Amsterdam: Adventures in the “Venice of the North”

“You will never go anywhere in life.”

This statement, told to me by my junior high school English teacher, kept popping in my head as I strolled along – taking selfies – and enjoying the “Venice of the North.”

Amsterdam, capital of The Netherlands!

An Amsterdam Canal

The entry is part 1 of my 3-part Amsterdam Adventure. I had such a lovely time that I couldn’t fit it all in one blog entry.

The lovely city of Amsterdam had been on my travel bucket list ever since my brother told me he wanted to move here. Granted, the legalization of marijuana was his reason.  Mine was because airline tickets to Amsterdam were cheaper than tickets to Venice.

This was the early 1990s, and booking travel wasn’t as cost effective as it is today.

I’d actually planned to visit Amsterdam in the Autumn of 2020.

Well, we all know why that didn’t happen. Whew!! Thank goodness for ‘Cancel for Any Reason’ travel insurance.

Fast forward one year later. COVID restrictions lifted a bit, allowing for travel to other countries. I wasted no time booking my Amsterdam Adventure, just as I did in June with my Vienna Adventure.

I had an approved two-week vacation to burn, so I added stopovers in Bruges, Brussels and Paris. More on those adventures at a later time.

Man, have I mentioned how much I love European Rail Services? I was able to visit all four cities for less than $200 by train. And thanks to my timeshare exchange program, my lodging costs for all four visits was only $558 total, and these were three and four-star hotels, not hostels.

Ya’ll know I don’t do hostels or AirBnB. Check out my AirBnB experience for more!

I arrived in Amsterdam earlier than expected, so I grabbed some lunch before meeting my Welcome Pickups.

I texted my driver Stefan to let him know I’d arrived early, but he didn’t need to rush to pick me up. He arrived ten minutes later, and off we went. Stef explained some of Amsterdam quirks and a few places to grab some good food.

I turned down his offer to tell me where to get the best ‘special’ desserts. I did thank him for his advice on watching out for the bicycle craziness — advice that came in handy later in my Adventure.

We arrived safely at Hotel No 377, my lodging for the next four nights.

HOTEL NO. 377 — Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

Overall, Hotel No. 377 was a very nice hotel stay. My Comfort Room wasn’t large, but it had enough room to move around without bumping into things.

Customer Service was AWESOME! No complaints about customer service.

Room was cleaned and I love the electronic signage outside the room door to let folks know it was occupied to keep housekeeping from having to knock on doors.

Bathroom was very tight and small. However, it forced me to do my business and not linger in the shower, so I guess the design works.

  • Hotel No. 377 House entrance
  • Very steep staircase. Luckily there was a elevator.
  • My Comfort Room
  • My Comfort Room
  • My Comfort Room
  • Mini-fridge
  • Nice to see electronic signs instead of paper signs
  • Shower Room. It was very tight.
  • Shower Room. It was tight.

There were a few things that kept this from being a 5-star stay:

1. When cleaning, housekeeping didn’t check and clean the electric kettle and espresso machine. I went to use both and found used tea bags in the kettle and espresso cups in the machine. That’s just nasty!

2. They need to provide a hook or something in the rooms to open the windows. I’m short and couldn’t open the window to get a little fresh air. Also, their suggestion that I stand on the desk chair or the window sill isn’t something you tell a guest to do if you care about health and safety.

3. It’s time for a new mattress. As comfortable as the bed was, I didn’t like sagging in the middle or clutching to the edge to keep myself from rolling into the sagging middle.

But would I stay here again? Yes, I would.

CITY LIFE PHOTO SAFARI

I decided to spend the rest of the day on a City Life Selfie Photo Shoot.

Okay, I didn’t take many selfies because I just enjoyed walking around Amsterdam, laughing every time some hater’s negative comments popped in my head about me being boring or uncool because I don’t hang out in bars or nightclubs.

Funny sidebar — I contacted my boss to let him know I’d arrived safely, per employment protocols and travel rules.

His reply, “Awesome, have fun. Don’t go to The Bulldog.”

Now, The Bulldog wasn’t on my list of places to visit, but I did take a selfie in front because you just have to, right?

Although, I don’t think this was The Bulldog my boss was referring to, is it? 🤷🏽‍♀️

I returned to my hotel to download my photos and make dinner reservations. Some COVID restrictions were still in place, affecting some restaurants’ hours. I made a reservation at Restaurant Black. I selected this restaurant mainly because it was close to my hotel and their menu fit my taste buds.

RESTAURANT BLACK — Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

Overall, I had an excellent meal and highly recommend Restaurant Black.

Service was good and wait staff didn’t hover, but were there when needed. Prices were a little on the expensive side, but I’d budgeted for this since I checked out the menu online before I made the reservation. I was extremely happy to see that COVID protocols were being followed, and the staff letting people know the rules.

