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Netherlands

Curious what backpackers do in the Netherlands? Discover travel destinations all over the world of travelers writing a travel blog on FindPenguins.
  • Chilly morning spent riding on the Rijn kanal...
    My morning highlight was thinking that there was a weird duck in a field next to us and instead turning to see a sheep sneezing (well in a sneezing frenzy)

  • So we battled the craziest headwinds today- it felt like you were not moving forward in parts... Character building is a nice way to describe it!
    We all made it (I just don't have a selfie with Dave cause he didn't come down to waters edge)
    So we did 40km (plus a little bit back to train) today
    My trip total is 1478km.

    We caught trains back to Rotterdam and then on to Amsterdam, where we will be for a couple days...

    So that's me done 😀
    See you in sunny Queensland in a few days!!
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  • We have finally found a nice room to rent! I am so happy now. I am enjoying the small luxuries such as having our own proper towels, we had been sharing my travel towel for six weeks! Being able to leave my shower stuff in the shower and shopping for more that two meals at a time and not thinking we are going to have to carry this! It is a really nice place to, recently renovated, we have a big furnished room. We pay 550 Euro per month which is about 800aud- including all utilities and WiFi. We are about 15 min (by bike of course, all measurements are by bike here) from the central station and my work. We are living with two nice girls, a Lithuanian dance teacher and a Lebanese yoga teacher, but she will move in tomorrow. Oh and three huge cats!!!! But they have their own room too and are very chilled and friendly :) since the hostel had bed bugs Joel is really paranoid that we will transfer them to our new place so everything is quarantined and we will wash everything! !Read more

  • High... I mean Hi... oh don't think anything more than us spelling hi wrong just because we're in Amsterdam. Don't you worry - we are behaving!!

    This morning, after a much needed GOOD sleep, we headed to explore the city again. Can I just say we've been navigating these cities as locals. We continued to shop for souvenirs - for all our loved ones..... ;)

    We walked to the other side of the city to Mac Bike. Talk about an adventure to find the station... as there were no signs and our maps said different ways. Don't worry - we found it. We found it. Right in front of our eyes - of course.

    The bike tour introduced us to a lot of the history of Amsterdam. First, the coat of arms are three X's. These 3 X's represent 3 of Amsterdam problems (flooding, fires, and the black plague). They then added the lion and the crowns at the top. In addition, Amsterdam has articial land, espwcially where Amsterdam cenrraal station is located. As we continued, we learned that there were two canals. There was one built for a lord and one for a king. The building's around there were classified as expensive and for the rich, while the peasants lives on the out skirts of the city. You can find a bakery, Winkle, that serves the best apple tarts.

    The canals are 3 meters down. They often say this is 1m of mud, 1m of water, and 1m of bikes. They say there are about 20, 000 bike a year that fall in the canals.

    The housing in Amsterdam is known to look slanted. This is because the cost per square foot was expensive and people didn't want to pay for that so, they built their houses taller rather than wider. Due to the width, the houses are to narrow to bring furniture into the house. So, they take the furniture in through the windows. In order to do this, the houses were built slanted forward so furniture would not hit the side of the house.

    The city also added the I Amsterdam sign to change the perspective people hold on Amsterdam. They accept that they're a city that is known for sexton and drugs, but they wanted more to their image. By adding the sign, it gets a lot of publicity from many different cultural groups.

    We stopped at a wind mill bar - this wind mill is not an original but is one of the oldest ones. Here we all grabbed a beer for 2.80 where we met a few people from Los Angeles. We took their numbers to meet up with them later on.

    We ended up exploring the red light district. The district is not what we thought it would be. The streets were filled with people, but it was tamer than we thought. It was very regulated. Once we returned to our hostel, Taylor was lucky enough to get sang and danced too... all round show. We now know what drugs do.
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  • Again, this morning, the beautiful church bells (alarm clock) went off for nearly a half hour. Breanna and I were up, but forced ourselves back to sleep for a little while. We both didn't want to get up - the rest we are getting is allowing us to catch up on sleep we've missed and who knows... maybe even jet lag that we never got over. Regardless, we got off our butts and headed out.

    We explored the red light district during the day. It's not as active during the earlier afternoon, but girls were getting ready for their shift - often opening their door to call the men to them. In the same area there's a very good candy store that Niki and I visited three years ago. Their known for making natural and vegan candy. For example, one gummy bear is made out of seed weed. It is quite phenomenal. DELICIOUS.

    After this, the girls took a free ferry to the other side. Here we saw parts of the film and dance center. We were unfortunately given heavy rain showers. We still ventured around.

