I have loved Amsterdam from the first time I went there, as a student, staying in a hostel. As a young teacher, I revisited with friends but never with Mr. FF. When our sons gave me a Eurostar ticket as a birthday present, I think they imagined we would head for Paris but, spending a lot of time in France and having visited the capital more times than I can remember, I thought it would be an adventure to rediscover Amsterdam.

Amsterdam is definitely a city that is full of surprises. You can wander around and discover something unexpected around every corner. The city has a unique culture, history, and architecture, meaning that there’s no shortage of quirky experiences to be had in Amsterdam.

Our hotel was near the very lovely Vondelpark which spans 116 acres and is a mix of gardens, greenery, and lakes. There are some beautiful houses around the park.

We chose our hotel based on the location and the recommendation of the wonderful travel blog: https://lovetravellingblog.com/ It was an excellent base for our city break and you can find out more about the hotel here: https://www.radissonhotels.com/en-us/hotels/park-plaza-vondelpark-amsterdam

There is an on-site Italian Restaurant called ‘Tozi’ and a delicious and varied buffet breakfast is served here. There are some quirky details at the entrance to the hotel which caught my eye. They all link with the Italian feel.

The hotel is ideally located for visiting Amsterdam’s most well-known museums. It is within walking distance of Museumplein, the square that is home to the Van Gogh Museum and the Rijksmuseum, to name but two.

However, before visiting any museums, we had a tradition to fulfill. We like to take a Hop-on Hop-off bus tour to familiarise ourselves with a new city or, in this case, somewhere we haven’t visited in decades. Being Amsterdam, there is also a Hop-on Hop-off boat along the canals. We decided to do neither but opted for a traditional canal cruise that lasted seventy-five minutes and was ideal.

The first museum we visited was the Moco Museum, situated in a townhouse overlooking Museumplein. It is an independent museum that exhibits modern and contemporary artists, including Warhol, Banksy, Hirst, and many more. Some of the exhibits are immersive. As a modern art fan, I enjoyed the experience a great deal.

We had several other museums that we wanted to visit. I’ve always been fascinated by the houseboats that line the sides of the Amsterdam canals, so an opportunity to explore the Houseboat Museum was a priority. It is located in the “Hendrika Maria”, a former working barge built in 1914. At this time, the skipper would live in the stern with his family. In 2008 the barge was restored and a visit gives an interesting insight into living conditions on board as they were. I think this floating museum is definitely quirky!

The Amsterdam Tulip Museum provides a detailed look at the Netherlands’ favourite flower. You can immerse yourself in the world of tulips through photographs, videos, interactive displays, and historical artefacts. I found the information about the tulip trade during the 16th and 17th centuries, including tulip mania and the ensuing market crash, to be particularly interesting.

The Mouse Museum, or Mouse Mansion to use its proper name, hadn’t been on our original list but was suggested by a lovely local we met on Eurostar. Books about best friends Sam and Julia (mice) form the foundation of the Mouse Mansion and have been translated into 27 languages. It’s a charming place to spend some time.

The Diamond Museum, although interesting and informative was possibly my least favourite visit. I wanted to go because the diamond industry is such an important part of the history of Amsterdam. I did enjoy seeing the complete collection of historical crowns decorated with diamonds.

The final museum I am going to mention is the Rembrandt House Museum.

This wasn’t on our planned itinerary but I’m so glad we went. Rembrandt lived and taught in this house, between 1639 and 1659, until bankruptcy forced him out. The interior has been reconstructed according to a detailed inventory that was made when Rembrandt had to leave for cheaper accommodation. It was fascinating to have an insight into Rembrandt’s life, house, and work.

We didn’t visit all these museums in one day. They were spread out across three days!

Of course, Amsterdam is so much more than museums. I will talk about what else we saw and did and some of the practicalities of our visit, in a future post.