Pedestrian friendly sidewalks, delicious food from around the world, courteous tram staff, teenagers who get in the photo with you, humorous TSA agens, a true melting pot of people who take the time to talk to you… Sounds familiar? No? Let me take you on a trip to AMSTERDAM – The City of Canals.
This trip came at a time when I was so stressed that I could barely breathe. A long weekend with my best friend who was also going through a rough time, was just the answer. Despite the cold weather, we enjoyed every single moment and can’t wait to show it all to you.
We rented a cute apartment in a residential neighborhood which was a quick 15 minute walk from most sites. It was safe, comfortable and despite the tiny bedrooms and bathroom, was the perfect home away from home.
While I reached early morning, via an almost red-eye flight from Boston, my friend Sumita was a short 40 mins flight away from AMS. So I took the few hours I had in the morning to take a short nap, shower and get ready for DAY 1.
Thanks to Google Maps, and a handy itinerary my Sister in Law Aditi made for us, we kind of knew what we wanted to do. We started the day with a walk to Ruksmuseum and explored for a couple of hours. It was really windy and cold outside so the museum offered much needed warmth and respite.
We had lunch at this amazing hole in the wall Indonesian restaurant. We were told to try Indonesian food in Amsterdam and we were not disappointed!
Warung Spang Makandra
We bought ourselves a 48 hour tram pass and just started exploring. This city is so public transit friendly it is amazing. We had to stop and take so many photos with all the canals on our way. It is absolutely breathtaking.
We walked to the City Center and stopped for some beer tasting and their famous fries with mayo!
We did some souvenir shopping, bought some wine, cheese and fruit and decided to have an early dinner at the apartment and call it a night. We did 20,000 steps that day!
I slept for NINE whole hours! Boy it felt great.
We kept the morning relaxed to just hang out and catch up. We hadn’t seen each other in 2 years! We are both breakfast people so we decided to check out Omelegg – Another highly reviewed place just minutes away from our Air BnB. You guys the eggs were so fluffy and they came with a salad. Unlike the greasy fries we are used to. OMG!
Amsterdam is so pretty and is best seen on foot so we decided to walk and explore some more before our Canal Tour.
In the Canal Tour, we almost dozed off – not because it was boring but because it was so peaceful. Gosh this city is amazing. Check out this view where you can almost see all 7 arches. Count….
You’ll think it was a food trip (well it almost was) because I am now going to tell you about the most amazing dinner we had that day. The Indonesian Rice Table. It is basically their take on tapas. An aluminium makeshift table with a few tea lights is put on our table with 8 different curries/salads/dishes to try with rice. Absolutely heavenly! If you have an Indonesian restaurant close to where you are, definitely give this a try. And ours was vegetarian too!
Next up – The Flower Market! how perfect is my outfit right?
You guys it was time for … THE RED LIGHT DISTRICT TOUR. We were a little skeptical at first but talking Jodi and Markita at PR Weekend convinced me that this will be safe and very informative and I am SO Glad we did the tour. There were about 15 people plus the guide and we walked to the Red Light District which also happens to be the oldest part of Amsterdam. And being the history buff that I am, I was completely immersed. This is one of the two remaining houses in Amsterdam which has a wood foundation. You can see that its all kinds of warped. But charming.
Not just about the red-light, our guide gave us a short history lesson and it was absolutely fascinating how AMS being one of the largest trading ports led to the bustling red-light district. It was also very safe! Our tour was a 3 hour walking tour where we passed all kinds of “windows” , houses, even an old church.
It was good to hear that the women are protected and it is very safe and organized. Definitely not cheesy but eye-opening and informative. For privacy reasons we weren’t allowed to take photos so here’s one with closed shades.
Friday was a really step-heavy day for both of us so we left the tour a little early and decided to call it a night!
Our last day in Amsterdam 😦 so we decided to make the most of it. As luck would have it, the sun came out and we decided to explore all the outdoor markets today. We started our morning in the Jordaan neighborhood which was absolutely breathtaking. We took lots of photos!
At the Noordemarket Sumita and I bought amazing artwork from a lady from Mozambique. I am having a hell of a time trying to figure out how to frame it 😦
There wasn’t any fabric at the Noordemarket so we asked a few locals and ended up at the Albert Cryp Market which was FANTASTIC! We are both not big shoppers but we enjoyed looking at all that this market had to offer. And then I spotted some fabric stores and there goes an hour 😉
Lunch was at this Ramen Noodle (sounds crazy but it was delicious) bar where I literally wanted to bathe in that broth 😉 Topped with so many delicious veggies. I washed it all down with Kirin beer and we were ready to walk some more.
Gosh, by the end of it, my back was really hurting so we decided to slowly back to the apartment for a little R&R. but not before I spotted a bookstore and got myself two sewing magazines 🙂 God bless my friend for giving in to my whims. She is my bestie for a reason.
I am having a hard time coming up with words to sum up this Amsterdam trip with Sumita. It was so much more than a sightseeing trip. It was a detox for my soul, my mind and my body in the company of someone who just gets me. It was accompanied by zero judgement, plenty of hugs and kisses and even some tears. But isn’t that what life is worth living for?
And as I always say, when a vacation ends, the best part about that is, you get to come HOME!
In closing, I will leave you with this gem 😉