Posted by: Kristie | September 27, 2009

Amsterdam Snapshot

Traveled Sept. 11-15, 2009

Our Observations/Info

  • The city is absolutely charming with its canals. This is something that really surprised me, I didn’t expect to find it as quaint as it is.
  • I would describe the atmosphere similar to Paris and Brugge, but more quaint than Paris and more lively and spacious than Brugge.
  • My favorite thing to do was what we called freewalking, especially in the evening. Just walking around, not exactly sure where we were going, enjoying the cobblestone streets and quiet canals scenes. 

 How We Got Around

  • Train from Antwerp. Used Eurailpass. Roughly 2 hour trip.
  • Walked to and from train station to B&B.
  • Once in the city, walked everywhere. Used the tram system twice, paid as we went. €2,60/person/trip

Where We Slept

Boogaard’s B&B
Contact: Peter Boogaard
€115/night
Recommend
This B&B is highly recommended on Tripadvisor and I would say if we were normal or older, you would love this place. Peter is super friendly, helpful and definitely goes above and beyond. I only give it a recommend because as nice as it was, we wished we had rented our own apartment. We were there 4 nights and would’ve preferred the extra space.

+/-

  • Great location. Easy walk from the train station, close to the city center, but located on a residential street so it had an urban neighborhood feel.
  • Excellent host. Very friendly, incredible breakfasts that were different every day.
  • Lots of little extras: free laundry (which was awesome), homemade cakes every day, complimentary drinks, snacks to go.
  • Room was a little small, compared to the other places we
  • As much as the host is wonderful, you do feel like you’re staying in his home, which some people like, but it’s a little weird for us. It got better as the trip went on, but we still prefer our own space. Or at least feeling like it’s our space.
  • We ate breakfast the same time every day. I wasn’t a big fan of having to be down at breakfast at a specific time. Would’ve preferred a range.

Where We NomNom’d

  • Indonesian restaurant – We went to one by the flower market, but they are all over and from what I understand, they are all good. We had the rijsttafel, which was basically a huge feast of 4 different entrees, 4 appetizers and 2-3 vegetables. It was incredible.
  • Indian restaurant – We stopped at one around the corner from our B&B. It was really good, but like the Indonesian restaurants, I think they’re all pretty good. I believe this was called South Indian and it was located near the train station. I had some incredible lentil soup.
  • Wok to Walk – A chain located around that city that serves up fresh thai rice and noodle dishes. Pick your grain, meat and sauce and in roughly 5 minutes you have a delicious meal for €5-7.
  • Restaurant Bazar – Located slightly off the beaten path, this restaurant was recommended to me through a travel forum as well as Rick Steves. It’s not too far from the Van Gogh Museum and its smack in the middle of the Albert Cuyp market. The restaurant is noted for it’s cheap and delicious Middle Eastern food. I thought the food was fantastic, especially for the price. Brett’s a little bit picky, he’s had the real deal in Iraq, but he still liked it. 
  • Dutch Pancakes – So delicious. I remember my friend Jenny bringing these back for me once. We would set them on top of our coffee mug to slightly warm them. As soon as I saw them in the market, I had to have one. And then, of course, we kept buying them. They are very thin with waffle-patterned dough that has some type of syrupy, toffee-like, goodness in the middle. So incredible.

What We Did

  • Anne Frank House – Wonderful museum. I read this book when I was a kid and it resonated with me. The house is very well done and an emotional experience. A definite must-see.
  • Dutch Resistance Museum (Verzetsmuseum) – Really interesting smaller museum. Chronicles Holland’s resistance to the Nazis. Great first-person accounts and quotes from all different types of people.
  • Van Gogh Museum – Excellent museum chronicling Van Gogh’s life through his paintings. Also includes works by artists that influenced Van Gogh.
  • Hash, Marijuana and Hemp Museum – Do not waste your money on this. For 9/person, you walked through poorly organized exhibit panels with jumbled information. Instead, check out the Cannibis College which is next door and free.
  • Red Light District – For the fact that it’s filled with prostitutes and live sex shows, this “seedy” area actually feels quite safe and clean. Sure there’s half-naked girls and roudy, probably drunk men, but it’s definitely an interesting look at Amsterdam’s social scene.
  • Mike’s Bike Tours (Countryside) – The tour was great. The guide kind of sucked. But it was worth it to ride around the outskirts of the city, visit a cheese and wooden shoe shop and meet some other English-speaking tourists.
  • Coffeeshops – The coffeeshops in Amsterdam fascinated me. In case you don’t know what I’m talking about, “coffeshops” are the outlets in The Netherlands that sell marijuana. Legally, they can sell up to 5 grams of marijuana per person per day. They offer various kinds, in pre-rolled joints and loose.  In 2008, a Dutch law outlawed smoking tobacco almost everywhere indoors, including coffeeshops. This poses a problem because most of the locals, mix their pot with tobacco. Therefore, they could no longer sit indoors with their mixed joint. Only if you had a pure joint, could you sit inside. How ironic is that?
    I’m not going to go into too much detail on the Internet, but suffice it to say we checked out the atmosphere at several. We avoided the chain The Bulldog, which seemed very touristy and almost a caricature of itself. Coffeshops are like any restaurant or pub. They’re going to have different atmospheres/vibes as well as varying drinking/food options. Here’s a list of our favorites, all oddly recommended by Rick Steves. Who would’ve thought? These did not have a party/grungy atmosphere. They were laid back and seemed to be the choice for locals. Most of these were located around our B&B and didn’t stay open much later than 8 p.m. out of respect for their neighbors. They all were very helpful and friendly. Plus, the coffee was good!Paradox – This one had a lot of potential but we didn’t arrive until 45 minutes before it closed. Cozy chairs and lots of games.
    Siberië – The first one we went to. Friendly people. Free Internet access. Great people watching.
    La Tertulia – Probably my favorite. Run by a mother-daughter team, this place is charming and served an all-organic menu.

What We Bought

  • Postcards – €2
  • Cheese – €7
  • Dutch pancakes – €5

Photos coming soon!

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