I went into our Amsterdam trip with mixed expectations. I’d always wanted to go, so I was certainly excited, but for some reason I wasn’t expecting the prettiest city, probably due to its reputation regarding drugs and the infamous red light district. However, the city was much more beautiful than I’d imagined it would be. Not only are the canals lovely, but so are all the little side streets, the narrow slanted buildings and the bike clogged avenues.
We booked an airbnb (as per usual) that was within walking distance of pretty much everything. Amsterdam is a highly walkable or bikeable city (though I was too intimidated to bike, as it can get a little crazy). Our first night we wandered around the beautiful Jordaan district, which has lots of great restaurants and quaint streets. We stopped in at a restaurant that essentially served international tapas- small plates and large shared platters. It was a nice find and the service was so friendly, as it was at pretty much every place we went to. This was a nice change from Munich where the service ranges…. They recommended a cocktail place nearby to us, where we treated ourselves to some very unique and delicious drinks.
Our first full day in the city we started bright and early at the Anne Frank House. I would say this is a must-do if you visit the city, for many reasons. I read her diary when I was younger and have seen several film adaptions, but seeing it in real life is significantly more emotional, even if you are relatively unfamiliar with her story. I would suggest trying to get tickets beforehand (from the museum’s site), because by 9am the line was stretched around the block. We left the house and had breakfasts at a pancake place recommended on TripAdvisor. It was a little disappointing (p.s. you can check out all my reviews from our trip here…- I finally started writing reviews on TA instead of just reading them).
Then we headed over to take our favorite free walking tour. We always take the Sandemans tour when it’s offered in a city. The tour gave a very nice overview of the city, and shared interesting facts- like that at least 87% of the people in Amsterdam speak English, and that it has more nationalities (177) than any other city in the world. Next we grabbed a fantastic lunch at a teeny tiny burger place called Lombardo’s.
We wandered around some more before heading out to a nice dinner at “Senses”. I also highly suggest this place, though it isn’t cheap. But hey- treat yourself! After our leisurely dinner we headed to a English comedy night at Boom Chicago. The show featured 6 comedians, some local, some not, who put on a 2 and a half hour show and it was great! I hadn’t seen a live comedy act in several years and I forgot how much fun they can be. If you go, I highly recommend splurging for the couch seats-they are still a good value and very comfortable.
Saturday started off in the best way possible- with brunch! I have missed ‘American’ style brunch so much, and this place, Bakers & Roasters, really hit the spot.
We spent the rest of our day taking a canal tour to see the city from the water. The “tour” aspect was lacking (walking tours typically offer much more information), but the views were great. And because we were in Amsterdam we signed up for Sandeman’s red light district tour, which was interesting and entertaining. I know it must sound like I get paid to endorse this company- but I promise I don’t! Anyways, it’s not a family friendly tour (hopefully that is obvious) but it’s tastefully done and touches on both the history and the future of the industry.
On Sunday we headed to the city of Deventer, which is about an hour away, to visit my cousin and her husband. They took us on a bike ride all around the city and countryside, which was absolutely beautiful. I felt like I was biking through a scene straight out of Pride & Prejudice (even though we were not in the UK). We had a lovely lunch in a garden café and enjoyed a great dinner at a beautiful old country manor as the sun went down. It was so nice to spend time with family and to get to visit them in their home.
I hope I can make it back to Amsterdam sometime soon- there is so much left to see and many more places I want to eat. And next time I hope to bring a better quality camera to better capture the beauty of the city- an iPhone just doesn’t cut it 🙂