Destination Amsterdam (part 3).


Amsterdam Behind Glass ©Lucia Saldarriaga Photo



Amsterdam, I Love You ©Lucia Saldarriaga Photo

This July, I took my first trip to Amsterdam. Although it was quite spontaneous, I’m certainly not opposed to or unfamiliar to random travel adventures (my first big life defining adventure was when I lived in Kathmandu, Nepal in 2009; that’s a story for another time). Travel always proves to be a wonderful learning opportunity, and my time in Amsterdam certainly didn’t disappoint.

If you had a chance to peruse Destination Amsterdam (part 2), then I’ll admit that there’s a little bit of personal truth behind the short fiction (of course I won’t divulge which bit is true and which bit is a use of my creative license).

I booked my trip a day and a half before I was supposed to leave home, with an incredibly small plan (I only knew that I wanted to visit the Van Gogh Museum, Reijksmuseum and Rembrandt House, I was hoping to visit the Anne Frank House but it was sold out until September 2018. I will certainly be going back to visit anyway). Before I left, while having a glass of wine with a bestie, she recommended that I purchase an “I Amsterdam City Card”, and I was SO grateful for the advice.

I’m not trying to advertise mindlessly on here, but the card gives you free access to most of the museums in Amsterdam (there are over seventy, so if you’re a culture vulture, there’s plenty to explore), discounts on day tours outside of Amsterdam, a free canal boat tour, shopping discounts, restaurant guides and free public transportation access along the GVB bus, tram or metro. You can order the card online (and select a 24, 48, 72 or 96 hour card). I can’t speak highly enough besides sharing that it made my random adventure pleasant and low stress. There’s no way I would have been able to experience or navigate as much as I did without the City Guide.

Dovetailing away from the travel pass recommendation, one of my primary motivations for visiting Amsterdam was to see Rembrandt’s work (he’s my favorite artist of all time, closely followed by Peter Paul Rubens), Van Gogh’s work and to see the classical architecture and homes that surround the gorgeous canals. These buildings are easily recognizable because they’re tremendously narrow, and most of them are constructed in a Neck Gable (when you look at the front-facing exterior of the homes, it looks like a literal neck shape at the top), Clock Gable, Step Gable (shaped like steps) or Bell Gable (named appropriately because the top facade is shaped like a church bell). Most of these canal homes date back to the 17th century, and became tremendously popular as the Netherlands experienced an economic boom. Coinciding with the growth, citizens started moving towards the canals and central Amsterdam. The houses are a reminder of the historical success, and also a solution to the population boom. I included a few photos of some of the traditional homes, it’s fun to see if you can spot the different types of gables. Additionally, all of the homes have a pulley system (on the exterior) with rope so that heavy objects (think sofas, bed frames, larger furniture and artwork) could be moved into these homes via the window (because the staircases are too narrow). Such a unique and historically innovative design solution, that’s still used today!



Canal Architecture ©Lucia Saldarriaga Photo



Gables Galore ©Lucia Saldarriaga Photo



Boat Tour ©Lucia Saldarriaga Photo



Gorgeous Canals, Amsterdam ©Lucia Saldarriaga Photo



It’s also noteworthy to share that I found the local Dutch that I met (and probably shamelessly asked for help with directions like “that” tourist), to be tremendously friendly, kind and all around welcoming.

So, what did I see? In no particular order, here’s a short list:

Stedelijk Museum

Rembrandt House/Museum (and nearby Rembrandtplein)


Canal Tour

Old Jewish Quarter

Van Gogh Museum

Concert Grebouw (Royal Concert Hall) for Rachmaninoff’s Symphony No. 3: Dortmunder Philharmoniker, Gabriel Feltz (dirigent), Johannes Moser (cello)

Maritime Museum

Back to Black (for the best Cappuccino of my life)

Moco ( Modern Art) Museum

Diamond Museum

Cafe Loetje

Amsterdam Cheese Museum

Episode (Vintage Clothing)

Bloemenmarkt (Flower Market)

Small Talk B.V.

FEBO (late night fast food, try the Grillburger, Kipburger, Frikadel sausage or meatless Satekroket or Gouda-ey delicious kaassoufflé)

Cinetol Bar for some great music

World Trade Center




Amsterdam ©Lucia Saldarriaga Photo



Street Details ©Lucia Saldarriaga Photo



Rijksmuseum ©Lucia Saldarriaga Photo



Diamond Museum ©Lucia Saldarriaga Photo



Princesses, Diamond Museum ©Lucia Saldarriaga Photo



Diamond Museum ©Lucia Saldarriaga Photo




Flower Market ©Lucia Saldarriaga Photo



Rijksmuseum ©Lucia Saldarriaga Photo



Diana, the Huntress ©Lucia Saldarriaga Photo



Keith Haring, Stedelijk ©Lucia Saldarriaga Photo



Stedelijk Museum ©Lucia Saldarriaga Photo



Yves Saint Laurent in Amsterdam ©Lucia Saldarriaga Photo



 Grebouw Concert Hall ©Lucia Saldarriaga Photo



Maritime History ©Lucia Saldarriaga Photo



Street View ©Lucia Saldarriaga Photo


I still feel like I just scratched the surface of all of the exciting happenings in Amsterdam.

Lastly, I’d like to preface that I only spent three full days there, so my time was quite packed. I was fortunate. the summer weather was absolutely perfect, walking around was awe-inspiring and very comfortable (I always enjoy walking a lot, you can take the walking New Yorker out of the Big Apple, but can’t take the Big Apple walking pace away from the New Yorker). Without a doubt, I’ll be going back, it’s such a charming place.

Have you ever taken a spontaneous solo trip or changed course and had the experience completely transform your life?  (Please share! -respectful commenting only, thank you so much!-).

*Cheers from the Atelier

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