    The girls are now napping as I blog!
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  • Arriving in Amsterdam yesterday morning after our 13 hour bus ride, we quickly grabbed the train to head to Amsterdam Central Station.

    When we exited the train station, we were awed with beautiful canals, colorful boats and tall leaning buildings. We navigated our way to our hostel with was very central in amsterdam... Thank god because it makes up for being on the 5th floor of this extremely steep building with zero wifi and the room the size of my closet at home.

    We ventured out into amsterdam determined to find the Van Gogh museum. When we got there, around 11:45, we looked at the line to get in it was about an hour and a half wait just to buy your tickets, then you have to wait for your assigned time to go in. We knew that you could buy your tickets online so thats what we did. We sat out side of the line on the steps, bought 3 tickets, and we were in at 12 oclock.

    This museum was simply amazing. It was the biggest collection of Van Gogh's work in the world. We had a good time reading his letters he wrote to his cousin and friends in french. Finally, knowing frech came in handy outside of Quebec.

    After we were finished, we sat outside in this stunning park, filled with people and dogs. We enjoyed the scenery before we walked around trying to figure of this complicated city.

    We later ate at this AMAZING italian resturant, where we ordered pizza, soup and got free garlic bread.

    Don't ask me how, but someone we ended up at Lush (we are so basic) and chatted with the sales associate.. When we told him about our travels and how tored we were, he called over another associate and PAMPERED us. I mean, hand scrub, hand cream, face toner, mask, scrub, cream, eye cream and tea tree oil spray. We honestly needed it so badly, and felt instantly refreshed as we left. We spent about an hour getting pampered by the staff with hand massages and facials. It felt so good after our bus ride.

    Once we hit a grocery store and navigated our way home (we are really pros at this whole being local thing) we all showered, repacked, and are currently sitting in the lobby stealing the wifi and eating fruit. It was a wonderful day, can't wait to explore some more tomorrow!!
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  • Yesterday, we let ourselves sleep in until about 10:30 which had felt amazing considering we have been on the go since day 1.

    Once on our feet and showered, we headed out to hit up some souvenir shops (classic tourists) before our bike tour.

    We grabbed a tea from starbucks, and went on our way to find our meeting point for our bike tour. Let me tell you, we walked in circles... No worries.. With the help of some locals (and some not so helpful locals that pointed us in the wrong direction) we made it!!

    This tour was 4 and a half hours late (yes, if you were wondering.. My butt is hurting today). Our guide, Sylvia, proceeded to take us to several places in Amsterdam and tell us about why the city is so beautiful and lively. She told us how the entire city used to be a port for launching ships and one day, they decided to build ARTIFICIAL LAND and create canals throughout the city to encourage growth ans trade! We biked through central station and a few of the nicer neighborhoods and Syliva told us why Amsterdam is associated with the three red X's (as youve probably seen in many of my posts).

    The red Xs on the coat of arms originally belonged to a prestigious family that settled in Amsterdam prior to the artificial land building days. Amsterdam decided to adopt it as their own to represent the three huge problems they have had to overcome as a nation: Floods, Fires, and the Black Plague. A lot of people assume the x's are linked to the rid light district.

    Next, we biked over to Vondale Park, the largest park in Amsterdam,where we found out it was once part of the hippie trail in the 1970s, and many people used to camp here to avoid paying for hostels. The government made this illegal in the late 70s and now, that area is one of the most expensive to stay in.

    After, we biked through the museum district and near the red I AMSTERDAM sign the city errcted in 2004. The sign is supposed to represent the multicultural nature of Amsterdam and how the city is about more that just drugs, sex, and windmills - it's about leaving a bit of you here and taking a bit of the culture back!

    Next up, skinny bridge! We saw the locks that they open every 4 days to keep the water in the canal clean and leveled. She also explained to us that people say the canal is 3 meters deep, 1 meter of water, 1 meter of mud and 1 meter of bikes. Over 20,000 bikes fall into the canal every year. In Amsterdam, there is also more bikes than people. They have an excellent bike path system where bikes have their own lights and rules apart from cars. She was explaining to me that after world war 2, people started biking because they didn't have any money & was alot cheaper than driving and faster than walking. She also said she sees 8 month pregnant women driving around on their bikes and new borns strapped across their chest. Oh and helmets also aren't a thing here.

    We then drove past a canal with beautifier homes, she told me the price of living here is very expensive. It is about 300,000€ per 50 square feet. The houses here are built narrow but long (somewhat like our hostel 😑) because people used to have to pay a tax based on how much street room they would take up.

