B TRAVELING TO AMSTERDAM
I just got back from my favorite city in Europe, Amsterdam or also known as Mokum. I don’t know what it is about this city, but I feel a deep connection and a love for it. I love the food, the architecture, the beautiful canals, the people (so nice), the vibe, and the history. I had been to Amsterdam once when I was in college, then again with my husband a couple of years ago, and most recently with my husband and my two of my four children. We always go away for spring break, usually somewhere tropical, where we relax by a pool or beach. This year we decided to take our kids and get some culture outside of the U.S. I knew they would love it.
One of the best things about traveling anywhere is the food. I love to eat and try just about anything. We did get some recommendations from friends and we searched places as well. These were our favorites on this trip
Gartine- This was a last minute find. It was a tiny, cozy, mismatched antique filled cafe serving breakfast, lunch and tea. They grow all their fruits and Vegetables in their garden. Its near the busy Kalverstraat area, next to the open air book market.
Cafe George-Super cool, trendy restaurant, tiled walls and floors. Great food and fun vibe. A french brasserie-in New-York- but in Amsterdam. Breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Blauw- Anthony Bourdains favorite restaurant in Amsterdam. It is rated # 1 Indonesian restaurant in the Netherlands by New York Times. It is cool, trendy and delicious.
Cecconi’s-Classic Italian food. This restaurant is located in the 1930’s Bungehuis building in the Singel Canal. They serve lunch and dinner. A reservation is not easy. Our favorite of the week. The art deco is amazing
Winkel-My husband and daughters favorite. Famous apple pie and homemade whip cream. I’m not an apple pie lover but I did manage to eat a lot of crust. We went there twice!
Van Stapele- A constant line out the door all day. They sell out by 3:00pm. They only make one type of cookie, a chocolate crispy cookie on the outside with a soft, white chocolate filling. Ridiculous!!
Van Wunderen Freiten-a line out of the door all day long. Perfect, crispy, french fries made fresh to order, with skins on. A choice of several sauces. I like mine plain. They have other items on the menu, but they are famous for the fries. We came back for a second visit.
Pancake Bakery- The restaurant is in a 17th century warehouse. They serve the famous, huge, dutch pancake, crispy around the edges. We had a sweet banana pancake and used the syrup from the huge trough on the table. We also tried the savory pancake with salami and onions, so amazing. A long line out the door all day. They don’t take reservations, worth the wait.
Zeewater-If you love herring, this is the place. We went there on a food tour and it was busy. We tried herring with onions and pickles, not bad. It kind of reminded me of sashimi. My parents would have loved this place. The fish and chips were also amazing
When we travel to different countries, we like to do minimal touristy things and try to make it fun and enjoyable for everyone in the family. A museum here and there, usually a food tour, a cooking class and this time a bike tour. Here is what we did
Keukenhof Gardens-One of the most unbelievable display of flowers that I have ever seen. It is only open from March 21-May 19. It is about a 30 minute drive from central amsterdam. We got a ride there, spent a couple of hours and came back. A must
Food Tour- We used a company called Eating Europe, and our guide was fantastic. We met at a pub and joined a group with 8 other people. Our guide gave us history on different areas of Amsterdam and the popularity of the different foods those areas. We ate apple pie, Went to a cheese store, a meat store, a herring store, and our favorite, a pub that served these mini pancakes. Super Fun and delicious
Bike tour-We used a guy that our hotel recommended. He came to our hotel and our hotel had their own bikes, it was very convenient. There are several companies online that you can find, and they all do the same types of tours. Just make sure you are awake, and not drunk, riding a bike in Amsterdam is no joke. My daughter almost got hit by a car the second she got on her bike!!
Moco museum-Museum of Contemporary art. One of my favorites. I love the building it is in which is the Villa Alsberg, a townhouse. It was actually a privately owned residence It is considered a boutique museum with modern and contemporary art. We saw collections from Banksy, Daniel Arsham, Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein. Tickets are relatively cheap, there is no time slot, and you can go any time it is open.
Anne Frank-I am not going to lie, I was disappointed. I went to see Anne Franks house when I was in college and there was still furniture in the house. Now there isnt a piece of furniture, just rooms with pictures. You cannot even go up to the attic. You have to reserve your tickets months in advance and select a time slot. I did think it was interesting to see where the house was located and what it was like to look out the windows from that perspective. I did want my kids to see it because they read her book in school.
Van Gogh Museum- this is the worlds largest collection of Vincent Van Gogh. I was surprised when I asked an attendant where Starry Night was and she told me at the museum in NYC!! This is not an easy ticket to get, you must get in advance and there are time slots. We also saw a exhibition of David Hockney which was very interesting and similar to Van Gogh.
Rijksmuseum-We did not go on this trip. I was kind of bummed but got voted out. I think it is a must if you have never been. It is a national museum with more than 8,000 objects of art and history. Works from Rembrandt, Hals, Vermeer. You need to purchase tickets in advance and also pick a time slot.
What to wear
DON’T WEAR BRIGHT COLORS-or you will stand out like a sore thumb!!! Unless you don’t care and you want to look like tourist! Like other places in northern Europe, black and neutral colors are more common than bright colors. Blending in with the locals means attracting less attention from pickpockets and other criminals that seek out tourists. . Black, brown, navy, grey or khaki are always great colors to travel in. Black is always my favorite because it is the easiest to mix and match and dress up or down. If you have a black leather jacket bring it for sure. Jeans and boots are a must. Sneakers are also great but make sure they are dark. Above all, being comfortable and dressing warm is key. A hat, scarf and gloves are always great to bring. During the summer is a entire different wardrobe, but black is always essential.
where to stay
We stayed at the Andaz. This was our second stay, we love this hotel. It is quirky and fun with Dutch inspired art. Is designed by world-renowned designer Marcel Wanders. It almost feels like a museum itself. The Pulitzer hotel also looked beautiful. On our next visit we would like to stay on a house boat on the canal. We have heard that is really fun.
Where to Shop for fashion
Of course we always seem to find the best vintage stores. We did find a couple of other boutiques that were fun. There are also some very poshy boutiques that you can usually find the same designers in the U.S. The main shopping areas in Amsterdam are The 9 Streets, Pieter Cornelis Hoofstraat, more high end women, De Jordan and Dam square, more touristy
Catwalk Junkie-My daughter Priva and I stumbled into this store. Creative, fun and kind of a rebellious twist. I would consider the style of the clothing as “street wear”. Really good prices.
Zipper-One of the oldest vintage stores in Amsterdam. A husband wife and son own it an run it. Prices are good
Golden Goose- An italian brand sneaker, that is sold in the U.S. The prices on the sneakers are half of what they sell in the U.S.
HUD-Mens clothing. I found some cute things for my sons. Fun, casual, sporty but chic. Prices were very good
When we travel, we do have some sort of itinerary, but we also take time to nap, relax and my most favorite, is sit a local pub or restaurant and have a glass of wine,or coffee, and watch the people go by.