Amsterdam was the 5th and final stop on our grand European adventure (after London, Paris, Cinque Terre, and Rome). As I mentioned before Amsterdam was never on my radar or my list of places I wanted to visit (We only went there because it was cheaper for us to fly out of Amsterdam than it was to fly home from London) but I LOVED IT! I can't wait to go back! It was beautiful and charming, the food was delicious, and I loved biking everywhere.
We stayed in the COOLEST place. It was in the Jordaan neighborhood and was on the top floor of a little canal building. (Here is a link to the Airbnb listing where we stayed...I HIGHLY RECOMMEND IT.) One of the coolest parts about our Airbnb was that the booking included 2 bikes. I'm so glad we didn't have to rent bikes because knowing us I'm sure we would have rented them for about an hour, and exploring Amsterdam especially the canal rings on bikes was truly the best way to do it.
Here are a few links to articles and blogs with helpful Amsterdam information: 10 Things to do in Amsterdam, Where to buy the best Stroopwafel, 15 Dutch foods to try in Amsterdam, and here is our Google Map of Amsterdam.
Evening upon arrival [Sunday]
Dinner at neighborhood pub
Bike around town
Day 1 [Monday]
Lapjesmarkt (Fabric Market)
Bloemenmarkt (Flower Market)
Albert Cuyp Market (Street Market)
Vlaams Friteshuis Vleminckx
Anne Frank House
Van Gogh Museum
The Pancake Bakery
Day 2 [Tuesday]
We arrived at the airport and then rode a train into Amsterdam Central Station. From Amsterdam Central we walked about 20 minutes to our Airbnb. It was a long walk with our bags. Once we got all settled we followed the recommendation of our host and had dinner at the pub which was 2 doors down. It was DELICIOUS! I wasn't expecting too much, but it ended up being fantastic. I had a pork loin and Jordan had a burrito. After dinner we grabbed our bikes and went out to ride around town for a few hours before heading back in for bed. Unlike in Rome, we loved spending time at our apartment so didn't totally mind when it started drizzling around 9:00. It gave us a good excuse to head back in and retire for the night.
Right away I was in love with Amsterdam. This city in gorgeous! The buildings are all darling and then add canals and it's COMPLETELY charming.
^^Jordan was in heaven riding bikes all around this awesome city. And boy am I glad I had him with me. He was so good at navigating those streets. Literally every street/bridge/corner looked the exact same but we never got lost with him in charge.
The only real commitment we had on our one full day in Amsterdam was tickets to see the Anne Frank House at 1:00. We also knew that we wanted to go to the Van Gogh Museum, and we decided to do that after Anne Frank.
We woke up and had a quick, delicious breakfast at our Airbnb (they had stocked the place with great breakfast foods!). Every Monday on the street where we were staying there is a fabric market (Lapjesmarkt), so of course we had to take a look at all of the beautiful fabric. I bought 2 pieces of gorgeous Dutch fabric.
^^Can I switch out my minivan for one of these little guys? They are barely wider than a bike... Do you think I could fit 2 carseats in there, plus myself? How about all of our groceries after a Sam's Club run?
After the Lapjesmarkt we rode over to the Flower Market (Bloemenmarkt). It was kind of heart breaking that we missed the tulips by about 2 weeks, but that just makes me even more determined to make it back to Amsterdam again someday. The bulbs were pretty crazy at the Flower Market, some of them were bigger than grapefruit.
^^They also had lots of plants for sale in cans.
From the Bloemenmarkt we headed to the Albery Cuyp Market for some Stroopwafels, but on our way we biked passed the CUTEST little party and toy store and I HAD to stop and look. I wanted to live in that store. Everything in it was so fun and cute. The store was called De Kinderfeestwinkel. I ended up buying some cotton ball string lights (which were really fun to get home!).
We ate our way through the Albert Cuyp Market. We had a long list of foods we hoped to find there and I think we were pretty successful in our quest.
^^We found some poffertjes pretty fast and of course had to get some.
After the poffertjes we found this stroopwafel cart. The man selling them was funny, it almost seemed like he was the stroopwafel poster boy. He asked every customer if they wanted to take a picture of him making their stroopwafel. I got a traditional and Jordan got one with chocolate on half (he said he liked the side without the chocolate better though).
We ate our stroopwafels as we walked down to the other side of the market. By the time we got to the other side our stroopwafels were gone and we had found another stroopwafel booth, so obviously we decided to get more. We actually liked these ones better, because they were a bit crispier.
After the Market we rode over to Vlaams Friteshuis Vleminckx for some fries. (You thought I was kidding when I said we ate our way through this town...)
We each got a fry with different sauce, one was the Belgian Mayonnaise and one was "traditional" fry sauce (not the same as Utah fry sauce but still delicious and tastier than the Belgian one). After our fries we had to hustle back to the Anne Frank House. I had purchased tickets weeks in advance for 1:00. I was very interested in seeing this because I read The Diary of Anne Frank in 8th grade and thinking back I think it is because of this that I have a love of journaling and notebooks and creating something on paper that is mine. It was thrilling to see her actual diaries and handwriting in them. We both really enjoyed the tour. At the end there was a little exhibition and film. In the film Emma Thompson says, "All her would haves are our opportunities." I really like that and am so glad her diary was somehow miraculously preserved.
