Things To Do In Amsterdam

Amsterdam is the capital of the Netherlands. There are many activities, which one can do in Amsterdam. However, it becomes that more important to identify few activities & do them. Doing all the activities is costly as well as time-consuming. Hence, streamlining activities becomes a necessity.  I trust in doing those activities only; which I really want to try (Traveling for self, not for others 😀). So, here is my guide to THINGS TO DO IN AMSTERDAM.

Amsterdam GIFs - Find & Share on GIPHY

 

In my previous posts, I have covered topics like Travel Guide to Amsterdam, Schengen Visa application. Continuing on my voyage of discovering Amsterdam. Here are the things to be done while traveling to Amsterdam. The recommendation is based on my personal experience.

Things To Do In Amsterdam

Canal Tours:

Some will feel this is a waste of money. However, canal trip is ultimate to see the things which are hard to find out. I did canal tour with commentary (yeah! there are 19 languages in which one can listen to the history of the place). From crooked building (Moving buildings or dancing building) to the smallest bridge (It is assumed that; If you proposes below that bridge, you will be together forever with that person). Little stories like these are hard to find in any blogs & with the canal tour, I was able to know all this. I would surely recommend canal tour to know the place in a much better way. I enjoyed the tour. Sitting on a boat & covering places was a great experience for me.

Bridge Mark My Adventure

Cycle Tours:

Amsterdam is not big radius wise & best way to cover the place is by bicycles. There are many vendors which provide rental bicycles. Hence, finding bicycles won’t be a problem. Most of the people in the city commute through cycles only. Perhaps it is the most used transport mode. I had a cycle & explored the city on my own. It was fun to take random streets & explore it. The only thing that will matter will be your strength to ride cycle. Each street is beautiful in itself. The view while crossing canals are an exclusive experience. At the start, it was difficult to adjust to right-hand drive. However, once you get used to the rules. It was fun. To my surprise, I saw signals for cycle riders as well. PS: Don’t get surprised if you see an old age granny overtake you at a brisk pace. Ride on your own risk :P.

PS: Don’t get surprised if you see an old age granny overtakes you at a brisk pace. Ride at your own risk :P.

Red Light Area:

The most famous part of the Amsterdam is its age old Red Light Area. People who want to explore their kinky side should visit this place. As the name suggests the place has everything related to above 18. A huge number of crowd visit these places during the day as well during the night time. Crowded through out the day, this place has some surprise packages like Prostitute Museum & sex museum.

Van Gogh Museum & Other Museums:

Amsterdam has lots of museum. Some of them are must visit, I personally liked Van Gogh Museum especially his most famous work of Sunflower painting. He used one paint brush to paint an entire painting. It was amazing to see the detailing he did. His life was short but his work speaks for him. Other than Van Gogh there is history museum & Rijiskmuseum are other ones. Museum Lane is a place to visit. If you are lucky enough you can see few people performing on some musical instruments.

“Mighty is the way of life, not the years in life”

Parks & Zoo:

Amsterdam has cleanest of air & sky I have ever come across. The best thing to do in summer is to do outdoor activities. If one is sports enthusiast head towards parks. The lush green parks are amazing. The soft grass & clear sky will encourage one to try some activities. I visited Vondelpark & was excited on seeing people practicing kick boxing in open ground. Few people were cycling rigorously. This is not all one can also see few people smoking up ( Very common in Amsterdam). On a clear day, parks are the best places to be in.

There is one zoo, if traveling with kids, the best way to spend some quality time. I saw lion, he was not the strongest Lion but the way he roared it is something. I read somewhere that Lions have strongest of roar & once I  heard him roar I could sense the intensity when Lions are in full flow. Amazing creature. Gorillas were the other creature who demanded my attention.

Rotterdam:

This place is not talked about much, but it is worth a visit for some quiet time if one is from Asia than Rotterdam would be dead in terms of crowd :D. The major attraction of Rotterdam is its cubicle house, Erasmus bridge & some of the unique structure. Rotterdam is a wonderful place to spend a day & enjoy its unique structures.

Parties:

In Amsterdam party becomes much more important. The young crowd starts pouring in from 11 pm (still early as per the standard). The best place to party would be Leidseplein there are many pubs & bars located in line here. Expect to pay entry fees on weekends. One thing that can upset you is its music. Most of the clubs play Dutch music. So if looking for an international English. It would be tough to find. However, if you get one don’t leave that place; crowd starts to build around 11 or 12 pm so don’t get upset to see few people. There was one unique thing I experienced which was called smashing in which people push each other for fun. 