    We biked by the Zoo, we didn't get to go inside but we did get to see some cool giraffes :)

    Last stop: one of the oldest working windmills left in Amsterdam. In Amsterdam, you are allowed to actually live in a windmill if you take a year long course on how to manage it and provide proper maintenance! This one had a small brewery attached to it, and we each had a glass of amazing beer for only 2.5 euro! Fortunately for us, we didn't even have to actually pay for the beer as we ran into a bit of luck and found 10 euro a little while earlier. Score! .

    Afterwards we cycled back to the buke shop to drop off our bikes, and headed back to our hostel to get ready for the rest of the evening. We decided we wanted to check out the red light district tonight, so we bundled up (it was getting quite chilly!) and went out in search of food.

    We grabbed dinner at this place called wok to walk & let me tell you....... 😋😋😋😋 so good. Better than thai express. We went over to the red light district where wifi doesn't exist.. So we couldn't meet up with our friends that we had met on our bike tour but we enjoyed our night regardless.

    I was pretty disappointed with the district. Wasn't what everyone talked it up to be. Still weird to see women in the red rooms banging on the window trying to make you come in. Some were also just sitting there on their phones texting and talking. Pretty funny actually.

    We went to go see a peep show.. & that's all you need to know about that.

    Breanna and I decided that since we were in Amsterdam, we should probably smoke weed... you know, since it's legal and everything. We went into a coffee shop, where they handed us MENU for weed!? Say what??? We picked something random, cause we all know that we don't really know what we were doing. We walked outside & smoked a joint walking down the street... what a strange feeling. I was debating if I should put this in or not.. but for the memories I will. We were standing at a donut shop looking in. Breanna & Shaunessa were looking in and were mesmerized by all the donuts in the window... meanwhile, I couldn't focus on anything because it felt like my legs were shaking back and fourth 50 times a second. Two minutes later, I looked at them & all I could get out of my mouth was "I'm going to puke". I ran through the small alley ways in the red light district packed with people, to find a canal that I could puke in. Good news.. I didn't puke.

    We sat at the edge of the canal for a bit and enjoyed the calmness of the light drizzle on the water and decided to call it a night.

    We were going to go to bed early... Oh but look at that, we only got to bed at 2am... What a suprise 😏
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  • Amsterdam is one of my favorite cities in the world.I love its brick buildings, open skyline, rich history, and relaxed, easy going attitude towards life. Over the years, I’ve visited Amsterdam more times than I can count (I’m bad at math) and have spent countless hours walking the city, making friends with locals, and getting under its skin.

    Amsterdam has so much to do that, even after so many visits, I still find new things to do and see. The city deserves more than just the few (and often smoke filled) days travelers give it, but if a few days is all you have and you want to make the most of it, this is the itinerary I would give to someone looking to get a good overview and feel for what makes Amsterdam so special:

    Day 1

    Free walking tour

    A great way to orient yourself to the city is with a walking tour. You’ll learn some history, find out where the major sites are, and explore all those winding canals. Free walking tours are a wonderful first activity in any city. I recommend the free New Europe walking tour. It covers a lot of ground and gives you a general overview of the city and landmarks. The tour meets in the main square and lasts about 2-3 hours. (Be sure to tip your guide though!)

    Canal tour

    Amsterdam is a city tied to the water – it grew around its canals and the taming of the Amstel River. The canals of Amsterdam are incredibly beautiful, and there’s nothing like seeing the city from a boat. Skip the big canal boat tours you see around the city — they’re overpriced. You can often hire a private boat tour for about 20 Euros an hour (look for guides around the Red Light District). Moreover, you can also take the open-air Canal Hopper Small Boat. This is the company I use when I run group tours to the city — the boats are small, the tours more intimate, and your driver will give you a good personalized tour. The tours last about an hour.

    Rijksmuseum

    The Rijksmuseum is located right next to the Van Gogh Museum, and after years of renovation, it’s now beautifully remodeled. The museum still features an extensive Rembrandt collection, and you’ll be able to see the famous painting “The Night Watch.” Besides Rembrandt, there’s also an incredible and robust collection of other classic Dutch painters, like Frans Hals and Johannes Vermeer. Over one million works of art, craftworks, and historical objects are kept in the collection, and around 8,000 objects are on display in the museum so be sure to budget a few hours!

    Day 2

    Anne Frank House

    In all honesty, I don’t like this place. I found it to be anticlimactic. You basically do a slow walk through the house as the crowds pack the place. You don’t get to let everything soak in as you’re being pushed from behind by the endless crowds. It’s maddening! But, if you don’t mind waiting in line and you’re curious about Anne (I think the Jewish History Museum does a more thorough job of relating the events in Anne Frank’s life to the Holocaust), it might be worth the visit for you. You can book tickets online up to two months in advance, which lets you skip the line. If you don’t do this, get there very early in the morning to avoid the long queue that develops over the course of the day!

