latte or flat white  
  • Beer Price: About 5-6 Euro for a pint (~$6 – 7 USD)
Fresh Stroopwafel from a stand at Boerenmarkt

The Journey Continues


Saturday 6th of April 2019

Where did you stay while in Amsterdam? I'm currently planning a trip and finding it hard to find a hotel that's central and budget friendly.


Tuesday 9th of April 2019

Hi Amber! We stayed at the Airbnb linked below and I would HIGHLY recommend it! It was far enough out of downtown so it wasn't super expensive, but close enough that you could walk if you wanted to (which we always did). It was also right by the tram, so you could take that as well. The apartment itself was adorable and in a really great neighborhood. It's right by a really nice park and had a great street market right outside the door when we were there. Plus great hosts. It doesn't look like she has much availability posted, but if it opens up, it's definitely worth it. If not, I'd check other airbnbs near Oosterpark. Good luck!