This is one trip I didn’t do very much planning for. I have a friend who had just moved to Amsterdam, so I didn’t have to research neighborhoods or find a hotel as we were staying with him. By we, I mean my 3 girlfriends and myself. Bless his heart, we took over his place with our bags… and then blew his circuit with our American hair straighteners.
He was a doll for hosting us, and his place happened to be absolutely perfect. A block from the Van Gogh museum, Rijksmuseum, and Vondelpark, and walking distance to basically anywhere we wanted to go. Also on a nice safe street, like, full of security guards kinda safe. The glass brick Chanel store was below his apartment, along with Prada, Louis Vuitton, and a lot of other places we window shopped at. Amsterdam isn’t that big, and while we probably averaged 20,000 steps, we never even used the metro.
Day 1 we arrived and helped Nick find places to hang pictures since he had moved in recently. Well Kate did that, I napped after not sleeping a wink on the redeye over. But once the other 2 arrived we set out for town and the Anne Frank museum. We should have purchased our tickets in advance, but ended up only waiting around 45 minutes to enter.
The museum is extremely well done. I don’t think I need to go into a history lesson on this one. Obviously it’s a tragic story, and you definitely feel the magnitude of what took place as you walk through the rooms that Anne and her family hid in for over 2 years. Not a word was spoken nor a picture taken as people walked up the narrow stairs and through the rooms. Annes father, who survived, read Annes diary and set out to find someone to publish it after learning of his daughters hope to be a famous writer. The world is thankful that he did. Learning about an event as horrific as the Holocaust through a child’s eyes is to see it through a different light. I would highly recommend to anyone who visits Amsterdam to go walk through the Anne Frank museum, it’s a sobering experience, but well worth it. I could never do it justice in a written description.
After the museum we roamed around town gawking at the thousands of bicycles that line the canals. Speaking of bicycles… 1 word, terrifying. I assumed we would ride bikes around town and ya know, do as the locals do, but that changed immediately once we started walking around. Those riders mean business, and they will run you over. I wasn’t about to chance riding alongside them on those narrow bike lanes with so many pedestrians everywhere. It was bad enough walking with your head on a swivel making sure you weren’t about to meet your fate with a rubber tire. Bicycles aside, strolling through Amsterdam is a very pleasant experience and we had perfect weather.
Nick took us to an interesting dinner spot. An indoor food truck circle with a bar in the middle and live music. It was awesome, and we got to try a few different things that way. Belgian fries are literally just fat fries served with mayo, for the record. We got the stupid look when we asked, so I’ll spare you the embarrassment. We had big plans to go have a cocktail after dinner, but we were tired and just went home.
The next day…. TULIPS!!!! If you’re my Facebook friend, and you saw any of my pictures from Amsterdam, you know how excited I got over the Keukenhof Gardens. But, this was a bucket list item for me. I’ve always seen the pictures of the sprawling tulip fields, with the distinct colors that seem to alternate and go on forever. Well, when Nick moved to Amsterdam I immediately looked up when they bloomed. We had the best timing and got extremely lucky with the weather. They were in full bloom, and the weather warmed up significantly when we were there. It was 70, sunny, and peeeeerrfect. The gardens are MASSIVE, and just exquisite. We walked for over 3 hours and didn’t even see the entire place. Every time we rounded a corner or came to a new area we were faced with a new mixture or variety of the tulips. When we found the windmill and climbed up to the top of it to look out over the tulip fields I didn’t think the day could get much better. After having a glass of Rose and a cheese platter on a patio I was convinced it was the best day ever. I’m being slightly dramatic, but if you’re ever in the Netherlands during April-mid May, GO SEE THE TULIPS.
That’s all I’m going to say about the tulips lol. But there were orchids too. A greenhouse filled to the brim with orchids of every color, style, and design. It was amazing, but my heart was still with the tulips. Done, for real.
We got back to Nicks and relaxed, went to dinner, and then hit up the red light district lookin for hookers and drugs. Jk, we sleepily walked through it, and in like in 20 minutes were done and over it. We judged the women in their little glass windows rooms, especially the ones who were looking bored and texting… definitely not the way to conduct business. But, I’m sure they are all paying for their way through college. The ones we really judged were the men who were talking to them and walking into or out of the little closet sized room. Gross.
The next day, we went and had pancakes. Now, pancakes in Amsterdam put any pancake I’ve ever had to shame. It’s more of a massive crepe, but you can get it sweet or savory… I did banana and Nutella once with caramel syrup, and another time with ham, cheese, and onion. Massive and delicious, find pancakes if you’re in Amsterdam. Like at least once a day like we figured out.
We sent Samantha on her way back to the states and decided to have a wine picnic in the park. We were super cute, and finished our bottle of wine which then lead to a cocktail. So with a decent buzz, we roamed the floating flower market and then entered a cheese store for the free samples. A pound of samples later, like every single sample in the store twice or maybe more, we walked out with 50€ worth of cheese between the 3 of us. And I didn’t buy any. (Ahem Christine). Moral of the story, don’t have wine picnics and then souvenir shop. It happened to be Cinco de mayo and we decided we needed a Margarita and set out to find a Mexican restaurant. Surprisingly it wasn’t hard, and we settled in a cute little Mexican restaurants patio next to a couple from Dallas of all places who live there now. Crazy. We made friends, and then went our separate ways.
Our way was to the rooftop bar at the doubletree. It provided an amazing view of the sun setting on the city, and also a massive shared drink that came in a clear glass skull.
Well, we made friends again. This time with 2 guys on the elevator on our way up. Turns out they’re pilots on a layover. Seriously? Go figure a crew ends up together. We drank with them, they helped smuggle our glass skull out of the place, and we headed to red-light district. Skull in Christines bag. It was the first officers first time in Amsterdam so the captain felt the need to show him the red light district. This time in the district, we drank heavily and got to experience it a little more. No, not ‘experience’ anything… as crew members we all get random drug tests, so yes… we all went to Amsterdam and not one of us tried a space cake, brownie, or any other coffeeshop specialty. I’m being serious.
We did, however, drink tequila that night. We also danced all n
ight, sang karaoke, and were crawling into bed when the sun came up… accidentally. All because of a bottle of wine at a sweet little picnic. I know you’re wondering, and yes the glass skull made it all the way home and was left on Nicks dresser as a thank you gift. You’re welcome Nicholas.
We woke up feeling like holy hell the next day, thank you pilots and tequila, and ate more pancakes. We had no real plans for the day and just roamed around until we found a paddleboat place. Those cute little paddleboat are pretty popular on the canals, and didn’t look very difficult. Well, they are. It’s more effort than one would think, and try steering those things between the big boats and other paddleboats turning and cruising through the canals. We came across a group of guys who were actually paddling backwards because they got turned around… whatever works, I get it. But it was a beautiful day, and it was nice to be on the water even if it took quite a bit of effort.
We had ice cream, walked like 24000 steps that day, and went to the grocery store for dinner. That was our exciting last day. Again, dang pilots and tequila.
Per usual with every new place I travel to, I loved Amsterdam… but it did surprise me. I am not exactly sure what I expected, but it was much more refined than what I had imagined. It’s not a big party as a lot of people think, and there’s tons of culture and plenty to see if you’re into the arts. I would love to visit again and do the Van Gogh museum and Rijksmuseum in particular.
It was a great trip, and we really can’t thank our wonderful host enough for the opportunity to mark another city off the list. Amsterdam, you are absolutely beautiful and I hope to be back sooner rather than later!