I first went to Amsterdam 10 years ago. At that time, I had heard a lot about the coffee shops and red light district – which are part of the experience for sure – but somehow nothing of the beauty, charm and ease of the city. I was awestruck; it quickly became one of my favorite cities.
This past weekend I jetted off to Amsterdam a second time, for a trip that left me asking why I don’t do these things more often! Friends had rented an apartment there for the week via AirBNB and invited me to come along. I quickly put my apartment on the same site, rented it out to a nice, young German man and hopped a flight to Amsterdam.
One speedy red-eye later I arrived to wonderful, light-filled, real-life Amsterdam apartment.
After a quick nap, we set off for the day. Our first stop was this very cool concept store “for interior and lifestyle” called Friday Next. In addition to the store’s shop and work areas, it also features its own cafe.
After some food and coffee it was on to check out some of the cultural sites. Our first stop was the prestigious Van Loon family home which now operates as a museum. When we arrived just in time for the opening of the coach house, which only happens once an hour for 15 mins, we knew we had some serious luck on our side!
Though the natives are mostly on bikes, Amsterdam is wonderfully walkable city. And there are ample bars, cafes and coffee shops to pop into between sites.
Next up was a visit to the Rembrandt House, which Rembrandt purchased for an exorbitant amount of money and eventual lost due to bankruptcy. In addition to training his pupils here, Rembrandt also dealt other artist’s work from the front of the house. I was quite shocked to learn that people of this time thought it was dangerous to lie down horizontally during sleep, so they instead opted to sleep half way sitting up. I also learned about Rembrandt’s copper plates, made to produce prints, of which there are only 80 or so left in existence.
Finally, it wouldn’t be a trip to Amsterdam without a visit to the renowned Van Gogh Museum. I had been to the Van Gogh Museum on my first trip to Amsterdam but appreciated it even more the second time. Amazing!
We finished the day with dinner at Moeders, which means Mothers in Dutch. In addition to great food, this Dutch restaurant features framed pictures of mothers all over its walls – and you’re welcome to add your own to the collection! But my favorite thing about Moeders is that all of its silverware is different, as it was brought in piece by piece by guests on the opening night.
We were offered the priceless advice of renting a self-operated boat to peruse the canals. We set off to find the dock and stumbled upon a wonderful market, then wine, meat and cheese shop on our way.
After picking up supplies for the perfect picnic-at-sea, we headed to the water. To our great surprise, the only thing waiting for us at the dock was a lock box, to which we had chosen a pin, and electric boat ready for the taking.
We grabbed the key, untied the lines, brushed up on our knots and nautical basics and headed for the canals!
This was truly a WONDERFUL way to see the city. It also gave us a chance to check out some of Amsterdam’s coolest real estate: its houseboats!
One three hour tour, and two stops later, we headed back to the dock. Absolutely amazing day!!
And just when I thought things couldn’t get any better, I was treated to a surprise birthday dinner at the lively and delicious Bazar Amsterdam, followed by a trip to Trouw, a joint club, restaurant and art space.
(bottom left image/bottom right image)
We ended the trip with a slow paced day. We began by walking around Amsterdam’s lovely Jordaan neighborhood and eventually found our way to Frozen Fountain. This store has an amazingly curated collection of home accessories, furniture, some clothing and jewelry. It was a great find!
(above photo via Davernator)
Like all good shopping expeditions, we capped this one off with a glass of wine at Cafe George – not only good for its ambiance but well-designed menu.
The trip ended with a wonderful meal at the local Cafe de Toog. After a long day of walking around, the 3-person jazz band and neighborhood feel was what we were looking for.
It was a quick trip but we squeezed in a lot and I left with a renewed love of Amsterdam! Such a fabulous city!
(Click through most of the pictures above for source info and to be taken to the place page)