How I Took a Solo Trip to Europe- Amsterdam

Tuesday, October 27, 2015 Emily Childers 2 Comments

Day 1

On my last morning in Paris I woke up feeling completely under the weather. I found a pharmacy and was lucky to get a tech who spoke enough English to point me to cold medicine that would bring my fever down. Feeling a little loopy, I took a quick three hour train from Gar du Nord to Amsterdam Centraal. The weather was cold and sunny and I was amazed at how beautiful the city was.

Since I come from a bicycling family I figured I should do as the locals and use a bike as my main mode of transportation. What is it they say about best laid plans?

I got to the rental shop address to find a fence and a wall that was completely torn down. Ru-roh. This wasn't in my guidebook! I was feeling crappy and grumpy but decided to walk a little further down the road to see if they had re-located... and success! I rented their cheapest cruiser for 3 days.

My poor creaky granny bike

The bike was heavy and slow with pedal brakes that seemed dead set on not actually stopping all the way. I figured with all of the tourists jamming up the paths I'd be fine. How wrong I was. I immediately realized that the locals all rode geared bikes at breakneck speed and that mosts tourists didn't bother getting bikes. I got my heart rate up on the quick 3 mile ride from the station to my hostel (and nearly got into a crash when a local passed me on the right as I was trying to turn). It was exciting and a little terrifying. After dropping off my gear at my hostel (which was clean and comfortable) I took the bike back out because apparently I'm a glutton for punishment.

I found Bloemenmarkt, a floating market full of fresh flowers, tulip bulbs, clogs, and other knick knacks and stopped for a cheap dinner at Chipsy King. It was heaven. Greasy, crispy, savory heaven.

Flemish fries with schawarma and salad

 Day 2

Still high on cold medicine, I ventured out into the city on foot to listen to a Rick Steve's self guided audio tour. Once again it was crisp and sunny, a perfect day for some light exercise. And coffee and pastries.

The oldest standing house in Amsterdam
Coffee and apple strudel
After my audio tour I decided to try more biking, but this time outside of the city. I rode to the ferry docks right behind Amsterdam Centraal. The ferries are all free (!) so I just rolled right onto the first one that arrived and went across the river to toodle down the bikepath towards Waterland.

Waiting for the ferry
Midway through the 5 minute ride across the river
I rode North, following signs towards Waterland but not worrying too much about getting lost. The bike paths were wide open and well paved, which made the head wind a little less evil. I absolutely fell in love with the landscape, it was stunningly beautiful.

Quick break for a picnic
The bike paths were nicer than most roads in the US
Who cares about a headwind when it's this beautiful out
I rode for miles through farmland past cozy looking cottages and modern houseboats. By the time I got to Broek in Waterland I was tired and ready for a snack. The village itself is charming and clean, everyone I passed waved and smiled. I was smitten. I stopped at a small cafe called De Witte Swaen (The White Swan) and had the best pancake of my life.

A white swan inside The White Swan. Adorable.
So. Delicious.  
Beer totally pairs with pancakes.
 The ride back to town was a bit easier thanks to the tail wind, and the views were just as gorgeous.

See the little brown dot in the field? That's actually two rabbits humping like bunnies. Fitting.
Modern houseboats
Once back in town I ditched my bike and walked around a bit more. I took a self-guided walking tour of the red light district, it was fascinating. I probably looked like an idiot with my headphones in gawking at the storefronts (and leasing office) but I learned a lot.

Red light district at night. It was a little seedy but still intriguing. 

Day 3

Still fighting with a cold, the misty weather fit my mood. I decided to give my sore butt a break from the bike and meander through Vondelpark to the Rijksmuseum. There were no crowds and I got to spend my time really enjoying the art.
Vondelpark in the fog.

Stained glass in the Rijksmuseum 
Gorgeous model ship

Can I live in this library? Please?
The sun started to come out so I took a leisurely boat tour of the canals. I finished up my last day in Amsterdam with an incredible Indonesian dinner at Kartika. There's a rich Indonesian culture in Amsterdam, which was reflected in the phenomenal food.

Coming up next, Bern and Halstatt.

Check out my other posts on planning and packing for this trip or my overview of Paris.


  1. Beautiful photos! Looks like you had a wonderful experience. The food looks nice ♥♥

    1. Thanks Summer! I'm definitely a food tourist :)