2 Days in the Netherlands
In the spring of 2017, my mom and I went on an epic one-week European adventure (Netherlands, Germany, Czech Republic). Our first stop on the trip was the Netherlands. Although we were only able to stay for two days, I feel that we were able to do a good amount of exploring.
It is absolutely one of the most stunning places I've ever been. Not to mention how amazing the people are; the Dutch might be the nicest people I've encountered abroad.
We went during the Spring of 2017. Some of the things we did would only be possible during the spring. If you have the opportunity, absolutely try to plan your visit when the flowers are in bloom.
Day 1- The Flower Route
We arrived in Amsterdam around 10 am, so we luckily had an entire day ahead of us. We immediately went to pick up our rental car; we rented our car through Sixt (we highly recommended them, as they were about half the price of other rental companies and our car was great). What I loved about rental cars at Schipol Airport, is that the cars are literally at the airport. It was so convenient.
During our nine-hour layover in Minneapolis-the day before, we browsed the internet looking for different places to drive in the Netherlands and what we found was "the Flower Route". We were already planning on spending part of the day at Keukenhof gardens but knew we would have some extra time. After finding out that "the Flower Route" was known as one of the top road trips in the world, we decided we would drive it.
After we got into our rental car - a Volvo Vx40, we north of the city to a small town called Haarlem. This was the first time I'd driven in Europe in over 10 years, so I was a little confused. Naturally, the first road I drove down was actually a sidewalk and not a street. On the bright side, I only got yelled at by one cute old man.
Haarlem is where the Flower Route starts. Immediately you can see where it gets its name. The streets are lined with flowers, daffodils and tulips of every color. If you choose to visit for the flower season, do attempt the Flower Route.
After stopping for some photos near Haarlem, we made our way to the Keukenhof gardens. Keukenhof is only open from mid-March to mid-June. However, it is a MUST see in the Netherlands. As I said before, if you can schedule your trip for spring, do it! Keukenhof is definitely the most beautiful garden I've ever been to. If you are going with your mother, treat the lady and take her here! The one thing I must warn is that there are a lot of tourists. However, considering the short amount of time they are open, it is expected. They have EVERY tulip on the planet, as well as various other types of flowers from around the world. The best part, they sell the bulbs. However, there are only a select varieties that can be brought back to the states. I bought a variety pack of different colors and they bloomed within two weeks of planting them in Colorado. Anyway, Keukenhof is massive. We only saw about half of the park before we decided to leave. It was cold and we were hungry.
After we left, we drove a little bit more of the Flower Route and then drove to our hotel, the Bastion Amsterdam Airport. We chose it for its convenient location to the airport and the fact that it was out of the city. The train from the airport to the city was quick and convenient, so why pay $100 more a night when you can stay by the airport for less? Our room was only $80 a night. There was a free airport shuttle, great restaurant, a vending machine that sold quartets of wine, and a McD's in the parking lot, in case you are feeling fast food.
Day 2- The City
About two months before our trip, I made sure to book our entrance tickets for the Anne Frank House. If you are planning on visiting the museum, make sure you purchase tickets in advance to save yourself from waiting in the very long line. From our airport, we decided to cab, because we didn't want to be late. The front desk quoted us €80 to get into the city. That sounded outrageous. I told my mom "if only they had Uber." Luckily, the younger front desk agent heard me and told me they did have Uber, of course, the lady working had never heard of it. The Uber only cost us €29. When in doubt, ALWAYS check for an Uber.
We had a 9:30 AM reservation and when we showed up early (9:15), the person checking tickets told us to come back in 15 minutes. Save yourself the trouble, you don't have to get there early, they will turn you away. However, don't get there late, they will also turn you away; just be on time. In our fifteen minutes, we walked around the area. We took some pictures of the canal the warehouse is on (Prinsengracht), the Westertoren (Anne talks about the church bells in her diary), and the small statue of Anne outside of the church.
The Anne Frank house is an absolute must for Amsterdam. We spent about three hours inside. I teach the Diary of Anne Frank in 7th grade, so it was a very somber experience for me. The downside is that you kind of get herded through the annex and there was no time to stop and "experience" the place.
After the Anne Frank house, we decided to go on a canal cruise. It was a one hour tour of the different canals, it was pretty cool. If I had to do it again, I would choose the one that included food and drinks.
Our last stop of the day was actually an accident. My mom wanted fondue (because Dutch cheese) so I found us a restaurant that was walking distance from the train station. Well, as it happens, it was also in the Red Light District. Fun stuff, walking through the Red Light District with your mother. Haha! Highly recommended if you want to hear about your mom's college days.
Stores selling condoms, women, weed, really anything. Yes, it says not to take a photo and I took one. Anyway, it is part of the culture there and everyone should experience it at least once in their life. Oh, and the fondue restaurant was amazing. If only I could remember the name of it.
Things to buy in Amsterdam:
1. Tulip bulbs
3. Dutch cheese
And that was our two days in the Netherlands! I'll be going back in June 2018 with students and I can't wait!