Going to Nairobi from Montreal, Canada, I had no choice but to have a layover in Europe. So I decided, why not spend a day in a city I’ve never been to?
Here is a short wrap up of everything I managed to do during my 24 hour layover!
I landed at AMS airport in the outskirts of Amsterdam around 7:30 AM. I hopped onto the hotel shuttle bus directly at the airport exit, to Hotel Ibis Schiphol Amsterdam Airport, where I left my luggage for the day. Since it was too early to check in, I freshened up in the lobby’s washroom and took an Uber to the city center for a day of solo-adventure.
I definitely enjoyed starting my visit this early because I could witness the stores and markets opening, the locals commuting to work or grabbing their morning coffee, and the quiet winding streets and canals.
I got my Uber to drop me off in Jordaan, where I discovered indie boutiques bordering narrow canals and streets. It was basically the postcard image of what Amsterdam is known for.
I spent the morning wandering the streets of Jordaan, passed by Anne Frank’s museum house, peaked into the windows of the canal houseboats, did some window shopping at the vintage and designer boutiques of De Negen Straatjes district and slowly made my way to Amsterdam Centraal, the city’s largest depot, known for its Gothic-Renaissance architecture.
At 11 AM, I hopped onto a 1-hour Amsterdam Canal Cruise (20 Euros). For about an hour, I relaxed as I was driven by boat through the maze that form the city’s canals, and as I listened to an audioguide. It was the perfect way to see most of the city in a short time.
After the cruise, I wandered around the city, stopping by Begijnhof, a quiet neighborhood of historic private dwellings that used to serve as a beguinage (where only religious women lived). I also walked through the Red Light district although it was still during the day. During daytime, the area is calm and just like any other district other then the older prostitutes waiting in the windows… I then continued my visit to Bloemennmarkt, a floating tulip flower market that ended up being a little underwhelming in my opinion.
Around 2pm, I grabbed lunch before heading to the Museum Square. I treated myself to a seafood platter and a nice glass of white wine at the Seafood Bar Spui Restaurant while I decompressed. This is what I call treating yourself!
When my belly was full and my body was rested, I continued walking to the Museum Square area, where I did some people watching.
Around 4:30PM, for 18 euros, I visited the Van Gogh Museum where I got to admire the Almond Blossoms, the Bedroom in Arles, the Sunflowers, many self-portraits and much more. Van Gogh has always been one of my favorite artists ever since I took oil painting classes, which is why I chose to visit the Van Gogh Museum rather than going to see the work of Banksy or Rembrandt.
As the museum closed its doors, I headed out and realized I was done for the day. For dinner, I simply decided to get another meal at another location of the Seafood Bar Spui Restaurant before going to rest in my hotel room next to the airport to be in shape for the day after.
All in all, I am happy I was able to do everything I wanted to do in Amsterdam in just a day. It is a beautiful city with lots of history, culture, good food and beauty. I would gladly spend some more time there if I have the chance.