Amsterdam, Botel Review - Free Walking Tours and Recommendations
Amsterdam is a very beautiful city. It worth to visit, specially when the weather is good. The center of Amsterdam is very crowded during May and the 70% of the tourists are men. The Marijuana sold in coffee shops are very low quality.
Tips from a personal visit to Amsterdam.
Hope you find interesting information in my reviews
See also: Solo in Rome, my first Hostel experience
Amsterdam General Information
Amsterdam is the Netherland's capital, known for its artistic heritage, beautiful canal system, red lights and coffee shops. Its Museum District houses the Van Gogh Museum, works by Rembrandt and Vermeer at the Rijksmuseum, and modern art at the Stedelijk.
Cycling is the key to enjoy the city without getting very tired. Unfortunately the price of renting a bike is very high at least in comparison with Warsaw.
There are many hidden beautiful places in Amsterdam where you can find many locals enjoying a peaceful evening after work. I had a strong feeling that the most of the locals do not like tourists.
Many people which they work in public places do not behave very well and they treat all the people in the same way.
I don't blame people for their behavior as i understand that they must had a really bad time in their life. They have seen a lot and many tourists go to Amsterdam just to get stoned, drunk and have sex in the red light district.
Most of them behave very bad and they cause problems. As a natural consequense the locals (not all of them) have some bad feelings about the tourists in general and is something you can feel in the city.
From the other side there are many helpful, easy to talk and nice people in the center of the city and also on the side of Botel hotel. A city where you can see a lot of different type of people and this is something i like.
Maybe you need to get out of the center area to have a better time and meet more hospitable people. You can see that the center area is occupied by bikes from the picture above.
- Rent a Bike - with a FREE cup of Coffee for €14,50 (1 Day) and Discover the City. Also you can get a Guided Bike Historic Tour. Although the locals do not recommend the Bike Tours in the City :)
- Discover Amsterdam Noord. Take the ferry from the central station and go to the other side. Relax in Pllek (See Review Below) --- YKantine --- Loetje. More things to do in Amsterdam Noord.
- Take FREE walking tours from the Dam square. See review below.
- Get out of the center.
- Visit Rotterdam from the Central Station. I highly recommend the Witte street. (See some more info at the end of this article).
- Pack your snacks and other stuff and visit the famous VondelPark..
- Take a Canal Cruice.
- Visit the museums and worth to see. I am sure you can find a lot of information about that.
- Travelled through Eidhoven Airport. I have used the Terravision Service and it was just awesome.
Find the Cheapest Hotels in Amsterdam
Review of Amstel Botel - This is where we stayed
The Amstel Botel in Amsterdam is a unique style of hotel as it is a normal boat in the water. If you are looking for luxury rooms and big toilets with a bath, then this is not your place.
Rooms and cleanliness - We got a double room. The beds where confortable and clean, although little small but perfect for one person. The cleaners where visiting us every day. We had a window with a beautiful view where you could see the beautiful sunset.
There was a functional small shower with a great water pressure. The toilet was very small but clean.
Breakfast - The breakfast is included in the price. Same breakfast for all the days including eggs, beans, bread and bacon. Do not expect high quality breakfast but you will not get poisoned. The bread is fresh and there is a machine to make it hot.
There is a coffee machine that do capuccino and an orange juice machine. In conclusion the breakfast is good.
General facilities - A nice terrace where you can enjoy the view and the sun if there is any. There is a billiard, Bar and Wi-Fi. You can rent a bike from the reception in the price of €17,50 per day.
Although the price for renting a bike is high i recommend this as using a bike in Amsterdam is the best way to discover the city.
In reception you can find any information about Tours and what to see in Amsterdam. There is an elevevator.
How to get to the city center - Free ferry services depart in a walking distance to the central station. In a 5 minutes walk from the Botel you can take the ferry to the centraal station.
From Centraal station a 10 minutes walk brings you to the heart of the center in Amsterdam.
Same in the opposite way. The ferry takes around 12 to 14 minutes and usually departs every 15 minutes.
Do not expect to find chairs to sit during this process, because the sits are very limited if they exist. You can also carry a bike in the ferry and even small electric cars.
You can find all necessary information, schedules and maps here - Amsterdam ferries, Maps and Schedule..
Area around Botel - If you don't like the very crowded places and you prefer a different style of atmosphere to have fun, then this area is the best.
You can discover this area easily by a bike or by getting different ferries and going to different locations. You can find awesome beach bars with great atmosphere.
