Jewish Historical Museum
After our evening at the Van Gogh Museum, we decided to go to a less busy Jewish Historical Museum. It is actually a set of four “museums” in the Jewish Cultural Quarter. However, the other three museums are more like monuments. They are worth stopping by, but probably not worth going out of your way for. It cost roughly $16 for a ticket to all four museums.
The Jewish Historical Museum contained many interactive displays, which helped us better understand the Jewish culture. I would recommend this museum especially if you want to avoid the tourist crowds that you’ll find at many of the other big museums.
We then headed over to Vondelpark where we walked around for a bit. It was a foggy, cold day so there weren’t too many people out and about. However, I can imagine that during the summer this park is alive and a great place to have a picnic.
In case you didn’t know, Heineken beer was first brewed in Amsterdam. I had only had a Heineken once before, but felt obliged to drink one at its birthplace. There is a separate brewery tour that you can take, but we had heard that it was kind of overpriced. Therefore, we just decided to stop in at the Heineken bar/restaurant that sits adjacent to the brewery.
We grabbed a table with a view of the street. We enjoyed some appetizers as well as a beer and some ciders. It’s worth stopping by for a quick drink or bite to eat.
Red Light District Tour
After stopping at a nearby coffee shop, we headed to our Red Light District Tour that we had booked online the night before. We booked it through the same company that we had gone on a free walking tour with the day before, Sandemans NewEurope Tours. This tour costs about $15 per person.
This type of tour may or may not be for you. We personally weren’t brave enough to venture through the Red Light District on our own. The Red Light District is known for its windows full of scantly-clad prostitutes trying to get men to pay for their services. Our tour guide provided us with a lot of interesting history and information about the industry. We stopped several times to watch the exchange between a customers and the prostitutes. It was a very interesting and unique place to visit. Obviously, I don’t have any pictures because camera are strictly prohibited in the red-light district.
New Years Eve Celebration
We then headed back to our bed and breakfast room and bundled up for the New Years Eve celebrations. Keep in mind that as soon as the sun goes down people start lighting off fireworks everywhere. By the end of the night, you can’t walk more than 100 meters before you run into another group of people lighting off an arsenal of fireworks.
We headed to the Oosterdok where a big celebration and firework show was being put on by the city. We were able to secure a spot on a bench that we could stand on and see above all the crowds. When they started counting down to midnight, we didn’t even realize it at first because they were counting down in Dutch. Then it hit midnight and the celebration began. People were drinking and lighting off fireworks throughout the night.
During the day, someone mentioned that Amsterdam is like World War III on New Years Eve. I couldn’t agree more with this sentiment. It felt like we were in a war zone. Explosions everywhere and clouds of smoke from all the fireworks. It was a pretty crazy experience.
New Years Day
The following day we had to head to the airport for our flight home. However, before we hoped on the train to the airport we decided to take a trip to the IAMSTERDAM sign. The last time we had stopped there it was far too crowded to even get a decent picture. We woke up probably around 7am and headed to the sign. The streets were completely empty. I assume everyone most likely had a hangover from the night before. There were firework remnants all over the street, which had yet to be cleaned up. There was pretty much no one at the sign and were were able to take several pictures there.
We then took the train directly to the airport to hang out in the airport lounge before our flight. Overall, we loved Amsterdam! We definitely want to go back and visit again when it’s warmer. There also seems like plenty to explore outside the city as well, which we weren’t able to do. Amsterdam is fairly easy to navigate and all the locals speak good English. We would highly recommend visiting Amsterdam!
Here’s a fun video that we made of our trip: