Hey everyone! Last week, we were lucky enough to meet our beautiful mothers in Amsterdam for a week filled with adventures! We have already blogged about spending New Years (2016) in Amsterdam, but we thought it would be good to share a little about our time visiting in the Spring!
In our first visit to this beautiful city it was cold and rainy, but visiting Amsterdam in the April makes it a whole new city! The nice weather allowed us plenty of time to explore the beautiful streets and canals. We only had 2.5 short days, but we were able to do some things we weren’t able to do on our first visit.
Our first day in Amsterdam we were able to visit Brouwerij’t IJ brewery. This brewery is actually inside the last remaining windmill in Amsterdam, which makes it a cool spot to visit. Unfortunately, when we arrived around 4pm, it was so busy they were no longer doing flights of beer, so if you are interested in trying a variety of their beers, try getting their earlier to beat the after-work crowds! After our visit, we called it an early night since our Moms were a little jet-lagged!
The next morning we visited The Pancake Bakery for an amazing breakfast! They have all sorts of savory and sweet pancakes, as well as omelets. I would recommend the Greenlandic Pancake (Spinach, cheese, walnuts) or the Apple Pancake with Cinnamon Ice cream! They are very large, so if you’re not very hungry, I recommend sharing one! If you see a line, don’t be discouraged, it seems to move very fast and it’s a big place!
After breakfast, we stopped at a deli called JWO Lekkernijen to get some sandwiches for our picnic lunch that afternoon. This place is amazing!! They have one small menu with different sandwiches on it, but the people who work there will help you create your own (even matching the meat you choose to the best cheeses and fresh bread). We basically let the woman who worked their design our sandwiches and they were incredible.
After getting our sandwiches to go, we stopped by the I Amsterdam sign outside the Van Gough Museum. Since it was Spring, the Tulip Festival was happening in Amsterdam and the area was filled with lots of flowers!
The Tulip Festival aims to plant 1 tulip bulb for each citizen in Amsterdam, which means over 800,000 tulips throughout the city! This year they were able to plant half a million tulips, making it the most they’ve done since the start of the festival 3 years ago.
The rest of our day was spent at Kuekenhof Gardens, outside of the city in a town called Lisse. (Stay tuned for an upcoming blog post about our time there). Once we returned to the city that evening, we decided to take a stroll around the Red Light District. It’s always crazy to see the women in the windows and all the “shows” they offer. (I would not recommend this part of town for children!) Unfortunately, you can’t really take any pictures there, so you’ll have to imagine it for yourself!
On our last day in Amsterdam, our Moms were able to visit the Anne Frank House. We had visited last year, so we decided to take the time to stroll some nearby streets. (I highly recommend booking tickets in advance for the Anne Frank House, about 3 months before your visit to save time). Once we were all together again, we took a walking tour through Sandemans New Europe Tours. They offer free walking tours in many cities throughout Europe and they usually last between 2-3 hours. You decide at the end of the tour what it was worth and tip the tour guide! I suggest booking online ahead of time (it’s still free) but it allows you to have a guaranteed spot on a tour.
We learned a lot about the history and architecture of Amsterdam on our tour. One of the most interesting things in the city are the houses! Originally they were used as factories to store goods from trading (during the time of the Dutch East India Company). Some houses in Amsterdam are slanted (if it’s to the side, it’s because of the foundation but if it looks like it’s leaning forward, it was done on purpose). If you look at the picture above, you can see hooks at the top of the houses, which were used to lift things up to the higher floors, since the houses were too narrow to carry things up. That is why some houses lean forward!
We also learned on our tour why there was a church in the middle of the Red Light District. According to our guide, the sailors that were constantly coming to Amsterdam for work would feel very guilty after visiting the prostitutes and needed a place to confess and donate to the church. This action was so popular, the Priests began selling “Forgiveness in Advance” to the sailors, for whatever actions they may do during their time in the city.
Amsterdam is also a city of bikes!!! In the winter, we couldn’t fully appreciate how bustling the city really is, but in the Spring–everyone is out on their bikes! According iamsterdam.com, there are 800,000 bikes in Amsterdam and only 263,000 cars!
After our walking tour, we enjoyed a quick dinner before heading to the train station to go to Paris. Amsterdam is a very unique and liberal city. This is a great city to walk (or bike) around, since every corner your turn is an even better view! Check out some practical information below about what to do / where to eat.
Best Things to Do:
- Anne Frank House
- Buy your tickets online
- The Heineken Experience
- Buy your tickets online
- Red Light District
- I Amsterdam Sign
- Van Gough Museum
- River Cruise
- Brouwerij’t IJ (Windmill Brewery)
Places to Eat:
- Bagels & Beans
- Breakfast / Lunch place
- Good bagel sandwiches
- The Pancake Bakery
- Breakfast / Lunch place
- HUGE savory & sweet pancakes
- JWO Lekkernijen
- Amazing deli
- Great sandwiches!
- Spanjer en van Twist
- Normal Pub food
- Great outdoor terrace along canal
- Close to Anne Frank House
- Bar Langendijk
- Next to Brouwerij’t IJ (Windmill Brewery)
- Indoor / Outdoor Seating
- 3 Sisters Pub
- In Rembrandtplein
- Variety of Pub Food
- Cafe Dialoog
- Next to Anne Frank House
- Breakfast/ Lunch
- Good sandwiches
- Try Stammpot (Traditional Dutch food)
- Offers Salads / other pub food as well
Stay tuned for our next blog post about the Kuekenhof Gardens!