When in Rome, do as the Romans do. And when in Amsterdam, you cycle. Everywhere.
So we couldn’t leave the city without exploring it by bike. Lucky for us, there was a huge bicycle rental near to our apartment so we headed off in search of the perfect pair of wheels.
Everything is equipped for bikes in Amsterdam – except safety! You’ll find an escalator purely for bikes, you’ll get a bike lock, and a rack for your stuff but you’ll have to be careful – pedestrians and vehicles tend to fly out in front of you, so take it easy.
Our first stop was Anne Frank Huis. Having read Anne’s diary when I was younger, and travelling with two girls who studied for a MA in Jewish Studies, we couldn’t not visit the museum. Unfortunately, unless you book tickets online pretty far in advance (we’d tried but couldn’t get hold of any), you can expect a long wait, possibly in the cold. Despite fending off the elements, we managed to make some Italian friends ahead of us and conversation made the two hour wait go past pretty quickly.
The museum itself was heartbreaking. It felt very odd actually seeing the house in which the Frank family went into hiding, instead of visualising it in my head as I read the diary. As you experience the different stages of the family’s experience, it’s hard not to get upset as it’s contextualised in line with the Second World War. I really do think it’s something that everybody should visit, if nothing else, to see the trauma that many people had to go through during the war.
Having collected ourselves after the museum, we hopped back onto our bikes for the next stop on our cultural tour – the Van Gogh Museum. I must admit, Van Gogh has never been one of my favourite artists, but just seeing some of his iconic works was fascinating.
We had a good look around the three or four storeys of the museum, occasionally stopping to stare out over the beautiful views and doll-house like buildings of Amsterdam.
Then, after some lost-key-related-drama, we finally managed to unlock our tangled bikes and set off in the direction of the city’s Vondelpark. Having got a little lost en route, it was lovely to no longer have traffic to dodge, but an ‘open bike path’ to feel the wind in our hair as we raced round past flowerbeds full of tulips and lakes speckled with ducks.
Having worked up quite an appetite throughout the day, we found an adorable little restaurant in Vondelpark, located in a beautiful listed building. We sipped much-deserved wine and dined on steak tartare and fresh crab to celebrate the end of a fab Dutch mini-break.
Hopping back onto our bikes, we went for one last cycle into the city and the Rembrandtplein to see the area lit up at night. Passing twinkling canals, we managed to make our way back to the apartment for our final night in our wonderful canal-house.
Amsterdam, you’ve been a blast.