This is a story of my 3 days trip to the beautiful country Netherlands. This is actually part-2 of my Paris-Amsterdam trip or you can say France-Netherlands Trip. It is very easy to commute in any countries in Europe. They have one of the best public transport system. We took a Thayls Train from Paris to Rotterdam station and from there changed one more to reach Heemstede.
Honestly, for me Netherlands was equal to Amsterdam. But I was lucky enough that one of my cousin stays there (which i realized post booking my hotel, but nevertheless i cancelled my bookings and stayed at my cousin’s place). And because of her i got to know a lot of other beautiful places which the country has to offer. So, if you are a first timer in the country, these are the suggested places which you should include in your itinerary.
Day 1 – Zaanse Schans
Zaanse Schans is a beautiful unique part of the country. This place is well known for its historic and well-preserved windmills. It also has a museum, souvenir shop and one of the best cheese factory. When i reached this place, i was mesmerized with the entire view in front of me. Simply majestic. Windmills all around and open field at a stretch. We went here post lunch and stayed there till sunset. It got extremely immediately after the sun got set. Watching sunset at Windmills all over was icing on the cake. Tip: Keep at least 4-5 hours for this place, like half day tour. And keep in mind it gets closed by sunset (around 5pm in winters and 6pm in summers). A must see place.
Day 2 – Amsterdam
Next morning, we decided to visit Amsterdam. We took a train from Heemstead to Amsterdam which is just half an hour. Amsterdam is a small city and everything from tourism point of view is nearby. After coming out from the metro station, we headed towards Adam Lookout, our first place to see. Tip: Adam lookout is opposite to the other tourist attractions, so you should do this either first or should keep it for last (so that you don’t have to go back to the other part of the city). But would suggest to visit Lookout first, for two reasons, one there are lot of things to do in the city so it will get difficult to come to the opposite side and two, you will get beautiful view in the early hours.
Adam lookout – Is an observation deck on 22nd floor from where you get a panoramic view of the entire city. And if you are adventure lover, you have ‘over the edge’, Europe’s highest swing, which is 100 m above ground level. Two people can swing at a time, but in my case i was all alone, and initially the swing was terrifying, then slowly i got used to it and thoroughly enjoyed it. And you also get two photographs clicked as a bonus.
Next we moved on canal cruise, your visit to Amsterdam is incomplete if you miss this. It is 45 mins one way, and you can see the entire city through this cruise – buildings, bridges, market, everything.
We then experienced Heineken Brewery. Here, we got to know the entire Heineken history and we also experienced how a Heineken is made. A must go place. And for all the beer lovers, you also, get to drink one of the best beer “Heineken”, in its unique way.
At this point, we realized that we have skipped the lunch in excitement. So, by the time we had our lunch it was evening. Then we decided to go to the famous ‘Dam Square’. We went there all the way walking, watching liveliness in the market as it was Christmas was approaching. The streets were glowing with lights, and shops were decorated with Christmas trees. On the way we did some shopping as well. Dam Square is beautiful.
And our last stop was “The Red Light District or De Wallen”. I know many of you got excited after reading this. In this district you can everything from sex workers displaying their services, sex toys to sex shows, theater etc. You get everything here. Prostitution is legal in Netherlands. And it is very interesting to see how things work here. Visit this place during evening hours, when it is lively. And let me tell you, this place is extremely safe and photography is a strict no-no here.
The other places which you visit in Amsterdam are – Anne Frank House (it showcase world war II), Madam Tussaud Museum, Nemo International Museum (if you have kids older than 10yrs old), Rijksmuseum (if you love art), The Amsterdam Dungeon (for ghost lovers) and Leidseplein Square (for discs and restaurants).
And, that was end of Day 2.
Day 3 – Afsluitdijk, Den Oever
Next morning, post our breakfast, we went to Afsluitdijk Dam. It is a causeway which link the provinces of Friesland and North Holland over a length of 32 Km. What’s interesting here is that, this is a man made mega causeway bridge which has lake on one side of the road and sea on the other side and road in between. I went here on a cold, windy day. The moment we moved out of our car, it was freezing outside. We went on the bridge to get the good view. And for the first time i understood, how do you feel, when you get pushed by the wind. It was difficult to walk on the bridge. It actually reminded me of some Hollywood movie scene, where i am trying to cross the bridge and the wind is pushing you back, it is raining and you are freezing. But trust me, it was a superb feeling. I loved this kind of experience/adventure. You can try this place on a sunny day if you are not adventure type.
You should have atleast half a day to visit this place. There is a nice restaurant and good sitting arrangement to enjoy the beautiful view.
So, that was it. With this trip i created lot of memories, unique experience, which i am going to cheer for a very long time.
Some bullets/quick bites/tips:
- Food to try –
- Falafal (for vegetarian),
- Chur-Chur (who have sweet tooth) – It is made up of Maida flour, long sticks shapes with white/brown chocolate topping
- Wafful – Many varieties available
- Eat the food from street shop instead of big restaurants. The street/small shops food tastes better.
- Where to shop – (economical shopping)
- C and A
- It is best if you take combos for sight seeing. They are more cost effective. Best combo as per me is Lookout+Heineken +Canal cruise. The other things you can buy individually.
- Visit Giethoorn – if visiting during summers and you have kids. Fun place for little ones.