We had quite an epic food and soccer centric weekend in Amsterdam. When we weren’t eating or watching soccer, we were taking pictures of canals. I have SO MANY pictures of canals. It was quite of amazing. In a strange way, it was also the most Bay Area-esque time I’ve had since I left the Bay. It could be the hyper-millennial brunch of avocados, the craft brewery, boba (!!), or even barcade that made me feel like I was experiencing a bit of home. Also important-esque of note. I’m separating out all of the food stuff we did. That’s worth a post of its own.
We got into Amsterdam late Friday night/early Saturday morning. Our flight was delayed, so we ended up leaving Basel around the time we were supposed to land. Fortunately, it’s incredibly easy to get from the Amsterdam Schipol Airport to the city center, even when you do arrive at 12:30 am. We stayed at the Renaissance Hotel, which was about a 10 minute walk from the train station.
We started our Saturday with brunch, which was across town. While we didn’t get out of the hotel too early, I noticed on this trip that the city center does not wake up that early. Even at 9(ish), the streets were pretty empty. It made for a peaceful morning.
After our brunch, we went to Albert Cuyp Market because 1) I love markets and 2) there was clearly more food that we had to eat immediately after we ate brunch. There was a little more to the market than just food. There were flowers, clothes, furniture, electronics, etc. While I could have gotten more if I tried (I was drawn to the purse stand), we only really bought Netherlands soccer scarves to add to our ever-growing collection.
We walked back to our hotel shortly after that for a short break before our walking tour of Amsterdam. We did our tour with FreeDam Tours, who I would highly recommend should you need a good tour of Amsterdam. The tour we went on focused less on the sightseeing and more on the history and culture of the city. This meant we spent a lot of the time in the city center understanding the historical background of the Red Light District and Amsterdam’s permissiveness (not legalization, which I always forget) of marijuana. We also saw some pretty things, though.
The rest of our Saturday involved dinner in Chinatown, a post dinner/tour break at the hotel, and the soccer game.
We had a later start on Sunday, leaving after packing up our stuff and enjoying the hotel breakfast buffet. We had a pretty busy itinerary planned for our morning and early afternoon. We started with a walk out through the scenic Jordaan neighborhood to the Anne Frank House. We didn’t have the time to stay in the line to get into the house, but we did see the nearby statue of Anne Frank and the Homomonument (memorializing the LGBT people killed during the Holocaust).
From there, we did a tour through the Flower Market, where Chris briefly considered buying tulip bulbs to bring home with him.
We had about 30 minutes before the frites stand we wanted to go to opened, so we went to Rembrandt Square. Our tour guide had mentioned it the day before. What made me want to see it the most was the fact that it’s full of a statues representing his paintings and that people take goofy selfies with them. Probably not the intention of the people who designed a lovely tribute to the artist, but I was sold. For some reason, it got crowded there immediately after we arrived, so we had to do some creative angles to take our pictures.
Chris had to drag me away from Rembrandt’s Square, but it was fine because we followed it up with the best fries I’ve had in a while.
Another thing that our tour guide told us about was that there is a barcade in a former Red Light District spot. It was a small footnote of a larger story about how the city has been trying to clean up human trafficking, but he mentioned a barcade and we were all over it. We got ourselves Heinekens (because when in Amsterdam…) and spent the next hour and a half playing arcade games. There was a lot of pinball in particular, but we did end with a throwback to our days playing Bubble Bobble against each other at the Student Center in UCI.
We ended our tour of Amsterdam with a long walk out of the city center to the Brouwerij’t IJ. It’s a brewery next to the big windmill in the city. In what may have been a throwback to our previous weekend, we had some sausage and beer at the brewery.
We had to rush back from the brewery because we hit it very close to the time we had for late checkout, but we did make it and had a pretty smooth trip to the airport.
When we went to Amsterdam ten years ago on our backpacking tour, I didn’t really appreciate the city that much. The beautiful canals played second fiddle to the weird feeling that the city seemed a lot more “bro-friendly” than we expected. I guess the fact that we spent the first few hours of our stay waiting in line at the train station for them to figure out how to fix the Eurail pass that Gianni accidentally washed with his pants didn’t help. It could have also been our creepy store friend. Whatever it was, we didn’t appreciate Amsterdam at the time. It truly is a beautiful and fun city.