Netherlands, Travel Advice

7 Attractions in 7 Hours – Turbo Tourism

14 Comments 12 August 2010

The best form of transportation...complete with storage.

It was 11:30AM and the man at the ticket counter looked at me anxiously and said “Are you ready?”.

I took a deep breath, tightened my backpack straps, got a good grip on my camera and said “Yes” confidently.

The machine let out a long BEEEEEP!

My I Amsterdam card was now officially ticking.

I was off to the turbo tourist races armed with my camera, map, comfortable shoes, backpack, and my I Amsterdam card.  The card was my ticket to get into numerous museums and events for free around Amsterdam in addition to discounts at tourist attractions and restaurants. What’s the catch? It’s only good for 24 hours and it costs 38 Euro. On Tuesday I told you all about how to use the I Amsterdam card strategically to get the maximum value out of the card, I was now ready to put all of my strategizing to the test.

After plotting my route out on the map, figuring out closing times, and renting my Mac Bike with my discount, I was ready to go. I normally try not to travel like a tourist if I can help it, I don’t like to go where everyone else goes; instead I like to find unique travel experiences. However, I thought I could do the traditional tourist things for a day and it wouldn’t kill me. However, I couldn’t just dive into the tourist pool headfirst – I had to do it my way; a little quirky…sort of a belly flop into the pool I guess. I had chosen some of the more small, off-beat museums as well as attractions that were a little different.

Canal Homes

Van Loon House
I started my tourism overload at Museum Van Loon, a historic old canal house of the prosperous Van Loon family. Willem van Loon was one of the founders of the Dutch East India Company. The museum is housed in a double canal house that dates back to 1672. Most of the interior has remained intact throughout the centuries.

The rooms, furniture, and art were amazing; transporting you back in time to the decadence. It made me want to strap on a corset and attend a glorious party. Actually, in the month of August they have opera performances in the garden – no corset required.

Foam Photography Museum
My second stop was the Foam Photography Museum. No surprise….I like photography – so I was quite excited to see the exhibit. The photography duo of Inez van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin put on an exhibit titled Pretty Much Everything. They successfully intertwined art, fashion, and portrait photography works next to each other.  It was some crazy, mind expanding, work – and of course I loved the quirkiness of it all!

Museum of Bags and Purses

When I saw this on the list of potential museums for the I Amsterdam card, I had to go. Considering my prior corporate career and current freelance career is all about handbags, I had to see this. I was pleasantly surprised to learn about the entire history of the handbag, learn about how and why they were made and the evolution of materials and uses. I found it all quite fascinating and the displays were gorgeous. It made me dream of owning a vintage purse!

Houseboat with a Green thumb

Houseboat Museum
I knew this would be a quick stop – but it was on my way to another site, so I thought I could swing it. Plus – who hasn’t walked the canals of Amsterdam and wondered what the insides of those houseboats looked like? This was my chance to get a better feel for living on water would be like. It was a quick and informative stop, and yes, it did seem bigger than most NYC apartments!

Lunch break

Everyone needs a break…so I parked at a cute little café and had a late afternoon coffee and sandwich enjoying my downtime simply sitting still and breathing.

Old Church

Oude Kerk
Next stop was the red light district and the Old Church; strangely this church sits in the heart of the notorious district where anything goes. Perhaps this is why the inscription above the bridal chamber is “Marry in haste, mourn at leisure”. It was 4PM and I had to keep moving as museums closed at 5 PM. I had time for a quick look through the church and it’s magnificent organ and then had to move on.

Museum Our Lord in the Attic
A block away from Oude Kerk was the small, hidden museum Our Lord in the Attic. Yes, it’s just exactly what it says – an old canal house with a church in the attic. It was hidden in the ‘attic’ due to the Reformation, when Catholics were forbidden to hold public services. I thought this was the perfect alternative to the Anne Frank house since there were notoriously long lines to see that hidden home. I walked in 15 minutes before the hidden church closed and told the desk clerk that I would be fast. This little house was like a maze, but when you finally did get to the top floor it completely opened up into a long narrow church – quite a site. Unfortunately it was under renovation when I visited, but I was still able to get a feel for the layout.

