October 21, 2008 by Evin
Europe is on our doorstep so traveling is a must. We went to Amsterdam for a long weekend and though we researched recommended restaurants, we tried to leave as much flexibility in the itinerary as possible so we could enjoy ourselves and not stress about seeing everything. This may not work for every destination or person, but it worked nicely for this trip. This is a brief retelling of our trip and whenever possible I link to places we went in case you are planning your own trip and would like some suggestions.
We arrived Thursday morning after taking the 6:30 a.m. flight direct from ORK. Empty stomachs encouraged us to have breakfast in the airport at Vlaamse Frites. We went with a large order topped with mayo. We managed to eat it all, but the small probably would have been sufficient. After taking the train to the tram and the tram to the inn where we stayed, we took a nap! That early flight really does make it nice to have a whole day in Amsterdam, but without a nap we thought we’d be too tired to make the most of it. When we awoke there was a hail storm, which cleared up quickly. Recharged, we went out in time for lunch at The Pancake Bakery. I went with a cheese and apple pancake and started with French onion soup. We ended up walking all around on our way there just to soak up the city. We were mindful of the many MANY bicycles and traffic in general. The quirky little shops were so fun for browsing and we found some great little goodies which I will surely put in my Freckled Past blog soon. If you are traveling to Amsterdam and like quirky shops, check out my list of fun shops (below).
We spent most of our second day at the Van Gogh Museum. The exhibit was wonderful. Wear comfortable shoes and bring an extra layer though – lots of standing, walking, and air-conditioning. Also, there is a free coat/bag check which makes it easier to walk around. There are actually multiple Van Gogh Museum Shops: 1) Outside by the Rijksmuseum; 2) Inside by the coat check; 3) Inside and downstairs. Years ago, they did not have a website and I remember calling them long-distance and purchasing a poster print. They were so kind and overseas phone orders were uncommon so there was no real system set up and it cost only about $18. Times have changed, but they are still just as nice there. The museum has a lovely cafe inside which boasts a great menu and reasonable prices. I had what they called a pizza, which was French-style bread halved and covered with fresh plum tomato slices and melted mozzarella. I opted for water, but couldn’t tell the sparkling from flat so I guessed (red = sparkling, blue = flat). They also have a nice beer selection with corresponding glasses available just to the right of the beverage refrigerator. A far cry from the Air & Space Museum in Washington, D.C. For dinner, we ate at Eetsalon Van Dobben. They have delicious sandwiches, croquettes, and daily specials – photo below.
Our third day there was a Saturday so the streets were alive with locals and tourists alike. We lunched at Sarang Mas, an Indonesian restaurant that was recommended by a friend. It was delicious and wonderful service.
Sunday happened to be the day of the Amsterdam Marathon so we took to the canals in the hopes of avoiding the traffic and detours caused by the marathon. We bought a day pass on the Canal Bus and by the end of the day we had enjoyed relaxing and informative rides on all three of their routes (green, red, blue). For dinner, we thought we’d try something different and went to Wok To Walk. It was decent enough and definitely filling.
We enjoyed our trip and hope to return again [soon]. The people are helpful and speak English beautifully. I felt bad that we kept needing them to speak English with us, but no one seemed to mind. I plan to learn a few Dutch phrases before we return though. And next time, escaping the city would be nice, perhaps to Delft, Utrecht, or Rotterdam. From door-to-door the return home took us 3.5 hours.
Here are some of the shops we enjoyed while there:
Meubels En Freubels, Van Woustraat 31-33 (fun stuff, household goodies)
Serekunda, Tweede Egelantiersdwarsstraat 3 (stockings, undergarments, ladies apparel, accessories)
Kitsch Kitchen, Rozengracht 8-12 (things made of plastic, little goodies, household items, bags)
Beadies, Huidenstraat 6 (beads, beading supplies, beaded jewelry)
De Witte Tanden Winkel, Runstraat 5 (toothbrushes, toothpaste, dental floss, dental hygiene products)