Proost from Amsterdam

We finally made it across the pond after our Delta flight (where we watched eight movies altogether) dropped us down at Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam! We had left Minneapolis at 1:00 p.m. and landed in Amsterdam just after 3:00 p.m. Jet-lag is real after all… With our weary eyes, we tried a couple public transit buses before finding the correct one that would lead us a quarter mile from our Airbnb. Following a brief meeting with our host and settling into our room, we decided to make the most of our first day in the Netherlands and stay up as long as we could possibly keep those eyelids up in attempts to adjust our bodies.

Classic tourist pic.

So many bikes!

Classic tourist pic.

So many bikes!

DAY 1

Our Airbnb was located nearby Oosterpark to the southeast of the city center. We wanted to explore the surrounding area a little bit, so we decided to walk to a restaurant recommended to us by our host about 1 mile away- Vergulden Eenhoorn. On our stroll to the restaurant, we could not help but notice all the bikes! You must look both ways for bikes versus cars here. And another oddity is the mini single passenger cars that could be driven in all the bike lanes! Anyway, the restaurant was totally awesome. It was an open-air bar concept with a sustainable farm vibe. Very good food along with fun energy. Our next stop was a brewery further north, but we were okay with the trek, as we got our first look of the extensive canal system lined with some fun houseboats. Brouwerij ‘t IJ was an awesome brewery situated on an eastern corner of the canal system that has a classic windmill sitting right next to it. Following our first taste of Amsterdam craft brews, we were absolute zombies walking back to our Airbnb and finally crashed for the evening to prepare for the rest of our journey.

They drive these mini cars on the sidewalks with bikes!

Holland bike traffic

A glimpse of the seemingly endless canals.

Cool houseboat with a deck on top!

Brouwerij ‘t IJ Brewery

We always have our eyes out for coasters!

They drive these mini cars on the sidewalks with bikes!

Holland bike traffic

A glimpse of the seemingly endless canals.

Cool houseboat with a deck on top!

Brouwerij ‘t IJ Brewery

We always have our eyes out for coasters!

DAY 2

We dove into our next day fully immersing ourselves into some traditional Dutch snacks! We are talking cheese tasting at some Henri Willig shops, sampling single servings of raw herring and kibbeling from street carts and devouring at least a couple cones of thick cut Dutch fries served with ketchup and mayonnaise. Megan’s favorite of all- the classic stroopwafel. Who would’ve thought a thin pancake of sugar topped her list? We enjoyed all of these as we meandered across the city center to the Jordaan neighborhood. This was where we observed the outside of the Anne Frank House. We never went in as the line was too long, but Megan had checked out the house on a previous trip and she enjoyed the historical stroll, especially after reading Anne Frank’s Diary. This time around, we went into an Icebar instead! For about 10 minutes… It was freezing; we got maybe 1-2 drinks in and then we had to revert to the normal temperature bar for the rest of the included drinks in our package. The rest of our evening was taken up by a relaxing canal cruise from one of the many companies that offer a ~2-hour tour of the city from a different perspective. It was a great way to see the city while giving our legs a break. 

So much cheese!

An Amsterdam staple, raw herring.

And here is it close up…

The National Dish – French Fries and Mayonnaise.

The best Netherlands snack- a warm stroopwafel!

Anne Frank House

Ice bar with ice cups!

Canal Cruise

More of the canals!

So much cheese!

An Amsterdam staple, raw herring.

And here is it close up…

The National Dish – French Fries and Mayonnaise.

The best Netherlands snack- a warm stroopwafel!

Anne Frank House

Ice bar with ice cups!

Canal Cruise

More of the canals!

DAY 3

Our city day was followed by a full-day Amsterdam countryside tour that took us to several different locations. First, we were dropped off into the oasis of Zaanse Schans. I say this because the whole atmosphere smells like chocolate upon arrival. Here they have multiple functional windmills and we were able to go into one to observe the logging process. Second, we got a brief walking tour of the old village, Edam, to learn more local history before engaging ourselves in some cheese and bakery shows in Volendam, an old fishing village. We had more stroopwafels and learned of a new Dutch dessert for Megan- poffertjes! They are basically little puffy pancakes drenched in anything from fruit to nutella to whipped cream. Our final stop on the tour was Marken, a small island town which we ferried to. Here we got to see the ins and outs of a wooden shoemaker shop and try on a few pairs. And I am telling you- they were oddly some of the most comfortable clogs I’ll ever wear. Upon our return to the city, we decided on Haesje Claes for dinner. We stuffed ourselves full of traditional stampotten (essentially their version of stew) and then hit the red-light district for some touristy bar hopping.

A glimpse of the Dutch countryside.

Preserved windmill still used to cut lumber.

Volendam, an old fishing village.

Slanted buildings in one of the old towns.

Another tasty treat, but not as good as stroopwafels!

Handmade wooden clog process.

Really embracing the Dutch culture!

Traditional stampotten.

A glimpse of the Dutch countryside.

Preserved windmill still used to cut lumber.

Volendam, an old fishing village.

Slanted buildings in one of the old towns.

Another tasty treat, but not as good as stroopwafels!

Handmade wooden clog process.

Really embracing the Dutch culture!

Traditional stampotten.

DAY 4

On the last day in Amsterdam we kept our activities pretty low key. We strolled through the Albert Cuyp farmer’s market heading west in the morning until we ran into the giant Vondelpark around mid-day. I think this park is the largest in the city as it has tons of green space and one large loop trail around all the beauty. We even found a treehouse-like playground and ropes course in the middle of the park that obviously we needed to partake in. After re-discovering our inner child, we headed just north (noord) of the city to the A’DAM Lookout tower to snag a bird’s eye view of the whole city. The tower is only about 300 ft tall, but it stands out easily. They have a kitchen and bar on the top level; we each grabbed a drink and some bitterballen (fried stew balls) to further enjoy our time. The true attraction is their “Over the Edge” swing (more like a death trap) where you can sit on this large red bench at the edge of the building and literally swing out 300+ ft up in the air. Heck. No. Cooler minds prevailed thankfully. Instead, we got on a west-bound subway train that took us to Zandvoort Beach for an amazing sunset. The beach is gigantic with very nice sand and is one of Amsterdam’s most popular destinations for any beach sports and bars. This was a much better way to end our time in the Netherlands than seeing the sun disappear while swinging on a death chair.

Vondelpark, a huge park within city limits.

View from the A’DAM lookout tower.

Bitterballen

The “over the edge” swing.

Zandvoort Beach

A solid sunset to end our time in the Netherlands!

Vondelpark, a huge park within city limits.

View from the A’DAM lookout tower.

Bitterballen

The “over the edge” swing.

Zandvoort Beach

A solid sunset to end our time in the Netherlands!

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