Amsterdam was the city I was looking forward to the least during our trip. I felt like there were only a couple things to see- Anne Frank House and dispensaries/the red light district. I wasn’t that excited about authentic dutch foods either. That being said Amsterdam blew me away! It was gorgeous- canals and bikes lining every street. It was fun, lots going on all over the city. It was a great kick off to our trip.
At the end of last month my husband and I took a two week Europe trip stopping in Amsterdam, Brussels (quick day trip to Bruges and Ghent), Paris, and finally Munich for Oktoberfest. Today I’m sharing my recap for the first leg of the trip- Amsterdam!
We arrived pretty jet lagged after an overnight flight we probably only slept 3 hours on. We only had two full days to explore the city so we dropped our bags off at the room and immediately headed into the city. First stop- food. (Food is always the first stop, obviously.) I had one of the best sandwiches of my life- prosciotto and goat cheese on rosemary foccacia, we also split the bitterballen which are fried balls stuffed with a creamy meat filling. Veryyyy tasty!
After lunch we walked around, taking in the scenes. We checked out a cheese shop and the grand palace before heading to the Heineken Brewery. Typically we aren’t huge fans of brewery tours (99% of them are exactly the same) but this tour was called the Heineken Experience and it was defintiely the best brewery tour I’ve been on.It included the typical stuff but also had tons of digitally interactive parts including a virtual reality ride, We also got to check out the stables and their Hall of Fame that features sports teams the sponsored. It was really an interesting and fun tour. PS I hate the beer though and only drank maybe 4 sips the whole time.
The tour was a little longer than we thought and we were wiped at that point (and in need of showers) so we headed back to the room to relax a little before dinner. Luckily our hotel had an epic restaurant on it’s 17th floor. We opted for the 5 course chefs tasting (Pat also got the drink pairing). While it wasn’t authentic Dutch food, it was pretty fancy and a great dinner to kick off our trip. Pat really enjoyed the duck and I loved the celery root ravioli.
After a 3 hour dinner (customer service in Europe is always a bit lax) we turned and fell asleep promptly, hoping to be on local time when we awoke the next day.
We slept in a little to catch up on the missed sleep from the day before and then hit up the hotel buffet. Usually I’d be against two hotel meals but it was a nice hotel and I figured the brunch would give us a variety of options including some local specialties. Pat and I sampled our first taste of poffertjes (dutch mini pancakes), soft boiled eggs, beans, sausages, and I even had a small salad.
On our second day in Amsterdam we had scheduled a free walking tour to learn more about the city and it was my favorite thing we did while we were there. The tour took us throughout the city from the coffeeshops (aka where they sell marijuana products), a church with a prostitute statue, the red light district, as well as various canals/historic monuments, ending at the Anne Frank house.
I’ll admit I was particularly interested in the red light district. Apparently the girls aren’t frowned upon as they might be in the US, most of them are Eastern Europeans sending money home to their families. The first alley we walked down had very young, very pretty girls- not exactly what I was expecting. There were even red light windows across the street from churches. If I ever go back to Amsterdam I would check out the red light district tour to learn more about the very interesting career.
Our tour guide was fantastic and one of the things he said about the people and city of Amsterdam is that they preach tolerance. Basically you can do whatever you want (smoke weed, buy a prostitute, etc.) as long as it’s not bothering anyone else. I wish more countries had people that felt this way.
After getting away from the super touristy area near the Anne Frank house we found lunch. I had a goat cheese salad with honey and walnuts, and Pat had a beef tartare sandwich with shaved Gouda. I think the cheese in Amsterdam was the best I’ve ever bad. Goat cheese is one of my favorite foods and I definitely didn’t shy away from enjoying it on our trip (why would I!?)
We decided to brave the Anne Frank house line instead of checking back later in the evening since it was something we didn’t want to miss. We waited about 45 minutes and nothing makes the wait go faster then having some poffertjes from a shop next door. I ordered the original mini pancakes- covered in butter and powdered sugar. They were quite tasty and great way to distract ourselves from waiting in line. I have no photos from the tour itself since photography is forbidden, but it was a moving experience to see the house.
Since the house tour was a little heavy we decided to lighten up the mood by visiting a brewery in a windmill. Since it was such a short trip, we were unable to make it to the Dutch countryside so this is the only windmill experience I had, but it was a cool one. The beer was much better than the Heineken we had the day before. There were some Belgian inspired beers and even a New England IPA. I believe my favorite was the pale ale. After sharing a cheese plate here we ended up skipping dinner since we were a bit full from our snacks.
We did a little more exploring in the dark, checked to see if the red light district business had picked up (haha), and may or may not have visited a coffeeshop. When in Rome… I mean Amsterdam. Actually I walked away with nothing, just wanted to see the scene, and Pat bought a cake to enjoy another day. At this pointed we decided to grab a souvenir and some stroopwafels so we could sample the local dessert.
An earlier bed time tonight allowed me to wake up earlier naturally so I went to check out the gym before catching our train. The gym left a lot to be desired. I think most Dutch folks don’t exercise a ton besides riding their bikes everywhere. But it was nice to break a sweat before voyaging to Brussels.
Next recap coming soon!!!