Amsterdam Part 2: The City of Too Many Bikes but Just Enough Canals

Okay I’m back with a better more complete Amsterdam post! Like I mentioned, over Halloween weekend, Sean and I met our friend Amy in Amsterdam for a quick weekend trip to the Netherlands – I was excited to see the beautiful city of Amsterdam and check off another country on my growing list of places visited! After my German class, I took the train north earlier than Sean who had an afternoon seminar and then he met us later that evening, not after both of us experienced some delays along the way. Contrary to what I first believed, the trains here are often experiencing track work, issues, and general delays….I thought I’d escaped such delays, but at least they still aren’t as bad as the D.C. Metro here. 🙂

Upon arriving to Amsterdam, I hopped on a tram and headed to our neighborhood where our Air BnB was located (after first locking my SIM card leaving me unable to communicate with anyone for a while…but hey it all worked out). I met Amy and her awesome colleague, Ian, we dropped off my bags, made a plan for the evening and how we planned to kick off the weekend, and headed out! We headed in to the center of the city, picked up our Holland passes (discounted deals allowing a combination of ways to see the city – museum entry, bike rentals, restaurant and bar deals, a canal cruise, etc), and wandered to find an interesting dinner spot.

We ended up at a little French bistro, well a “New York Style French Bistro Cafe,” Cafe George, right off of a canal. We were welcomed by a slick and friendly local waiter and a restaurant with the kind of decor we dream of in the U.S: bistro table seating outside and inside -chic tiling, glowing candlelight, lovely windows, the kitchen you can peek into, and a fabulous bar set up; all had that fresh, clean, french trendy look we love, but is so organic here. Our waiter was a suave local guy with a great accent, we made friends with him and all of with smokers who were coming in and out for their fix. One guy asked us for a light, when we didn’t have one went back inside, grabbed a candle off of a table and lit up his cigarette – I was amused by this funny local. After returned outside, he asked us where we were from, and he told us proudly about his honeymoon, to California – he loved San Fran, hated L.A.. We wanted to sit outside so we had a view of the canal, so we did, but learned quickly this was also the smoking section and couldn’t be avoided. Amy and I ordered and split steak frites and moules frites, each with a side of french fries. Both were absolutely delicious and a reasonable price. Great dinner to start the night off! By the time we finished Sean had arrived so we went to find him and head to one of Holland Pass deals: XTRA COLD ICE BAR.

Yes, we went to a place where we were given cheap down jackets in order to have a few drinks in pure ice, in -12 degree C temperatures. All I will say is Br, and hey you only live once right? Afterwards we ended up wandering Amsterdam for hours on our way back home, so we woke up pretty tired, but ready to see the city in daylight.

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Fun fact: These hooks are on every house to load furniture and lift up into their homes through the windows. I should have taken a pic of the stairwell – there was NO WAY you’d ever get a couch up any of those, so this makes perfect sense and is really cool.
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Our street!

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The next morning we slowly got up to head to the Yoghurt Barn and search for coffee and a good breakfast to get us moving.  We walked through through a market area that Ian and Amy had scoped out the previous night, and as a breakfast appetizer, we tried some tiny pancakes covered in butter and powdered sugar from a food truck. DELISH. The yoghurt barn was a dreamy place. Dreamy but confusing: they had everything in Dutch of course. Phew, thank you hieroglyphics, I mean, pictures. My yoghurt concoction was yogurt, fig, banana, nuts and honey. It was the perfect combo.

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This fueled us up for a day of wandering canals! Join me on our photo journey through Amsterdam.

First, we tried to head to the Van Gogh Museum but there was a 45 minute wait JUST for tickets. We decided to come back later and instead head to the area where we’d pick up our Canal cruise while the sun was bright shining and warm. But first, the Iamsterdam sign (which I had an impossible time catching the whole thing with the crowds)

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Amy on her A, me in my M
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I like the shadowy silhouette!
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S takes his S!

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And we’re off again! To the canals!

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Loved the colorful produce and the reflection of buildings in the window.

DSC_0952 DSC_0899 DSC_0903 DSC_0927DSC_0923DSC_0949 DSC_0937DSC_0944After our photo shoot, we found our way to where we’d pick up our canal tour boat and had just enough time to have a quick lunch before boarding. Sean and I ran into the Cheese museum and bought some AMAZING gouda, while Amy and Ian ran to a store nearby to grab some bread, meats and beer to wash it down. Perfect cheap lunch!

