Last weekend my mom and I ventured off to Amsterdam, Netherlands for the weekend. It was the first time for the both of us and I was quite excited despite the rainy and slightly windy weather that greeted us and stayed with us.
Amsterdam is a very charming and sophisticated city. Being below sea level means the city was built around a canal system and that definitely adds to the beauty of the city. The Dutch art scene both modern and historic is quite significant and you can feel it throughout the city. You can also feel the spirit of pioneers and explorers as part of the city’s soul and history.
We didnt set out with any goals or “must-sees” and dos, so we just went with the flow. We opted to stay at a nicer place in order to also squeeze in some R&R time and so booked ourselves a room at the Waldorf Astoria Amsterdam which was an incredible hotel with some of the best service I’ve experienced at a hotel in the Western hemisphere. It is also well located, and walking distance to basically everything in Amsterdam.
Getting around Amsterdam is easy, my advice is to either walk around or bike, which from observation is also what locals prefer to do too. Unless you stay outside the main areas in which case taxi, tram or rental car could be used, but why would you do that to yourself?! Going further outside of Amsterdam is easy to with Europe’s extensive rail network.
- Arrive early morning in Amsterdam, take taxi to the Waldorf Astoria, check-in and freshen up.
- Had the concierge buy tickets to Van Gogh Museum and the Rijks Museum. Especially for the Van Gogh Museum (which have timed tickets), it is advisable to purchase these tickets in advance to avoid long waits in line.
- After a nice breakfast at the hotel we walked out into the typical rainy Amsterdam day and headed towards the museums.
- Spent just over an hour at the Van Gogh Museum and just under an hour at the Rijks museum. We went in detail at the Van Gogh but only hit the highlights at the Rikjs, both are very much worth your time and money in Amsterdam.
- Walked back to the hotel as our room was ready, before the 3pm check-in time!
- We headed out for lunch, we tried to book the two-michelin starred restaurant at our hotel, Librije’s Zusje, but it was fully booked and the concierge tried to book Pancake House Upstairs, for some of the best Dutch pancakes but it too was fully booked. Instead we went around the corner of Pancake House Upstairs per the owner’s suggestion to Meuwese Espresso B.V. to have some Dutch pancakes for lunch. It did not disappoint, the savory ones were much better than the sweet.
- We then walked down the street to Van Stapele Koekmakerij, and lined up to get ourselves a few boxes of this incredible and popular chocolate cookie, but not just any chocolate cookie, a chocolate chocolate chip cookie with a large oozy lump of white chocolate in the center. A must.
- From there we walked and shopped around The 9 Street (De 9 Straatjes), 9 parallel streets along the canal that are filled with coffeeshops, boutiques and international brands, as well as galleries and antique shops. A fun area to walk and shop around for sure.
- After a lot of walking, we headed back to the hotel to rest.
- For dinner we opted to go for a more local approach. First stop was Vlaams Friteshuis Vleminckx, a hole in the wall (literally) Dutch fries stall, where we ordered a medium size fries with Curry Ketchup, onion and house mayo, it was delicious. Then it was a small dessert at Van Wonderen Stroopwafels, just down the street for some freshly made stroopwafels, it was delicious and I bought some mini-wafels to take home and share. We couldn’t leave Amsterdam without experiencing a few Brown Cafes, historic pubs serving beer, whiskey, gin and Dutch snacks. First one was Cafe de Dokter, one of Amsterdam’s smallest brown cafes, walking in is like going back in time with a very friendly and knowledgable bar tender. Here I sampled some Dutch gin and Genever. Then it was off to Cafe Hoppe, for some Dutch beer and snacks such as chicken soup, beef croquette and fried cheese.
- After a lovely bar hopping/ snacking type dinner we headed back to the hotel for a drink at the Vault Bar in our hotel. The hotel is 6 historic Dutch houses/ palaces connected together, and one of them used to be a bank, they transformed the former vault into a bar and really kept to the theme. Drinks here are quite good.
- After a wonderful and full day, it was time for bed.
- Enjoyed a lovely breakfast at the hotel.
- Checked-out and headed to the airport
- Amsterdam Schiphol Airport has a wonderful observation deck with a former KLM Fokker-100 on display, but this is pre-security, and in my opinion is a worthy destination in itself in Amsterdam, so leave some time before your flight or make it your first place on arrival (post-baggage and customs)!
- Noon departure back to the states.
Over all, we really quite enjoyed Amsterdam. It is a great place to do solo, with friends or with family as it offers something for everyone. English is spoken everyone and quite frankly the Dutch are very friendly people!