Things to do in Amsterdam

 

Coffee Shops & Truffles:

Perhaps, 90% of people would know Amsterdam is famous for its coffee shops. Smoking up is legal here. Thus, one can smoke up anywhere he or she wishes. The liberal culture made it possible to implement this. The fragrance of grass can be sniffed every where. Walk into any coffee shop & decide for yourself. There is a proper menu to choose from (Already in love with this place ??).

Truffles are other things which are famous here. Finding a truffle shop is tough. There are various types of truffles available. Smart shops are the name given to the truffle shop.The shop owner will ask about the expertise level & will suggest accordingly. I would recommend doing as shop owner say to avoid any mishappening.

PS: When having a truffle make sure you are on empty stomach & not mix with anything else. Also, Parks & open spaces are a preferable place to eat it.

Heineken Factory:

Heineken beer factory is a nice place to know all about the beer manufacturing. If one is a true beer lover. This place is a must visit.

Amsterdam Central:

Probably the most visited area in Amsterdam is central. The place has some of the brilliant architects. Madame Tussauds is located here. One can witness lots of street performances here. Spend a good afternoon here. This place surely is the most crowded part of the city.

Shopping:

The cheapest destination for shopping would be Primark. The quality of the clothes are good & the rates are very reasonable. Even, Zara is cheaper in Amsterdam. All shopaholics there is hidden opportunity to trace.

Evenings:

The best way to spend evenings would be sitting in some cafe near canals & have few drinks with your friends. The blissful feeling of sitting near flowing water, the calmness in the air & sky & few conversations to remember are the things to do.

Other than listed activities, there are few more places you can cover like Jordan, Anne Franke House, Hauge, Haarlem etc. There is so much to see in the city.

So what are you waiting for. Pack your bags & explore this beautiful city.

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Here is extra information on Amsterdam.

Amsterdam Mark My AdventureMark My AdventureRotterdam Travel Guide

“PRICES CAN’T BE EQUIVALENT WITH THE EXPERIENCES;

EXPERIENCES ARE MORE WORTHY THAN THE COST IT BEHOLDS”

 

 

 

 

Schengen Visa For Indians

Europe is one of the coolest destinations in the world & visiting this place is a dream of every person who is not from Europe. Indian citizen requires a tourist visa to visit the much beautiful European countries. This post is for all those people who are willing to travel to Europe & want to know about the Schengen visa. Here is the guide to Schengen Visa For Indians.

Like China, Europe also required a stamped visa before entering the place. For tourism purposed one is required to apply for tourist visa, the validity of tourist visa can be a maximum of 90 days. To get stamped a few steps must be followed.


List of Requirements:

Schengen visa needs to be applied for the place where one is going to spend the most number of nights. In my case, it was Netherland as I planned to stay for 5 nights in Netherland.


Flight Tickets:

It is mandatory for a tourist to submit return flight tickets at the time of submission of documents. The best place to find the cheapest flight is through skyscanner.com. I have always used this website to find the cheapest flights. In my case, my inbound flight in Europe was to Amsterdam & outbound flight was from Barcelona & the cost of the flights was as good as a to & fro flight from the same destination or may be marginally higher. I preferred to keep my inbound & outbound flight from a different destination so that I can explore as much as I can.  You can check my article on Where To Find Cheap International Flight Tickets


Accommodation In Europe

A confirmed booking in your name for each night till the time you are in EU is a must. I know it is difficult to predict exact duration at a place. However, there are many sites which allow you to make a confirmed booking with minimum or no cancellation fees for a certain duration. This is best when the itinerary is not fixed.  The best way to make a booking is through booking.com . If one is looking for hotel comparison website one can surely try Agoda. I prefer booking.com than the other portals as I feel, this is the most transparent portal at the present moment. Their interface is simple & easy to eyes. I rely on booking.com for booking hostels. I mainly chose the hostels which are cheap. You can check Where To Find Cheapest Hotels or Hostels


Travel Insurance:

Travel insurance is mandatory documents that need to be submitted during the submission of application. You can either buy travel insurance online or through some agents. Note that travel insurance shall be of 30,000 Euros which will cost around Rs 1,300 or Rs 1,400.


Bank Account Statement:

Each country in EU has specific guidelines for the minimum amount required for a day in Europe. Usually, it varies from 20 Euros to 50 or 60 Euros per day depending on the country you are visiting. Following documents can be used for proving sufficient amount.Bank account statement having a balance of at least 2 to 3 times the minimum amount required for the whole trip.