You can see a lot of boats in the canals. Wondering how they get there and how they passed from the short bridges?
They filled them up with heavy matterial so they nearly touched the bottom and they passed under the bridges in one piece.
Also a boat like this cost around €500,000. You know what you get in Warsaw with such money? Don't ask :)
FREE walking Tours from Dam's Square
Not everyone is able to buy a paid walking tour as most of the people travel with a low budget. But there are some free walking tours from Dam's square where you can enjoy high quality and pay as much as you feel like.
Usually people pay from 5 to 10 euro for such tours but also depend on how many people are in the tour.
The free tours take place on specific times from the Dam square and there are few companies doing these free tours.
We chosed to take the alternative tour instead of the historic tour. We never regret. Anyway i was never fun of the history and the alternative tour was far more interesting.
We learned the story about marijuana and the real truth behind this. See more info below.
Our guide Sem was awesome and he knew the subject very well. He told us many interesting stories about marijuana, magic mushrooms and bikes.
I highly recommend this tour and also Sem personally. The company we joined for the Free walking tours is here.
The truth about Marijuana in Netherlands
It is Not Legal. It is Tolerated :)
In the picture above we can see one of the oldest coffee shops in Amsterdam, while the oldest one: "Yellow Mellow" forced to closed.
Yellow Mellow opened in 1967 and forced to close together with many other coffee shops in Amsterdam. That was due to a law that does not allow coffee shops to exist in a 250m distance from a school.
What a funny and confusing story :) Coffee shops are allowed to sell marijuana behind the counter and they are allowed only to have 500g at any time.
But they are not allowed to buy marijuana. Also the production of marijuana is not allowed in Netherlands.
Growers have not generally in the past been prosecuted if they are cultivating five marijuana plants or less. But there are cases for people being arrested.
The famous story with the snowed roof. In a part of the roof the snow smelt from the lamps heating so the people got arrested.
Also the electric bills! As the energy companies need to inform dutch authorities about big increases of the invoice.
You are tolerated to carry on you 5g of marijuana at any time and you are more or less able to smoke anywhere you want outside of closed places. There are also places other than coffee shops that you are able to smoke inside.
Inside a coffee shop you can only smoke a ciquarete rolled with special herbs but not with tobacco. Same in all other places that they allow you to smoke weed.
Today just 175 coffee shops exist in Netherlands and it is highly recommended only buying from these places and not from the street. Also other drugs do not buy from the street. I have not any experience on this but possibly there must be a reason.
In conclusion the quality of marijuana sold in coffee shops is very low and the price is very high.
The price of marijuana is higher because coffee shops need to hire external people in order to bring marijuana on their doors. A new law is under discussion that will allow them to cultivate marijuana.
This means that the price will drop and the quality will get better.
See also the truth about Cannabis in Rome
Magic Mushrooms are not sold anymore
What is sold are Magic Truffles
Magic mushrooms – hallucinogenic fungi – were made illegal in the Netherlands in 2008. That was after several incidents, in which some people died. Specially for a 17 year old French girl.
You can still legally buy trip truffles, because it is the part of the mushroom that grows underground.
That was a window in the law, as these are still legal. Millions of tourist visit Amsterdam for the magic mushrooms.
Amsterdam’s GGD health service says ambulances were called out 69 times in a year to deal with people having bad trips. Much less than the magic mushrooms times and less serious.
Usually people having a bad trip are people who take them in the center of the city.
After consuming alcohol and smoking in coffee shops. The best places to take them are quiet places and it is always recommended to not be alone.
In conclusion magic truffles or trip truffles are still legal and you can buy them from shops in Amsterdam. They more or less have the same effects but the price is now doubled, cost €30 per dose.
It is important ro get proper instructions on how to use them. For example if you eat in advance, they will not have any effect on you.
I am not really excited about Amsterdam nightlife. I have seen much better places. Ayia Napa and Warsaw are much nicer places to go out and party. The main issue is that the 70% of tourist in Amsterdam are men.
At least the time we was there. There are no good places for partying early at least on the area's we tried.
Rembrandtplein square in Amsterdam
The picture above is from the Rembrand square, one of the places you can go out for a party. You can see PRIME and on the right is Smokey or something similar.
What's the funny about these two places. It was on Friday when we first founded this square and we was just 2 guys.
We tried to get in these two bars and the person at the door said: "Too many cocks, go find some girls and then come back". He was talking to us like we was 17 years old and he looked much younger than us.
