AMSTERDAM - EMBRACING NATURE, FOOD AND DRINK
Updated: Mar 20
Vondelpark, pancakes, the best cookie in the world, Anne Frank museum and brewery in a windmill
We travelled to Amsterdam on the Eurostar from London St Pancras. The Eurostar took 4 hours and 38 minutes and the time passed very quickly. I buried my head in my Amsterdam Lonely Planet book and soaked up as much information as I could about the sights of Amsterdam. I had been once before but I didn’t get the chance to see much. I was looking forward to appreciating Amsterdam for it’s beauty, history and architecture. After stops in Brussels and Rotterdam we arrived in Amsterdam Centrum. We jumped on the tram on the way to our friend’s apartment where we were staying between the Westindische Buurt and the Overtoomse Sluis districts. This area is around 25-30 minutes on the tram to get into the centre. If you are coming for a short break I’d recommend a hotel, or better an Airbnb, closer to Amsterdam-Centrum. This will save you the unnecessary travel time that you could be spending sight seeing.
We dropped off our bags and headed out into the sunshine, firstly to Vondelpark. This park is amazing and has everything you could want from cafes to water fountains and vast green spaces that are perfect for a picnic. We walked through the park and ended up at a bar in the centre called De Vondeltuin where we sipped on aperol spritz and bar snacks. It was wonderful.
We moved on and headed to another bar, Waterkant where we sat by the canal and later made it to Hofje van Wijs bar in the centre of Amsterdam.
We visited the Upstairs Pancake House. This space is tiny and the walls and ceiling are filled with mini pots/pans, figurines, ornaments, everything you can imagine all squeezed into one minuscule room. You will need to make a reservation here as there are only around 4 tables and it is always full. We ordered strawberries and cream pancakes, one with cherry jam and one with cinnamon and banana and they were incredible. The pancakes look huge when they arrive but as they are thin crepes I assure you that you will be able to clear your plate.
The best cookie in the world
We then began what turned into a 40-50,000 step day and walked practically the whole of Amsterdam! Firstly stopping at the place to find the BEST cookie in the world from Van Stapele Koekmakerij. This biscuit shop was recommended by our local friends who explained the shop only sells one type of cookie. The cookie is dark chocolate with a melting white chocolate centre. They are to die for. Whatever you do don’t miss this spot during your time in Amsterdam. Trust me, you will not be disappointed.
Beers and windmills
Now full of pancakes and cookies we somewhere managed to waddle to our next stop which was Brouwerij ‘t IJ. This is a brewery in a windmill which couldn’t get more stereotypically Dutch. It is very cool both inside and out. There is a main bar area and a food stall selling sausages. We opted for a paddle of 5 small beers so we could taste and compare them all.
We then walked around 30 minutes to get to our next water hole, Hannekes Boom. This is in a quirky part of town and close to the motorway . It has outdoor seating by the river Oosterdoksdoorgang. We then pondered whether to visit one of the many famous museums of Amsterdam such as the Rijks museum, Van Gogh museum or the Stedelijk museum but knowing we were going to visit the Anne Frank museum the following day, we decided against it. That, and the fact we’d now consumed too much beer to soak in the culture and history of a museum. However, make sure you do visit one or more of the many museums in Amsterdam during your trip as they are said to be some of the greatest in the world.
Amsterdam is such a beautiful and unique place and you won’t get bored of wandering aimlessly, appreciating the architecture and watching the boats cruise down the canals.
Anne Frank museum
Morning came and we went for breakfast at Cafe Blond. We had iced lattes and yet more pancakes. After breakfast we were heading to the Anne Frank museum. Tickets for the museum must be booked in advance and even when we booked, around 2-3 months before going, we couldn’t get the usual access pass and instead had to choose a ticket which started with a presentation before you can access the museum and house. The presentation was actually very enjoyable and we learnt a lot about the history of World War II, which only got us more excited about heading into the house. Once inside the museum there are dozens of pictures, voice recordings and videos to become fixated on. You will experience a roller coaster of emotions as you make your through the museum learning about life as a Jewish citizen during these extremely difficult times. After making your way through the museum you finish the experience entering the home of Anne Frank. You enter through the bookcase which was used to barricade the door closed and disguise the property from the soldiers. You then see the bedrooms and small living area where Anne, her parents and her elder sister lived and where Anne wrote her famous diary. This place is a must when visiting Amsterdam so make sure you book your tickets far in advance to avoid disappointment. Amsterdam is a wonderful city and so easily accessible from the UK. It is even one of the few places that is easy to get to from my home town of Newcastle which unfortunately is a rarity.
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