We landed in Amsterdam early on a Friday and already a little worse for the wear. Our usually uneventful travel to the airport was hampered by the UK’s first real snow in several years, rendering the roads completely useless. Our driver’s winter tires saved the day although we spent nearly an hour weaving through spun out cars and their dizzy human cargo. Despite a growing dread that our flight would surely be cancelled, Stansted airport had its plows going full force (so that’s where they all are!) and we made it out with just an hour delay.
Our short weekends away are typically packed tightly with activities and this was no exception. After easily finding our houseboat rental for the weekend, we sought lunch, landing in the mecca of Bakers & Roasters, a recommendation from the land of Twitter. The Rijksmuseum was the main attraction for the afternoon, and it is fantastically huge, focusing on Dutch art, of which there is a ton (I remember the many artists named Jan from my Flemish Art History class).
While the sky threatened rain and snow we spent an hour taking one of Amsterdam’s many canal cruises, an activity I’ve decided is not the tourist trap I once thought. Instead I learned a ton about the city including the fact that many homes here are built on a precarious bed of wood pilings that shift all the time. The inevitable question of insuring such a home hovered in my mind as we spun around the canals, taking pictures of grey on grey.
A crazy walk through a downpour of sleet led us to the cozy restaurant Mayur, where we had an Indian feast and ran/walked our way back to our floating home in the snow.
Saturday opened bright and blue, though we carried our umbrella with us, just in case. The umbrella carry along is our protection against actual rain, and it never fails. It didn’t rain all day, thanks to us and our umbrella.
Our first stop was the Anne Frank House, a unique and important historical place, but when converted to a tourist friendly spectacle, is decidedly mediocre. We purchased our tickets in advance, skipping the massive queue. I read the book multiple times as a child and loved Anne’s vivid description of her home in the annex. In person, the magic is noticeably absent. If you must visit, just get those tickets in advance. You’ll thank me when you see the crowds winding around the block.
Brunch followed (Omelegg, another Twitter recommendation. Twitter, two for two!). Next was an unforgettable visit to the Van Gogh museum. This museum is one of the best curated I’ve seen and most advanced visiting experiences I’ve had. We purchased audio tours, where we had our pick of several selections of collections to see – we did the ‘Highlights’. The combination of Van Gogh’s work in and around the work of his friends, documents from his family and room after room of some of the world’s most recognized paintings was nothing short of spectacular. We had prints of several Van Gogh’s growing up, and seeing the real ‘Bedroom’ painting tucked behind a large wall nearly took my breath away. It was that good.
We spent the rest of our day wandering around the red light district, snacking on Amsterdam’s most famous French fries, and getting lost among the canals. We also spent nearly two hours drinking wine in the Skylounge, the hotel bar at the local Doubletree hotel, which has the reputation of the finest view in the city. We, and nearly a hundred other people who chose to spend their Saturday afternoon there, agree.
Our final dinner was at a well-known Indonesian spot (Tempo Doeloe) Drew found online. Amsterdam is apparently not known for its foodie tendencies, but we lucked out thanks to lots of research and social media.
Bright and early the next morning, we did the commute in reverse, landing safely back in London before lunch. We’ve decided that Amsterdam was one of our best weekends to date, thanks to the right amount of activity, restaurant reservations made in advance (no one likes a hangry Julie, trust me), and mostly wonderful weather. Just a couple months until we do it all again in… Stockholm!
Thanks to iamsterdam for sponsoring some of our activities during our stay.
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