Our European adventure started with a full day exploring the streets of Amsterdam by bike. Having stayed in Amsterdam a few years ago for separate school trips, R and I were excited to enjoy the city together. In order to see the most of the city, I recommend renting a bike to get you around, but be mindful that people take their biking very seriously in Amsterdam so know the rules of the road before heading out. With the weather forecast calling for some rain showers, we lucked out on a beautiful day with only a few clouds and sprinkles of rain. Our plan was to ride around and see where our bikes would take us =o)
We rented our bikes from Black Bikes Leidseplein; €8.80 for 24 hours. The bike shop is just a few blocks north of the Rijksmuseum. We crossed the canal on Museumbrug and approached the towering Rijksmuseum. I had to take a moment to look up at my favorite museum in the world. Architecturally, I find the Rijksmuseum to be the most grand (yes grander than the Louvre) and refined museum. I love riding or walking under the arches of the entry and seeing a glimpse of the museum’s interior. Once you come out the south opening you are welcomed by the I AM AMSTERDAM letters. We started our day early enough that the letters were not crowded with people and we were able to capture a few photos. The letters are by three of Amsterdam’s most famous museums: Van Gogh Museum, Stedelijk Museum and of course Rijksmuseum. Having been to these museums during our school trips, R and I didn’t visit any this trip but I highly recommend visiting them if you have extra time.
|(South entrance/exit of Rijksmuseum)|
|(Riding our bikes through Rijksmuseum)|
|(I am Amsterdam letters, in front of Rijksmuseum)|
Amsterdam is known to have beautiful parks, the largest and most famous is Vondelpark. Just a 2 minute bike ride away from the letters we entered the gates of the park. We followed the winding paths around the entire park, stopping to look at the beautiful ponds, see a blooming rose garden, and take in some fresh air after a long trip flying overseas.
|(North entrance of Vondel Park)|
|(One of the ponds in Vondelpark)|
|(Riding through Vondel Park)|
|(Path we rode along through Vondel Park)|
We headed back into the center to Amsterdam Central Train Station where you can take a free ferry ride across to the Eye Institute and ride through the neighborhoods of Amsterdam-Noord. As an aspiring architect, I love seeing new styles and designs during my travels. From residential projects, to commercial and civic spaces, it is always incredible to learn about new ideas and see what architects and engineers around the world are creating. Taking the ferry back across the water, we headed towards Zeeburg in the borough of Amsterdam-Oost. Zeeburg is a residential area of Amsterdam that is filled with unique homes, spaces and Santiago Calatrava’s python bridge. The bright red bridge connects two neighboring peninsulas. Although it is very impractical in its design, especially when having to carry two bikes across, it does have a fantastic view towards the city center.
|(Heading towards Amsterdam Central Station to catch the ferry)|
|(Behind Amsterdam Central is the ferry station)|
|(Apartment block in Amsterdam-Noord)|
|(Colorful home in Amsterdam-Noord)|
When I travel I like to stray away from the touristy spots of a city and see more of the local lifestyle and culture. Biking through Zeeburg and onto Java-eiland (translated: java island), you get to see local children playing outside, people on their way home or out to run errands. You get a chance to see the city through a new perspective, not the usual crowded spots marketed towards tourists. The atmosphere through each neighborhood felt so comfortable and easy going that I am considering packing up my belongings and moving to Amsterdam =o)
|(Red bridge, west of the python bridge, and much easier to get across)|
|(Steps up across Python bridge, R carried both of our bikes across)|
|(I am in love with this street and angle, see my post from my last trip here)|
Another neighborhood that caught my interest is Jordaan neighborhood on the other side of Amsterdam from Zeeburg. Cafes, galleries, specialty shops and restaurants are sprinkled throughout the neighborhood and there is a strong sense of community. Through the years the neighborhood has become more popular but there are spots among the winding streets that have old Dutch charm. In Jordaan we stopped for some of the best pancakes I've ever had. A food post is coming soon about all the food we ate.
|(Somewhere in Jordaan)|
|(Carriage rides through Jordaan)|
|(Somewhere in Jordaan)|
Earlier that day we had passed the Heineken brewery, unknown to both of us that the brewery would be so close to the center of Amsterdam. Just a three minute bike ride along that canal that runs in front of the Rijksmuseum is the Heineken brewery. We parked our bikes in front and headed in to have a cold glass of the famous Dutch beer. The Heineken Experience tickets are €16 online or €18 at the brewery. The tour includes a walk-through of the history of Heineken and what it is today, a simulation ride that takes you through the process of how the beer is made, a small glass of Heineken with a group and two larger glasses with your wristband at the Heineken bar. If you are a fan of Heineken or beer I would recommend stopping by the brewery =o)
|(Heineken Brewery in all it's glory)|
|(My small beer sample, the other was much bigger)|
I couldn’t believe how much of the city we had seen in so few hours and how well I remembered some of my favorite spots to visit. Biking around a city gives you such a different outlook than when you are walking around. I absolutely plan on biking through more cities I visit in the future =o)
|(End of our day)|
x the Adventurer