It was almost 2pm in the afternoon when we arrived at Amsterdam Centraal station from Koog-Zaandijk. We were probably one of the few tourists that sought out the public transport.
We had another 3 hours left on our iAmsterdam cards (48 Hours) and that includes a free canal ride. So we were in a bit of a rush. Luckily the public transport card also lasts for 48 hours and we had additional time on that since we activated it about 12 hours after the iAmsterdam card.
“This is so confusing. Tell me again, how many hours left?” asked the wife.
“No worries. Let us just stick to the plan. I will post the critique and opinion on the iAmsterdam card later.” Actually, I added the latter part of the conversation. Just to make it informative.
Our first stop was the Amsterdam Tulip Museum. This museum is covered by the iAmsterdam card and since tulip is my wife’s favourite, I know, I have mentioned it a few times during the previous posts, we had to stop by no matter what.
I know I have mentioned that the tulip is the wife’s favourite flower for a couple of times during the previous posts
The museum probably underwent a facelift just recently, it looked freshly painted and everything was sparkling clean. Actually, these were the only good points of the museum. It is a self-guided tour, one direction in and out. Just follow the flow. It did not tell us much and most of it we have already found out back at Keukenhof.
It took us around 15-20 minutes to get it done and we spent another 10 minutes browsing the giftshop. You could even get tickets to Keukenhof from here.
Another museum that we need to tick off before the card expires is the Woonboot Museum, or better known as the Houseboat Museum. It was raining by the time we arrived, so it became a shelter for us from the rain. Coming from a place where we had plenty of land and huge houses, it was claustrophobic to be seen inside the museum.
The museum is fashioned out from a real houseboat and it has all the amenities you could find in any house, just a little bit short on space. The houseboat could fit a family of 4 but there would be plenty of bending over, knocking of elbows and bumping of heads, and that is only just the beginning. The close quarters and lack of storage would be great for those who are championing the minimalistic style.
If you find the visit pleasing, there is a section above the wall where there are advertisements of real houseboats for sale and rent all across Amsterdam. You have been warned.
“Are we visiting any museums anytime soon?” asked the wife.
“I think we are done for the day. No more museums. Time to eat.”
“Eat? Where? Why are we walking past Balthazar’s Keuken again?”
“We are going to get ourselves some burgers!”
We are going to get ourselves some burgers!
Burgermeester is touted as one of the best burger joints in Amsterdam. You are given about 10-12 different types of burgers, ranging from the usual beefburgers right down to the vegetarian version. If you find that the burgers are too big for your liking, they have the mini version. Or you could make your burger into a meal with salads and fries.
And if you find that you like them burgers so much, you can even order their cookbook! Yes, they have their own cookbook.
Their interior decor is simple, a splash of red against white walls. On one side of the wall is a huge blown up menu and on the opposite side, a picture of a cow. Talk about getting personal with your meal. “Moo.”
We ordered the 3 Mini Burgers combo, in which you get to choose any 3 burgers and they make you the mini version for just €11. That is pretty cheap for a decent meal. The waiting time was about 10-15 minutes in which we rested our feet and went through our photos.
The mini burgers take about 3-4 mouthfuls to finish and we had them good to go. Since we have a boat to catch.
There are a couple of companies touting their cruise of the Amsterdam canals but the ones covered by the iAmsterdam card is the Holland International or the Blue Boat cruise. You can’t ride both, you need to choose either one. We chose the former.
Remember to show the iAmsterdam card in exchange for the cruise tickets at the ticketing counter before queuing
Remember to show your iAmsterdam card at the ticket before queuing up for the cruise. In our rush to avoid the rain, we queued up near the docking area. Luckily the boat was only partially full and we still had enough time to get our tickets.
Tip: Try to sit on the left of the boat driver. For those who prefer to take photos, you need to sit up front, the windows can’t be open from the inside.
The cruise last for 40 minutes and they will bring you around the canals while adding a bit of history and jokes to their presentation. You will be waving at people on the other boats and those standing on the sides of the canals.
Highlight of the cruise? A view of 7 canal bridges in a row
The highlight of the cruise? A view that you can only get from the boat. That is the view of 7 canal bridges in a row. If you want to know where is it on land, it is near Herengracht.
After the cruise, our iAmsterdam card became part of our keepsakes, we are left with the public transport card and we used it on the tram to get ourselves to Dam Square. There was a carnival going on at Dam Square and it restricted our chance of getting good photos of the Koninklijk Paleis, the Nieuw Kerk and the National Monument. Everyone was having fun at the carnival.
Are they nuns?
We exited the square into Kalverstraat. A unique pedestrian-only street and if you’re on a bike, you must dismount. Anyway, even if you don’t dismount, there is no way you can get past the crowd without knocking into anyone. The shops here sell everything and anything. From cheesy fashion to familiar franchises, from crass materials to Made-In-China Dutch souvenirs.
We were actually looking for Begijnhof. This quiet courtyard is lined with houses around a church. This secluded ‘island’ is home to women devoting themselves to the church and God since the 1300s.
“Are they nuns or what?”
“Nope. They were not nuns. But the last Beguine died in 1971.”
“This brings us to Spui (pronounced as spow),” I said.
“What? Cow? Who named their place as cow?”
“No, the sign says Spui (pronounced as spwee).”
“The real pronounciation is Spui (spow)”
“Oh I see.”
A couple of cruises depart here if you are interested. Otherwise this area is famous for people watching and nightlife. We were already getting late for dinner and our train to Munich leaves at 9pm. So a quick hop on the tram, brought us back to Amsterdam Centraal.
(to be continued)