Hey there! Welcome back to our weekend in Amsterdam, day 2. If you missed day 1, here it is!
- Day 2
- Anne Frank House
- Lunch in Chinatown
- Stop at Starbucks
- Walk past the palace, train station, and Dam Square
- Stop and smell the tulips in the Bloom Market
- Dinner and a comedy show (in English)
- Cherry vodka shots at the ice bar
After our amazing day in Amsterdam, we walked home and went straight to bed. We were tired! We also had another big day planned for day two in Amsterdam, so we had to get some sleep to enjoy our Saturday!
Our first stop today – Anne Frank House. I am sure that most of you know who Anne Frank and her family were. Just in case, they were a Dutch family that were hidden away for two years in a secret annex so they wouldn’t be persecuted by the Nazis for being Jewish. Eventually, her family was caught and sent to the death camps. Her father, Otto Frank, was the only one to survive the camps. To read about their life, history, and the death camps, click here – http://www.annefrank.org/en/Anne-Frank/.
I really wanted to see this piece of history, and we were not disappointed. The museum is open daily (except some holidays, so check the website for dates) from 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., and longer on Saturday nights. It is located in the center of Amsterdam at Prinsengracht 263-267. It takes around 20 minutes to walk to from the Central Station. Trams 13, 14, and 17 and buses 170, 172, and 174 stop nearby at the Westermarkt stop.
We walked from our flat, and it was very easy to find. There are signs in the street that point you in the right direction. You should also buy your tickets online so you don’t have to wait in line because there is a big line waiting to get inside. I would also recommend listening to the 30-minute introduction. You are seated in a large room with other guests and they tell you the history and story of Anne Frank and her family. I enjoyed it a lot, and we learned some really interesting details about the family. Next, you can walk through the museum; there are great videos and artifacts from the family.
Finally, you get to climb the steep stairs, behind the secret bookcase, and see where the family lived for two years! Some of Anne Frank’s posters are still on the walls! Her original diary is also in the museum, and they sell replicas for any of you wannabe diary keepers! So, go and enjoy! Here is the link to buy tickets online directly from the museum.
It gets crowded, so if you can, go early in the morning! You can also get an iPhone app about Anne Frank and the Jewish community in Amsterdam during WWII. It will lead you around town and you can listen to commentary. It is here – Lastly, no photos are allowed inside the museum, so walk slowly and just enjoy the history.
Whew, that was something! A must-see place for anyone going to Amsterdam! At that point, we were hungry! For many of you who do not know, Amsterdam boasts some of the best Asian food around! So, like the locals, we decided to have some Chinese food! We went to the area known as Chinatown, although this is not a real representation of the area; it is full of all types of Asian food, cultures, and gifts. You can walk here – it is next to the Nieumarket Square which is the traditional center square of Amsterdam (which deserves a walk through after Chinatown!) One thing you should stop and see is the Zeedijk Buddhist Temple. It’s a beautiful building full of colors and fun places to take a photo! You can walk through the temple for free, and it is the largest Buddhist temple in all of Europe. The temple cost nine million guilders (4.1 million euros) to build, six million of which were donated by the Fo Guang Shan Organization. It was completed in 2000 and dedicated in person by Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands. Even if you are not a Buddhist, it is a beautiful place to stop and see!
The hubby was getting grouchy, so we went to eat! Chinatown has so many places to choose from, but after walking around and checking out the sights, I cheated and wanted to go eat somewhere else. The night before, on our dinner boat, I saw this HUGE Chinese restaurant boat in the harbor and, well, I wanted to eat there! The locals told us it was a little expensive but the food was GOOD! We had four courses and drinks for two, and the bill was about 100 euros. It’s called the Sea Palace, and it stands three stories tall in the middle of Amsterdam Harbor.
