It's no surprise why the Netherlands is ranked as one of the happiest countries in the world. Amsterdam can be defined by the bicyclists, stunning architecture, renowned museums, picturesque canals, and really good cheese!
Getting to the city center was about a 30 minute drive from the airport. To our amazement, almost all the airport taxis were Teslas and priced similar to a taxi. We stayed at The Hoxton Hotel on Amsterdam's Herengracht canal. The lobby was constantly buzzing with a mix of young creative types (read: hipsters), people working on laptops, and locals enjoying food+drinks together. The bar served creative craft cocktails and unique, affordable wines. My husband and I enjoyed a spacious room with a canal view that we absolutely adored. We were also given a breakfast bag to leave outside of the door before we went to bed each night. In the morning, the bag was filled with yogurt, granola, a banana, and an orange juice. It was the perfect breakfast after gorging ourselves from the night before.
Immediately upon our arrival in Amsterdam we walked to Foodhallen. Think Grand Central Market, Chelsea Market, or Liberty Public Market. It's a food hall consisting of a variety of vendors and cuisines. It was packed for a Wednesday evening. This place is a great option if you're looking for something simple and you don't want to spend a lot of Euros. My husband went for Dutch vegan food, while I ate a veggie burger from The Butcher.
The next day, I took a leisure stroll to the famous flower market. It is the world's only floating flower market. Side note: Amsterdam is an extremely easy city to navigate as it's sited around the canals. Not surprisingly, the flower market had a lot of tourists, but it's a good place to buy tulip bulbs and people watch. Next, I made my way to The Cold Pressed Juicery, a few doors down from our hotel. I chose to be healthy and ordered the Blue Majik + Ginger Latte. The girl had to explain to me that Blue Majik was a type of algae.
That first full day, I had arranged a very important reservation for us at noon: a cheese tasting at Reyanpaer Cheese. It was a short walk from The Hoxton and the private room was below their shop. We were seated at our own table with organized blocks of cheeses and wine glasses. The instructor was entertaining, and taught us about each cheese and the wine/whiskey/beer to pair it with. We had fun taking notes while sampling each cheese. Our favorite was the Chèvre Gris, a goat cheese so divine you'll dream about it. Seriously, do yourself a favor and place an order on their website. It is absolutely delicious. Cheese tip: Holland trademarked their gouda, so if the cheese doesn't say "Holland Gouda" on it, it's not from Holland.
From there we headed to the Van Gogh Museum. Even though it was a weekday, the museum was fairly packed. The Van Gogh Museum had three floors containing 200+ works that took you on a chronological journey of Van Gogh's life and development as a painter. A few paintings were so mesmerizing that I found myself lost in them. It was enlightening to see how his painting style changed over the course of his life.
Later that night we ate at Guts&Glory. I made the mistake of making reservations on the wrong day, but the hostess was kind enough to get us a table. We opted for the seven course tasting menu. Like some of the dining experiences in London, the courses were not shown. The restaurant consistently changes menu themes (or "chapters" as they call it) and we happened to come on a night where the theme was the best dishes from all the year's previous chapters. Lucky us.
My last full day in Amsterdam started with another pleasant stroll to find some hot chocolate, vintage shops, and cute cafes while my husband took advantage of our luxurious hotel room, and lounged while watching life along the canal. We later met up at the Anne Frank Museum. I recommend purchasing tickets beforehand as the lines tend to get long. Even if you have a ticket you may have to wait in a short line to get in. The museum is in the home where Anne Frank and her family hid during the Nazi occupation in WWII. The story is somber and emotional. Standing in the secret annex, let alone the bedroom of Anne, was heart wrenching. Her story is part of an important time in history we should all remember and this museum is an essential visit when you're in Amsterdam.
Before dinner, we popped into Wynand-Fockink, a tasting tavern filled with an assortment of liqueurs and genevers. The ambiance was very traditional and cozy. I chose the strawberry which was the sweetest thing on the menu.
Dinner that evening was at Gebr. Hartering. The neighborhood where the restaurant was located was quiet and seemed mostly residential. The ambiance was romantic and we were sat in a booth overlooking the cobblestone street. We ordered the five course tasting menu that included a mix of fish, greens, meat dishes and a Dutch apple dessert. On our stroll back we walked through a small portion the Red Light District. It's one of those things you should check-out to satisfy your curiosity if you've never been before, but
don't expect anything too crazy. We ultimately made it to the Pulitzer's Bar at the Hotel Pulitzer. It's a sleek and stylish bar. On the menu, each cocktail is described by tastes, smells, and a short story. There were no ingredients listed which made for a fun experience. I chose the Oxford Lady - served in a delft designed tea cup. After one drink, we ended the night at our own Hoxton Bar where I had ordered the "Schools Out". Yet again, the drink did not come in a traditional glass, but instead a ceramic small milk carton served with a straw and a mint garnish. Clever.
Our flight left around 4pm the next day, so we walked to the Rijksmuseum in the morning. It's a huge museum, so we had to walk briskly through the exhibits due to time constraints. We saw amazing works by Rembrandt, Vermeer, and Monet. Also in the Rijksmuseum was a stunning library, which is still used for art research. Our lunch consisted of traditional Dutch cooking at The Pantry: pea soup, sausage, and mashed veggies + potatoes. It was a heavy, comforting note to leave on.
Amsterdam is a magical city. It was not goodbye, but rather, see you later... and just like that our stint in Amsterdam had come to an end. Off to the next city!
xo Seldomly Still