Hi, guys! I’m back with a new blog. This time, let me share with you my amazing experience in Amsterdam.
I’ve been to many European countries before, but the thought of visiting the Netherlands had never crossed my mind. Perhaps, it is because of my perception of the country as being nothing more than a liberated nation where you can see canals and Dutch houses. I never imagined the Netherlands – Amsterdam to be specific – to be anything close to being special; until I got there!
Amsterdam is popularly known as a free and unrestricted country; and where there is much freedom, there’s possibility for lack of order and disregard to respect. Because of this, I had little or no expectations at all, especially when it comes to tourist accommodation. But, that is where I was wrong! Upon our arrival in Amsterdam, we immediately felt the warmth and hospitality of the Amsterdammers. The Immigration Officers welcomed us with a smile, did not scrutinize us much, and even bid us an enjoyable trip as we went ahead.
Outside the airport, we experienced an unexpected visitor-assistance from men-in-uniform who speak fluent English. They even recommended convenient ways of getting around our desired destinations, and even advised us to take public transportation (bus), instead of taking the taxi, which is far more expensive. Luckily, the bus terminal stands just right outside the arrival section of the airport; and we never had a hard time commuting our way to the city center.
After a smooth 15-20 minutes bus ride, we entered Amsterdam’s city center and were immediately astounded by the beautiful and happy faces of the Mokummers. The locale was relatively busy, and you can see a lot of people – both local and tourists alike – riding their bikes. Apparently, Amsterdam is a cyclist’s haven and a bike-friendly city with an average of 600,000 bikers each day. Biking is the most convenient mode of transportation for many locals, and they prefer to use their bicycles when going to work or traveling to anywhere in the city.
They also have an efficient tram system; and how I wish that we still have it here in the Philippines. Using tram is the safest and easiest way to go around the city should you wish not to take a bike. Taking the tram is not expensive, too; and every important corners and streets in Amsterdam have a nearby tram station. Matter of fact, there are 3 tram stations located at just a stone-throw distance from our hotel.
Just before we arrived at the very exquisite Hotel V Frederiksplein, I got all-smiles upon seeing that right beside our hotel was a public gym. As a hard-core fitness enthusiast, I felt relieved knowing that I can still go about with my regular gym routines while enjoying my entire Amsterdam escapade.
As I mentioned earlier, Hotel V Frederiksplein was stunningly beautiful! While there are lots of lavish hotels around the city that tourists can choose from, what separated Hotel V from the rest is that it is truly a chic-boutique, loft-type hotel. It is owned and managed by local hoteliers; thus, giving it a more personal and homey touch. Hotel V is among the 3 equally-stylish properties in Amsterdam owned by the same family.
And just so you know, Hotel V certainly has the best fireplaces in town. They boast of their spacious and cozy lobby and their huge fireplace, where guests can relax over cocktails or a cup of coffee while watching people and trams go by. Although the hotel was not like regular hotel chains that have upgraded their facilities at par with technology; Hotel V’s room key system are still basic, which I really find both cute and nostalgic at the same time.
Each loft of the hotel has their own fireplace; and even if the hotel is not as big as the others, Hotel V made sure that they have allotted generous space for each of their lofts. They also serve hefty breakfast to their guests, as included in their booking rates. Though they serve typical English breakfast, I would have to say that Hotel V’s breakfast offerings are the most munificent and most delectable that I have experienced so far. Aside from their world-famous cheese – as in name it, they have it – they also serve lots of fruits and a wide variety of cold cuts. They also have the best local hot chocolate and coffee that magically and almost-instantly adds morning warmth despite the cold winter feels.
The concierge/reception of Hotel V was also a complete stand-out. They assisted us on how to go around the city and where to go. They even provided us with a list of things to do and must-see places. They also shared us the locations of the most Instagrammable spots in Amsterdam, which was no less than perfect for my blogging. In summary, in terms of guest accommodation, I give Hotel V 5 stars for serving as my local guide during my trip, and an additional 1 star for providing us with free use of their bikes for going around.
But, what else is there in Amsterdam aside from Dutch houses and canals? Yes, Netherlands is famous for having lots of traditional Dutch windmills around the countryside. The most world-renowned and closest to the city center is the Zaanse Schans. During our trip, I learned that windmills are not only used as factory for local products like cheese and chocolates. Some windmills are also utilized for farming and water irrigation. And apart from their windmills being perfect for taking those IG-worthy photos, getting inside these structures was one educational adventure you will never want to miss. Inside the windmills, you can witness how local products are manufactured, and even buy freshly-made local goods for personal consumption or for pasalubong.
My travel buddy and I also took the scenic sunset River Cruise between Marken and Volendam. It was a quick 20-minute boat ride from the shoe-making village of Marken to the cheese harbor of Volendam. On board the upper deck of the luxurious large-size yacht, we enjoyed the open-air space as we unwind over wine and mesmerized at the beautiful sunset, clear skies, and the view of birds that flew above us.
But the highlight of my trip, and the one that I really enjoyed most, was walking and getting lost around the city. I’m not sure if everyone can relate or if all can be as interested of it as I was; but, walking around Amsterdam was surreal. I actually spent a full day just striding my way to all major canals, Dutch houses and famous boutiques. We even had a chance to visit the landmark where the iconic scene from the movie “Fault in Our Stars” was shot. Without second thoughts, I sat at the bench and felt like I was really in the movie. It was a tear-jerker remembering a good film that I watched a few years back, and then being at the same spot reminiscing in my head the famous lines, “Apparently, the world is not a wish-granting factory.”
Of course, no visit to Amsterdam will be complete without getting into the city’s Red Light District. Although I didn’t really intend to go all-sinful, I guiltlessly allowed myself a few hours in RLD just for the pure experience of it. And if you wonder if I saw the infamous glass walls showcasing dancing women for paid sex, I honestly did; but, certainly never gave it a try. But, yes, it won’t be a full experience in Sin City if I won’t get at least a little sinful and all. And so, even if I strongly discourage everyone to try it, Chocolate Cannabis, which is legal in Amsterdam, really tasted good.
Altogether, I would have to say that my brief 3 days, 4 nights stay in a city that is so small and yet so vibrant was generally enough. After my vacation, I realized that Amsterdam was a really good place to visit. I would greatly recommend it to my friends to put Amsterdam in their bucket list, and get to experience for themselves this free and beautiful city in Netherlands. For more information, visit