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On previous trips, we’ve been using (for short stays) or (for long stays), but for Amsterdam we decided to try something different…

I signed up for a website called prior to leaving the states, and had been keeping an eye out for sits that matched up with our dates / cities.

Most of the sits were in more rural areas, though, so I was just about to pull the trigger on a 1-month rental in Amsterdam when I checked the app ONE more time….and that’s when I came across Steve! Steve the Bulldog’s dad was going out of town for 3 weeks and was looking for a house sitter.

Here's how it works:

You get to stay in the person's home (for free) in exchange for taking care of their pet as if it were your own. As previous pet owner's we were ready and excited to take on this responsibility, and to our excitement, Steve's dad picked us out of a handful of other applicants.

Steve was the coolest, easiest, most chill dog to care for.

He walked around with us, exploring the city. He hung out at bars and restaurants…basically we could bring him anywhere and he just hung out and took a cute nap under the table. You can check out his insta here.

The neighborhood was also amazing: really close to a park, lots of bars and restaurants, and Steve’s dad introduced us to his friends Nalika and Resh before he left.

Nalika and Resh were fun and easy to be around – it was like we’d known them for years. We walked the dogs together, met up for dinners and yoga, and they even had us over for a dinner at their place right before we left Amsterdam.

Traveling around for this long can start to feel really lonely (even though Lo and I have each other…we are still missing our friends and missing out on birthdays, kickball games, and a lot of killer parties). 

So this kind of “built-in” friendship was a huge pet sitting bonus, and really meant a lot to us.

DISCLAIMER: Not all pet sitting experiences are this wonderful. We’ll get into that more in the Brussels post. Back to Amsterdam…

So about the city...

I’d heard stats about how there are more bikes than people, but seeing it for myself was UNREAL. I’m telling you – bikes EVERYWHERE. And more importantly: this is the primary mode of transportation for most people (yep – more people commute via bike than car), so bike lanes are everywhere and taken very seriously.

Hot tip: don’t walk on pavement that is red, even if it looks like a sidewalk; it’s not. It’s a bike lane and they 100% WILL run you over.

And no, we didn’t end up riding bikes at all, because hear me out: cyclists in Amsterdam are super serious clustered up like Tour de France during commuting hours.

As an accident-prone human on a tourist visa with no understanding of the medical system in the Netherlands, this seemed like an unnecessary risk.

But here are some cool things we DID do:

  • Canal boat tour: I’d recommend this as a day 1 quick tour for anyone visiting Amsterdam for the first time. You get history, you get architecture, you get a feel for the city – and one the one we booked – you also get wine and cheese. 
  • Day trip to see the windmills: We did a day tour out to a couple of small towns (Edam, Volendam, and Zaandam) to learn about local cheesemaking, wooden shoe making, and to see historic windmills up close. It was like a fairy tale.
  • Learned about (and drank lots of) Genever: So, Genever is basically a Netherlands-specific gin. It’s a lot like gin, but is often aged like whisky and is intended to be sipped without a mixer. Gin can be distilled from any raw material, while genever is always made from grains like rye, malted barley and corn.
  • Museums: The Van Gogh museum and the Anne Frank House were our favorites. The Anne Frank House was incredibly powerful and a must-see. (No photos allowed so I don’t have any pics of this one, but look it up; it’s awesome). Make sure to book tickets will in advance.
  • Just walking around the cityThere is SO much to see in Amsterdam. Canals and bridges are everywhere so it’s like walking through a postcard. We really loved looking at all the house boats (and even stumbled upon a houseboat museum where you can walk around inside one). There’s also a massive floating flower market.
  • Smoking in a Coffee Shop: Fun fact: “Coffee Shops” in Amsterdam are where you go to buy and smoke weed. “Cafes” are where you get your coffee. I’m not much of a public smoker, but this was one experience we just had to try…

Lucky for us, you do not need to know a lick of Dutch to get around Amsterdam. It’s always a good idea to know basic phrases for getting around when you visit other countries (if nothing else but to show respect to the locals), but this is one place where they truly do not care.

Next stop: Brussels!