Last week I posted about all that we saw and did in Poland during our trip in September. After we’d had our fill of zapiekanki and vodka, we made our way to Amsterdam, one of my favorite cities. There’s always something to be left for next time with so much to do there so here’s a few things that we did, plus a few on the list for the next visit.
Sleep: I somehow discovered Marcel’s Creative Exchange through a rabbit hole of exploration on TripAdvisor. Marcel’s renovated canal house is in the dead center of everything and is beautifully decorated with a mix of mid-century, Dutch design and classic canal house touches.
We rented the apartment on the top floor complete with a balcony overlooking the Liedsestraat. We had a warm greeting from Marcel upon our arrival and he proceeded to draw us his own personal map with all of his favorite suggestions of what to do in Amsterdam. Needless to say, he was a spectacular host and we will most definitely stay at Marcel’s Creative Exchange whenever we head back to Amsterdam!
Fun fact – Marcel’s house is connected to the 2nd oldest cinema in Europe. If you butter him up, he might just give you a private tour through the secret back entrance!
Street Eats: Here, too, Mike Wiz and I enjoyed a nice mixture of delicious restaurants and street snacks.
> Poffertjes (Mini Pancakes): We made our way to the De Pijp neighborhood one morning to peruse the Albert Cuyp Markt. We didn’t buy much, but we did eat our way through the street market. These teeny, tiny, light and fluffy pancakes are no larger than an Oreo and come with a hefty pat of butter and powdered sugar. They’re made to order in minutes and served piping hot.
> Pannekoeken (Giant Pancakes): On the opposite side of the pancake spectrum is the huge “Pannekoeken.” We ventured over to The Pancake Bakery on the Prinsengracht, on Marcel’s recommendation, and split an apple, cinnamon and brandy pancake, a la mode. Amazing and delicious. This place is known to get busy, so either go early or be prepared to wait!
> Turkish Pizza: This was more like a burrito when all was said and done. This on-the-go item offers traditional middle eastern toppings on a delicious flatbread that is then rolled up. Worth getting as a lunch on the go!
> Snacks behind Glass: Just down the block from Marcel’s Creative Exchange, was Febo de lekkerste. Sort of like the automats of New York City, behind each little glass door lies a delicious morsel of tastiness (mostly fried). We tried a few different items including a hot cheese pocket thingy and a curry croquette of sorts. Both delicious and a great way to use some of your coins if you’re nearing the end of your trip.
Restaurants: Of course there are a million different delicious restaurant options in Amsterdam. It’s a great city to experience international cuisine, along with Dutch food (obviously). A few worth stopping at, include:
> De Sneeker Pan: We ate breakfast here one morning as it was just down the way from Marcel’s house and recommended by him. Delicious omelets, pancakes and other lovely breakfast items. A great spot to start the day!
> Kantjil & de Tijger: Our first Indonesian Rice Table experience. We went with a sampler order of sorts, which was a lot of food but so delicious and worth doing as your first adventure into rice tables.
> Geisha: We didn’t think to make reservations when we tried to go to Restaurant Lastage (make reservations!), and they were full for the night so we hopped around the corner to Geisha where we did a tasting menu filled with delectable dim-sum, steamed fish, and an awesome beef dish, among others. Reservations recommended!
> Eat at Jo’s: A Milwaukee friend of ours sent us to her sisters’ (and their husbands’) restaurant. It is attached to the music/film venue, the Melkweg, just off the Leidseplein Square. Their menu changes daily and have gathered a following of fans of their Spinach Pie (when it’s on the menu) and other delicious staples. It was great to meet new friends with ties to Wisconsin – and they gave some great suggestions for Amsterdam!
Do: I know I’m getting a bit long winded here, but bear with me, I’ll try to keep this section short. Most Amsterdam travel guides will cover the standards – Anne Frank Museum, Rembrandthuis, Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh Museum and a host of other suggestions. Below are a few other things to add to your list in addition to any of the classic but great things to see and do in Amsterdam.
> Canal Tour by Boat: A great way to see the city from a different angle and learn more about its history. You can do a 24-hour Hop-On/Off, or opt for the shorter 1.5 hour tour, which is what we did.
> Stedelijk Museum: Located across from the Rijks Museum, the Stedelijk Museum is Amsterdam’s modern art museum. Great collections of functional design, famous 20th century modern artists and more.
> Rent bikes and bike to Brouwerij ‘t IJ and one of the last remaining windmills within Amsterdam. We skipped the Heineken tour and opted for the Brouwerij ‘t IJ instead. With more of a local, small batch brewery feel, this spot felt a little bit like home. They had a nice beer garden out front and offered snacks as well as a tour of their small operation. The beer was delicious and definitely worth the short trip away from the city center!
> Leidseplein Square for a night out. By the end of a long day of walking and sightseeing, we don’t tend to do too many crazy nights out, but of course, we had one or two. The Leidseplein area had a great bar seen with a lot of bars, pubs and cafes offering outdoor seating (with heat lamps). Of course, there are more places to go for a crazier night on the town, but I’ll leave that exploration up to you.
> Cheese Museum: Up the canal from the Anne Frank House is the Cheese Museum (samples galore!) and the Tulip Museum. Both are tiny and fun to peruse.
> Our Lord in the Attic Museum: We didn’t make it to this museum, but it is on the list for next time. Our canal tour guide told us about the secret Catholic Churches that popped up around Amsterdam after the Reformation, when public services were forbidden.
> Dutch design items, again, more on this later.
> Cheese! You’ll find Gouda everywhere. Harder to come by but oh-so-delicious is Gouda with Blue Cheese mixed in – “Blue Gouda.”
> Tulips! Make sure they have the customs sticker on them – ask the vendor, they should know.
> Delft China or Tiles.
> Stroopwafels. Great to bring home to friends (and for yourself), these cookies are made up of two thin wafer like waffles with a layer of caramelized sugar/syrup between. You can find these everywhere. Great with coffee and other hot beverages, rest the cookie on top of your mug for a few minutes to let it warm. Or just eat a whole stack in one sitting – it’s easy to do, they are that good.
I know this is long but thanks for reading along! If you’ve been to Amsterdam or find yourself there soon, I’d love to hear about your experiences!