1. The trams stop running at 12:30 a.m. Then the buses run, but they charge an additional “night fee.” I also found out the hard way that the trams stop running at 8 p.m. on New Year’s Eve. Amsterdam is a major city! Public transportation should run 24/7.
2. Amsterdam is extremely walkable. If the weather is nice (big IF), I often walk 15-30 minutes and it’s really a great way to get to know the city and take in the sights. Take a stroll and enjoy the canals. Just make sure you stay clear of the bikers and trams.
3. The Dutch love their sandwiches. I tried really hard not to stare as someone put butter on bread and then added chocolate sprinkles (Hagelslag). I was expressing my disbelief to a Dutch friend – butter and sprinkles – and he calmly replied that obviously the butter is needed to keep the sprinkles in place or else they would be all over the place. Yes, thank you for clarifying that for me.
4. It rains. all. the. time. Umbrellas are useless, since the rain is often combined with wind that wants to sweep you off your feet. Literally. Dutch people don’t seem to notice though and continue riding along on their merry way.
5. Dutch people are like Green Giants. Unfortunately, I am not. However, I know I’m also not invisible and they sense that their elbows are knocking me in the face. People are often not cognizant of their arms, elbows, hands, and the general space in which they occupy.
6. Stores tend to close at 6 p.m. and stay open late on Thursday (till 8 or 9 p.m.). It surprised me a bit since I thought the stores would stay open later everyday. I don’t even get home from work by 6 p.m. Seriously now.
7. Not all stores are open on Sunday, which is also a slight disappointment. Stores are open in the main tourist areas though, which I often walk to.
8. It is rare that the trains are on schedule, which is something to be aware of if you need to be somewhere on time. I spend a lot of time waiting on public transportation. Luckily, I switch at Leiden Centraal and the shops there have a lot of sales and are very nice.
9. Amsterdam offers hidden treasures, such as 8 windmills (I’m going to go on a scavenger hunt for them) and a secret garden, Begijnhof, right in the middle of the Spui (photo below). They are worth exploring.
10. There’s always a line at the Anne Frank House. The other museums – not so much – and they are also pretty cool.