the iconic Amsterdam shot.
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Living in the U.K. has its advantages – among them is being able to hop on a plane at a moment’s notice and arrive in a foreign country an hour later.

We decided to visit Amsterdam for a quick getaway weekend from Edinburgh, Scotland. We saved a bundle flying by Easy Jet and packed light with our carry-on bags.

Arriving at the airport, we quickly deciphered the Dutch language enough to figure out which train would bring us to the city’s center. Once there, we stood dumbfounded at the richness of Amsterdam. From canals to bikes to food and museums, there’s something for everyone.

While you might have a negative perception (or positive, depending on who you are!) of the city because of its red-light district and pot shops, these are only a tiny, tiny fraction of its true colors.

The must-haves in Amsterdam include Flemish fries with delicious mayonnaise (not like the gross American kind – REAL mayonnaise) and one of their epicly large pancakes complete with sugary or savory toppings. We rented a bike for a few hours and rode around Vondelpark, Amsterdam's Central Park equivalent.

We rented an affordable place off of and each day hopped on the metro for two stops before arriving in the city center. If you want to stay closer to the heart of the action, you can surely find a cheap hostel or affordable hotel; they might feel a bit more touristy, however.

Our entire trip, to be honest, consisted of walking (lots of walking!), eating delicious food, walking some more, biking, eating more food, and sitting by the tables on the canal.

Nothing can compare to the relaxation one experiences sitting on a canal basking in the warm Saturday sun with a cocktail in hand. We spent hours doing just this. Oh, and eating more Flemish fries than I care to remember.

Before visiting Amsterdam, it was not at the top of our traveling list; now, having gone only a few weeks ago, I want to go back again already! It’s a must-stop on any European trip.

The atmosphere and setup of the city are perfect, because there isn't anything you absolutely have to see here. If you just laze about and get lost in the streets, you’ll have had a successful trip. Of course, if you find yourself wanting to check out specific places I recommend the Anne Frank House, Rembrandt's house, the Jordaan Noordermarkt and surrounding shops, Westerkerk, and Oude Kerk.

Also, if you want a true treat, visit Begijnhof, a secluded garden and courtyard hidden behind a bustling town square. It was originally a 14th-century convent and housed the sisterhood of the Beguines.

To find it, travel to the Spui and locate the doorway with the tiny brass sign indicating “Begijnhof.” Once you enter through the door and a hallway you will reach the secluded courtyard. If there are any must-see’s here, this is one of them!

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JuneD June 12, 2012 @ 8:44 a.m.

Thanks for the article! I went to Amsterdam more than two decades ago and was there for only two days. We didn't get to experience the city the way that you describe and now I want to go back and see it again. Your fascination/addiction for Flemish fries forced me to Google them since I had no idea what they were. Twice fried french fries?! Yup, another reason to go back to Amsterdam.


Javajoe25 June 12, 2012 @ 8:50 p.m.

But what about the hash houses? You mean to tell me you didn't stop in for a cuppa...a bowl of....a nicely rolled dove-tail? Not even a sip? You missed the best part!


joannesndg June 13, 2012 @ 5:16 p.m.

I sure want to visit Amsterdam after reading your interesting article. The food sounds great and just sitting by the canal chilling also sounds wonderful. Hope you have many more articles and adventures to come.


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