I arrived at Amsterdam’s Centraal Station via a Thalys train from Brussels. I had purchased the tickets months in advance through Rail Europe. (I decided to spend a bit more and bought First Class tickets just to have the experience. My opinion is that it was worth it.) I had rented a really nice apartment in a terrific neighborhood through Airbnb.com …
… and then did a little exploring on foot because it was already getting late in the day. After a long walkabout through the area, I spent the evening enjoying some local beer and international television news programs.
The next morning, I purchased a 48-hour transport smart card and used it on the city’s tram service to get to all of the areas I wanted to explore. I started by visiting the Anne Frank House, but the line was already very long by mid-morning …
… so I decided that I’d get up early the next day and try again. On the corner of that block, I found a ticket counter for a canal tour company, and that’s how I started my day.
After the tour (which lasted about an hour), I took a quick walk through the city’s flower market …
… before making my way to Dam Square.
The Royal Palace is located here, and I paid to get in and look around. It’s opulent, as one might expect, but I enjoyed picking up little bits of the country’s history and culture it offered.
Once I was back outside on the square, I found myself in the middle of a rally supporting the recent removal of Mohamed Morsi as Egypt’s president.
Amsterdam has several squares, and I stumbled across Rembrandtplein by accident. It’s surrounded by bars and cafes, and the vibe is relaxed. It became a favorite place of mine during my stay.
One of the great things about travel is that you sometimes stumble across some really cool things. That happened during my first full day in Amsterdam. I heard a lot of loud music as I was wandering through part of the city and discovered the Thailand Grand Festival in full swing. I had visited Bangkok during summer 2012, so it was a pleasant surprise to spend a little bit of time enjoying this celebration of Thai culture.