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48 Hour I Amsterdam City Card Review

Check out our review and how we used the 48 Hour I Amsterdam City Card while exploring the capital of the Netherlands.

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Adela I Amsterdam sign

We love using tourist cards when visiting cities purely for their convenience. Being able to rock up to a museum or attraction and not worrying about fumbling around in our backpacks for cash (especially with confusing foreign currency) is great.

Plus you are usually provided with maps, guide books and suggested itineraries. And the savings are not just for attractions. You will often receive discounts on food and drinks or accommodation which for any budget traveller is a blessing.

So when we had the opportunity to trial the 48 Hour “I Amsterdam” City Card to explore the capital of the Netherlands we graciously accepted.

I Amsterdam City Card

For just €50.00 you have access to so many awesome attractions either for free or at a discount. Additionally you get free public transportation on all buses and trams. This was perfect for us as the weather was bone tingling cold and instead of freezing my nuts off we just hopped on and off the trams even if it was only a few stops.

To kick start our whirlwind tour and get our bearings we jumped on the one hour Canal Boat tour. It’s your choice between two different ones; Holland International or the Blue Boat Company.

We jumped on Holland International just because it was closest to the train station. While it was highly informative I was glad I hadn’t forked out the usual 13 euro.

Holland International Cruises Amsterdam

With the weather conspiring against us we popped into the Beurs van Berlage café for a quick bite to eat. I highly recommend the Buffalo Mozzarella sandwich!

One piece of advice for when you are planning to use your card is to check whether you get discounts or not and plan your eating habits accordingly. It wasn’t until we had ordered and I was flicking through the city guide book that I noticed we actually could get a bonus 25% discount on our meal at this café.

Amsterdam seems to be home to loads of quirky attractions including the Houseboat Museum or “Woonbootmuseum”. We actually walked past the museum as we were not quite sure what we were looking for.

It gives you the opportunity to see how some people live their lives but it did make me wish we had stayed on a canal boat rather than in an apartment!

Amsterdam Houseboat Museum

I didn’t have much desire to go to the Van Gogh museum as I am in no way an art buff and had no desire to spend several hours looking at paintings. However I am glad Adela twisted my arm.

Because even though it is the largest collection of Van Gogh paintings in the world the museum also provides loads of insight into his life and other influenced painters. I was shocked to realise that he actually committed suicide when he was only 37!

The most popular attraction in Amsterdam (apart from the coffee shops and red light district) seems to be the “I Amsterdam” sign. When it was first installed people commented that they it was an eyesore but judging by its popularity I think they made the right decision!

Adela I Amsterdam sign

One of the let downs was that unfortunately the I Amsterdam card does not include the Anne Frank house. I think that if they bumped the price up another 9 euro (the cost to get in the Anne Frank house) and included it as one of the freebies then more people would definitely use the card.

We also hit really cold weather so unfortunately we didn’t spend enough time enjoying some of Amsterdam’s sights. For example we did plan to hire bikes but were too worried about retaining the use of our fingers so stayed inside when we could. Hopefully we will get a chance to return in summer.

So while we do recommend the Amsterdam city card I would suggest making sure that you utilise it properly by planning well in advance what you want to see.

Thanks to Holland Tourism for providing us with the 48 Hour I Amsterdam city card. As always our words and thoughts are our own.

Cole is one half of New Zealand's leading adventure travel blogging couple who have been wearing out their jandals around the world since 2009. He loves any adventure activities and anything to do with the water whether it is Surfing, Diving, Swimming, Snorkeling or just lounging nearby on the beach. You can follow Cole on Google+. Or consider following us via RSS Feed, Twitter, Facebook and subscribe to our Newsletter.

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12 Comments

12 Comments

  1. The GypsyNesters

    February 10, 2012 at 6:00 PM

    Hey Cole! Thanks for the info. Periodically we have to take a city by storm and this looks like a great resource. Do you know of other cities that do something like this?

    • Cole

      February 11, 2012 at 12:19 PM

      Hey guys, thanks for the nice words. We had one in New York city as well and lots of other cities do it as well. A great way to see lots as long as you use them to their absolute max! Be prepared that you will be exhausted afterwards so might want to factor in an extra day for relaxing 🙂

  2. Andrew

    February 11, 2012 at 10:18 PM

    I like the idea of these cards. I see them in so many cities in Europe, but then I look at what I have planned for the days and usually decide against it. For me the biggest advantage is the public transport. I am not a big museum person and while I might go to one or two, never enough to make the math work out. So I usually just pay my museum fees and get a week card for the public transit.

    Amsterdam is on my list to visit again. I was there in 1995 and despite now living Europe, have not been back.

