Last summer, Chris and I spent three weeks in Europe. We toured northern Italy during our first week (in Milan, Florence, Bolzano, and Verona to be specific) and our final week was a road trip along the southern coast of Iceland. But this post is about the second leg of our trip: five days in Amsterdam!
I’ve put together some notes from our trip to the “Venice of the North” if you’d like to see…
There were a few reasons we slowed down for this week of the trip. Mostly, though, we knew that our weeks in Italy and Iceland would be fast-paced and we wanted to feel like we had a home base for those five days.
After some research, I determined that we wanted to stay in the Jordaan district of the city, or the “nine streets.” The area is centrally located and historically significant in addition to its quaint, storybook appearance. Ultimately, we booked our room at the Hoxton on one of the famous nine streets, Herengracht, and only a few blocks from the Anne Frank house. We heard the Westerkerk church bells throughout the day, which are the same bells Anne heard and mentioned in her diary! Our room and the lobby were so homey, and since we lost a day of sightseeing to heavy rain we leaned into the coziness and made it feel like home.
Just walking around Amsterdam was an experience with its canals and “drunken” sinking houses, and we simply enjoyed exploring in between trying to find the best stroopwafel Amsterdam has to offer. Answer: a vendor at the Albert Cuyp Market, who tenderly prepared each waffle one at a time.
We basically shopped, walked, and ate all week. We tried to blend in the best we could, and I think we did pretty well, considering. Overall, we successfully avoided getting hit or clipped by a cyclist.
I so wish I’d read The Goldfinch before our trip! As I was reading it this January, I was immediately transported to those narrow, brick-lined streets and canals.
We were surprised at just how well we adjusted to Amsterdam. We caught ourselves thinking at times we were in Portland or even Seattle! The café culture made us feel like we were in the hipster capital of the world, and we tried to embrace it as much as we could. We had an amazing time, and we can’t wait to go back.
Foods to Try
Bitterballen: fried balls of meat and gravy
Dutch apple pie: glorious and double-crusted
Poffertjes: mini Dutch baby pancakes topped with Nutella drizzle and powdered sugar
Hotchpotch: mashed potatoes with carrots mashed in
Speculoos: spiced shortbread cookies
Split pea soup
Stroopwafels: caramel sauce sandwiched between thin waffles
Restaurants to Try
The Butcher: gourmet burgers
Pancakes Amsterdam!: sweet and savory pancakes (we enjoyed apple + cheese and bacon + cheese)
Moeders: Dutch comfort food (our favorite meal in Amsterdam!)
Daalder: fancy, fixed menu (we went for Chris’ birthday)
Café Loetje: yummy steak and frites
Lotti’s: the Hoxton’s restaurant and bar
Pluk: a sweet sandwich shop/café
Fun Sites and Tours
Anne Frank House: book your tickets months in advance (we missed out on this and tried every day for 3+ months)
Rijksmuseum: a world-class museum that features Rembrandts and a thorough history of Dutch art
Van Gogh Museum
Red Light District tour: quite the experience; not really what I expected, but super fun.
Albert Cuyp Market: home of the best stroopwafel
Canal tour: we loved this extremely touristy experience, which includes a nice history of Amsterdam
Local brewery tour: we chose Brouwerij ‘t IJ over the Heineken experience
Paradiso: legendary live music venue in a converted church
Bloemenmarkt: floating flower market
Vaarwel and dank u wel, Amsterdam! We can’t wait to see you again.