It was now 5PM and my museum and church visits had officially ended, so it was time to go to the later night attraction – the canal cruise.

Holland International Canal Cruise
They stayed open until 7PM and the starting point of the cruise was near the Red Light District so I had positioned myself perfectly…thanks to my preplanning strategy. Even though I had been doing touristy things all day, once I set foot on the boat this was the first time I felt like a tourist. The pre-recorded tour blasted out in 3 different languages and we went cruising around the canals that I had been biking around all day. I really didn’t like the cruise as I felt like I really got nothing from it, I would have much rather been on my bike looking around. However I did use the time to relax and take some notes

A quick look at the stats – 7 locations in 7 hours…whew…I needed a beer.

Day Two:
Van Gogh Museum
I still had 1 ½ hours left on my card officially, so when I found myself near the Van Gogh Museum the next morning, I decided to make the most of my card and hop in the Van Gogh museum before my 24 hours were up. This was the best decision I had made yet as the museum was big and I definitely needed more time in it so using it as my last stop was perfect!

I felt like I had squeezed everything out of the I Amsterdam card that I possibly could in 24 hours – it was successful. I was also relieved to end my role as turbo tourist – I happily handed in my map and went back to wandering aimlessly and slowly trying to fit in with the locals.

Your Comments

14 Comments so far

  1. Andrew says:

    A good race against time!

  2. Donna Hull says:

    You really packed in the attractions, Sherry. I agree that the Van Gogh Museum is well worth a stop.

  3. Cool! I like that kind of turbo “first look” at a city–gives you a chance to figure out where you want to spend the rest of your time, at a MUCH more relaxed pace. I want to go to Our Lord in the Attic now. Thanks for the overview.

  4. Mark H says:

    Wow, I felt rushed just reading it. I recall the van Gogh Museum as truly excellent. It included my favourite of van Gogh’s paintings called The Potato Eaters featuring wizened old peasants and a single weak flame which lights the whole painting. Better in real life than I imagined.

  5. megan says:

    Impressive! I felt a bit like a turbo tourist in NYC when I was there back in May – but at least my card was valid for several days, not one 😀 If you can find the time to fit everything in, I definitely think these sorts of cards are great value.

  6. Anil says:

    I love it, turbo tourism is fun sometimes, especially in cities like Amsterdam and when it saves you some serious money!

  7. what a great whirlwind tour. I love the energy and the spirit of it all.

  8. Phew, exhausting – I can’t help thinking that half the museums would be half the price and twice the fun – or did your journalistic tendancies take over and were you thinking of all the articles and photos you could sell in the future?

    • admin says:

      Actually when you use the card, you save a ton of money on the museum entrance…so if you are up for racing around…you actually get a better deal. However – racing around isn’t the normal way I like to travel…but a nice experiment!

  9. David says:

    Wow, I don’t think I could handle travel at such a whirlwind pace. An experience but an ordeal at the same time it would seem.

  10. Dana says:

    I really enjoyed the I amsterdam Card for 72 hours. First I intended to buy a 24 hour or 48 hour card but for a few bucks more I had all the time and could do everything at my own pace. I saved lots of money on public transport and on my meals. I wonder if everyone would do 7 attractions in 24 hours , how long these kind of products will still exist?

  11. Frank says:

    Just wanted to let you know that there are some cool gifts also, free chocolatebars at Bijenkorf, especially love my Heineken e-opener, Dana also gave you good info I noticed
    Cool package, I Amsterdam

  12. Chris says:

    Hi,I think Van Gogh Museum is a must! I did not know the I Amsterdam card, thanks for sharing.

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Sherry traveling the world

I'm Sherry, a corporate cube dweller turned nomadic traveler. I travel to off-the-beaten-path destinations to bring you unique travel experiences and photography. But it's not just about travel, it's also about life experiences of a middle age wanderer.
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