    • Cole

      February 12, 2012 at 11:52 AM

      The cards are definitely not for everyone Andrew but they are handy to have when you are short on time! I wonder if Amsterdam has changed much over 15 years?

  3. Nomadic Samuel

    February 13, 2012 at 7:02 AM

    Amsterdam is one of the top 3 cities I want to visit in Europe 🙂

    • Cole

      February 13, 2012 at 11:13 AM

      You don’t need more than a few days there in our opinion Sam. But definitely check it out!

  4. Stephanie - The Travel Chica

    February 16, 2012 at 6:01 PM

    I’m glad these cards are becoming more popular in big cities. Really makes it more affordable to see the sights.

    • Cole

      February 17, 2012 at 9:40 AM

      I agree, you just have to make sure you use them properly!

  5. Cheryl

    February 21, 2012 at 11:25 PM

    I like the idea of these cards but find they never include the things I like on them. Glad you had a fab time in Amsterdam, I loved it there as well.

    • Cole

      February 22, 2012 at 12:47 PM

      Yea it can be hit or miss. Definitely need to investigate them before you purchase them!

  6. Sarah

    December 12, 2012 at 7:03 AM

    Like Cheryl I really like the idea, but really need to check if if the card works for me. Some cards are not worth the money. The General German Automobile Association tested citycards this year – I found it really helpful.

    • Cole Burmester

      December 12, 2012 at 8:47 AM

      Thanks Sarah. Everyone is different depending on how they use the card. They work best if you are super busy! 🙂

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Adventure Travel

Top of Cappadocia day trek – with Middle Earth Travel

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Trekking through the valleys of Cappadocia’s fairy chimneys with Middle Earth Travel feels more like the set of a Star Wars movie than a historical region once carved out and lived in by humans. Churches, homes and pigeon houses are scattered throughout the valleys, all waiting to be explored. The best part is, Middle Earth Travel know all the hidden secrets.

Standing at the top of Cappadocia

Top of Cappadocia day trek – with Middle Earth Travel

On the 26th of July (which just so happens to be my birthday!) Middle Earth Travel took us on their private and guided Top of Cappadocia day trek. From Pasabag, along the top of Cappadocia and down through the Gulludere Rose Valley to Goreme, we trekked 15kms in one day! (We recommend getting your bearings with this map)

Upon arrival to the Middle Earth Offices, we were warmly greeted by our new friend Atil whom we had met a few days earlier while mountain biking through the Kizilcukur Red Valley. We were then introduced to our guide and given a briefing regarding the day. Normally, the Top of Cappadocia tour would start from Çavuşin, however, since we had already explored Çavuşin Castle, they adapted our tour to compensate ensuring we would explore new terrain!

With charged cameras, plenty of water and our running shoes on, we were driven to our starting point of Pasabag. We wandered through the fairy chimneys, coming across camels and markets – then the true hike began.

Pasabag in Cappadocia

The police station in Pasabag, Cappadocia

Camel in Pasabag, Cappadocia

Camel in Pasabag, Cappadocia

It was a slow and gentle incline. With no trees to provide shade, I quickly realised why our tour guide had chosen to wear fully covered clothing! As the sweat quickly set in (a waterfall in Moss’s case) we snapped away with our cameras and enjoyed the entertaining shapes of Imagine Valley and the amazing view. We also passed a lot of rock piles, which according to our guide mean ‘father’ and are built to help lead the way.

Animal shaped formations in Imagine Valley

Animal shaped formations in Imagine Valley

Middle Earth Travel, Cappadocia

Making our way to the top of Cappadocia

Father leading the way (rock pile)

Father leading the way (rock pile)

The higher we trekked, the more breath taking the views became! As we walked along the summit of Bozdag mountain (the Top of Cappadocia) we could see EVERTHING – Pasabag, Çavuşin Castle, Kizilcukur Red Valley, Gulludere Rose Valley and Goreme. We were on the Father of Valleys! After a quick nod of agreement to the guide, we pushed ourselves the extra distance and made our way to the flag, as this HAD to be the highest point and was definitely worth a photo and a selfie or two!

View from the top of Cappadocia

View from the top of Cappadocia

Flag at top of Cappadocia

From the flag we looked down upon Aktepe Hill which is known as a popular destination for watching the sun set and could spot Kizilvadi Restaurant, our destination for lunch! Kizilvadi Restaurant is an attraction of its own. With its own historic winery and Grape church, plus some Middle Earth Travel treks even stay there for the night! After having a massive feed of soup, salad and pasta plus a surprise birthday cake, we made our way down into Gulludere Rose Valley.

Kizilvadi Restaurant

Kizilvadi Restaurant

The scenery is amazing, with strong colours visible in perfect layers on the chimneys, you would wonder what an artist was thinking, had it been a painting. Also, hidden to the side of the track we walked across a little bridge and not expecting anything to be there we were wowed by the massive church carved. It was absolutely huge and hard to believe that its most recent use has been as a pigeon house!

