Amsterdam, Netherlands

Canal Belt, Amsterdam, Netherlands

Floating City

Amsterdam, associated with so many unseemly activities, is actually quite a pleasant Danish city with quaint squares, boisterous cafés along the water, and flower-adorned floating houses tied to the banks of the canal. With so many beautiful and historic places to see in this city, we had to plan out our day in order to cover it all.

Anne Frank House

Our first stop in Amsterdam was, of course, the Anne Frank house. We waited for an hour in a line that wrapped around the block. This line is avoidable only if you buy time-slotted tickets ((9:00am - 3:30pm) when they become available online two months in advance of the date. Otherwise, visitors line up between 3:30pm and closing to buy 9 euro tickets and visit the place where the famous little girl hid from the Nazis.

Anne Frank House
A brief biography that you'll find in the opening room of the Anne Frank Museum:
"Anne Frank is a Jewish girl who has to go into hiding during World War Two to avoid the Nazis. Together with seven others she hides in the secret annex on the Prinsengracht 263 in Amsterdam. After almost 2 years in hiding they are discovered and deported to concentration camps. Anne’s father, Otto Frank, is the only one of the eight people to survive. After her death Anne becomes world famous because of the diary she wrote while in hiding."
The museum itself takes you through each room in the Franks' apartment from the watch shop on ground level all the way up to the Secret Annex in which Anne and the others hid. You can show at the house and explore the museum on your own, but I suggest taking the 30 minute introduction program in which you'll be taught by a tour guide and be able to ask questions. After the program, you can explore the museum on your own. This is 14,50 euro for adults, 10 euro for 10-17 year olds.

Visit the Anne Frank House Website for information on opening hours, where to buy tickets, and special events.

The Streets of Amsterdam

Amsterdam, much like Venice, is divided by canals into small islands. Amsterdam's canals run in a circular shape and the islands cluster together to form several different districts. Each district has a unique constituency and aesthetic. The largest and most famous neighborhood, Jordaan, encompasses the western half of Amsterdam. The red light district and Nieu Wezijdes compose a neighborhood more commonly known as the Canal Belt or Center District. The neighborhoods of Plantage and Oost fall within the Eastern Canal Ring and are characterized by their spacious streets and relaxing atmosphere. We spent several hours with a local visiting some of his favorite neighborhoods.

The Jordaan District

The Jordaan District (colored in yellow on the map), near the Anne Frank House, was first build in the 17th century for the working class. It became known for its radical leftist politics and, in fact, was host to a few political riots such as the "Eel Riot" in those times. Near the 1970's this neighborhood feel into disrepair but recently, gentrification has taken hold of the area. Now, the Jordaan District is a hip neighborhood, home to urban professionals, numerous art galleries, and some sing-along bars that liven up the streets at night.

Jordaan District, Amsterdam, Netherlands
I was taken by the quaint cobble stoned streets of the Jordaan District. We stopped at a small café near a canal for lunch. We were regretting that we couldn't stay for dinner when the café turns into a live music venue. Oh well, off to visit other neighborhoods!

Art Gallery in Jordaan District

The Canal Belt

Locals call the innermost part of Amsterdam the "Canal Belt" because the canals all run in a half-circle shaped route in the heart of the city. This is the most popular and photographed part of Amsterdam due to its beautiful green canals and the riverboats strung to its sides. Flowers abound in every windowsill and petite chairs and tables line the Belt to host café visitors outside in the sun.
Canal Belt, Amsterdam, Netherlands
 After a long day of walking the streets and canals of Amsterdam, our feet were exhausted. In the late afternoon we just so happened to run upon a Chinese Massage Parlor. Yes, a little unexpected. No, not in the Red Light District. With our feet reminding us of our fatigue, we poked our heads in the shop. The lobby looked clean, well lit, and organized, even if it was a little mismatched and out of place. What could it hurt to have a little foot massage?

Up, up, up we went, climbing three flights of stairs so small that they reminded us of the stairs in Anne Frank's Secret Annex. The Chinese woman led the three of us to a small room draped all over in purple and red fabric, with three human-sized cushioned tables squished within a foot of each other and a tiny open window obscured with more fabric. We guessed by the woman's hand movements that we were supposed to lay on the tables and wait. We laid on the tables and my dad quickly began snoring.

An hour later, our feet were revived, my dad had been woken up, and we were putting our shoes back on. "Ten out of 10", my dad said, even though he wasn't awake for most of it. We were grateful for the short refuge from the busy streets, and for the G-rated nature of the Massage Shop, but we were ready to explore more of the streets of Amsterdam!
The rest of the day flew by, leaving us wishing we weren't leaving this city, and saying goodbye to my dad, so soon! But, as all good things, this part of our vacation had to end. In the evening, my father walked us to the Amsterdam train station and helped us board a train that would take us through the Chunnel and into London. 

Making our way to Amsterdam Train Station


Your Stories:

Have you ever had a strange experience in Amsterdam? Do you have a favorite Amsterdam neighborhood? Share your Amsterdam travels with us in the comments below!

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