Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Wheels up to Amsterdam!

In April 2016, we headed off to Europe for an 11 day getaway.  We started in Amsterdam! 

Once we landed, we took the train to Central Station - and our hotel was just across the street.  

We knew there would be a lot of bikes...but never expected a 3 level bike parking garage!

Once we got checked in and got some coffee, we were starving!  Where did we go first?  French fries, of course!

That's one happy guy right there. 

We had downloaded several walking audio tours from Rick Steves, so we were off to do our first one, the City Walk!  We each had them on our iPhones and were able to listen through our ear buds.  They were all really good - and the timing was very good.  We were able to pause when we wanted to duck into a store or linger longer.   

We ducked into the Amsterdam Museum along the way...

and then we continued on our tour...

The tulips were amazing - and everywhere - and SO cheap! Here, 50 stems for 8 euros!

It was just as beautiful and picturesque as I'd imagined.  

That afternoon we did a boat tour.  But not a fancy, touristy one.  

We took a Those Dam Boat Guys tour.  It's an 'alternative' tour - so you are encouraged to bring food and drinks on board.  This was our tour guide - he's lived in Amsterdam for 6 years after growing up in California.  It was cool to hear from him about the culture and city.  

We got to see the famous dancing ladies houses.  They are nicknamed that as they look like 4 girlfriends who are just leaving a bar, arms around each other and a little tipsy. 

For being just off the plane, we were doing pretty good!

Once off the boat, we headed to In De Wildeman, a beer bar in the heart of the city in an old distillery.  We found a good little spot at the bar, and were commenting on how busy it was.  Well, turns out, it was their 30th anniversary party, and we just happened to be there!

The owner was there, and they had all kinds of special guests.  

The gentleman had suffered from a stroke or something, but you could just tell the excitement and pride that he had of this bar.  We didn't understand anything, but it didn't matter. 

They were releasing special collaboration beers with 5 different brewers from famous breweries around the world.  

Great fun!

We spent a few days exploring some smaller towns around Amsterdam (another post coming soon!), and then one more day back in the city.  We did a couple more audio walking tours, went to the Anne Frank house, and some of the museums. If you go, and want to do the Anne Frank house, be sure to get tickets ahead of time.  The lines were INSANE and would take hours... while it was interesting to see the house, and learn about the family and the war through her eyes, it's a pretty quick visit... I would have been sorely disappointed if I'd waited for hours.  

It was chilly - but at least we had sun! 

That night we went to the Foodhallen for dinner - it's a massive, indoor food market.  Similar to those in Copenhagen, Madrid and London, it's "a unique addition to Amsterdam. The very first "indoor food market in the Netherlands, where you can enjoy good food and drink on site."  The place was absolutely PACKED.  They were eating and drinking on every possible surface.  The food was delicious - we had several different things: a burger, pretzel dog, and more.  What a fun evening in the midst of all the local hipsters!

On our last day, we did some more wandering, soaking in the sites, and a few museum visits.  

Delicious lunch spot - and complete with cherry blossoms!  We might have missed them in DC, but we had them in Amsterdam!

We had to find the sign and get a photo...even though with all of the people, you can hardly see the sign!  We should have snuck one in at the airport, without any of the crowds!

A stop in the Rijksmuseum, complete with a Rick Steve's tour of the highlights, and a trip to the Van Gogh museum for the afternoon. 

Followed by apple pie, of course!

There's a very good chance we had 2 of these...

Our last night in Amsterdam we decided to try Indonesian food, and this little restaurant Jun was just perfect.  The owner and chef were both just wonderful, and as nice and helpful as could be.  We had a delicious meal, and enjoyed chatting with them. 

And with that, we said goodbye to Amsterdam!  We really enjoyed the city, and the atmosphere around.  Yes, we smelled pot around almost every corner, but you kinda get used to it after a few days!  We just loved the Dutch 'do whatever you want, just don't be a jerk about it' attitude.  

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