We arrived in Amsterdam at night, just in time for a delicious Italian dinner and catch-up with great friends. Ciro Passami L’Olio was our first meal in this great city. Ciro and his staff, Filippo, Alessandra, and Salvatore, were gracious hosts and offered excellent service, delicious dishes, a cozy and warm atmosphere – and even a picture with a famous Italian singer!
We enjoyed breakfast/lunch at Vlaamsch Broodhuys. The Panini, croissant, and coffee are great! Everybody around drinks a green tea, fresh mint leaves in hot water with honey on the side. From now on, every meal will be finished with this warm and delicious tea.
It was a very rainy day – a museum kind of day. First stop: the Van Gogh Museum. Regular tickets are $17 EUR and the line took forty-five minutes. It’s a popular place; so give it at least three hours (even though, as museums go, it’s fairly small). The three-story building narrates the Dutch artist’s story in paintings, self-portraits, landscapes, letters, and some peculiar facts about this brilliant and troubled post-impressionist painter. The gift shop is wonderful for souvenirs and cute little things.
Walk around this area, and if you have extra time (the museums close at 5:00 pm), visit the national museum of arts and history, The Rijksmuseum, also located at the museum square. Take a touristic picture in front of the “I amsterdam” sign (in case you missed the one outside the airport), and try not to block the cycle lane!
The sun came out for a little bit, revealing a beautiful sky after the rain. I walked for a bit around the canals. Then I took a tapas break at Restaurant Granada, which offered good price, perfect English and Spanish menus, and sangria for a relaxing time. I walked some more towards the center and looked for the DAM, a town square. The Royal Palace is located in the DAM, next to other classical and baroque buildings. It’s a great spot to admire gorgeous architecture, shop and take photos.
Walk back to look for Cafe Hoppe, a friendly traditional pub where the city’s intellectuals have gathered to talk about politics and important matters for years. Ask for a beer, and the bartender will give you a small Amstel.
I suggest dinner at Kantjil & de Tijger. The Indonesian cuisine is perfect for sharing and trying different small dishes. The special rice, meat bowls, and vegetables are delicious! Some dishes were a little spicy and others mild – a good balance for a delightful meal.
The Red Light District is within walking distance of the Indonesian restaurant. Do not take pictures of the windows – just walk around if you are interested in this famous touristic area. But be aware that the famous coffee-shops are not the regular shops where you buy coffee or café au lait. They are among the 200 or so coffee-shops in Amsterdam that legally sell soft drugs.
A sunny and gorgeous day in Amsterdam. For a canal day cruise, buy tickets at any of the main canal locations. We bought ours at the intersection of Leidsestraat and Singelgracht. There are different options, such as HopOn-HopOff boats for a day or one-hour tours. I like to walk, so the best option was to take a ride for an hour on the Lovers Canal Cruise and get a different perspective of Amsterdam. A one-hour tour on a nice boat is best for appreciating and enjoying the water, canals, architecture, and hearing some interesting facts in your own language.
The boat navigates on some of the main canals, passes under many small and middle-size bridges, reaches Central Station and goes a little further before coming back in a loop. I was fascinated with all the bicycles in this city. They are basically everywhere. Be careful when crossing streets. Pay attention to cars, tramlines, traffic lights, people – and the hundreds of bicycles!
The Bloemenmarkt is the world’s only floating flowers market, located on the Singel canal. You can find beautiful tulips and other flowers here, especially during springtime. The bulbs are ready to export, so you can take them home if you wish.
De 9 Straatjes are nine streets known for beautiful architecture, nice bars, great shopping, and excellent eateries. Prinsengracht, Keizersgracht, and Herengracht are the main canals that intersect Reestraat, Berenstraat, Runstraat, Hartenstraat, Wolvenstraat, Huidenstraat, Gasthuismolensteeg, Spiegelstraat, and Wijde-Heisteeg. These nine streets are great for an afternoon’s walk and perfect for awesome pictures.
Don’t miss out the great local crunchy snack, bitterballen, which are available in any pub. Every bar serves a small glass of a local brew when you just ask for a beer. The local beer logo – like Heineken, Amstel or Grolsch – will be outside the bar. I loved the smaller and still-refreshing glass sizes.
Walk further north from the nine streets and you’ll find the house and museum of Anne Frank. The line was too long to enter, but if you’d like to go in be sure to buy tickets online.
The night was approaching, and the sky turned a mix of dark gold and reddish. The canals had only dim lights, and the landscape was phenomenal.
Have a fantastic dinner and enjoy the chic atmosphere of the Black and Blue Steakhouse. Start with gin and tonic; continue with super-tasty appetizers like scallops, salads, and mussels, and for the main, order a rib-eye steak for two. Everything was exquisite! Finish a great meal with scroppinos and espressos.
Zaanse Schans is a charming town for a beautiful day three in the Netherlands. This charming place is located just twenty minutes from Amsterdam and is known for its colorful and historical windmills. The town offers a beautiful view, local bites, a wooden shoe workshop, accommodation, and more! It’s perfect for a leisurely stroll in a quiet and calm atmosphere.
Foodhallen Amsterdam is a lovely indoor market offering different types of cuisine, drinks, desserts – a little bit of everything for every taste! We tried different flavors of bitterballen from De BallenBar, and a mixed plate of pork specialties from The Rough Kitchen.
A long flight back home was approaching. It was time to return to California and leave Europe filled with wonderful memories and experiences. Many thanks to my dear friends Melissa and Douwe for being fantastic hosts during these amazing days in Amsterdam. Cheers!
Live hard! Live wise! With Simply Green.