4.23.2015

IN AMSTERDAM . . .


After being in Paris, Amsterdam felt like a total party.  If Paris was an art gallery--all hushed voices and expensive wines--Amsterdam was a frat house. Beer pong and happy laughter and rambunctiousness and dudes and lots of space cakes ;). And where I loved my stay in Paris for the quiet, reflective time it was, I also really loved being around all those Dutch dudes with their wry sense of humor and infectious laughs and really, really good food. DUTCH FOOD. I'm sorry Paris, but Amsterdam blew you straight out the water with their food situation.

A few more thoughts and photos from my time in Amsterdam . . .





In Amsterdam you ride bikes. Right? Is this news to anybody? Haha. The ladies ride side saddle, people lock their bikes up vertically on the sides of buildings, babies as young as six months old ride along in front bike seats--I saw one baby slumped over the front bars of a bike, totally asleep, cheeks sort of bobbing along as his mom rode down the street, it was completely amazing. There are, of course, no helmets, and jaywalking is terribly ill-advised. Bikes pummeling toward you are way scarier than cars. 





Amsterdam is completely beautiful. I loved walking down all those teeny crooked streets, admiring the slanted buildings with the hooks on the top (meant for hoisting furniture up and into windows, since the staircases are so steep and skinny--isn't that cool?), and I loved the people. I loved their willingness to speak English and their bright smiley faces and their really adorable accents. All the dudes were so friendly + flirty--soo many dudes in Amsterdam--the city as a whole seems to have a pretty great sense of humor. The placards at the Rijksmuseum, the menus, the signs, the way they plate their stamppot (wait for it . . . ), everything was a little tongue-in-cheek, everything felt a little wink-y, it was so much fun. Their mayonnaise comes in a tube and you can buy rollerblades at the grocery store for twelve euro. You walk through Amsterdam and you just feel welcome. So long as you aren't blocking the way of someone on their bike. They're not messing around with bike lane etiquette.


Shopping in Amsterdam wasn't as fun as shopping was in Paris, because every souvenir shop is exactly the same and just about every non-souvenir shop was a shop I could find at home. But! This one did make me extremely happy in that way where I wanted to buy exactly none of it but I could have browsed in there for at least a million hours.


Somebody on my Instagram pointed out that E.T. was facing the wrong way in his bike basket, and now it's all I can think of when I look at this. 


Amsterdam traffic jam ;)


How many more photos of bikes can I put in here? How about just one more.


Then there's the Amsterdam Flower Market . . .


Pretty flipping fantastic.

I was only in Amsterdam for two days and two nights, it was amazingly quick and I definitely didn't get to see as much of the city as I would have liked to. Luckily I stayed right in the heart of the city, so I wasted hardly any time coming and going from my apartment. Homeaway helped me find a perfect little space, and the owners there were so good to me. They stocked the apartment with muesli, dutch beer, local chocolates, and PAPRIKA CRISPS. Which were so weird and so amazing. Paprika!

So, the first thing you need to know about the homes in Amsterdam, is that their staircase situation is an adventure fraught with peril:


Like, I have tiny feet, and they were still twice as long as those steps.


My little spot was completely perfect. I was so grateful to have had the help from Homeaway in finding it, and the ease of checking in and checking out was a dream. I was short 10 euro on the cash deposit (poor math skills, party of one) and I felt so terrible, but the manager winked at me and said, "Oh no, didn't you know? It's 240 euro, not 250!" Don't you just love the Dutch? I could have hugged him. 

The kitchen was tiny and adorable with the sweetest little window. 


I did a load of laundry while I was there and the washer / dryer literally took five hours. 


And Dutch television is hysterical. 

There really is no shortage of adorable lodgings in Amsterdam through Homeaway. Next time I want to stay on a houseboat! Look at this one!


With just four hours to spare for a museum, and after giving myself a stomach ache trying to decide between the Rijksmuesum and the Van Gogh Museum, I finally chose the Rijks, and I did not regret it. 


It was beautiful!


LOOK AT THIS LIBRARY.


The building itself was out of this world, and the Rembrandt room! 


Well, the Rembrandt room was ca-razy pants. 


I stopped at Waterloo here for about twenty minutes. It caught me off guard, all the emotion you can pack in that realism. 


When I saw this Van Gogh my heart stopped. What is it about Van Gogh??? 


My publishers were able to line up a quick signing at the American Book Center which was such an incredible honor. This place has won all kinds of awards for its design and its contributions to literary society, and it was so neat to be a part of such an amazing institution for a couple of hours. The turnout was fantastic, and I was so excited to meet everyone. One reader came from three hours north! Another reader offered to take me to her favorite spots around the city after the signing, and that's when it REALLY got good. 


She took me to this little enclave tucked away behind a church in a private courtyard.


