A quick run through the things I’ve learnt while staying in Amsterdam for just over two months. Some might sound obvious, but I’m sure you’ll pick up something you didn’t think about.
Get a place to rent on a monthly basis. It just works out a lot cheaper than a daily rate. We use www.airbnb.com and browsed www.kamertje.nl with Google Translate nearby. It’s possible to get a cheap room or apartment somewhere.
We stayed at the Wilhelmina House Boat, home to the best, friendliest people on the planet. It was the best choice. We could come and go as we wanted, we had our own cabin with a bed that sleeps very well (I think it can be the motion of the boat in the water, but we surely enjoyed going to bed) and we had all the facilities we needed, including fast wifi.
Get second-hand bikes. It’s the way people get around town, and the city is basically built for bikes. It’s faster than walking and using the trams, and it’s much cheaper than using the public transport. It costs €2.80 for an hour ticket on the public circuit, or €7.50 for a daily ticket. This can work out to €20 per week, each. We bought the bikes for €60 each and we’ll sell them again before we leave. It’s good to check Waterlooplein for a second-hand bike, but we went to the Orange Bike rental company and got two great bikes for a very good price.
Eat at home. We were lucky enough to get a kitchen in our cabin so we cooked risottos, soups, french toast or anything we felt like. There should be an Albert Heijn almost on any corner of every street with everything needed to cook a meal. Just be aware that Albert Heijn doesn’t take Visa cards, and cash moves you forward, and it takes about R40 per draw at an ATM, so if you do it, make sure the amount of cash will last you a week or two. There is also a C1000, Spars, Lidl’s and many cafes that you can use. C1000 takes any card.
(It’s so weird that the country basically has not adopted Visa, and stores only deal with Mastercard and Maestro. So if you have an option at a bank to switch before the trip, do it!)
Get connected when mobile. I got us some Vodafone sim cards with local numbers. Convert the €20 card to a prepaid data-only package, and it provide 1GB of 3G for 30 days. This made it possible to get to know the city when using Google Maps, and we could search locally, post to Instagram whenever we wanted and follow up with friends nearby. Whatsapp gives the option to keep on using the old number and keeps the threads from all the friends back home. I have to add that Google Maps gives great directions when moving by foot, bike or public transport.
Do the math. Everyone says not to convert to your currency when travelling, but when staying longer than a 2 week holiday it’s a necessity. So, at the moment €1 is R15. Therefore, an amount in Euros can be divided by two. That amount can be added back to the original and a zero should be slapped on at the end. That’ll give the price in Rands.
Labour is expensive. Labour is very expensive, so just know that anything that requires anyone to do anything will set you back a couple of Euros. When you need to go for a gents haircut, it can go up to €40. But, if you go to the Nederlandse Kappersakademie (The Netherlands Haircutters Academy) you’ll get it done for €11.
That’s it, let me know if you have any questions.