The Netherlands, a country known for a flat landscape of canals, the land of windmills, tulips and clogs. Nearly one-third of the Netherlands lies below sea level and living below the sea levels is just normal thing in Netherlands. Many people call Netherland as ‘Holland’ which is actually just a part of the Netherlands. North and South Holland are two provinces of Netherlands out of twelve.
The Netherlands is beautiful to visit throughout the year. Every season has its own mood and charm. In summer, People are heading towards countryside and those places and sea beaches are more crowded with tourist. In Spring the Tulip fields are blooming and visitors from throughout the world come to see the Tulip fields at Keukenhof.
In the Netherlands we decided to stay in the most vibrant and capital city Amsterdam. We not only want to see Amsterdam city landmarks and colorful canal houses but also the countryside dotted with windmills, beautiful wooden houses and villages which are well connected with Amsterdam.
With a vast network of canals in Amsterdam, the best place to live and experience Amsterdam is through living on a houseboat. So was decided to hire a houseboat and we find one with 4 beds which was near to the Albert Cuyp market on Stadhouderskade. In Amsterdam you can find these houseboats alongside the canals, the Amstel river and in the former Amsterdam docklands.
There are two types of houseboat in Amsterdam. First one where old ship has been transformed into a houseboat. These ships hail from Amsterdam’s seafaring and trading legacy. Second type are the one built on a floating pontoon made of concrete, known as a woonark (literally a house ark). These houseboats offer all the comfort and modern amenities like electricity, air conditioning, and running hot/cold water. Sometimes houseboats are built over multiple floors and complete with adjoined terraces and gardens and luxuriously furnished.
All the houseboats in Amsterdam have a fix address. They are moored to a fix spot and generally not motorized. It may be charming but not cheap to rent a houseboat in Amsterdam Canal. It’s a unique living experience.
The one thing that keep our kids very happy in the houseboat was, Ducks and swans coming to our houseboat window every day and kids enjoy feeding these Ducks.
Amsterdam is a family friendly city, but with kids you have to avoid some of the sights within the city that were definitely not for their eyes.
Moving around in Amsterdam
Amsterdam is best explored on foot or through a bike, but if you are not keen on walking use the public transport. There is a dedicated bike lane in Amsterdam and you can find most of the people in the city use bike for travelling and recreation. Walking path separate, so don’t obstruct the bike lane. For more on public transport read this;
Moving around in Amsterdam using public transport
Avoid Car rental in Amsterdam
Private vehicles are a good way to explore the countryside but inside the city you should avoid it. Bring your own car in Amsterdam or hire rental car for few days only if your hotel or accommodation is providing a free parking space. Street parking is very costly in Amsterdam. Explore the city with public transport which is cheap and efficient.
Vegetarian food in Amsterdam
There are plenty of options for vegetarian food in Amsterdam. Vegetarian and vegan food is well accepted in this country and you will get a lot of option. There are few restaurants which are Vegetarian only and there are many Indian restaurants which will serve you vegetarian food.
We were staying near the Saravana Bhavan, so we don’t have any problem in getting vegetarian food. Another nearby option worth checking is Golden Temple Vegetarisch Restaurant.
In traditional Dutch dishes you will find very few vegetarian items. Vegetarian food is revolving mostly around potato and cheese. Dutch deserts are truly excellent and extremely tasty. Below is the list of few traditional Dutch vegetarian dishes and desserts;
- Stamppot – Mashed potato with Vegetables
- Kaaskroketten – Deep fried cheese croquettes
- Friet – Fried potatoes with cheese, vegan sauce, mayonnaise or ketchup
- Stroopwafel – You must try this Dutch sweet. They are crunchy waffle filledwith caramel
- Poffertjes – Mini Pancakes
- Speculaas – Crunchy Gingerbread
- Kruidnoten / Pepernoten – Hard Gingerbread Cookies
- Oliebollen – Dutch Doughnuts
Day trips from Amsterdam
There are few places outside Amsterdam which are really nice and you can explore them on your day trips from Amsterdam. We manage to visit few places outside of Amsterdam like;
Zaanse Schans, Edam, Volendam, and Marken
Tips for visiting Amsterdam
- Parking space is limited and costly. Use public transport or rent a bike to explore the city.
- Avoid walking on cycle paths.
- Selling weed is legal in Amsterdam and they are sold in coffee shops. For Tea/Coffee go to a Café not coffee shops.
- If you are travelling in peak season book your accommodation and activities in advance.
- Be sensible and street-smart especially where there are crowd of tourists. Scams are everywhere with tourists.