I realize I’ve been MIA for the last month or so, but my life kinda caught up with me and I have been so busy with work and raising a toddler that I didn’t have the chance to work on my blog… During the last month, couple of adventures occurred so I’ll be writing some additional blog post on them 🙂
Part of my (almost) annual tradition with my mother is that we go a trip together and she lets me be the guide and figure things out as long as it involves shopping (a lot of it!) and sightseeing… So when I saw the deal from the NS (Dutch train system) to have a day-return ticket for 19 EUR, I immediately found our next destination… Amsterdam! Living on the border between Belgium and the Netherlands, making a quick trip to Amsterdam is quite easy although I must admit that I’d only been to Amsterdam once before and that was over 7 years ago… I know… About time that I visited this wonderful city again!
Taking the train from Maastricht to Amsterdam takes about 2,5h with only a limited number of stops, so quite easy as said before… We decided to make the most of our day and take one of the earliest trains on a Saturday morning at 8 AM. It was actually also the first time for me taking the train in the Netherlands so quite the adventure in figuring out which train to take and where to board.. We arrived in Amsterdam Central station around 10.30 AM so well in time to enjoy a wonderful day in the big city!
The first thing to do in Amsterdam is visit the Central Station as the building is just amazing! Architectural as well as historical importance or just something really nice to look at depending on your interests 🙂 We then headed towards the tourist information center to obtain a city map.. I know, in the days of google maps who needs a paper map, but I’m still one of those nerds that likes a paper map to look at and discover the city. In this tourist center, you can also buy tickets for a canal cruise. With only one day to spend, we weren’t sure we would have enough time, so we skipped this one, but next time I’m definitely taking one of these cruises. They are definitely a must-do when in Amsterdam!
From here, we walked over the main street from the train station to the Dam which passes quite some mainstream shops such as Primark, H&M as well as Bijenkorf which is a big department store in the Netherlands. Since we don’t have a Primark close to where I live, we decided to check it out, but didn’t really liked it.. So we headed out quite quickly and continued our discovery of Amsterdam. When standing on the Dam square, you can also see the Royal Palace which is a nice building and you’ll see plenty of tourists trying to capture pictures with themselves and the entire building which believe me is quite a challenge! From this square, it’s only a very short walking distance to the Magna Plaza shopping center. The center is not that big and they have some shops for everyone, but the reason to visit this place especially in Christmas time is because of the hanging Christmas Tree… Yes, you read it correctly.. the tree is hanging from the sealing and it’s a big one!
Exiting the shopping center, you can go anywhere you want, but we wanted to visit or see most of the famous landmarks in Amsterdam, so we continued on the Raadhuisstraat which crosses quite some canals and since we were hungry we stopped for some delicious pancakes at the Mondial Pancake House where my mother opted for the Apple and Raisin pancake and I took the Banana and Nutella version 🙂 To be honest, I’m normally not a pancake person, but I was amazed about the size but also the flavor of the pancake… The combo of banana and chocolate is just soooo delicious!
Having eaten our bellies full, we continued towards the Anne Frank House which is of historical importance, but since it’s usually very busy it’s advisable to buy your tickets online which we didn’t do since we didn’t know how much time we would have.. So this is also something for next time!
Since we still wanted to do quite some shopping, we decided to walk along the canals and head to the 9 streets which is a neighborhood full of vintage shops, unique boutiques and nice bistros and restaurants. With the Christmas Decorations all over the city and the streets, it was a pleasure walking around even though it was quite cold…
We continued walking along the canals but in the direction of Leidseplein which means you walk along the big shopping street before reaching Leidseplein. On this square you have the city theater as well as a huge Apple store for the tech-enthusiasts..
From here, we decided to enjoy a bit of culture and make our way towards the Museum Square which also holds a big Christmas Markets and Ice-skating ring. Our goal was to go to the Van Gogh museum, but we ended up going to the Rijksmuseum which are basically two of the biggest and most important musea in Amsterdam. We didn’t actually go inside the Rijksmuseam but went to the shop as well as enjoy their hologram Christmas tree.
Since the Netherlands are famous for their tulips and cheese, you cannot skip the Flower Market when you have the chance to visit Amsterdam. This is still nothing compared to Keukenhof which is only open during March-April. However, the Flower Market is offering a very wide selection of tulips in all sizes and colors so definitely worth a visit! We also wanted to get something for my grandparents, so we opted for some baby Gouda cheese from Henri Willig Cheese shop which you can find all over the city center.
We continued to stroll through the old town, which means you pass the art and antiques quarter which is worth a visit before heading into the Kalverstraat where you again have a lot of shopping opportunities 🙂
From all that shopping, we began to feel hungry again so we decided to go to a little Italian place (Portofino) where the ceiling was just amazing with all these typical Italian pitchers hanging there. Both of us ordered pizza instead of going for a nice 3-course meal since we didn’t have that much time left before we needed to catch our train back to Maastricht. The pizza was just delicious and very big!
Heading back towards the train station, we walked through the Red Light District since my mother had never been to Amsterdam before. This neighborhood comes to live during the evening hours, so when we walked through it at around 6 PM, it was still relatively quiet. If you’re visiting Amsterdam as a tourist, this is a place you have to walk through as it’s both famous and notorious but my recommendation would be to go early enough…
We liked the short visit to Amsterdam a lot, so we’ll definitely come back around spring/summer when you have all the trees alongside the canals in full bloom and then take a canal cruise which would be absolutely amazing in my opinion!
Have you ever visited Amsterdam before? What are your recommendations for places that I’ve missed this time?