Credit card statement.

Letter from employer (Leave approval on a letterhead duly signed by the administration).

Proof of prepaid booking of youth hostels or hotels.

Proof of prepaid transport if any, like any inter-city flights or train tickets or bus tickets. Euro rail is a good option to book trains between the cities, I used flexi bus for booking bus tickets. Flexi bus uses online payment hence it is advisable to book the flexi bus prior.


Cover Letter:

Submit a signed cover letter addressed to the royal embassy of the place mentioning the reason of travel along with the dates of travel.


Itinerary:

A tentative itinerary about travel plans. The best way to make an itinerary is by bifurcating it into three sections, morning, afternoon & evenings. Try to start with activities like breakfast some sightseeing & then again same thing with lunch & evening snacks. Please note that this is required by the consulate to figure out how are you going to spend your time in the cities. A detailed version of your itinerary can help the cause of getting a visa. If there is something unrelatable it is very likely that the consultants will call you for an interview.


Visa Application Form:

A duly filled visa application form. There is a checklist which must be followed. Tick mark points which are valid & arrange documents in the order of they are mentioned in checklist.


Sample Visa Form Mark My Adventure
I took the copy of all the above-mentioned things while submitting the documents, after submission of documents, there is a round of biometric in which I submitted my fingerprints & a photo. Once, all these steps are complete, the file is sent to the respective consulate for final review & approval or disapproval of the application.

For Indians, VFS Global is single stop solution for applying for Schengen Visa. Their offices are in major cities & all the documents need to be submitted here only. I submitted my document at VFS Global Netherlands Mumbai office. All the visa related fees need to be paid at the VFS Global office only that too in cash. Tourist visa fees is approx. Rs 6,000. Further, there are additional services like courier, SMS tracking which can be availed for extra cash.

It usually takes 1 to 2 weeks to get a visa. But, there is one more aspect which needs to be considered. The INTERVIEW CALL. For the first timer, this is pretty usual, the person is called for an interview at the consulate to inquire about trip details. The interview is not difficult, they ask about the plan. I went to Delhi for the interview, the person asked me everything from hotel bookings to transport I will take & places I will visit. My advice would just be calm & composed & answer everything in confidence. I felt it was just a formality to check is there anything wrong or not with the person.

  I was among the unlucky who was called for an interview. However, there are my friends who got the visa without any interview. But, all the efforts are little compared to the happiness that we experience during the trip. The vastness of the place & mesmerizing views help you to forget all the efforts taken to get the visa.

For more information on Schengen visa for global citizens here is the link

Schengen Visa


Handy Resources:

Here are some of the handy resources to help you plan better. 

Agoda: Best place to book hotels of your liking. Agoda provides the best solution & great offer while booking a hotel.

Skyscanner: Skyscanner compares various sites & sort the flights based on the rates. A great way to check flight cost. Although the only drawback is that rates are flexible. Hence, the cost might change while you are making the payment.

Jetradar: Jetradar is a comparing site which is just like Skyscanner. But, is much more accurate & much more handy in use.

Booking: Best place to book hostel rooms. There are plenty of options available & with so many properties booking becomes much easier.

Couchsurfing: Best place to find free accommodation. It is as easy as filtering people & messaging. If you will get lucky you will find free accommodation in local resident house.

Travel Insurance: There are numerous options available to get one. So, you can choose anything which suits your requirement. Make sure you read the terms & conditions before buying one.

Bungee Jumping From The Highest Point In Spain

Bugee jumping is one of the many adventure sports. It is dangerous, thrilling, exciting & also scary. Jumping from a certain height freely is challenging to some people & I am one of them. Traveling to Spain on holidays, I wanted to try Sky diving & Bungee jumping. However, the time allowed only one of these activities & I chose Bungee Jumping in Barcelona. I booked my activity through Adrenaline Hunter, they are the aggregators of adventurous activities around the world. It is always thrilling to try something new & exciting & jumping from a height of 70 Mt was the experience I was looking for.

I took a bus from Barcelona Nord to Lloret De Mer, it was very nervous feeling while boarding the bus, the imagination is unleashed & different types of thoughts arise & dip in mind.  My food intake was limited to cornflex & milk. I am afraid of heights & jumping from even 5 Mt never came into my mind & in this case it was 70 Mt. While batteling mind battles I reached the destination. I saw a huge truss standing tall in the middle of the ground,a safety pouch near the massive tower & A FEAR TO CONQUER.