My steak was cooked just the way I wanted and it was tender and juicy. My tuna tartare tasted fresh and the slice of toast was a nice touch. The unlimited fries and salad was unexpected but appreciated. I left this restaurant with a full and happy belly.

I avoided dessert and simply grabbed some brownies on my way back to the hotel to accompany my bedtime tea. And no, they weren’t ‘special’ brownies.

I did not partake in any ‘special’ brownies or cakes during my Adventure
AMSTERDAM MUSEUM 

Amsterdam is home to many great museums. I chose to visit the Amsterdam Museum because I enjoy exploring the history of  the city I’m currently visiting. The museum exhibits various items related to the history of Amsterdam, from the Middle Ages to the present time. Amsterdam DNA was the theme of the museum during my visit. 

It only took an hour to explore the museum. The Amsterdam DNA exhibit provided a very interesting overview of the history of Amsterdam. I enjoyed my visit. The exhibit was very historical and I love the video displays.

The Golden Couch was okay, but didn’t spark much for me.

I loved riding the bike through 1927. That was a real treat.

My only wish was that there was more interactive content, but it was still a worthwhile visit.

I next wanted to tour the Hash Marihuana & Hemp Museum because it would be cool to say I visited the museum. Considering I was getting a ‘buzz’ just standing in line to buy a ticket, I felt it was best to move onto the next musuem.

Hash Marihuana & Hemp Museum

And oh dear goodness!

Red Light Secrets: Museum of Prostitution.

The next museum was Red Light Secrets: Museum of Prostitution.

RED LIGHT SECRETS: MUSEUM OF PROSTITUTION

The Red Light Secrets, Museum of Prostitution was actually quite educational. The tour lets you see the inside of the prostitute’s rooms, hear their stories and learn all about the secrets of the world’s oldest profession. The museum is housed in a famous brothel where the infamous prostitute, Chinese Annie, was murdered, a crime that remains unsolved to this day. 

l even got the chance to sit behind one of the famous windows to feel what it is really like to be watched from the streets.

Yeah, I didn’t like that one bit — mainly because I didn’t get any offers! 🤣

I recommend a visit to this museum if you’re looking for a quirky and unusual museum to break the monotony of typical museums.

By now, I was a bit burned out and needed some fuel. My initial plan was to visit a seafood restaurant, but I stumbled upon the Golden Chopsticks restaurant. 

Golden Chopsticks entrance

I should’ve stuck to my plan and kept walking toward that seafood restaurant. 

GOLDEN CHOPSTICKS — Rating 3 out of 5 Stars

Overall, the food and service weren’t terrible. They also weren’t top-notch either. The food was edible and served hot, but it didn’t have much flavor. The prices weren’t bad, but €6 for a small bottle of water is too steep. This restaurant provided some fuel, but it didn’t wow me. I wouldn’t recommend stopping here for a meal. 

Crispy Duck with Rice.

I made a quick stop at Waterstones Bookstore before heading back toward the hotel for a quick nap.

I never made it back to the hotel for that nap because I ended up stuck in a large crowd protesting something. I managed to navatigate my way out of the crowd and away from the arena, but it cost me valuable nap time. 

Oh well, might as well complete my City Life Photo Safari.

I finally made it back to the hotel to freshen up for dinner. However, my Golden Chopsticks meal was still playing games with my tummy.

So I decided to find a nice quiet place to grab a lite salad and read the book I bought at Waterstones. 

How I ended up at Café Américain I truly don’t know.

CAFÉ AMERICAIN – Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

Café Americain states that it is “the local meeting place in the very heart of Amsterdam, with a gorgeous view on the Leidse Square. In this famous Art Deco restaurant you can enjoy ‘class and classics’ in a magical and iconic setting.”

It was nice and had that ‘pub’ atmosphere. Better yet, I didn’t need a reservation, and was seated at a table rather quickly. The menu was standard bar snacks. Nothing special. I ordered chicken strips and fries. Food was good and edible.

Yes, I am that person who would go to a pub, order a Ginger Ale, and read a book. Laugh if you like, but you’ll be thanking me when you need a ride home. #DesignatedDriver.

I ate my chicken fingers, downed my Ginger Ale, stuck a bookmark in my book, then headed back to the hotel for the night. 

The next day was spent at Madame Tussauds Amsterdam. This visit was filled with so much #Awesomeness, it deserves its own post! Check it out in part 2 of my Amsterdam Adventure series.

My Amsterdam Adventure included a visit to the Amsterdam Countryside. Check out my countryside adventures in the third and final entry.

Overall, I enjoyed myself tremendously in Amsterdam. I managed to check off a few more Travel Bucket List items, and add another city to my travel map. 

To date, my travels have taken me to six different continents, 36 different countries, and over 600,000 miles.

Yeah, I’ll never go anywhere in life! 🤣

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