^^The front of the Anne Frank House and site of her father's office, warehouse, and storeroom. Otto Frank had 2 companies that sold pectin. The spices and supplies were sensitive to light so the windows were blacked out. This was also helpful in keeping the Annex hidden.
The only big thing left on our Amsterdam list was the Van Gogh Museum so we headed there next with a small detour at the I amsterdam sign.
I absolutely LOVED the Van Gogh Museum. We got there at about 3:30 and left at 6 but only because the museum closed. I honestly wish we could have stayed about 3 more hours. (Unfortunately there was no photography allowed inside the museum) Like I mentioned in my Paris blog post I have loved Van Gogh ever since I learned about him in my 2nd grade Art class. This museum was so well put together. I loved seeing The Potato Eaters and Sunflowers, but my favorite painting I saw that day was Almond Blossoms. We bought the audio guides for this museum and I stood there looking at this masterpiece, hearing about how he painted it for his brother Theo after the birth of his son, Vincent WIlliam, and how it hung in Theo and Johanna's bedroom. I'm not sure why but I got really emotional hearing about how excited Vincent was for his little brother to become a father. It almost made the painting more real for me, it once hung on a bedroom wall like any other ordinary picture would. It also made me wonder how many different walls it had once hung on and how many eyes were able to see it. (Also in the audio guide blurb about Sunflowers I liked how it said that this painting was "yellow on yellow on yellow." It was such a cheery and happy painting, even though most of the flowers are actually dead or dying...)
From the Van Gogh Museum we headed to The Pancake Bakery for dinner. I had read about this place on a number of different blogs. We got a ham, cheese, and pineapple pancake with an order of poffertjes.
After dinner we didn't have anything planned so we decided to take a canal river cruise. One of our favorite parts of London was the river cruise so we decided it would probably be worth it. The river cruise started by Amsterdam Central. I was excited to be back over there because I really wanted to take some pictures of all of the bikes. THE MOST BIKES EVER!
^^Coming out of that train station for the first time is the craziest thing. I was SO amazed by all of the bikes. My American version of the term "bike-friendly" and the Dutch version of "bike-friendly" were so far from the same before visiting this city. In Amsterdam bikes rule the road. Cars always wait for bikers and it seemed like they always had the right of way. Bikes also had their own stoplights, and didn't always have to stop at the same ones that cars did.
^^I really like seeing how the kids get transported. This bike had two baby seats, one on front and one on back. I also saw a few bucket bikes, but the bucket was always on the front (not the back like these popular ones in Utah).
And this COMPLETELY blew my mind. It was a 3 story bike parking garage! How you would ever locate your locked bike in there is beyond my comprehension.
On to the river cruise...
^^There are lots of house boats in the canals. Some of them were really cool and some were very cute. We learned a lot about Amsterdam on the cruise, and about the 4 canals in the Canal Belt. I was really surprised to learn that there are the same amount of canals/water in Amsterdam as in Venice but there are way, way less bridges.
We also learned about the hoists that are on top of most of the buildings. I thought they were just for decoration, but I guess they really are still used for moving into/out of the buildings to hoist bigger things, like couches. The audio guide said that the average person in Amsterdam moves every 8 years.
Immediately after the canal cruise it started POURING! It was the most intense rainstorm I have ever witnessed. I think the rain was actually coming down sideways. Umbrellas were pointless. We stayed in the covered boat for about 15 minutes and then waited it out for a few more minutes inside the train station. Luckily it let up a bit and we were able to ride home without getting soaked to the core.
The next day we were heading back home to the United States, as our trip was coming to a close. We had a few hours in the morning before we needed to head to the airport so we went and got stroopwafels at Lanskrool, and then headed back to our street for some Dutch apple pie at Winkel 34. We pretty much had apple pie for breakfast.
After the apple pie we went to a few grocery stores on our street to buy some stroopwafels to bring home. We were looking for a particular kind (chocolate covered!) that our Airbnb had stocked in our fridge but sadly we weren't able to find them. We bought quite a few packs anyway.
^^The best kind of souvenir, amiright?
^^On our way back to the Airbnb I saw some people moving into a new house. They had this awesome ladder with a moving platform and motor that would haul the boxes up to the second/third floor. They weren't using the hoist, but they still had a pretty sweet way of getting big things up to the upper floors.
^^My bike had a frame lock, which needed to be unlocked with a key before it could be ridden. Before we would go anywhere I always felt like saying, "Hold on, let me start my bike."
Here are a few pictures of the Heart of the Jordaan B&B where we stayed. We stayed on the top floor, you can see part of the window under the hoist in the picture below. The other floors have bigger rooms that can also be rented out.
The inside was so charming and perfect and had everything we need for a wonderful stay. We loved that it had a washer and dryer, which we definitely took advantage of. The shower was in the ceiling of the bathroom, so essentially the entire bathroom was the shower, and I don't know but something about the slanty ceilings made the experience seem so much more authentic.
Amsterdam was the PERFECT finale to our amazing trip!