I’ve been feeling nostalgic: it’s been almost five months since I’ve called Holland home and had you asked me in October if I would ever feel like I truly missed it, I may have said, “No; My adventures were aplenty and I’ve had my fair share and am ready to take a break from exploring foreign lands.” Perhaps it is because I feel strangely lost despite being in all too familiar territory or maybe my heart is yearning for adventure once more, but I chose to begin my blog with a memory, a time and feeling I’ve kept in my hands and in my head. Oh beautiful Amsterdam, my adoration for you has only grown fonder with distance…
Read an excerpt in the life of my Amster-days and then read further to discover some must do, see, and eat things that will surely make your time in The Netherlands as full as mine were!
“Tourist season is finally dwindling down and the streets of Amsterdam are settling into their usual rhythm. I’ve been excited to head home, pick up my usual rhythm; however, I’m starting to feel all the feels, y’all. I had seen a show at Mezrab (side note: if you ever find yourself in Amsterdam on a Friday night, seek this place out—local family owned space who open up their “home” and have a series in English featuring shows from improv to storytelling and it was the most incredible community feel. Grandma even makes a vat of delectable homemade secret-family-recipe soup and sells it pre-show. It nourished both appetite and soul) and spent the night near the city. The next morning, I arrived alone before the buzz of sightseers or cacophony of cattle herding visitors commenced and walked with no particular destination, strolling along the canals, basking in the quiet, beautiful, pre-awakened town. I can’t explain to you how wonderful it was.
I’m always on the go (shocking, I know), always trying to get somewhere when I’m venturing, even in Amsterdam where I have been many times, and because it takes so long to get up to the city and usually I need to get back home that evening, I have never really been able to wander. Despite my Type A, immaculate itinerary-ed disposition, I yearn for wandering more than one may think. And so what I’m trying to say is I finally got “the feeling” that morning, the one where you suddenly see yourself, the smile of recognized awareness, the “all is right and this is exactly where I belong in this moment” kind of feeling. It was the feeling I’ve been waiting for from this particular city and it finally relinquished it to me. This year, this place, will not be easy to say goodbye to, but I’ve begun to soak up every inch of Amsterdam as if it were my own, and just in time too.
Last week, I spent a lovely day there with my two best friends, checking off “lasts:” eat appeltart met slagroom from the infamous Winkel 43—check; enjoy the Jordaan market and neighborhood—check; get something scrumptious from the adorable De Bakkerswinkel—check; etc. We also saw the Humans of Amsterdam exhibit (like Humans of NY but, well, Dutch) and it was lovely. Just a day of wandering, this time with the people I’ve grown closest to.
I’ve checked off most of my Amster-to-do’s but I know some more wandering and wondering shall occur before my departure.”
for new lookers
The Netherlands was quite a fantastic place to live and learn and lose oneself in. The lasting effects of walking the infamous canals while the sun–finally showing it’s beams–warms your back not to mention your delectable coffee in hand (might I suggest Screaming Beans, Scandinavian Embassy, or Back to Black for your caffeine indulgence, by the way) is remarkable. The architecture is so captivating and intricate and unlike any other region. The buildings are so full of their own stories and history, they literally lean in to tell you their tales–all you must do is look up. If you are thinking of traveling to The Netherlands, I’m sure Amsterdam is first, if not the only place, on your list and I’d love to suggest some must-see sites:
1. The Anne Frank Museum: This tiny little apartment-sized museum packs a pretty hefty punch–and wait time–but should absolutely not be missed. Beginning in the actual warehouse section, you will be amazed as you continue to climb the ever-narrowing steps up to the attic where eight people risked everything to avoid the harsh Nazi world. It was unbelievable to experience.
2. The Rijksmuseum: The stunning presence of this building from the outside alone is worth a visit not to mention the myriad of important pieces it houses. You could spend days inside this exquisite museum admiring all within. PLUS: if you’ve been wanting to strike a pose with the infamous IAmsterdam sign, you will find it right behind the tunnel where you enter.
3. The Cheese Museum: While not exactly a world-renowned exhibit, you will find more cheese than you could ever imagine lining the walls of this little shop that does in fact feature a small area downstairs with information about cheese and it’s makings. The really important thing, however, is: you can sample EVERY cheese in the place and even take some home with you for the perfect souvenir!
Street Food Musts
1. Manneken Pis Frites: With all the wandering you will encounter, you are sure to work up an appetite and there is nothing better than a quick snack to keep you right on your way. When snacking, do as the Dutch and get a mouthwatering cone of hot, thick french fries smothered in a sauce of your choosing (although, it’s mayo or nothing with most Netherlanders). This place is right near the central train station and will have a line that is worth waiting in–best frites I had the entire trip!
2. Stroopwafel: Holland has more festivals, celebrations, and markets than I have ever encountered, and with them, typically come fresh stroopwafel stands. These babies were my downfall with their caramel filled center squeezed between two wafer thin cookies and served warm right to you. Oh. My. Gah. YUM.
3. Bitterballen: These delightful Dutch delicacies are a great little snack! They come in all kinds of variety and are essentially fried balls filled with a mixture like beef, spices, and an almost gravy-like sauce. A bit difficult to explain but they are served at almost every bar with toothpicks and a dipping sauce.
Sights to See
1. Amstelpark: The perfect picnic park is certainly readily available and while there are many to choose from, Amstelpark is quite lovely and filled with many types of gardens, a small zoo, and is conveniently located to public transportation.
2. Albert Cuyp Market: One of my absolute favorite things about The Netherlands’ culture was the abundance of markets to choose from on a weekly basis. This one in particular is not only one of the largest but also one of the oldest markets and is open everyday but Sundays. Such a fascinating area and perfect for both people watching and grocery shopping alike.
3. Canal Cruise: This may seem stereotypical and ultra-touristy but I promise if you do it MY way, it won’t be at all. Look up ‘Those Dam Boat Guys’ and set sail like a local–truly. You will not board one of those encased cruises that houses forty people or be taken in one giant circle while someone spews general facts at you like they are studying for an exam. You will board a small boat of approximately 10-15 smart tourists with a well-informed local guide who wants to show and talk to you about what YOU want to know or see. I can’t recommend them enough.
I’m sure there will be more Holland throwbacks in posts to come but for now, thanks for following themelrosechonicles: adventurer. life-capturer. follow her.