THE LITTLE SCOOP: [THE BULLET POINTS]
EAT & DRINK:
Make a reservation to sit on the Prinsengracht canal and enjoy the seasonal menu at Buffet van Odette, enjoy pancakes 🥞and poffertjes at De Carrousel, take down a seafood tower 🦀 at The Seafood Bar, and if you need a Chinese kick and like the idea of a “floating dinner” – check out the Sea Palace Restaurant .🥢 As a result of past Dutch colonization in Indonesia, there are many great restaurants highlighting cuisine from that region as well. Above all, treat yourself to lots of gouda, and prepare for a seafood/carb heavy weekend!
We naturally stayed at comfortable and modern the Marriott Renaissance Amsterdam Hotel a close walk from the Central Train Station – equipped with a great concierge lounge for complimentary breakfast and snacks.
Book tickets immediately for the Anne Frank House and the Van Gogh Museum. Seriously.
Online tickets are abundant and available at the Rijksmuseum – even-same day. Grab souvenirs at the famous Bloemenmarkt, and consider a day trip out to the countryside if your itinerary allows. Most of all, just enjoy wandering the canals. Beauty abounds! 💐
Don’t forget an umbrella ☔️ – rain in Amsterdam is a way of life and often starts out of nowhere!
THE BIG SCOOP: [THE WHOLE STORY]
Amsterdam was a city we were anxious to return to together – I went with friends during my long ago study abroad semester in 2009 and my husband went that same summer with family. We were both shocked by how much the city has exploded with tourists over the past decade. So.many.bikes (and so many very bad bicyclists.)
As a prime example, I am embarrassed to tell you that although we looked more than six weeks out for tickets, the Anne Frank House was sold out. We both agreed it was one of the most moving experiences we have ever had while traveling and if you are going, we strongly suggest particularly in the summer looking more than six weeks out to book tickets!
While some might find this an overstatement, with the normalization of cruelty and prejudice and oft-misplaced nationalism on the rise by some in our home country, I find it more important than ever to revisit the stark and chilling reminders of our global past. While I’m not calling it apples to apples in any way (so don’t @ me) – it bears an important reminder to recall travel as a way to re-learn the lessons of often painful history. So don’t hesitate to book online as soon as you plan your travel dates. I would do the same for the Van Gogh Museum – another total sell-out for an Amsterdam August.
The lovely part about revisiting “old friends” like Amsterdam is that we had the freedom to simply wander. After a busy road trip just a few days before in Ireland, my husband stayed and traveled for work in Cork (followed by a 3 day meeting marathon to Denmark and Luxembourg) before we met up in Amsterdam. So hanging and lingering a little longer over drinks and snacks was the perfect ticket for a refreshing weekend.
After arriving, we proceeded to a long lunch over club sandwiches (the Dutch seem to LOVE club sandwiches) and hung in the beautiful Jordaan canal district before visiting the flower market, the Bloemenmarkt for souvenirs- you can even take bulbs home that are ready to ship to the US.
As I’ve mentioned, I love getting Christmas ornament keepsakes when we travel, and I found a great megastore.
That evening, it full-on poured rain, but we were still able to enjoy a lovely dinner undercover at Buffet van Odette overlooking Prinsengracht canal. We had delicious fish, polenta, and crisp white wine amidst all Dutch speakers.
The next morning, we booked a Viator to the Dutch countryside, which deserves a post of it’s own and will get one soon! After returning that afternoon, we went to The Seafood Bar (many outposts – I mistakenly chose one a million steps from our hotel) which was recommended by my husband’s colleague and was fantastic. Thoughtful and informed staff, well-priced seafood towers, and just-caught dinners all around.
It simply poured, but sometimes Amsterdam looks prettier that way!
The next morning, to make up for our museum fails we took our time meandering down to the Rijksmuseum. I bought tickets online for a discount. It was enormous! We enjoyed the museum’s few Rembrandts (most notably, Nightwatch) and a few Van Gogh portraits.
To reward ourselves on a cultural afternoon, we walked over to De Carrousel to split a plate of poffertjes. Inexpensive and scrumptious silver dollar pancakes with sprinkled sugar. We ate them way too fast to take photos! It is a very family-friendly place with, you guessed it, a carrousel in the center.
Our Viator to the countryside had included a canal ride back in Amsterdam – a must-do for the city no matter what the weather (most boats have retractable roofs) or no matter how many times you have visited.
At one point during our tour, we passed an five-floor floating Chinese restaurant. I have mentioned we rarely go out to dinner in Geneva as it is expensive, and now that we have some favorites, sometimes we can be risk-averse for getting burned on the bill in a new place if we don’t love it. As a result, we have not enjoyed a good Chinese night in ages.
Sea Palace Restaurant was a really cool experience – a bit expensive, but really good food with an expansive menu to match and fun to be eating quite actually on the water!
After a very full dinner, we headed back for one more drink at the Marriott Renaissance Amsterdam Hotel in the concierge lounge and prepared for our 730AM flight the next day. Hey, we go for the cheap flights even at our own discomfort! It was wonderful to be back eating breakfast in Geneva at 10AM feeling grateful for our experience in this charming city.
Our day trip to the Dutch countryside (Zaanse Schans, Volendam, and Marken) coming up, followed closely by my sister’s visit very soon!