Coloured chimneys in Cappadocia

Coloured chimneys in Cappadocia

Pigeon houses in Cappadocia

Pigeon houses in Cappadocia

Church in Gulludere Rose Valley

Hard to believe this Church is carved inside a fairy chimney!

Middle Earth Travel Review

  • The team at Middle Earth Travel were extremely knowledgeable and certainly know Cappadocia’s hidden secrets. They have friendships with local tea garden owners which is also of benefit as it gained us entry to locked churches and hidden rooms that we would not have otherwise seen.
  • We covered a lot of ground, however we did not feel rushed. The whole day focused on showing us the region, therefore we had as much time as we needed to explore each church and to take ‘just one more photo’.
  • It wasn’t all about trekking. With a whole day and 15kms to cover, there were a few silly poses (especially in Imagine Valley), and we learnt a lot about the myths, legends and way of life in Cappadocia.
  • In conclusion I highly recommend Middle Earth Travel if you wish to go trekking or mountain biking in Cappadocia.
  • Cost: Day treks with Middle Earth Travel range from 50-90 euro, depending on the number of people taking part. This includes lunch, guide, vehicle transfers and entrance fees to historical sites, but excludes alcoholic and soft drinks.
  • Middle Earth Travel are outdoor enthusiasts and offer multi-day over night treks, mountain biking, abseiling, or custom made itineraries, in multiple regions throughout Turkey.
  • www.middleearthtravel.com

Disclaimer: We were provided with a discount for the trek with Middle Earth Travel, however, as always our thoughts on our adventure travel blog our own.

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Europe

Amsterdam Food Guide

If you think of Amsterdam you don’t think of food. However if you try the food here in our Amsterdam food guide you might get lucky.

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Amsterdam Food Waffles

We are total foodies and our travelling has allowed our passion for food to grow considerably (not to mention our waist lines)!  We love trying new food when we visit foreign countries and always make a huge effort to eat the local cuisine. Check out some of the food we ate below in our cheap and delicious Amsterdam Food Guide.

Amsterdam Food Waffles

We had heard from a number of people that the Amsterdam food was nothing to rave about. To be honest food was not really our main interest in visiting but then again neither was an Amsterdam Peep show and we ended up enjoying that!

However we were pleasantly surprised. I think the people whom we had talked to had it wrong. Sure Holland doesn’t really have a local cuisine but once we got over this fact we realised there is still some damn good food to be had from the various Amsterdam Restaurants.

Amsterdam Food

The best meal we had was actually next door to the Red Light district in Chinatown. Crossing the canal to the east away from the neon lights your nostrils are attacked and your mouth begins salivating from the delicious smells wafting along the narrow cobbled streets.

As we walked into Bird Thai restaurant the enticing aroma hit us instantly leaving us drooling in anticipation. It was definitely up there with some of the best Thai food we have had. We went for the classic Green curry, fried rice and duck combo.

The Green curry was so flavoursome with the richness of the coconut milk blending perfectly with the traditional spices.  The duck was cooked to perfection and for the first few minutes of the meal all you could hear was the crunching of the crispy outside layer as we devoured the duck in minutes. Needless to say the fried rice was a taste explosion too!

Cheap and delicious Amsterdam food is easy to come by. With hangovers and munchies affecting your hunger it is no surprise that there are an abundance of Fast Food chains and takeaways in Amsterdam. In fact it was actually more the way that the fast food was served that surprised us as you could buy it out of massive vending machines at Febo!

Amsterdam Food Febo

Hidden workers stand behind the vending machines churning out burgers, fries and sausage rolls so all you has to do is insert a Euro and “hey presto” you have a hot meal in your hungry hands.

Then there were the frites stores which seemed to be on every corner. The first thing you noticed about these was the tantalising smell. There is nothing like the smell of chips straight out of the fryer and covered in salt to get you tummy rumbling. Served in a triangle cardboard carton and covered in mayo which meant that that you couldn’t reach the chips at the bottom without covering your greedy fingers in sauce. Just a tad annoying!

But there is nothing like hot chips to warm you up on a cold day.

Finally, while hot chocolates are not typically food I feel they still deserve a mention especially because the usually come paired with waffles! Ahhhh the perfect breakfast.

Amsterdam Hot Chocolate

We loved nipping into a cafe or bar like Cafe Bar Eddy in Amsterdam to warm ourselves up with a hot chocolate. It literally tasted like they had melted chocolate down and added cream. Heaven in a cup. And the choice of waffles was daunting as you could have whatever you wanted. Fruit, chocolate, syrups, cream or all of the above!

