(See all the photos below.)
Although it was a short trip, just 36 hours, it was very memorable.
The Travel Mug stayed on Prinsengracht, one of the most central and convenient canals, at the Dikker & Thijs Hotel. The Travel Mug enjoyed a leisurely morning with a Nespresso (which always tastes better in Europe, not sure why, I’m sure there’s an endorphins study out there somewhere) and a stroopwafel (pro tip: you rest the stroopwafel over the steam for a bit … it’s amazing).
The first day was spent mostly canal wandering, we wove in and out, over the bridges, and along the little ones.
A note to first timers, there’s a sense of danger when you’re on foot in Amsterdam. The transportation hierarchy seems to be bicycles, mopeds, boats, funky little electric cars, regular cars, then people. The best thing to do it keep alert and try not to get run over or yelled at in Dutch. They are more likely to ring their bell at you which is pretty much the Dutch version of ‘flying the bird.’
The canals were lovely, and we could have wandered for days, but we were meeting up with a colleague and had to head in to the center of the city. On the way we passed the flower market, the famed cheese stalls, and all the souvenirs that one could want. Our local colleague picked a hole-in-the-wall Thai restaurant; even through our jet lagged haze I remember the food was amazing.
The following day, after acclimating to the local time zone, we set out with the Travel Mug to the Van Gogh Museum. It was a well done tribute to his life. He really only painted for ten years before his early death.
The museum is laid out floor by floor in a timeline that tells the story of his short decade journey with art. I was particularly interested in the story of how his family (mainly his brother and sister-in-law and later nephew) was the driving force behind how his work came to be revered and celebrated.
Unfortunately, we only had time to do one museum and the Rijksmuseum was too big for this short trip. We will be back for sure to see more art and tour the Anne Frank House (which was sold out for all the days we were there … be sure to book in advance).
We enjoyed a quick lunch at the Food Hallen with a local beer and crisp glass of rose.
The last day, before heading for the airport took a long walk through the Vondelpark and a few more canals one last time.
The Travel Mug can’t wait to return to this beautiful, friendly, colorful city. There were so many things that the mug didn’t get to do (the Heineken Experience, shopping the Dutch sleek collections, seeing the Red Light District, “coffeeshops,” and attempting a bike ride … to name just a few), for a full experience give yourself a week to explore and you won’t regret it.
PS: Want to see where else the Travel Mug has been? Check out the Big Map for his adventures.