Oookay, I thought I could squeeze the rest of Amsterdam into a second post and be done with it, but I did a lot more than I thought! And I definitely don’t want to bore you with an unending blur of photos so there will be one more post after this one. In case you missed it, here is Amsterdam, Part 1, and here is what I did beginning on day three…
Day Three | On this morning, I awoke feeling really refreshed and ready to hit the ground running. I walked my usual path toward Museumplein only this time stopping in Vondelpark, Amsterdam’s largest city park. Work traffic was bustling, which in this city meant bicycles everywhere! It was really a neat site to see. I popped in the cutest little cafe for coffee and a bagel and this is such a small thing, but I love how everywhere in Europe they call “to-go” items “takeaway.” So, I got a takeaway coffee and bagel and enjoyed them on a bench outside the Van Gogh Museum before it opened. Twas delightful.
I made an effort to arrive at the museum early and bought a ticket on my phone so I didn’t really have to wait in line or deal with the box office. I recommend doing the same. There is no time when the museum is not packed, like, a-line-through-every-gallery-packed where people shuffle from one piece to the next. I didn’t mind because everyone was really polite about it, but by the time I left a few hours later, the museum was an absolute zoo. Initially, I debated on whether or not to visit this museum at all because it seemed so obvious. People who don’t even like art will visit the Van Gogh Museum because he is the epitome of painting. In the end, I’m really glad I went. Not only was it a deep dive into the painter’s life and work, but the temporary exhibition of 1900s Parisian prints was absolutely stunning. So great in fact, I bought the oversized catalog and lugged it around with me all day. And, by some miracle from the heavens, I was able to fit it in my suitcase.
After the museum, I made my way to one of Amsterdam’s most popular street markets, Albert Cuypt Markt. The weather was absolutely gorgeous as I strolled busy streets lined with vendors. There were food trucks, souvenirs, gadgets, home goods, flowers, and more. I stopped for poffertjes, mini Dutch pancakes and a trademark Dutch treat. They make all sorts of variations, like Nutella-topped and with fruit on the side, but I went the traditional route and opted for powdered sugar and butter. I tried to sneak a quick video of how they’re made (above) because the whole process of pouring the batter and flipping each pancake definitely adds to the wow factor!
The market also provides several options for souvenir stroopwafels, another iconic sweet treat popular in Amsterdam. I picked some up but sadly, and let’s be honest, not surprisingly, they didn’t make it home. The last few were actually eaten at 4 a.m. while sitting in Terminal 5 at JFK because I missed my flight and everything was closed. So, basically, it was not my fault. Oh, and I bought those people other souvenirs in Stockholm 🙂 Anyway, here are some pretty things I saw in the market… it was a blessing and curse that I only brought one suitcase…
After the market, I decided to keep the adventure going. As if the nightmare of the tram system in Amsterdam wasn’t enough of a challenge for me, I took a short ferry ride across the bay to NDSM, the arts district of Amsterdam known for shipping container structures and a very boho vibe. It was on my itinerary before my trip, and when Chris mentioned that the ferries ran 24/7 and they’re free, it seemed like it was next to impossible to mess up… I did…but just keep reading.
After a short ferry ride and a short walk, I arrived at Pllek, an uber hip indoor/outdoor bar that sits on the coast overlooking Amsterdam Central. I ordered a beer and took it outside to soak up some sunshine. First of all, everyone there was gorgeous in that effortless European way that makes me stare. There were picnic tables on the patio packed with patrons, couples sprinkled throughout the beach on comfy cushions, and friends huddled in small groups around wooden tables. I was especially entertained when the 20-something Polish girls I sat next to were 1, speaking English, and 2, dishing Tinder nightmares. Oh to be young again…
I finished my beer and wandered a bit until I took the ferry back to the wrong stop. See, I told you I’d find a way to get lost. I saw Centraal Station in the distance though, and decided to walk the bay bank at dusk to get back. It proved a scenic route and I occasionally stopped to snap a few photos. That’s the great thing about exploring new places, you’re never really lost, you’re just a little further from where you’re going..
Can we talk about how all of the beautiful canals have no railings?! Every time I got within 3 feet of the water’s edge, I would get wobbly knees. This photo gives me wobbly knees! Many of the canals are lined with parking spaces too and they have no barriers at all! It’s crazy and would never fly in the States.
Once I made it back to my neighborhood, I popped in Foodhallen, a food hall about a block away from my hotel. It reminded me of a mini Grand Central Central station in that various restaurants and vendors are conveniently housed under one roof. I decided to try something out of the ordinary for me, so I ordered bbq pork buns, porky pork gyoza and wonderful wontons from Dim Sum Thing, all of which were delicious. I like a few bites of different dishes, so it was absolutely perfect.
If I’m being honest, sitting down to eat alone has always been a challenge for me. I know other people can relate and some people don’t give an eff, but it can be uncomfortable and kind of nerve-racking, especially when in another country. I do it because I want to get over the discomfort, and because cuisine is an important part of a culture. So, after ordering, I found an empty spot at the high-top picnic tables nearby. The place was packed so this seat felt like a major score. Everyone shared communal tables so I didn’t feel like I was intruding but when I sat down, the guy across from me said, “Oh no, this seat is taken.” I immediately apologized and got up, my ego slightly bruised. Fearing another social intrusion, I took my food to the first available seat I could find which was at a bar seat facing a dark wall. Can I just tell you, he must have been saving that seat for his imaginary friend because I did not see a single soul grace that seat while I ate in what felt like the back alley. rude. The gyoza was still really good though.
(from my IG story… not bitter at all)
I hit up Petit Gateau on my way out for a sweet bite and a cup of coffee because I’m a big believer of treating yo’self when on vacation. All the little pastries were lined up and just as cute as could be. And that green pastry was pistachio heaven.
Okay, Europe? Real talk for a sec: What is up with your coffee? Everywhere I go, I order a coffee and I am given a thimble of coffee. WHAT. UP. WITH. THAT. The best part of my trip was when I found Sweden’s version of Starbucks and ordered a double flat white and they gave it to me in a large cup. I wanted to hug the barista because it was the first time in a week I enjoyed a decent sized cuppa joe. Oh, and even if you’re lucky enough to find Sweet n Low in Europe, it is not the real Sweet n Low, repeat: it is an imposter dressed like Sweet n Low. (I know Sweet n Low is old school, but whatevs, I love it… the same applies to Splenda or whatever cancer-inducing sugar substitute you prefer) This is how I know I’m bound to America forever: Sweet n Low, coffee sizes, and don’t even get me started on Coca-Cola Light dressed as Diet Coke because they are not even in the same ballpark.
Day Four | I woke up early and set out to Centraal Station to catch a train to the airport, where I then boarded a bus to Keukenhof Gardens in Lisse. In the spirit of transparency, I would not recommend this attraction. You’ll see tulip-covered buses everywhere in Amsterdam and it may look appealing, but it was a pretty cheesy let down. I thought it would be like this, and it was more like Disney for tulips. I made the most of it but wish I had had the guts to venture out of Amsterdam on my own to go searching for legit tulip fields and windmills.
Tulip season begins at the end of March and lasts through May. I arrived at the beginning so not everything was in full bloom yet. The park was okay. It was beautifully landscaped, but if you’re looking for something a lil more authentic, I highly recommend looking into a bike tour or some other way to venture outside of Amsterdam.
Okay, I’m going to leave you here. In my final Amsterdam post, I’ll share a hidden village of nuns, the fancy Jordaan district, and my experience at the Ann Frank House.