I’ve been to Amsterdam twice now and not once have I seen a tulip growing in it’s natural habitat. This trip, as some friends from Australia prepared to come over to Europe for a wedding, that was going to change.
Amsterdam is one of my favourite cities in Europe – it has everything you need for a great weekend holiday. There’s the cultural side from the Van Gogh museum to Anne Frank’s house, all the artistic museums on show and the war history, to the party scene with great bars and clubs all across town. There’s the seedier side which is interesting for any traveller and then there’s the beauty of the canals and the fabulous looking houses which make it look strangely romantic considering said seedy side. And with the country being so small it’s also easy to make day trips elsewhere if that’s not enough, though with the good weather and beautiful parks on offer it’s hard to run out of things to do.
So after driving to the city from Frankfurt with a friend we spent Friday night checking out the bars and figuring out the laws relating to marijuana – lots of rumours had been flying around that Holland had banned tourists from using drugs, partly because Germans come and buy it and then take it over the border. This was clearly not the case though, with every bar smelling of the stuff and full of English guys sampling Amsterdam’s finest. And considering it was far cheaper to buy a joint (around 7 euro for a pre-rolled one) than a drink (3.50 for a small glass of wine) it wasn’t hard to see why!
The next day was the one I have been waiting for for so long – heading out of Amsterdam to Keukonhof tulip park. Located in Lisse, it’s only open for 6 weeks of the year when the tulips are blossoming and is believed to be one of the most beautiful parks in the world. Tulips are my favourite flower – when we moved into our place in Stuttgart one of the best things was the tulip garden the landlord keeps in our garden – so this was particularly exciting. And despite a 2 hour wait for the bus in the morning (would advise people to get there earlier than 11am to avoid this!!) it was definitely worth it. The garden was very busy but that’s to be expected and it could certainly still be enjoyed.
Is that enough tulips for you? :) It really was well worth the day out and I want to go back again next year. It cost 28 euro for the bus and ticket from Schiphol airport and the package can be purchased at a number of stores listed here.
After arriving back to Amsterdam at about 18:00 we headed back to our apartment – a lovely place right on the canal we found on Airbnb – and had some Champagne to get ready for the night ahead. We ended up relaxing at the house until the neighbours were complaining about the noise and then headed out to Rembrandtplein where the world renowned Australian bar Coco’s is situated. Before you think ‘typical Aussie place’ it’s also a bar and club frequented by Amsterdam locals and as well as cheap drinks the music is always good.
By morning the hangovers were setting in, and after a big day before we didn’t really get going until about 1pm. Lunch near the canals and then a trip to the ‘iamsterdam’ sign rounded off a great sunny day (which was supposed to be rainy) and then a sunset tour of the city made for a great finish to our trip. Dinner and drinks afterwards in the red light district made for some great people watching – particularly the men trying to get out of the brothels as inconspicuously as possible!
Driving home on the Monday took closer to 6 hours than 4 but it was great to see the countryside and as an Australian, it never gets old and boring going across a border to another country in a car. I know I’ll be back to Amsterdam for a fourth, and fifth, and six time, and even though it’s such a small city i don’t feel like i’ve seen it all yet.