The food was really, really good, but the service was just okay – no one seemed to want to wait on us. We requested sauce three times before we received it; however, I have to say the food was great, and maybe they were just having an off day! If you want to check out the restaurant, you can read the menu here – http://www.seapalace.nl/en or you can stay in Chinatown and you will find some amazing Asian restaurants. If you want some Dutch food, walk south from Chinatown to the Nieumarket Square; here you will find many great pubs and lots of local Dutch food.
Next, we had to walk off all that food. Our bellies were full! I am also an avid Starbucks mug collector, so we had to find the Starbucks! As luck would have it, there was a Starbucks just a few hundred feet away from the restaurant. OH, YES! So, we had a latte, and I bought my cups from Netherlands and Amsterdam! After Starbucks, we walked toward the center of the city to get a good look at the train station, which is a beautiful building.
From there we took a left and walked about 750 meters towards Dam Square. Dam Square is well, just that – a dam! It was originally built as a dam on the Amstel River. The dam was built in 1270, and it was the first connection between the two settlements on either side of the river. Eventually, the dam grew larger and formed a square, which is what exists today. This square, at one time, was the center of all commercial activity including the very first fish market of Amsterdam.
In the square you will see the National Monument and the Royal Place. All are worth a look! Once a year there is a fair in Dam Square, and if you are lucky like we were, you will catch the tulip market where thousands of colorful tulips are being sold in front of the Royal Palace!
The Royal Palace is one of three palaces in the Netherlands which are at the disposal of the monarchy (meaning they live there when they are in town). The palace was originally built as a city hall in the 17th century but later became the royal palace of King Louis Napoleon and later of the Dutch Royal House. It is situated on the west side of Dam Square.
Directly across from the palace you will see the National Monument. It is a white-stone structure built in 1956 as a monument to commemorate the casualties of World War II and other conflicts. You will also see the 15th century Gothic Nieuwe Kerk (New Church), and Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum, along with a lot of shopping!
It’s been a long day, so we decided to walk home, get some coffee, and take a short nap before our night of comedy and the ice bar!
We have lived in Europe for about seven years now, so we were very excited about watching a comedy show in English. It is probably one of the things we really miss – shows, movies, and plays in English, so I was excited! If you like comedy, you will love this show! All the actors are from the USA, and they do impromptu comedy that totally engages the audience, and honestly, my belly hurt when we left! They have the option for dinner and the show, or just dinner.
Quite honestly, dinner looked okay (we thought it was too expensive so we opted out). We ate across the street at a sports bar (Carolina basketball was on TV), so we had some food and waited for the show. Here is the link if you want to see the show – they are a very talented and funny group of people, and they serve drinks while you laugh; doesn’t get much better than that if you ask me! http://www.boomchicago.nl/ They have moved locations since we have been there, so I can’t really help you with location, but everything in Amsterdam is easy to get to and the website can give you all the info!
Our last stop for the night is the Xtracold Ice Bar! We got out of the show and jumped in a taxi to the ice bar! I know, I know – very touristy of us, but here is the skinny on the XtraCold Ice Bar – You should make reservations if you want to go into the ice room. You can buy tickets and make reservations here – http://www.xtracold.com/en/. They will give you these great ponchos; the room is -10C, so it’s cold! The price is 19.50 euros per person, and with that you get the beautiful silver poncho to wear, under the romantic black lights, and two drinks served up in glasses made of ice! There are some ice sculptures inside, some tulips frozen in ice, and a king’s chair that everyone can sit on and get a photo taken. They will not let you take any photos inside – you can only buy the professional photos that they take.
I was ready to come out of the ice room after about five minutes. Is it worth it? Totally NOT! But hey, I had to do it once. Now, the bar/lounge itself is pretty cool. It is all done in white counters and blue lights. The bartenders were very friendly so we decided to have some ice-cold cherry vodka shots. Now that was worth the trip! The cherry vodka was absolutely awesome! So if I had to do it again, I would stop by the lounge, have a cherry vodka martini, take a photo with the polar bear, and just hang out for a while. We had a great time!
Whew, it was time to call it a night. It was 2 a.m., after all.