If you’re going to Amsterdam, the first thing you’ll need to do: buy a lighter. Second thing you’ll need to do: rent a bike. Now you’re on your way to exploring the city in it’s entirety, traveling the open roads and city streets. Create your own tour of the city and follow your instincts. Take time to stop and smell the flowers, grass, and – that special scent of Amsterdam. Ride until your nose tells you where to stop, then stroll into a “Mom and Pop” style coffee shop.
Be sure to ride on the outskirts of the city. The canals are surrounded by unique architecture and people. Sitting by the canal provides you a convenient way to people watch from afar without anyone noticing your glances.
After you’ve rented your bike, strolled around, and visited a typical Amsterdam coffee shop, now you’re ready to relax. Take a ride to a local park and chill out. Our method of “keep going until we find something fun,” seems to be working really well on this trip. Make sure to pay close attention to the rules of the road… stick right, follow the direction of traffic, ring your bell when passing through heavy foot traffic, and try to stay within the bike lanes. Keep in mind, sometimes these bike lanes just disappear – so be prepared to hop and wheelie up some curbs to continue your pace.
Our bikes came equipped with bells, which we found really useful when people were not looking and stepping into the street, or they were walking in the middle in the same direction we were riding. If you ding your bell once or twice it helps to freeze people in their step, making it much easier to navigate around them. The locals here are expert bike riders and rarely stop to follow the traffic signals, or for anyone for that matter. You’ll be much faster navigating through the city following them rather than stopping every time someone steps in the road or the traffic light turns red. It’s okay, you likely won’t get hit. Auto’s tend to give you the right of way. You learn to zig and zag really quick.
NOTE: If you aren’t too confident in riding bikes, you should stick to the outskirts of town. Don’t expect to ride through the Red Light District…or on any major streets until you’ve warmed up. Don’t fret if you haven’t been on a bike for years – you’ll quickly pick it up. After all, its like riding a bike. 😉
We rented bikes for 24 hours and paid 15 Euro each. Jessica recommends wearing shorts or pants if you plan to ride a bike for that long… With our access to further distances than our feet could take us, we were able to ride outside of the city center to the Van Gough museum. Here is a famous sign in front of the Rijksmuseum, such a beautiful place.
We have the rest of the day today to explore, relax, and visit coffee shops, then we are off to visit a friend in Belgium before we head to the backbone of our trip – Tomorrowland.