First Steps into UK/Europe (part 3) - Amsterdam Central

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I went to Amsterdam sometime around early Summer, which I thought wasn't the best time to visit. Everything was just kind of... Normal? If you visit in Spring, you could take a day trip to visit their stunning tulip fields. If it were Autumn/Winter, Autumn foliages and snow will be surrounding the whole townscape.

Anyhow, Amsterdam is still beautiful, even in June. It got pretty gloomy on some days with its frequent showers and cloudy skies, but it's still a sight even then. If there's anything I really loved about Amsterdam, it will be how the city is so saturated in its diverse art scenes. Art galleries, museums and exhibits is dotted throughout the whole Dutch capital, it's impossible to even cover them all. They even have a number of concept stores (be it for food or fashion), which are my favourite!!



I am particularly disappointed that I didn't get to cover some of the major museums because I only had four days (six if you count the two day trips I took elsewhere) in Amsterdam. If you're an Arts person, you will fall in love with this city. You'll just be able to find some sort of pleasing aesthetics at every crook and cranny of this charming place.

I didn't get to take a lot of pictures while I was here cause I was mainly museum hopping and shopping most of the time, but here's just a gist of what I covered.


Amsterdam Centraal

This is the stop you'll end up at if you're taking the train from the Schiphol Airport to the heart of Amsterdam. I only came to this place on the second day cause I took a tram from the airport to my hostel. It costs €6 each ride btw :')

If you're taking the trains for any day trips out of Amsterdam, you'll probably come by here too. It's a spot teeming with tourists (well it is the main station that everyone gets out of), and you can find many canal cruise tours here as well!





I thought that this is one of the most photogenic spot in Amsterdam! You can see the canals and the Dutch houses in all its grandeur without any random trees blocking the view. There's also a dock that makes for even better framing for the pictures.

Amsterdam is also swarming with souvenir and gift shops. There are rows of it here at Amsterdam Central, but their items are more expensive than in other shops around the city.


Blooememrkt 

As someone who absolutely adores (almost) all things floral, the Blooememrkt, also known as Amsterdam's floating flower market, is an ultimate floral haven. You can get beautiful bouquets here at half the price of what you'd normally get in Singapore. Five peonies at only SGD$6?? It would have cost at least times two of that in Singapore markets.

At one end of the flower market is one of the most breathtaking booths which had all of their dried flowers hung up. And that booth smells soooo good.






Because flowers are so affordable, the people living in Europe often have the practice of buying a bouquet to gift their loved ones even if there isn't an occasion to do so. Some would also buy flowers just to decorate their living spaces. Meanwhile we Singaporeans do that with synthetic fabric flowers back at home lol.

Even if you don't plan to buy any flowers, you'll still be able to see many interesting souvenirs and gifts! The market not only sells bouquets, cacti, seeds, tulips buds, magnets, porcelain crafts, postcards and a whole lot more. Just opposite the flower market, you'll also see specialty cheese shops and art stores here. No surprise to find out where all my money went :')







Albert Cuyp Markt



The most famous market in Amsterdam, and it's understandably so because of all the goodies they have. I came here on an empty stomach, and I'm so grateful I did cause I got to indulge and savour all the delicacies at a much more affordable price here. So yes, come here prepared with an empty stomach. They have all the "must-eat" Dutch foods you see all over other travel guides.

Some of commonly raved Dutch foods are:
1) Stroopwafels - these very thin waffle-like biscuits made from Dutch milk that comes with a thin layer of caramel (or chocolate/honey if you prefer something different from the original) in between.
2) Raw Herring - raw fish that comes with pickles, onions and a sandwich
3) Frites - thick cut fries that often comes with a dollop of sauce of your choice
4) Kibbeling - deep fried battered fish that comes with a sauce alike to tar tar
5) Dutch Cheese




Before coming to this market, I have already tried stroopwafels from a bakery not too far from my hostel, but it cost me €3 and I thought it wasn't that good?

But. I saw this long queue at this stroopwafel booth at Albert Cuyp. And what do Singaporeans do when they see a long queue? They join in, and that's what I did. Absolutely no regrets, I had an amazing original stroopwafel at only €1.50! That's half of what I paid for previously, and it was made fresh from the dough in front of me, and given to me piping hot.

What makes a stroopwafel so good is if it's really hot, because then the gooey layer of sweet caramel would just complement the buttery biscuit so much better. A hot stroopwafel makes allllll the difference.



I also got to try their kibbeling here at about €4! And because Han is a huge cheese fanatic, I also brought home three different types of cheese for him. There are cheese stores all over Amsterdam, so you can slowly take your pick on the ones you prefer best. I only got truffle cheese from Albert Cuyp Market, but I later got another smoked cheese and a two years aged gouda cheese from another store in Volendam. Han became a huge fan of their Dutch cheeses, especially the aged one.

You can also go to this market for some retail therapy! But like everywhere else in Europe except Primark, shopping could get quite costly.





Dam Square 




I chanced upon Dam Square while I was out just exploring the different neighbourhoods in Amsterdam. It's located right in the heart of Amsterdam, where the Royal Palace overlooks the whole square that is swarming with tourists, street performers and pigeons. Yes, pigeons.

I walked by Dam Square a couple of times, and each time there are always different street artists doing all sorts of tricks at this square.


Van Gogh Museum / Anne Frank House



These are the two museums I covered that required me to make ticket reservations way in advance. I've read that you'll normally have to book tickets to the Anne Frank House at least a month before, but I only finalised my Europe itinerary three weeks before I flew, so all tickets were sold out by then.

But still, I checked back on Anne Frank's website faithfully everyday, hoping that the Anne Frank House will release one or two more extra tickets. And I was lucky that they did! Just the night before (a bit past midnight), they released two extra tickets for a 5PM entry.

If the tickets for the dates you wanted are sold out, you can do the same and check back on the day itself to see if they've got any extras. They usually release one or two extra tickets. I had the same encounter for the Van Gogh Museum as they had a special exhibition then (Van Gogh in Japan) that caused the tickets to sell out much faster.

Although I covered these two museums, I still had regrets not making enough time for Rijksmuseum. ):


Pluk Cafe





This is one of the concept stores/cafes that a friend recommended to me, and yes the interior of this space is gorgeous. Food tends to be on the costly side. I'll admit I came here mainly because of Pluk's white-ish interior aesthetics haha.

It's a good place for photo if you're into the white aesthetics on your Instagram feed!! Hahaha.






I loved Amsterdam, and I would definitely come here again. Hopefully, I'll get to do so with Han because he probably loves places like these heh. I also didn't get to try any coffee shops (if you know what they are) in Amsterdam this time so I'd want to do so on my next trip!!

I also went on two other day trips from Amsterdam. One to Belgium, and another to the windmills and fishing villages in another part of the Netherlands. Can't wait to share about the windmills and fishing harbour in my next post!!


Check out my other travel posts:
▶ First Steps into UK/Europe (part 1) - City of London
▶ First Steps into UK/Europe (part 2) - Edinburgh, Scotland
▶ First Steps into UK/Europe (part 3) - Amsterdam Central
▶ First Steps into UK/Europe (part 4) - Windmills and Fishing Villages in the Netherlands

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