Compared with Canada, Europe is tiny. This means it is easy to go on weekend trips to another country. In November, I took an overnight bus trip to Amsterdam and Bruges. Trying to cram in the whole city in a day is a challenge, but if you get up early enough, you can see a fair bit. I went to Amsterdam on a Saturday, so opening hours might differ on another day.
7 a.m. – Head out before breakfast for a walk along the Damrak, Amsterdam’s main street, which leads from the central train station to Dam Square. The main sights in the square are the Royal Palace (Koninklijk Paleis) and the national monument. The Palace still belongs to Queen Beatrix but is mainly a tourist attraction. The monument is in honour of the hundreds of thousands of Dutch citizens who died during WWII. It has 11 urns built into the stone that contain dirt taking from execution grounds and war cemeteries across the country.
9 a.m. – Eat a traditional breakfast at a Dutch café of Dutch mini pancakes or Poffertjes served with icing sugar and butter. Yum!
10 a.m. – Head to the Flower market (you can see it to the right in my bicycle picture.) The Netherlands are known for their tulips and in the market you can also buy clogs, little windmills and even a cannabis starter kit. The market is along the Singel Canal, just a few minutes walk from Dam Square.
11 a.m. – Go to the Anne Frank’s House Museum. The museum is the actual place where Anne Frank went into hiding with her family. It’s also where she wrote her famous diary, and the last place she stayed before the Nazis found her family. The line-up gets very long in the afternoon, so go early. Tickets are about €8.
1 p.m. – Eat lunch at one of Amsterdam’s many great pubs. Make sure to order a sandwich that incorporates dutch gouda cheese.
2 p.m. – Go to the Van Gogh Museum. Vincent Van Gogh is probably the most famous Dutch painter. I don’t know much about art, but I know highly enjoyed the museum. It has the world’s largest collection of Van Gogh paintings, all organized by different periods in his life. Tickets are about €15.
4 p.m. Heineken Brewery tour – If you’ve never done a brewery tour, this is a great one to do. The tour starts with a history of Heineken and then gives you a step by step walk-through of the brewing cycle. You get samples of the beer at each stage too. At the end, you get to enjoy two glasses of Heineken. The price is a little steep at €15, but the experience really does change the way you look at beer.
5 p.m. – Take a Canal Cruise. Amsterdam is known for its many canals and many people, especially students, actually live on houseboats. The cruise takes about an hour, and when I went in November, the sun was just setting. The tour is given in Dutch, German, English and French, which I thought was pretty cool.
6:30 p.m. – Head back to your hostel and take a quick nap. Then have a shower and get ready for a big night out.
9 p.m. The red light district or “De Wallen” is in one of the oldest areas of the city, a few minutes from the Damrak. It’s located along the Oudezijds Achterburgwal canal. Don’t bring your camera with you because you can’t take pictures of the girls in the windows. People also get annoyed if you pull one out at a coffee shop. I would really recommend going out with other people in your hostel. The area is very safe, but it’s always good to have someone with you, especially if you haven’t taken part in “the coffee shop culture” much before.