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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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Europe

Four Jandals Visits an Amsterdam Peep Show

Have you ever wanted to visit an Amsterdam peep show? We had the chance to go and embraced it with open arms. Check out our experience here

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Amsterdam peep show Sex Palace

An Amsterdam peep show is a must, just like visiting the Eiffel Tower in Paris. Okay slightly different. But you have got to go!

And if you have ever wanted to visit Amsterdam then more than likely you are going to be interested in checking out a peep show in the red light district. It might be worthwhile checking out this Amsterdam’s Red Light District – The ultimate guide.

Amsterdam Moulin Rouge Red Light District

There is something about the red light district that draws the punters and tourists alike in. Maybe it is the bright red neon lights that illuminate the darkened alleyways that pull them in like moths to a flame. Or the bars and coffee shops that let a certain smell waft lazily across the glistening canals.

Or maybe it is just the fact that sex really does sell.

When we visited Amsterdam with a couple of friends we actually spent what I now consider an embarrassingly long time in that same area. The fact is that we seriously could not get enough.

Not like that of course!

We just couldn’t believe that everyone is so open and carefree about what is for all intents and purposes, window shopping for sex. The number of guys knocking on windows and being ushered behind the curtains of every room were staggering.

However, we were not enticed ourselves to fork over $50 euros but were intrigued enough to want to check out an Amsterdam peep show. I just want to clarify here that it was actually Adela that was the most keen. I just didn’t want to let her down so went along with it…

Amsterdam Red Light District

http://www.flickr.com/photos/shaynekaye/4792525797

Visiting the Amsterdam peep show

Much to our surprise, there is only one Amsterdam peep show left in the whole city back in 2012!

The very originally named “Sex Palace” is situated on the banks of one of the main canals in the heart of the red light district on Oudezijds Achterburgwal street. Walking under the neon flashing lights into the entrance way your senses are assaulted by sights, sounds and disturbingly smell.

All around the walls are posters and screens showing ladies in various states of undress and positions. A white board lists the movies that you can rent out for your viewing pleasure in one of the many private booths. But we were only there for one thing:

The circular structure sitting slightly to the left of the entrance with a dozen small doors along it’s walls. 

Each of those small doors lead into equally small rooms no larger than a traditional UK phone box. A small covered viewing window blocks your view forward.

The money box clinging to the wall to operate the viewing window only accepts coins. But don’t worry if you only have notes as they handily have a large coin machine dishing out $2 euro coins for ease of watching.

Once you close the door and chuck in your money, the viewing window pops open for 2 minutes and allows you to view the large, slowly-rotating stage on which a scantily-dressed woman displays herself. With her flexibility she could have represented any country in the upcoming Olympics!

Amsterdam peep show Sex Palace

http://www.flickr.com/photos/mattmangum/2301545978

I was cracking up laughing the entire time I was in there because you can actually just make out the rest of the “audience” in the opposite booths. I even got a little wave and smile as the girl slowly revolved past my window.

The Amsterdam peep show was a little bit creepy. But even though we were there late on a Saturday night the booths were doing a roaring trade. Obviously nearly everyone else, from the hens parties to the couples, were there for the same reason as us. To check out one or two rounds before heading back into the night giggling like school girls at a sleepover at what we had just done.

The shifty eyed single men on the other hand skulked away to their respective viewing windows again and again with pockets full of coins.

If you ever get the chance then we actually do highly recommend taking the plunge and visiting an Amsterdam peep show. Just make sure that you are always respectful of the women in the shows and the ones on the streets!

Have you ever been to an Amsterdam Peep Show or Sex show? Tell us about your experience below.

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Europe

5 European Cities to Visit in the Dead of Winter

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As one of the most polarizing seasons, winter could be termed as both a blessing and a curse by those who like making the most out of nature.

After all, while it brings about the opportunity to build snowmen and to ski on magnificent ice slopes, it also brings a chill to the bone and a desire to never get away from the fireplace.

Don’t forget about the hot chocolate either.

That is why, when it comes to vacationing in winter, it gets quite difficult to choose from a location – especially when the destination is as diverse in climate as Europe. Do you select a place that’s sunny and warm? Or somewhere that lets you enjoy the ice and cold in the best ways possible?

To make that decision easier for you, here are 5 European cities that you could visit in the dead of winter, with the assurance that you would come out of the vacation phase with a smile on your face.

Barcelona, Spain

Barcelona is a city that is synonymous with sunshine, warmth, and some of the world’s most breathtaking architecture.

The temperature rarely drops below 45 degrees even in the coldest months of the year. While the sunshine remains present amidst the rainy days. This means that you can enjoy the best effects of winter without having to endure the worst of them.