The canal tour was such a fun way to see the city, and who doesn’t love hopping on a boat?

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These guys were great and I’m SO mad I didn’t have my camera ready a second earlier. Their boat was called the Straycat. Someone on our boat either knew them or wanted to ask about their cats; this woman on the boat yelled something over the side to them and they simultaneously picked up their two cats and lifted them in the air. Would have made a great pic. Anyway, I like their style and we hope to someday be invited on their boat.

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We returned to land and were dropped off right in front of the Anne Frank House. Would have loved to have gone in but the line was verrrryyy long, so we didn’t make it in. Next up, bike rentals!!

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Biking around town was exactly the way to see Amsterdam. For most people. LOL. It was too much for me – there were too many people, trams, bikers, pedestrians, children, animals, etc. I biked for a little bit and was good on larger streets but tiny ones, I just couldn’t do. Sooooo on our way to the flower market, Sean and I (thanks Sean!!!) ended up just locking my bike up and walking the rest of the way to the famous floating flower market. I felt like such an embarrassed amateur, but better to just acknowledge it than wreck my bike into a street cafe full of people, right? 😉 Regardless, I looked pretty good with my bike, if I do say so myself.  I’ll bike through Holland someday instead.

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The sun was starting to set and we were getting pretty tired and in need of dinner! But first – Van Gogh! We were told to try the Van Gogh museum around 5:30 or so when the lines were short, so we headed back to the museum. There was no line at all when we got there, phew. The museum was really well done. They did a great job of laying out the timeline of his life and showing how his life’s events were reflected in the art he created during each period. Such as when he was studying art in Arnheim- Japanese prints were popular for a time – giving him an interest in creating his own wood block prints in this style. This didn’t last long: when he moved to Paris he became interested in the impressionistic style of the time and this shone through in his work.

And finally, DINNER! I didn’t take any pics, but we found an amazing Lebanese place near our apartment – it was family style with everything our Mediterranean loving selves could have dreamed: house red wine, lamb bites of some sort, tzatziki, hummus, baba ghanouj, tabbouleh, falafel, then the main course of another lamb kabob item and chicken and rice. We opted for some dessert and coffee too, then hit the street to wander around the red light districty street nearby. We found it. Just what you’d expect, but we didn’t linger – we were exhausted and headed back to the Air BnB and chilled like good millennials. Ian and Amy had to get up early and head to the airport the next morning anyway. We all slept well that night!

Sunday was a misty day that eventually lifted, but made us appreciate the beautiful, sunny weather we had Saturday. Sad to have said goodbye to Amy and Ian,  Sean and I ate breakfast at the Rembrandt House Cafe. It had an amazing little terrace on the canal, but with the weather we opted for inside. I had this large pancake thing that had “bacon” (read ham ha!) baked into the top of it. YUM. We only had a few hours left, but Sean and I visited the Rembrandt House and wanted to go to the Dutch Resistance Museum but that was closed. We passed the zoo, more lovely canals, lots of people on bikes and wandered around some more.

A few shots of the day!

DSC_1190 DSC_1192The sun came out, so before heading out, we wanted to sit and chill on a canal.  Ian had gotten the recommendation of the Cafe de Prins, so Sean and I sat down there, and tried the local spirit, Jenever. We thought it tasted like some sort of herbal vodka/gin mix. Tasty!
DSC_1205 Amsterdam was lovely – if we go back, we’re definitely staying on a house boat on a canal, but Great weekend! Thanks for meeting us there and suggesting Amsterdam, Amy!!

Two last photos – on the way back to Bonn on the train, the sun was setting brilliantly.  Unfortunately I had a dirty train window between me and these views, but still the land we were passing through on the way back home was beautiful.

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4 thoughts on “Amsterdam Part 2: The City of Too Many Bikes but Just Enough Canals

  1. Glad to hear you had a great trip to Amsterdam, Melissa! I LOVE the last picture in your post: it looks so misty and reminds me of Tolstoy and the Russian steppes (yes, I know this isn’t from Russia, but still).

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