We had a chance to spend 2 weeks in Amsterdam between our Scottish and Canadian housesits. It so happened that we had a couple weeks left on our EU visa, and that it would fall right on my birthday, and I’d always wanted to visit the Netherlands. Amsterdam is frequently referred to as ‘The Venice of the North’. While most Americans might think it’s just the Las Vegas of Europe, where anything goes, that’s actually false. Sure, you’ll see the young and dumb American college students roaming the streets of the red light district high on..something..but there’s so much more to Dutch culture. If it were merely Las Vegas, it’d be all brothels, pot cafes and no culture. But the city is gorgeous! It’s full of canals, bikes, beautiful buildings, friendly people and delicious food. Here’s some interesting facts about the country:
Our time was really enjoyable. I had a blast on the bike I’d rented the entire time, riding along the canals. It was cold but not bad if you bundle up. There was something really invigorating getting exercise, and you had a lot more range than just walking. It also ended up being far cheaper for two weeks’ rental than getting a public transit pass. Here are some highlights of what we did:
Visited the Dutch Resistance Museum. Very informative about what it was like to live under Nazi occupation during WWII, and the ways that ordinary citizens began to resist.
Shopping and tasting classic Dutch street food at Noordermarkt (open Saturdays)
Tried Dutch carrot cake at De Drie Graefjes
Took the train to nearby Haarlem, only to find that the Corrie Ten Boom museum was closed (sad!). Here’s a picture of the outside.
Biked to the outskirts of town where Matt surprised me with a visit to a goat farm for my birthday! We got to pet and feed baby goats. It was kind of amazing.
Enjoyed a fantastic meal at REM Eiland, a beautiful restaurant perched on top of an old radio tower in the middle of the grand canal.
Visited a Bruin bar, which are these classic wood-paneled brasseries that focus on serving beer and bar snacks, such as beef ragu that’s been breaded and fried (bitterballen) and served with mustard.
Took the free ferry across the main canal to North Amsterdam
Wandered around and got lost in Jordaan, a must if you’re visiting. It’s just an interesting place
Had legit Japanese ramen and okonomiyaki at Taka Japanese Kitchen, tucked away inside a large Asian market. It was incredible.
That’s it! We’re in Quebec now at our final housesit, and it feels really good to be back in North America and close to US business hours. We will be home before Christmas!