VENICE OF NORTH, Nazlı Tezcan | 25.07.2014

Amsterdam… The Dutch capital, warming the cockles of your heart with its canals, bicycles, bridges and architecture.

Since my first visit to Amsterdam was when I was a little child, there were not many things that I could remember about the city. That was why, I really felt as excited as if it was my first visit.

Landing at Schiphol Airport, we got on the train going to the city and the adventure started. Our trip lasted 20 minutes. Despite being the last days of December, seeing the bright day made me really happy, but it didn't last too long, because on leaving the train station we were met by the freezing cold. The humidity effect of the canals doubled the cold, which seemed to seep into our bones. As the distances within the city were short, we decided to go to our hotel by a cab. OK, I admit it was also to warm up a little bit.

Our hotel was on the side of one of around 1200 canals in the city. As soon as we unpacked our bags, we took the streets to go to the most famous square of the city, Dam Square. The scenery consisting of stone paved streets, tiny houses and canals warmed our hearts.

Don't be surprised when you see more people on bicycles than on foot. Amsterdam is one of the most bicycle-friendly cities of the world. If you step on the bicycle track accidentally, people will notify you. It is a pleasure to stroll around the city on foot or by renting a bicycle, but if you rent a bicycle, don't forget to lock it when you park. On the world scale of bicycle theft Amsterdam is one of the top cities.

On our walk from hotel to Dam Square, we almost froze to dead. The square hosts beautiful buildings like the Royal Palace, New Church and Madame Tussauds. As I had had the privilege to visit it in London, Madame Taussauds wasn't very appealing. We hung out on the square a little bit and to give ourselves a warming break, we went into a cafe. Honestly, when it is freezing cold, you don't feel much motivated to do anything. 

After getting a little warmed up, we decided to go to one of the most busy streets and shopping centers of the city, Kalverstraat. We had a stroll on this joyous street eating the delicious fries we bought from a lunch counter. For the night we planned to go to the Red Light District, the most tourist attracting part of the city for many different reasons. That's why we returned to our hotel passing the picturesque streets embodied by the canals.

Red Light District, one of the oldest neighborhoods of the city, I guess is the most colorful area as well. Besides the cafes and bars ranging on the sides of the canals, you can pop into different sights that locals get very much used to while you might find awkward. We called it a day early, 'cause we had plans for the next day.

The first thing in the morning, we went to the flower market full of colorful tulips. I was kind of surprised to see the variety of tulips available, despite the fact that it wasn't tulip season. If you like you can buy tulip bulbs as a souvenir, or just enjoy the market. It's a little sad that right now Turkey has to import the tulips from Holland which were originally given as a present to the country during the Ottoman Empire.

We decided not to be haunted by this idea, and enjoy this shiny day by having a tour on the canals. Don't leave Amsterdam without taking a canal tour; it's not important which one you choose. It's a nice opportunity to watch the city, as you float on the water.

After the tour, we went to the Museumsplein where the well known sign I Amsterdam was. This is also the museum district of the area. If you have time you can visit world famous museums like Rijksmuseum and Van Gogh Museum.

Time flew by faster than we could imagine. Our next destination was Leidseplein, one of the squares we wanted to see. We reached Leidsestraat by tram along a lively street, and once there we had our lunch break.

After the lunch, we went to the Rembrandt Square which was close to our hotel. The square takes the name of the artist, whose house is close to there. Before dark, we strolled around the area and then went to our hotel to rest. Our plan for the night was to visit Rembrandt Square again because we had heard that it was very dashing. But alas, although it was the day before New Year, most of the night clubs were closed. So we spent the night at a small pub, listening to music.

On our last morning in Amsterdam, since we did not want to leave without tasting a Dutch Cheese, we woke up early and left the hotel. As I have a soft spot for cheese, I bought nearly every kind of it, but nevertheless I couldn't help but think “Should I have bought more”. You can buy cheese from the market at the airport, but it is cheaper to buy it from the city.

I wish we had had more time, because it's very easy to get to other Dutch cities from Amsterdam. If you have time, it takes an hour to go to Rotterdam or Lahey by train. Especially in summer, we heard that Lahey with its marvelous bay is very lively.

As we had to leave the city we went to the central train station to go to the airport and concluded one more trip, but I knew for sure that I will visit the city again.

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