As a teacher I can only go on holiday during peak times. That means double airline fares, double hotel fares and double every other fare you can imagine. So when on holiday, I have to get creative with the budget I have to see the places I want…
The Albert Kuypmarkt is situated on Albert Cuypstraat in the popular district of De Pijp and is easily accessible via tram (3,4,12,16 and 24) and bus (356, exit at Van Woustraat).
The hubby and I cycled to the market and left our bicycles in a cycle bay along with several hundred others. This market was incredibly busy and for good reason!
It is classed as the biggest market in Europe and with over 300 stalls, this quaint Dutch market has something for everyone. It has pretty much everything you can imagine: from food to fabric and yes, of course, souvenirs.
The locals and tourists alike love this market as products are very reasonably priced in a fairly expensive city like Amsterdam. We couldn’t get enough of the delicious freshly baked stroopwafels smothered in decadent chocolate.
This beautiful flower market has its origins from 1862 and is the world’s only floating flower market. Situated on the Southern Canal Ring, the farmers originally sailed up the Amstel river (yes, like the beer!) and moored their barges in the Singel canal in order to sell their flowers and bulbs to the people of Amsterdam. It has since made this spot a permanent house and the barges have been fixed in place to provide cut flowers, bulbs and seeds to the market visitors all year round. For those of you that suffer from motion sickness (like me), don’t worry! Since the barges are physically fixed, you won’t know that you are actually walking on water.
We bought some tulip bulbs here at a fraction of the price of those at Keukenhof or elsewhere in the city of Amsterdam for that matter (the airport looked like a tulip farm). The great part was that the bulbs were flight-ready with an indication on the label as to which countries it was safe to take them through customs.
There are very few things in Amsterdam that are free, and the Cheese Museum is one of them!
We stumbled upon this museum purely by accident as we cycled past the huge cow sitting outside their entrance. Intrigued, we decided to lock up the bikes and go inside to see what it was all about.
We were pleasantly surprised to learn that not only can you taste the cheese for free, but you can also dress up as a Dutch dairy farmer (optional!) and learn all about cheese making.
They had some amazing implements on show and for cheese lovers like us, it was an absolute treat to learn how they are used to make our favourite dairy snack.
It is very small, but it is spread over two floors with the cheese tasting (and buying) on ground level and the main part of the museum downstairs.
As we cycled along the streets of Amsterdam, we were getting tired and also we were desperate to get out of the busiest parts as, in my mind, we were downright crazy to think we could cycle around the city. It felt like we were taking our lives into our own hands every time we tried crossing a street or if another cyclist impatiently ringing their bell, trying to overtake you in this small single track lane…
Also read: i AMsterdam
This is how we ended up in Spui. The first thing we noticed was that it was leafy and full of pedestrians. We noticed that there was a very small entrance where people kept going in or coming out of. We also wanted in on the action and parked up the bikes to go through this magic entrance.
We did not expect to see this luscious green grassy square that is surrounded by beautifully preserved houses. Most of these houses are now private dwellings, but it used to be a convent (or beguinage) in the middle-ages. The last sister died in 1979.
We went for a night-time stroll through the city and came across this rather quaint little bridge called the Magere Brug (the Skinny Bridge). It was brightly lit and really romantic. We ended up standing for a good 10-15 minutes just watching the water bouncing around in the soft light.
As seedy as this is, we just had to go and visit the Red Light District of Amsterdam. I must say, I did not feel safe here at all. There were people lurking from dark corners; big men eyeing out the visitors and at one point I felt like we were being stalked as some men followed us around.
It was truly a sight to see. Scantily cladded women stood in seductively lit windows, their pose inviting customers in, promising them to have a good time.
Don’t even think of taking your phone out for a sneaky picture – it really is forbidden!
One woman did not like the attention of a group of men drooling and frothing at her window so she whipped her curtain shut to show that she had no interest in them. I couldn’t help but snigger when I saw their surprised faces at her action.
Another thing that really surprised me was that the ladies were not how I pictured them. Whenever you read about the Red Light District you think that the women would be rather sexy and slender and eye-candy, but I was pleasantly surprised that this was not the case. There were women from every corner of the world. Some skinny and beautiful and then there were others with curves and thunder thighs, just like the rest of the world’s female population.
We were in and out within fifteen minutes and if you want my advice? Go in groups, you will feel much safer!
I am sure there are many more free things to do in Amsterdam, but for that you will need a lot more time.
Have you visited Amsterdam? Do you have some more free things to add to the list?
Let me know in the comments below.