It was THE HIGHLIGHT. (Aside from the amazing conversation. And the FRENCH FRIES!) She explained that historically these little homes have been inhabited by women who've dedicated their lives to church service (without going so far as to actually join a nunnery), and to this day, it's still a bit of a female-centric hub. Another fun detail: I guess the Dutch almost never shut their drapes, sort of a way to show they have nothing to hide, that nothing inappropriate goes on in their home. Things like this are why I've decided it's absolutely best to meet new people while traveling. Out of my comfort zone, but such an amazing experience. Especially when the locals are as adorable as Chloe. :) She even helped me get to my train on time! I felt like the luckiest person on Earth that day.


FOOD. LET'S TALK ABOUT FOOD.


You will want the apple pie at Winkel (thank you, Sara!)


You will giggle over the way they plate their stamppot. (Stamppot is AMAZING you guys.)


You will need a gevulde koeken every morning for breakfast. 


And you will never pass up a free gouda tasting. SO MUCH GOUDA. 


This is unrelated to everything but it completely made my day.

Well, so that was Amsterdam. I'm ready to move in. 

To close us out, I will end this post with what seemed to be the official motto of Amsterdam:

"Don't eat the whole space cake." :)


THE END

22 comments :

  1. You have described Amsterdam beautifully.
    I especially love your metaphor to explain it as a frat house, so so true!
    Rosie
    x
    www.anenglishrosie.blogspot.co.uk

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  2. So glad you loved Amsterdam. I too adore the Dutch and their cities. And I was in the quiet little 'cloister' of houses for women last September. I think I was the only one who 'obeyed' the sign and didn't take photos. I must be an old-fashioned Canadian :) I think it's awesome and brave of you to wander all these lovely cities on your own!

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    1. oh no! haha, somehow i completely missed those signs -- i had no idea! i was taking photos in there like CRAZY. oops!! next time i'll know not to. and yes, i'm sure you were the only one not taking photos! it's amaaaaazingly picturesque in there. good on you!!! xoxo

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  3. These photos are stunning, would love to visit here someday :)

    http://www.mintnotion.com

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  4. everything's SO beautiful!!

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  5. This post has officially made me want to visit Amsterdam :)

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  6. Gorgeous! I was in Amsterdam about 16 years ago and still have the best memories! It's truly a magical and special city. I would love to go back. I'm so glad you had such a lovely time.

    Cheers, Lisa
    Instragram: LittleMama71

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  7. agree, the Dutch were SO helpful and happy to help. We couldn't whip out a map on a short trip there once without someone stopping to ask if we needed help. Good coffee shops too ;)

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  8. I loved Amsterdam last year but - apart from the apple pie at Winkel - thought the food was terrible! Paris is a million times better, I don't think the Dutch are famous for their cuisine unlike the many many French chefs who are famous worldwide.... not sure what you were eating :)



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  9. You had me at flower market!

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  10. I will never forget my shock when I saw my Dutch friend's staircase! I felt like I was climbing a mountain to get upstairs to her bedroom! Haha! I could seriously use my hands and feet at the same time. And no joke about the fries! I had never been a fries + mayo kind of girl until I visited Holland, but their amazing mayo changed my ways (and made its way home with me in the form of many tubes in my suitcase!) You have me dreaming of visiting again, and I would just love to visit when all of those tulips are blooming! Gorgeous!

    Congratulations on such a successful book signing!

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  11. I remember being hit by someone on a bike in Amsterdam when I was in high school! Thankfully they weren't going very fast! And man those flowers are amazing!

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  12. Hahaha, I know the man in the Scottish outfit and bagpipes....we go to the same church...the Mormon church:) He performs at the Dam a lot.

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  13. So funny to see 'our' city through your eyes. I'm happy you had such a good time. Greetings from the Netherlands!

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  14. I did eat the whole space cake (muffin in my case) and had to follow steps 2.3.4 which are, lie down, you aren't dying :)

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  15. You look so beautiful in that photo! Glad you had a good trip!

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  16. I actually just got home from a week in xxx yesterday! my favorite places were hotel droog, koko (coffee & designer clothing in one), stach ( a cute little chain or organic, healthy foods), markt, bilder and clercqstraat and hutspot. if you ever go back! i skipped all the museums and spent my time popping into local stores, trying herring with onions and dill pickles! wandering the foodhallen and 10 katestraat markets and oh...the frites with lotsa mayo :)

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  17. The Dutch cannot be beat... so friendly and accommodating to everyone who invades their beautiful city. What an amazing reader, you would have had a blast and seen so much that so many miss for the "hotspots".

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  18. lovely to meet you and I agree Amsterdam totally won over my heart too x

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  19. A gal who makes apple pie a priority is my kinda gal. Glad you loved it! xo

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  20. I freaking love Amsterdam. Can't wait to go back!

    Love from Paris,
    Valentina
    Valentina Duracinsky Blog

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