If you can’t clearly work out from the title or my recent Instagram posts, I returned from the hustle and bustle of Amsterdam last Wednesday to the rain and miserable weather at Leeds Bradford International…It always manages to be raining when I step off the plane in the UK. Not happy about that obviously, yet it always feels like home nonetheless! I wonder why.
We left on Sunday for a 2 1/2 hour car journey to get to the airport after some frantic last minute packing the night before (aassss usual). To be perfectly honest it was my worst flight experience to date due to not being able to get all of my toiletries through security (because I can’t for the life of me pack lightly). It meant I had to throw away some Soap&Glory body mist that I got for Christmas…*cries*. Another thing was actually on the airplane when the guys behind kept kicking the back of our seats…until one of them was sick and we were able to move elsewhere on the plane due to the smell and the pool of not very nice stuff on the floor beneath our seats. But never mind that! We brushed it off fairly quickly. There was a bit of confusion at Schipol trying to find out how to get to the hotel because there was no 310 bus running to Station Zuid on Sundays and also the trains weren’t running so we had to get a coach replacement. Finding that coach was fun (not) and took us about an hour.
After checking into the hotel and topping up on deodorant we got the tram into Amsterdam’s canal district to find some place to eat. The tram ride itself was amusing as we weren’t sure whether to get on or not so Dad hopped on and next thing we knew the doors were closing behind him XD He was stranded on the tram system so we had to rescue him at the next station with the tram tickets.
Now, out of all the culture and architecture and amazing heritage that Amsterdam has to offer, the food was probably my favourite thing about this lovely city and the little restaurant that we went to on our first night was by far my favourite; Buffet van Odette, which actually ended up being in the rough guide but anyway… Here’s what I had: for starters it was beetroot, feta and roasted hazelnuts… so so heavenly; for mains I had a salad complete with fresh salmon, puy lentils, and topped with a poached egg. It was super yummy.
After the meal we just headed back to the hotel but we thought we’d walk – we were sure it wouldn’t be too difficult to find our way. How wrong we were! Dad ended up having to use his phone to navigate our way around the labyrinth of canals, although these are quite useful as a landmark to find your way. Along the way I spotted a few herons in the dark – exciting!
The next morning, Dad wanted to go visit De Foodhallen, north of Vondelpark so we took the tram as far as de Museumplein and walked to Kinkerstraat. As de Foodhallen had just opened the counters hadn’t all opened up yet so we went across the road to The Breakfast Club, cue ‘Don’t You Forget Me’. This place also served delicious food which I am determined to recreate at some point. I had buttermilk pancakes with fresh fruit while my mum had an avocado and beetroot club sandwich (hmmm) and Dad tried the sweet potato salad bowl; I can’t remember what was in here but the basis is good enough to give it ago for brunch one day.
Now, what do you think of when you think Amsterdam? Trams? Yep… Canals? Of course! After eating the most amazing breakfast – I tried a bit of everything – we hopped on the tram heading towards Centraal Station to look for a canal boat company to show us around. We opted for a covered boat which would take us around the canals for an hour showing us the highlights. This gave us an idea of where we wanted to go next so when we stepped off the boat we headed in the direction of the Prinsengracht where we wandered upon the Tulip Museum and a figure of Anne Frank outside the Anne Frank Huis.
We were pretty hungry by this point so naturally we looked for somewhere to eat for dinner. This took us to an Indonesian restaurant next to the flower market, a colourful haven for succulents, cacti and, of course, the tulips. After booking the restaurant we rambled around for a bit before deciding that our stomachs were getting impatient. Aside from the starter at Sam Purno Indonesian this was my least favourite of the restaurants that we tried out – the food was too hot for my liking. One tram ride from outside the restaurant and we were back at Hotel Beethoven.
I woke up on Tuesday morning to find that Dad had booked us tickets for the Rijksmuseum. These online tickets are good to get because it means you can skip the queues like with many other popular highlights in Amsterdam; namely the Van Gogh Museum and the Anne Frank Huis & Museum. When I visit art museums I like to buy postcards featuring art work I find in the museum which I particularly like. I was a tad frustrated when I couldn’t find one of the Monet painting I’d found that morning and so I bought one of A Windmill on a Polder Waterway by Paul Joseph Constantin Gabriel – this was also Dad’s favourite painting in the museum. After a long while wandering the many corridors of the Rijksmuseum, we sat down in the coffee for a good ol’ cup of tea.
After pondering what to make with the rest of our day we decided to explore Vondelpark by hiring some bikes. This was a interesting first experience of riding bikes in Amsterdam. To start with, I saw only one cyclist, over the few days we were there, who was wearing a helmet; the roads are confusing to cross when you can’t immediately work out which way to look with regards to oncoming traffic!
After a lil while we thought we’d return the bikes and, you guessed it, look for somewhere to eat so we wandered down the Singel towards de Prinsengracht to find this vegetarian restaurant called the Golden Temple. The only table spaces they had free were the ones upstairs…the only thing was that you have to sit on the floor because the tables are that low. I was certain I was sitting on blankets and cushions tangled with bits of food from customers past – but it was certainly an experience, I almost did fall asleep there though!
As Wednesday was our last day we’d decided to book an early entrance time for the Van Gogh museum so we headed there for 10am. I loved roaming about the different floors from different periods of Vincent’s life. The place had different rooms from somewhere for his self portraits to a hub of inspiration from ‘Peasant painters’ and other impressionists such as the one and only Claude Monet. Aside from the angry, mad security woman around the Sunflowers painting – who was scaring all the children away – it was my favourite place in Amsterdam yet. I ended up paying €11 on Van Gogh postcards -they live on my bedroom wall as we speak…
When we were satisfied that we’d seen all we wanted, we caught the tram from the Museumplein to Kinkerstraat once more to find some lunch in de Foodhallen. There was loads to choose from but I went for a falafel wrap with grilled veg….YUM. And for pudding was an amazing treat in the form of awesome lil tartlets. I chose a raspberry (framboos) and lemon (citroen) tartlets and guess what!? They were bloomin delicious!
After that tasty lunch we decided it was time to make our way to the airport. But wait! On stop first. Opposite our hotel was a lovely little bakery/café called Le Pain Quotidien – Belgian- we had eaten here for breakfast the previous two mornings and so we decided to stop for a lil snack. I had Belgian waffles with fresh fruit – it was divine – with a fresh mint lemonade.
It took us a while to find the train back to Schipol but it was a much nicer journey home than the way there. Bye-bye Amsterdam I miss you!
I’m currently listening to The Silver Birch by The Magnetic North
Until next time,