Happy belated Easter! How was your weekend? Full of Easter egg hunts and family time, I hope!
John and I were in Amsterdam this weekend. His dad's partner, Nicole, has a flat with a gorgeous canal view in the Jordaan district, so they generously let us stay there free of charge while they were holidaying in Spain - how lucky are we?!
We've been totally spoiled this month with all our weekend excursions. I know that it seems like I'm often jetting off to places, but it's one of the (few) upsides of John's insanely busy work travel schedule: we either end up booking weekends away to coincide with his meetings abroad later in the week, or we use up the air miles he's earned, which is super helpful.
The first time I went to Amsterdam was around seven years ago. We were also staying in Andrew and Nicole's flat then, but I got really sick and had to sit the rest of the trip out, which was a bummer. It was also really cold and windy when we were there, so we didn't get to enjoy the city very much.
This time, though, we had fabulous weather. I woke up on Saturday morning with a view of the water glittering on the canal and boats sailing past. People on the ground floor flats would sit on their window sills eating a bowl of cereal and families were having brunch on the sidewalk at little wooden tables. People left their apartment doors and windows open just to chill out and read the paper. It was so cool and relaxed!
One thing I wasn't able to fully appreciate during my last visit to Amsterdam is just how picturesque the streets are - the sun really brings it out. Though we visited the city center as well, we mostly hung out in the Jordaan, which had lots of pretty door fronts, hip cafes and sweet boutiques, and a really vibrant feel to it. We ate ice cream and strolled along the canals, visiting the Flower Market in Singel and people watching.
On our first night after we arrived, I had a real craving for Thai food and was getting "hangrier" by the minute (that's "angry" + "hungry") because I was bad and didn't listen to John when he told me to eat a bigger lunch at home before we got on our flight! After the Thai restaurant I found was fully booked, I nearly lost it - before we stumbled upon a smaller but equally popular restaurant. It sounds ridiculous to have pad thai straight after arriving in Amsterdam, but I'm a strong believer in doing and eating what you feel like doing and eating - versus what the guide books tell you what you should be doing and eating. If that means Japanese food in Italy, that's okay too! In my books, at least.
The next evening however, we walked past a restaurant in the Jordaan called Fraiche, which looked quirky and interesting. We booked a table and I'm so glad we did!
John had a humorously named stout called "Panty" (I hate ales and stouts so I refrained from sampling this tasty brew, but I'll take his word for it):
I ordered a lobster and ox-cheek raviolo as a starter and it was delicious:
We stayed for a few hours and reminisced about all the city-breaks we've been fortunate enough to take so far. Since Amsterdam is only a 40-45 minute plane ride away (depending on which airport you depart from/fly into), it seems like such a no-brainer for a weekend getaway! It's also fantastic for art lovers, as there are galleries at every turn and plenty of art museums as well, which we didn't manage to visit on this trip.
Our flight on Sunday didn't leave until 7:30 pm, so we slept in and spent the day simply wandering again, which was lovely. At my request, we took a canal sightseeing cruise mid-afternoon. I normally stay away from overly "touristy" activities like river cruises because they can be oversubscribed and a little too intense for me, but I thought that it would be a great way to see the city and explore the canal system. We learned a few facts about the historical parts of Amsterdam, but mostly it was just nice to be on the water when the sun was out. All the locals were sitting on the water's edge (as pictured above) with a drink in hand and a smile on their faces. It was just perfect.
Have you been to Amsterdam? What did you like most about it? If not, would you consider going?
Happy travels. :)