    Amsterdam History Museum

    This museum features a very thorough history of Amsterdam. It’s big, and you’ll need 3–4 hours to really go through it in detail. There are a lot of relics, maps, paintings, and audiovisual displays throughout the museum. My favorite is the computer graphic at the entrance showing the growth and construction of the city over time. I can’t recommend this museum enough. It’s one of the best history museums I’ve ever visited.

    Day 3

    Do a bike tour

    Bikes are to Amsterdam like wine is to Bordeaux. The city loves bikes, and there are supposedly more bikes than people in Amsterdam. In fact, forget about keeping a lookout for cars — it’s the bikes that will run you over. Seeing Amsterdam and its surroundings from a bike is something I definitely encourage you to do. Mike’s Bike Tours is the best company to use, whether for a tour or to rent a bike on your own.

    Oosterpark

    Everyone goes to Vondelpark to sit around, bike, or get high, but east of the main city center is a beautiful park with fewer people and green space that is just as relaxing. It’s about a 30-minute walk from the city center, but the walk takes you through residential areas of the city not often seen and way off the tourist map. I enjoy coming here because it’s far quieter and more peaceful than Vondelpark. If you wanted a quiet park experience, this is it!

    Day 4

    Vondelpark

    Amsterdam’s largest and most popular park is a great place to walk, bike, people-watch, or relax, especially after a visit to a local coffee shop. There’s a playground as well as places to play sports, and numerous areas for kicking back. During the summer, Vondelpark is filled with people, especially locals who hang out at the café ‘t Blauwe Theehuis for drinks in the center.

    The Heineken Experience

    This museum used to be a lot better when it was cheaper and they offered more beer. It’s not a working brewery, and in comparison to the Guinness Museum in Dublin, it’s lame. But the price of admission buys you three beers and you’ll learn a bit of the history of Heineken (which I enjoyed since I drink a lot of their beer). It’s not a must-see, but it’s not a must-avoid either.

    Some other sites worth visiting

    Below are some of my other favorite activities to do in the city if you have more time or don’t like the options above!

    Waterlooplein Flea Market – This open-air market is like a giant flea market — everything and everyone can be found here. People sell secondhand clothes, hats, antiques, gadgets, and much more. You can also find new and unused items. If there’s something you want, you’ll probably find it here. Open Monday to Saturday.
    Day trip to Haarlem – Just a quick train (or bike) ride from Amsterdam, Harleem is a quiet Dutch town that has a beautiful central church, great outdoor market, and all the beauty of historic Amsterdam with fewer crowds.
    Visit Noord – Leave the city center, take the ferry across the IJ, and visit the up and coming area of Noord Amsterdam. In the last few years, a lot of people have moved here (it’s cheap), cool markets and restaurants have opened, and a lot of old industrial land has been reclaimed for public use. It’s the new hip place to be! Be sure to visit the famous EYE, Amsterdam’s film institute.
    The Amsterdam library – The city’s library is a beautiful modern building built in 2007. It’s gigantic, overlooks the IJ, and has a wonderful top floor cafe for impressive views of the city. It’s one of my favorite to relax in the city. It’s quiet, peaceful, and there’s nothing like reading a good book with a great view!
    Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam – Like modern art? Well, I don’t but if you do, this is the place in the city to see it!
    Foodhallen – Located in Amsterdam west, this place is what the name implies – a food hall! This indoor food market has various vendors serving a variety of delicious food. It’s like food trucks in one location. Personal favorites include Viet View, Le Big Fish, and Friska.
    Houseboat Museum – This museum will show what it’s like to live in a houseboat!
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  • This was one of our favorite trips so far! The weather was amazing and the trees were the perfect picture of fall. We rode our bikes all over the city. My trusty tour guide, Ross, is very comfortable on a bike, so it made it easy and relaxing for me! We saw the Anne Frank house, ate lots of great food, and biked our hearts out!

  • From the viewing deck of the Euromast tower you can see all of Rotterdam and more. It's quite something. The Erasmus bridge, the Nieuwe Maas, Rem Koolhaas' new skyscraper (which, I admit, I actually like now I've seen it in person). Because the Netherlands is so flat, the horizon seemed to be infinite. I could, for example, easily see the skyscrapers of the Hauge. Looking the other way, I could see the Hook of Holland and the port I had come from in the morning.Read more

You might also know this place by the following names:

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