48 hours in (and around) Amsterdam 

Amsterdam during Easter is super busy, in 2017, 1 million tourists were said to have visited the city, which is more than the total population of the city itself!

As with most cities nowadays, the best way to get a good feel for the city is to take a free walking tour. We took the one by Sandeman’s and our guide Kendra was great!

Some of the highlights in and around the city, for us, were:

Walking the canals. There are 4 main canals in Amsterdam, the Singel, Herengracht (Lord’s canal), Keizersgracht (Emperor’s canal) and Prinsengracht (Prince’s canal). Although in the beginning all the streets lining the canals look exactly the same, walking around is a good way to get more comfortable with the layout of the city. And of course, it is really pretty too! 1.JPG
Visit to the Rijksmuseum. April showers in Amsterdam weren’t always fun but made for a great excuse to spend an entire morning taking in the wonders in the Rijksmuseum. Since Amsterdam was so busy, the lines to enter all the museums were hours long. Buying tickets online in advance and starting fairly early in the morning, helped a lot and allowed us to spend the time inside the museum, instead of waiting in line outside. The collection is very impressive and stories on the audio tour in the museum app made it even more interesting. 2.JPGPaying homage to Anne Frank. The line to enter the museum was 3 hours long on every day of the Easter weekend and advance tickets were sold out, so we couldn’t make it inside. But it remains on the list and will be one of the important reasons to go back one day. The Anne Frank house helps to humanize the war and is a good place to pause and reflect on the horrors that humans are capable of inflicting on each other.

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Visit to Keukenhof for the tulips. Yes, it probably is one of the most touristy things to do, but in spring, when the tulips are in full bloom, it is worth every minute! The combination bus + park entrance ticket, saved time and money and it was fairly painless to get there. No photographs could do justice to the magnificent sights, the endless rows of tulips and the myriad hues in the park, but we did try! 4.JPG5.JPG

Day trip to Den Haag. Only about an hour away from the Keukenhof gardens, the Hague makes for a short fun trip- including, of course, a visit to the iconic Peace Palace. 6.JPG

Local food and drink. A big part of most of our trips is sampling the local fare. Dutch food and drink was delicious and did not disappoint in the least! Read all about our food tour in our post here.

Amsterdam’s alter ego. The other side of Amsterdam, the red light district and coffee shops definitely add to the character (or strangeness) of the city and need not be avoided like the plague! While there aren’t any photographs to document it (not for a lack of trying, photography here is strongly discouraged and often isn’t allowed), walking through the streets lined by windows with women showcasing their wares (themselves) and littered with smoke-filled coffee shops definitely makes for an interesting experience.

Cycling everywhere. True to their reputation, the cities in the Netherlands have wide bike lanes, making cycling a convenient mode of transport, but the locals do not like to be interrupted on their commute so, as a tourist, only do it only if you can ride!

Food guide for Amsterdam: (i)Eating iAmsterdam!

As with most places, sampling the local fare constituted an important part of our trip to the Netherlands. Joining a structured food tour could’ve been an option but doing it on our own, added the thrill of discovering new places and allowed us to explore the city and try the food at the same time. Of course, we ran the risk of not finding anything good, but  fortunately that didn’t happen!

First up, waffles. The aroma wafting from the stall at the Easter fair at Dam square was too much to resist!

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Waffle with nutella!

How often can you get hot food from a vending machine?! The delicious croquet from the Febo vending machine served to balance the sweetness of the waffle very well.2.JPGNo trip to the Netherlands could be complete without a healthy portion of Vlaamse frites, we were told. We had ours with the ‘special sauce’ which was mayonnaise and a peanut-based curry sauce (it tasted like satay sauce)- they absolutely hit the spot! 5.JPG

To wash it all down, and because it is what we do (and love), Dutch beers were sampled. We visited Arendsnest, with 52 beers on tap, and Brouwerij ‘t IJ, with its iconic windmill. Both did not disappoint! Arendsnest had a wide variety of beers including a lot of darker and stronger beers, ‘old enough to drink’ boasted 21% ABV! Brouwerij ‘t IJ felt like a local watering hole with a very relaxed atmosphere, and had fewer, inexpensive beers on tap. 4.JPG7.JPGDutch pancakes constituted dinner one evening, and although they looked a lot less substantial than their American counterparts, they were delicious and quite filling. We had one with ham and cheese and one with apple strudel and ice cream. 9.JPG

Since it is the birthplace of the famous Gouda, we tried a number of flavoured and aged varieties, and preferring the sharp clean taste of the aged cheese, ended by buying half a kilo of 2 year old Dutch Gold! How long this lasts (how much self control we can exercise) remains to be seen….!

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Of course, there was another waffle, this one fully indulgent, smothered in all the toppings possible- Nutella waffle with whipped cream, strawberries and more chocolate sauce! Needless to say, it was one of the best we’ve eaten, ever! 8.JPG

Walking around the Hague, we found the last two pieces of street food we’d read about, that added the finishing touches to our food tour.

Poffertjes, mini Dutch pancakes, with butter and powdered sugar, eaten hot during a drizzle, lent a wonderful warm fuzzy feeling that helped combat the cold very well! 10.JPGAnd of course, the herring. Eaten raw, with onions, under the awning of the shack to prevent being attached by the vicious sea gulls, it made for an interesting, one time only, experience! The smell lingered on my fingers for hours!11.JPG

Finally, because Amsterdam is (in)famous for its special foods, no post about the local fare would be complete without a special mention! 3.JPG

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