I recently went to Amsterdam with my lovely other half for a long weekend which was absolutely beautiful. I was surprised at how quickly I had fallen in love with the city, it’s so picturesque with its long canals, amazing architecture and historical background. Amsterdam is truly a bikers city and although the idea of a tandem for two sounds romantic, in reality its chaotic, and watching the cyclists whiz pasts you is enough to get you in a real tizz! (I would definitely recommend the walking option! – you certainly won’t be disappointed). 4 days in the heart of Amsterdam with all its hustle and bustle was definitely enough for me! We crammed in many amazing visits to museums, saw beautiful works of art, relaxed on a lazy ride along the canal, but what surprised me most about my visit to Amsterdam was the food!
Walking along the busy morning streets was a slow process, with everywhere you turn, the beautiful smell of freshly baked goods wafted through the air – croissants, fresh bread, I was in my element! And I was also surprised at the number of small bakeries lining the streets, selling everything from bread, to cupcakes! It was a delight to see since they are so sparse where I am in my small home town. I couldn’t help but stare at the beautifully crafted cakes, and linger for the different smells. We certainly weren’t disappointed with the food we sampled, and probably ate way too much (but then again, how much is too much!)
We had beautiful pancakes for breakfast one morning, one thing I really could not resist. They were thin, traditional pancakes, that were light and the sprinkle of cinnamon was the perfect addition to the large pancakes topped with banana, maple syrup and a dash of icing sugar for added sweetness! But while I chose the sweet option, my other half went for the savoury, a traditional pancake with bacon! Yes, bacon! I know this is nothing new, and kind of tradition amongst the Americans, but I had never been brave enough to try! I mean the sweetness of the pancakes and maple syrup, with the salty rashers of bacon! How does that even work? But it was delicious and the flavours complimented each other beautifully! I definitely helped myself to a slice of the action, as well as sharing mine with him (well, it’s only fair!)
And lunches were just as tasty! We both have a lot of love for a good sandwich and we certainly weren’t disappointed with the wide choice available! Freshly baked bread was a given and the slices were soft, light and finished with the most amazing crust! I thought I had died and gone to heaven with every bite, they were something I could have eaten for breakfast, lunch and dinner! It has definitely inspired me to get the apron on and have another bash at bread baking again to spend time (and patience) perfecting the recipe until I get the same consistency as the Dutch!
One thing I just had to try whilst over there was apple strudel. It was always featured on the dessert side of a menu (I’d always just been too full to order after dinner!). But one afternoon whilst strolling along the river, just before an afternoon of fun at the Nemo science museum, we ventured into a small cafe that actually sold Earl Grey tea (ooh yippee!) But what most caught my eye, was the big slab of apple crumble pie cake (yes I did type that correctly) and I knew I just HAD to have a piece! With a pastry base, sweet apple and cinnamon filling, and a crumble topping, it was just divine and a great twist of the old classics! I will definitely be trying this when the colder nights come – definitely something filling to warm the belly!
It was an amazing weekend, with filled bellies (but quickly walked off!) and many cultural delights. I would definitely recommend this place to anyone that loves food, or simply just wants to take in the beautiful scenery! Even the Red Light District is a must see, if nothing else, its worth the walk just to say you have been!
My top 10 tips for anyone thinking of travelling to this picturesque city:
- Rent a boat and cruise the canal – Take an hour out away from the hustle and bustle and cruise along the canals, either tourist style, or by renting a boat (if you are more confident with your boating skills!).
- Visit the Nemo Science Museum – This ship-like science museum is one of the best I’ve been to. Perfect for kids and the young at heart, i.e. big kids like us! Each floor is dedicated to a different age group. There’s plenty to entertain and teach little kids as well as teens (and adults as well).
- Spend some time at the Rijksmuseum – The Rijksmuseum is probably the only museum with a bike path running through it! Its beautiful architecture outside and exhibitions within, makes it a must see! Just remember, Museums are expensive in Amsterdam and it can add up! Why not purchase an I amsterdam card in advance which include free entries, discounts and public transit.
- Eat Cheese! – I am a sucker for cheese and Amsterdam certainly didn’t disappoint! There’s more than Gouda and Edam – in fact, you can sample the delights of cheese with truffles, cheese with nettles, and varying degrees of texture and pungency.
- Watch out for the cyclists – Takes a bit of getting used to, but you can’t just step down onto a road without risking a major collision. Since they’re quiet, it’s especially dangerous if you don’t stay aware. Make sure to keep off the bicycle lanes .. believe me, you won’t miss them!
- Buy tickets to the Anne Frank house in advance – Unfortunately we didn’t get around to visiting, but from passing the queues were long! By getting your tickets in-advance, you can bypass these queues and stroll straight up to the ticket holders door.
- Visit the Van Gogh Museam – definitely one of Amsterdam’s must-sees with painting including The Bedroom (1888), several self-portraits and still life’s of sunflowers! I Amsterdam Card holders have a separate ‘fast’ lane for entry, but it can be almost as long as the regular queue!
- Take a stroll around The Jordaan – A very picturesque area with nice shops, restaurants and cafés everywhere! Take a few hours to wonder around the back streets as there are plenty of little treasures to find!
- Take a picnic and enjoy the sites of Vondelpark – A lovely free park that you can simply just walk around or sit down and enjoy the sun. Bring a picnic lunch with you to enjoy, it’s a calm and relaxed environment compared to the hectic city centre.
- Visit the Artis Zoo – although small in comparison to others, it’s the the Artis Zoo is the oldest in Europe! Free entry on the I am Amsterdam card, but worth paying for the map to ensure you don’t miss anything!
Happy travels! x