On Saturday we slept early but on Sunday we passed across the same places and the same guy was pleasing us to get in. It reminded me when i was underage trying to get into the good clubs :)
Leidseplein square in Amsterdam
Leidseplein is a busy square at the southern end of Amsterdam's central canal ring. Almost facing the popular Vondelpark. Leidseplein translates roughly as Leiden Square, as it sits at the end of Leidsestraat.
That was the best one from the mentioned three squares we have visited in Amsterdam.
You might be interested to the: Ultimate Leidseplein Party Pub Crawl
Red Lights District
Red Lights District is something different. In my opinion is to walk through and watching only. It is not allowed to make pictures of the girls, as many of them have families and need some privacy.
The streets during early night are very crowded and it's even hard to walk.
I think instead of paying €50 for 15 minutes is better to get the:
- "Amsterdam Private Red Light District & Coffee Shop Tour" or the
- "Amsterdam Red Light District: 2-Hour Walking Party Tour".
- On the top of that you can also get the "Amsterdam Hop-On Hop-Off Canal Cruise 24-Hour Ticket".
You can find more info about Amsterdam Night LightLife Here.
The best place i have seen in Amsterdam
The bar is located in the side where is Amstel Botel and we was able to see something from the ferry. Finallly we have been there the last 2 days and we didn't want to get to the center anymore.
On the picture you can see why i liked that bar so much. People are more calm and more open in this place. The service was much better than any other place we have been in the center.
The tables are shared so you can easily meet some new people and have some nice talk.
There are no junk tourists and drunk people around. The view is awesome and the prices are good.
The only minor of this bar is that the food is mostly vegetarian. Well at least for me, for a vegetarian might be just perfect. Also they have a burger but no fries :) Finally the local beer is like water, so i suggest you take an exported beer.
The place is called Pllek and is made out of containers. Inside is awesome and the toilet is free of charge.
Few Negative of Amsterdam
Amsterdam is a nice city but you need to know where to go and what to do. Also if you want to have a great time and see Amsterdam's best places you need to either rent a bike or learn how to use the public transportation. You need to have also a lot of money.
My budget for 5 Days was €320. No Red Light visits and No Paid Tours. I only rented a bike for one day for €17,50 - which i think is a bit overpriced considering you can rent a car from €5 euro per day.
The rest money where spent in food and drinks, but no special food or too much drinking. Also €40 euro spent on the train Amsterdam - Rotterdam and back.
The city center is very crowded and it is very hard to find a free place to sit. By a free place i mean a place where you do not have to order something.
Another minor of the city are the TOILETS. Looking for FREE toilet is like hunting POKEMON's. You need to have a lot of coins in case you are using the toilets a lot.
Even in places where you pay for the drinks, you might need to pay for the toilet as well.
This is possibly due to the fact that they assign the cleaning of the toilet to someone. Well from one side this is good for the person that works but not for the tourists.
Well, this is not a Joke. In total, €1.8 million were collected from a €140 fine for urinating or defecating in public, of which 1,188 fines were handed out in Amsterdam alone. Why? Because there are no FREE toilets in the City maybe.
Finallly the city attracts a lot of junk tourists and also at some cases you might feel little in danger. We was followed once by two people in some dark street and they where trying to sell us drugs. But i guess this happen in every big city.
Futhermore they haven't tried to harm us. Amsterdam is considered to be a very safe city!!
To close i wasn't excided about the park i have seen. It wasn't anything special. I am used to Warsaw parks that they are just awesome and maybe i haven't found the best park in Amsterdam.
Below you can find a few Tours that worth to take
Finally it worth to visit Rotterdam
Rotterdam is an awesome city. If you ask me now, i would prefer to stay there and go to Amsterdam for 1-2 Days only. The city is much calmer and the people more relaxed.
Also you can easily walk in the streets without afraid that a bike will hit you any moment. You can find also some coffee shops.
We was there just for half day and we founded one awesome street called Witt. The street is full of bars and restaurants and the people where outside as the weather was hot.
I really liked that city much more than Amsterdam. I also noticed a lot of Hens parties, while in Amsterdam is mostly Bachelor parties.
The ticket from Amsterdam to Rotterdam and back cost roughly €40. You can buy the ticket from the automatic machines in the centraal station.
Still wondering why the ticket Amsterdam - Rotterdam was €30,80 but the ticket back to Amsterdam was only €4,80.
Hope that you found useful information about Amsterdam!
Wish you a Happy Travel!
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