That day was the hottest of the year so far, and in the late the morning sun, I was already roasting. My first check-in was to the tourist office at the railway station, where I’d arranged to collect my I amsterdam City Card. It’s well worth getting – one card will get you free transport everywhere in the Amsterdam region, and free entry to almost all the amazing museums and galleries.
On the surface it might seem a little pricey at €77 for 72 hours – the ticket I got – but when you think that a single entry to the Van Gogh Museum will cost you €17, the Tropenmuseum €15 and the Amsterdam Museum €12.50, with the free transport, including to Haarlem and further afield, and a free canal cruise worth €17, it soon makes sense. And it encourages you to keep on the move.
Which I did, for two days. I slung my backpack on my shoulder and headed for my home for the night, the delightfully hip Ecomama hostel, a short walk from the train station. It’s a fantastic place decked out like a Shoreditch bar, with mini shipping-container style rooms and slick, cool decor throughout. And it’s right on the edge of all the Centrum action.
Which is where, after checking in and stripping down to a t-shirt, I went exploring. Amsterdam is as classy as it is lively on the best of days, but on this golden afternoon it was simply mesmeric. The whole city seemed to be kicking back in the refulgent afternoon light; everywhere I strolled there were people laid back outside cafes and bars, on their boats just drifting along the waterways, beers and joints in hand.
On a day like that it’s tempting to join them. But there are plenty of things you could and should be doing. Too many to mention in fact, but the Tropenmuseum is a stunning setting for some wonderful anthropological exhibitions, well worth the trip. The Rijksmuseum is even more grand and rich, but absolutely teeming with tourists. If you want something more off-beat, check out the FOAM photography museum, and the Electric Ladyland mini-museum of fluorescent art.