If you happen to be a fan of football, then these effects can be increased by several times. This beautiful city is home to one of the greatest football clubs of all time and with Barcelona FC in contention for a championship virtually every year, odds are you’ll be walking out with a smile on your face after watching a win. Not a bad way to take a break from the beach!

Athens, Greece

While you wouldn’t be able to go to Mount Olympus’ mythical version in this day and age, you can still experience Greece’s magnificence through the beautiful city of Athens.

Like Barcelona, Athens also sees rare drops in temperature while being consistent around 45 degrees throughout the heaviest months in winter. With the architecture that you can experience under the sun, this weather can actually be ideal for an exploratory walk.

And if you are a fan of Greek food, then checking out local restaurants for authentic dishes would only add to the overall experience of your trip.

Venice, Italy

Since Italy is full of some of the most breathtaking architecture in the world, it would be quite debatable to say that Venice is the crown jewel of the country in terms of structural beauty.

But it is.

From the way that the city has been designed to the manner that the buildings have been developed, Venice remains a breathtaking sight for anyone who visits it.

That remains true even in the months of winter, where the does drop to around 30 degrees, but still provides the tourists and inhabitants with a way to enjoy the magnificent sights under the sun.

Zugspitze, Germany

Germany is considered to be one of the coldest countries in Europe, but it is a good thing for those who enjoy a bit of snow during their travels.

And for those who do, there are perhaps not many places that are as marvelous as Zugspitze in terms of a memorable winter experience.

With snow covered mountains and a temperature that dances around -14 degrees in winter, you can enjoy an array of winter sports such as skiing, sledding, and snowboarding to your heart’s desire. If you are one to enjoy snow and everything good there is about the season of winter, then Zugspitze is the place to go.

Marseilles, France

While Paris gets quite cold in winter without the weather enhancing any effects of life within the city, Marseille seems to be quite the opposite. The city is as lively in the winter as it is during its busiest days in summer, with plenty to do in adjacent areas.

You may visit the many architectural sites and tourist attractions in Marseilles itself, but you can add to that experience when you choose to visit the Christmas markets in Aix en Provence or Avignon.

With that, the many warm and steamy French soups and bouillon based dishes that you can enjoy in Marseilles only add to the trip. This means that by the time you are done with your visit to Marseilles, you are bound to be fed well, have some goods in your shopping bags, and some memorable pictures in your phone to boot.

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Europe

Even the Most Expensive Cities Have Cheaper Alternatives: Paris

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According to the results of The Economist Intelligence Unit’s “Worldwide Cost of Living” survey, Singapore, Paris, Zurich, Hong Kong, and Oslo are the most expensive places to live – and visit – this year. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t visit them, though – actually if your budget allows it, you should cross them off your bucket list as soon as you can. But this doesn’t mean you have to break all your piggy banks and sell your soul only to spend a weekend in one of the most expensive cities in the world. Unless you’re adamant that it’s “Paris or bust”, there are alternatives to this crowded and top-dollar destination you might want to consider – and start saving for your dream trip nonetheless.

Lyon

Lyon has a history of almost two millennia, and it shows: the remains of the Roman settlement Lugdunum, built at the confluence of the rivers Saône and Rhône, are showing to this day. Lyon might not be a capital city – it doesn’t have the size or the population – but its role in the everyday life of France was always important, both as a trade and a cultural hub.

The city has many gorgeous sights to see, like the Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière, the Tour Métallique (a tall TV tower that replicates the top of the Eiffel Tower), among others, covering every age from the birth of the city to its modern times. Plus, it has museums, parks, gardens, and a street art group that has been designated the cultural ambassador for the city. Not to mention its cuisine, the unique and popular Lyonnaise cuisine that has become a worldwide sensation.

Lille

A relatively small city in the north of France, Lille is another charming alternative to a crowded and overpriced Paris. It features many distinct architectural styles, most of them with a clear Flemish influence. Among its landmarks, you find its Cathedral (Basilique-cathédrale Notre-Dame-de-la-Treille), its Citadel, its palaces, and gardens. Lille is also the place with the biggest flea market in Europe – Braderie de Lille takes place on the first Sunday of September, with millions of attendees and over 10,000 sellers gathering in the streets of the city. It’s a charming, agreeable, and colorful city that will offer its visitors a beautiful experience.

Strasbourg

Last but not least, let us mention a city with a double significance – on one hand, it’s the official seat of the European Parliament, on the other, it’s a wonderful place to visit and a great alternative to an overcrowded Paris.

Strasbourg is a place where French and German architecture mingle in a unique way, with an Old Town filled with timber-framed houses surrounding typical French landmarks and churches. It also has many notable parks, some with historic significance, and almost too many museums for its small size. Plus, it’s a distinctively multicultural city where visitors will find it easy to fit in.

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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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