If you are heading here then don’t expect to find an array of traditional Amsterdam food. Instead treat yourself to a hot chocolate and waffle for breakfast, grab a quick bite from a vending machine and sample some of the different cuisines found near the Red Light District.

If you stick to this Amsterdam food guide then your taste buds will have a great holiday too!

If you have visited before then what did you think of Amsterdam food?

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Europe

How to smoke weed in Amsterdam

Check out our guide for the first timer in Amsterdam visiting a coffeeshop.

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How to smoke weed in Amsterdam

Before getting started I just want to clarify that we are not drug users. We don’t condone using illegal drugs. And we are not telling you to go and smoke weed in Amsterdam. BUT, our goal of this travel blog is to help advise, educate and provide travel tips for ALL situations. So if you are headed to Amsterdam then we hope our guide to smoking weed in Amsterdam will help you out.

And check out this smoker friendly accommodation for your next trip.

How to smoke weed in Amsterdam Coffeeshop

When you tell people that you are visiting Amsterdam then they immediately think of one thing and one thing only. Weed. Dope. Herb. Buds. Spliff. Whacky Tobbacky. Pot. Marijuana. Cannabis. 

Call it what you will but just know that the biggest name for it is “ILLEGAL”.

Yes it is actually illegal to smoke weed in Amsterdam. But for now the Netherlands government do tolerate smoking in designated “coffeeshops”. This is slowly changing as the Government tries to moderate the tourism drug trade and in 2013 there will be new laws which we won’t go in to now as they are continuously changing.

In the meantime if you obey the rules, are not a moron and use our guide to smoking weed in Amsterdam then you are going to be fine.

Smoke weed in Amsterdam

How to smoke weed in Amsterdam

Don’t smoke weed in Amsterdam in public such as on the streets. There are over 300 designated coffee shops where you are tolerated to smoke weed. These places are regulated and everything is done in the open.

Don’t get confused and try to smoke in a koffiehuis (coffee house) which sells coffee and light meals or a café that is a casual restaurant and/or bar.

The coffeeshops are super easy to spot with marijuana leaves in the windows and Bob Marley paintings on the doors. Not to mention the smell wafting through the cold breeze. There will also be the usual tourists that have stupidly over-indulged and are glassy eyed.

We visited one of the five Bulldog coffeeshops when we were in Amsterdam and had no complaints. We even enjoyed a delicious hot chocolate while we were there!

Bulldog Coffeeshop in Amsterdam

Buying weed in Amsterdam

As long as you are over 18 then you will be allowed to buy up to 5 grams of weed in the regulated coffeeshops. Plus you have the added security knowing that your marijuana is not going to be laced with anything else if you are attempting to buy it off someone on the street. And who knows, they might be setting you up to get busted.

We were (and are) total amateurs and had no idea what to do once we actually stepped foot in the coffeeshop. But quickly sussed it out. There will generally be a “dealer bar” with full menu’s and everything for you to choose. So if you are an expert you will probably know what to order! Prices will of course vary by quantity (grams, bags, individual joints) and quality.

For a beginner ask lots of questions. Don’t be shy like we were. Ask the staff what they recommend and what effects each type has. They will know then that you are a newbie and will guide you. Just know that they are very accustomed to tourists who don’t know exactly how to go about the whole process.

What we found out is that it is actually perfectly fine for you to visit other coffeeshops and smoke weed that you have already purchased somewhere else. However, it is considered rude not to at least buy a hot chocolate or coffee if you do this. Coffeeshops do also have some of the best coffee in Amsterdam.

How to smoke weed in Amsterdam

Don’t be an idiot

Number 1 rule: Don’t smoke too much weed in Amsterdam! Even if you are a pot loving hippie from a commune you are probably going to find the marijuana really strong in Amsterdam. Just take it slow.

If you are enjoying a drink as well then again take it easy with the booze. All the coffeshops won’t sell you beer as well as cannabis.

EAT! Don’t go drinking and smoking on an empty stomach as cannabis lowers your blood sugar level and this can turn a fun day into a disaster if you haven’t eaten recently. Check out our Amsterdam Food Guide for some quick eating tips here.

A final word of warning, please watch out for the spacecake! Eating cannabis will knock you on your ass and is much stronger than when smoked.

Finally, enjoy yourselves and for goodness sake obey the rules, laws and customs while you are smoking weed in Amsterdam.

If you have an addiction to drugs then reach out and seek some help.

Check out these Weed Products for your next travel adventure.

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Meet Cole and Adela

Cole and AdelaWe have been wearing out our jandals (Kiwi for flip-flops) on our travel adventures around the world since 2009. We think our blog is thought provoking and a little witty. But we have been proven wrong before. Find out more about us here...

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