This past week, Samsung and Verge challenged me to take the Galaxy S10e to Amsterdam and uncover some hidden gems in one of the world’s most scandalous and lively cities.
When I was in Amsterdam, I challenged myself to get lost and explore areas of the city that may be a bit more off the grid and less populated. So, every day I started without a plan. I stayed in a youth hostel as a university student does (Shelter City Hostel was the name) that was in the Red Light District.
The Red Light District
The Red Light District is an interesting place, to say the least. It may not be the safest part of Amsterdam, but it sure is one of the most fascinating parts of the city. Sex, drugs and rock n’ roll all thrive in this district. I highly recommend visiting at night. The red lights from the lamps and building windows make for an eerie and edgier city photo. However, only explore this area with a friend… you don’t want to be put in a weird situation by yourself. Or maybe you do, I am not here to judge.
I can say I do highly recommend the Shelter City Hostel for any student traveling. The staff was very friendly, they offered many accommodations like free breakfast, they have two central locations and it was extremely monitored so you knew it would be quiet and safe at night.
While in Amsterdam, I had a desire to take a boat onto the canals and enjoy some relaxing “me time.”
So, I went onto AirBnB and found an independent company that runs personal canal tours:
It was an incredible experience. Endless rosé. Cheese and hors d’oeuvres. A comfortable boat with fluffy blankets. With only ten other people on this spacious boat, I felt extremely comfortable. So, it’s worth it living a little bit in luxury for a price that won’t break the bank.
If you are going to Amsterdam, spend your money on a smaller indie boat company that caters to individual experiences. Not a touristy mass produced company that will stuff you in a boat like cattle. It’s worth your time, personal enjoyment and money.
My Friends And I On The Canal Tour
Also, while on the canals, there were so many opportunities to take photos and just bask in the city’s historical beauty and live your Fault in our Stars fantasy.
Now, we all love a good cup of joe. But in Amsterdam, a coffee shop obviously means something quite different. I’ll leave that to you to look up if you’re not aware.
When exploring the “coffee” scene, it’s important to look for places with high quality “coffee” and an atmosphere that is unique, quirky and relaxed.
Abraxas Coffeeshop: A three-story coffee shop with an interior that reminds one of a tree house. The inside is cozy yet creative. With friendly staff, chill music and lots of options. Check out Abraxas for a stop if you are looking for a shop with high quality, low prices and a unique asceticism.
Honorable Mentions from Trip Advisor: Barney’s Coffeeshop, Green House Centrum & Grey Area.
While in Amsterdam. I got lost. A lot. Maybe not by choice, but it happened and I went with the flow. I kept looking around and just wanted to take it all in. The way the buildings were so uneven in their lineup. The ways the canals were integrated into each part of the city. How greenery was on every windowsill and live music was at every bar.
I even stumbled upon the Van Gogh Museum and decided to go in. There was no line while I was there so it was an easy five-minute wait. I took a few hours to take in some of the world’s most iconic art that I’ve loved grown up learning about in school and pop culture. It was inexpensive, but it was crowded and a bit noisy. If you do go, I’d recommend bringing headphones to drown out the background noise and just appreciate the art.
Also, I find I had the most fun when I didn’t know where I was. I would stop at random sweet shops and get Poffertjes (little dutch pancakes) probably much more frequent then I should have. The food was immense and everywhere. And the simple, quiet spots in the city are the ones that I found the most beautiful and picturesque.
Hortus Botanicus Amsterdam
Probably the most Instagram-worthy gem in the entire city. The Hortus Botanicus Greenhouses and Gardens were incredible. There were five different areas: a desert, a forest, a jungle, a butterfly house and an outside duck pond and rose garden.
I guess the best way I could describe this area of the city is complete and absolute ZEN. I fell in love walking around the gardens for a few hours, and there was a little café in the gardens for a quick bite and coffee while you enjoy the area. The butterfly house was so incredibly fun. I felt like a little kid again. I think this area is great for people of all ages to escape the city and find a spot to take a moment to breathe and meditate.
Have you visited Amsterdam before? What are some of your favorite parts of the city? Start the conversation on Twitter @VergeMagOnline.