So we picked a bad day to visit Amsterdam for one reason: the marathon. We spent over an hour trying to get to our parking spot, but it simply could not be done. So we finally gave up and picked a random spot to park, which is how we learned that parking is free on Sundays.
We walked around aimlessly until we found a jam-packed brunch spot. (This is my husband #2 trick to find a great restaurant while traveling: Look for a crowd. His #1 is checking Trip Advisor.) My trick for finding the best food? Ask the waitress. This is what she gave me.
I’ve now discovered the were a type of Dutch doughnut called an Oliebollen, topped with strawberries, nutella, and fresh cream. Can you say yum? Now the inside was not dry, like we would think of a doughnut, it was still kind of soft and egg-y, which threw me a little. But they were still delicious and I would highly recommend them.
It gave me the fortification I needed to begin exploring the city.
The city is a series of ringed waterways. And it’s absolutely gorgeous. It has all the modern conveniences, and yet, it still made me feel swept back to a simpler time. Bicycles lined the streets and families strolled the walkways along the canal. People sat at outdoor cafes (even though it was cold in October) and people watched. It was truly lovely.
I feel like it’s important to note that Amsterdam gets a bad rap due to legalized drug use and the Red Light district. But there are a couple of things I’d like to say. 1) We saw both those issues in every big city we visited in Germany, and they can be found in most big cities around the world. Though it’s offered, it can certainly be avoided. 2) If I didn’t know it was there, I would’ve barely noticed. We spent a lot of time on the outer rings of the city, where I saw no sign of either issue. Once you get to the city center, the “coffeeshops” become more prevalent, but we just walked right on by.
We wanted to get to the royal palace! Which we couldn’t actually see because a massive festival was taking place in the square. It seems October is the month for festivals because we bumped in to countless little town festivals all around Germany as we travelled. They had rides and games, but we weren’t all that interested–we had more city to see. If, for some reason, your view from square was blocked, like ours, go to the opposite side. From the women’s bathroom at the top of the shopping mall, you’ll find a stunning view of the palace. Odd, I know. But that’s life for you.
We did not get to see Anne Frank’s house because our Amsterdam visit was a last minute day trip. But from everything I’ve heard, it’s a must-see. With that in mind, book your tickets early, otherwise you’ll be stuck in a line around the corner and up the block!
And I feel I cannot wrap up the post without a word about the cheese. Spotted around town, you’ll find little cheese houses like this:
It is some amazing stuff, I tell you! They have free samples all around the store for the dozens of cheese types they create. They’ve got the cheeses we’ve all heard of and then they’ve got some little rounds flavored with fresh herbs and spices. I’m not a big cheese person and still I wanted to a buy an entire case. You MUST stop in and give it a try.
All in all, I loved my day in Amsterdam. It was a gorgeous city. I recommend the outer ring–it was my favorite part. At the city center, you’ll catch all the tourist attractions, but on the outer rings of the canals, you’ll get a feel for what it’s like to live in Amsterdam: peaceful, beautiful, unforgettable.
P.S. Join me on my other European adventures in Munich, Venice, Sienna, and Rome Part 1 & Part 2. Or get the tools you need to create your own adventure at home and abroad with free access to my exclusive Adventurers’ Resource Library.