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48 hours in Amsterdam

I had the opportunity to take a trip to Amsterdam over a weekend in May 2012. Our original purpose in the city was to see one of my favourite artists (Ryan Adams) perform a solo acoustic show. Amsterdam was an interesting, lively city that I cannot describe in words, so pictures will have to do.


On the trip to Amsterdam, I couldn’t stop staring at the lovely quirky buildings all over the city. Half of them are crooked and look like they’re about to fall over. Like this one here.

This building was located just down the street from our hotel.
This building was located just down the street from our hotel.

However, we quickly learned that buildings in Amsterdam are built leaning forward on purpose. Seriously.

These homes are built extremely narrow, and as a result, the stairways are also narrow and steep. Meaning, it’s impossible to move furniture in and out of the house – so you have to use the window. If you take a look at most old houses in Amsterdam, you will see a big metal hook placed near the top of the building. This hook is used to hang a wheel and rope, which is used to pull things up.

When you are pulling a big object up a building and into a window, having a building that “leans” forward a little bit helps avoid hitting the building with the object. Cool, eh?

Buildings in Amsterdam are built leaning forward on purpose.
Buildings in Amsterdam are built leaning forward on purpose.

On this trip to Amsterdam, we made sure to splurge on a 60 minute boat tour through the canals for €9, and it was completely worth it. The audio guide provided us with a lot of history of the city, and it’s so different to see the city from the water.

This is the spot in Amsterdam where you can see 7 bridges in a row.
This is the spot in Amsterdam where you can see 7 bridges in a row.

Apparently an average of 3 cars fall into the canals every week, and over 10,000 bicycles are taken out of the canals every year. Which isn’t surprising when you consider the amount of bicyclists on the streets.

Dubbed the “Venice of the North”, Amsterdam’s canals are a great way to travel around the city.
Dubbed the “Venice of the North”, Amsterdam’s canals are a great way to travel around the city.

The 350 year old Royal Palace of Amsterdam started as the City Hall, but in 1808, Napoleon Bonaparte transformed it into a Palace. It’s open to the public most of the time, and the square is a great place to hang around and people watch!

The Koninklijk Paleis Amsterdam is located on the west side of Dam Square in the centre of Amsterdam.
The Koninklijk Paleis Amsterdam is located on the west side of Dam Square in the centre of Amsterdam.

De Otter was a wood sawing mill that helped with the production of big ships in the 17th century. However, the mill doesn’t get enough wind anymore due to the recent completion of a neighbouring apartment building. It was shut down in 2006, and there are plans to move the entire structure to the countryside.

Closed since 2006, the De Otter windmill (at Gillis van Ledenberchstraat 78) has seen better days.
Closed since 2006, the De Otter windmill (at Gillis van Ledenberchstraat 78) has seen better days.

We stayed at the famous Bulldog Hotel. It’s located right in the middle of downtown (red-light district), and a short walk from the main train station. What started as Amsterdam’s first coffeeshop, has now transformed into five locations and a hotel, as well as locations in Canada (!).

When you walk into The Bulldog, you’re greeted by the strong smell of weed. Since it’s also a cafe, you are free to buy and smoke within the downstairs lounge area. In fact, you can’t really escape the smell in the entire city. We were fine with it, because it’s part of the culture in Vancouver and the rest of British Columbia as well. :)

We stayed in a nice, clean private room, but there are also dorms and apartments available at The Bulldog as well. We went right on the edge of their shoulder season, so a bed in a dorm cost €18. The hotel also came with an all-you-can-eat breakfast, which was great because it helped keep our food expenses down.

Photo from www.bulldoghotel.com
Photo from www.bulldoghotel.com

The red light district was really… interesting. If you’ve never been to Amsterdam or seen photos, there are hundreds of rooms that line the streets of Amsterdam’s red light district. The prostitutes rent the rooms, then stand in the window wearing next to nothing, waiting for their customers. There were so many people out on the streets just staring at these girls – tourists, families, couples, bachelorette (and of course, bachelor) parties, etc. It was pretty crazy. I do have to mention that both nights we were in Amsterdam, I didn’t see a single person walk into one of the rooms. :)

Breakdown of Expenses:

  • €0 ($0) – Accommodation (2 nights): Hostelbookers.com sponsorship at The Bulldog Hotel
  • €98,08 ($121.82) – Transportation: roundtrip flight from Stuttgart, Germany via [caption id="" align="" width="1"]KLM[/caption]
  • €62,20 ($80.49) – Food: average of €31,10 per day
  • €10,30 ($13.33) – City Transit: round trip to the airport
  • €56,50 ($73.12) – Entertainment: canal boat tour (€9), Ryan Adams concert, drinks
  • €2 ($2.59) – Miscellaneous: souvenir magnet

TOTAL COST: €234.57 ($291.35)

Krystal Yee

Krystal Yee is a travel blogger and personal finance expert with substantial media credits to her name. Lover of off-beat travel, hiking, French macarons, barefoot shoes, and her iPhone. Excel spreadsheet addict. She is currently living in Vancouver, plotting her next adventure.

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