Bungee Jumping Spain

 

 

The Experience

The instructors were very help. They tried to understand my situation & tried to help me whenever they could.

I stepped into the elevator & slowly it took me to the e top. The height was a scary one for me at least for me it was. Everything seemed so small. I could see the whole view from the top. But, the only thing I was not able to do was to stare down. I tried once but it just blew my mind. I told myself not to look down again.  I tried to remain calm, kept on telling my self that things will be fine DON’T WORRY.

Me: “Isn’t it scary to jump from 70 Mts?”

Instructor: “That is why you just jump & don’t think much about the height”

It’s a showtime

Instructor said: “Keep your both feets on the edge, straighten your hands & fall. Once you in mid air expand your hands like a wing”.

My mind started churping again: “This is first time what if I didn’t complete it. Heart is pounding at a brisk rate. Will I make a jump or won’t I. It’s difficult”.

I stepped to the edge, raised my hand at chest level. I started to align my self forward. The fellow instructor pushed me a little & here I am falling freely. Everything seemed to be so fast. It all happened in the nano seconds. Just few seconds back I thought I will never make a jump & here I was swinging mid air rather falling at decent rate.

The guy pulled the rope upward & dropped it again. He did it 3 times & oh my god what an experience it was. The thudding heart & the feeling to die by falling all came into my mind in those few seconds. Everything was just so quick, falling freely & all you can think was head banging on to the ground.

The Effects:

The moment I stepped down I was donning a broad smile for my achievement. A jump from 70 Mts will be among my great achievements list this year. It was not an adventure; It was a jump to conquer fear. I know people will say it is only 70 Mts bro. But, it means alot to a person who is afraid of heights.

It was a throw up like nervous ness while stepping into that elevator. It was very easy to give up on that point of time. However, with little courage the fortune changed. I did the same & when I was on the ground I was a relived person having a sense of accomplishment.

Thanks to Adrenaline Hunter that I could make that jump. After this very scary yet fulfilling experience I would try to do it again by some day.

My video was not captured due to some technical difficulty. However, below is the actual jump done by some random guy.

The best camera for shooting a video is GoPro.(Buy it from here).

“The moments which make you skip your heartbeats, are the moments you truly lived”

 

Barcelona City Card

Europe is one of the costliest places in the world. Keeping expenses down is not an easy task to perform. I am traveling to three countries & already a bit confused about how to keep cost low. I was searching for tips & hacks & found an article on city cards. Most of the major cities in Europe offers city cards. These have various benefits like free transport & free entry to museums. I have bought Barcelona City Card for Barcelona trip through Barcelona.de.

The benefits of city card are immense. From getting free local transport to free entries to certain attraction. It is best for a budget traveler. The cost involved in the same is also minimum. For 5 days, city card one needs to pay somewhere around 60 euros. Further, there are also options for 2, 3 & 4 days. So depending upon the requirement you can buy a city card.

I chose Barcelona city card through Barcelona.de as they were offering best services. The number of museums covered in their card is good enough for 4 to 5 days. Also, free transport service is an added bonus while traveling outside. They are in business from 1997 thus shows how trusted they are in this market.

Benefits of having a Barcelona city card is as follows:

Free admissions to 25 unique sites

Discounts for over further 85 museums, cultural institutions, leisure activities, shops, pubs and restaurants.

Free use of public transport, i.e. metro and urban buses, trams, trains and Montjuïc Funicular and FGC in zone 1 (total urban area).

Free train ride and free use of bus 46 from the airport into the city center and back.

Booklet with a city map, metro plan and brief descriptions of the institutions where you get discounts.

The Barcelona Card is available for 3, 4 or 5 consecutive days (72, 96 and 120 hours from the first use). For 2 days (48 hours) you can book the Barcelona Card Express.

Further, the booking process is very simple one is just need to apply online & receive the mail of the confirmation. Also, the cancellation procedure is also there so in case there is some last minute changes in the plan, one can cancel the card with no extra charge. The validity of card is for full year. Thus, it can be returned at any point of time during that whole year.

There are two modes to get the card one is by picking it up from their offices & other is through shipping. However, there is shipping charges involved. So, until & unless you are no short period or any emergency it is better to pick up the card from the authorized centers.

Barcelon.de not only offers city cards but also offers small tours for those who are interested in guided tours. There are many offerings like walking tour, barcelona pastry tours, guided tour to picasso etc. This website is extremly valuable for the people traveling to Barcelona for the first time.

I booked my city card through this website only. The complete information about the place helped me to plan my tour in a better way.

Here is the link to the website

Barcelona