After a 3 hour 136 Euro Thalys, the super fast train, ride through Belgium and into Holland we arrived in Amsterdam. We scheduled the earliest train possible, leaving the Paris Nord Terminal at 6:20 am, which meant that we had to wake up and be out of the house by 5am.
A Ferris Wheel in Belgium
Centraal Station- Amsterdam
We arrived at Amsterdam’s Centraal station which is just that, completely Central and I could not believe how everyone as soon as you walk out of the station was riding a bike. Seriously, everyone, young old, in business suits and in jean shorts. Bikes are outfitted with all sorts of accessories, kid seats in the back in the middle at the end, baskets, stickers, tandem bikes and bikes in all colors. It was mass hysteria getting out of the station!
Once we entered the old part of Amsterdam I was immediately in love. I have NEVER been to a city with more charm. Paved streets, tons of shops and colorful bikes. I was in heaven. Amsterdam is like Disney world for adults.
Instead of heading immediately to our hotel we opted for finding something to eat. Namely these Dutch pancakes we had heard so much about. In our research we came across this place that was supposed to have the BEST pancakes in all of Amsterdam. When we go there however, they were totally closed. So instead we walked a bit and stumbled upon a Heineken diner, and had our pancakes and a long leisurely breakfast there. The Dutch pancakes are somewhere between a pancake and a crepe, a bit closer to a crepe, and they are HUGE! About 10″ across!
My Banana and Honey Dutch Pancake. Yum-O!
I could not believe how many canals there were. The city is built along these canals that all branch of the main river, the Amstel, which is where Amsterdam derives its name from, Amstel-Dam was it’s original name.
Immediately Cat and I decided that seeing the city via it’s waterways would be the best way to see it. Here is a video of our boat trip!
We got to see the Floating Flower Market,
A Stand in the Floating Flower Market. Incredible BULBS of all sizes!
After our boat ride we hopped on a tram and headed to a Restaurant we read about, Restaurant As, A sustainable, organic restaurant outside of central Amsterdam. I was immediately impressed with their cards. I LOVED the cut out!
The space was also great looking the inside is retro 60′s modern and the outside is rustic and verdant. We sat outside because the weather was SO perfect!
The restaurant uses very little electricity to create their meals, instead they use hand cranks to power things and a wood burning oven and stove to do all of their cooking. The way the restaurant works is that the chef prepares an appetizer, entree and dessert that meet your dietary requirements, I told them that I was a pescatarian (only veggies, fruit, dairy and seafood) and this is what he made me:
- Grilled eggplant with mozzarella di bufala
- Marinated Mackrel
- Borsch with fresh beets and creme fraiche
- Sea Bass grilled to perfection with fennel and herbs
- THE BEST Strawberry Rhubarb crumble I have EVER had
It was a GREAT first night in Amsterdam and I can’t wait to see what tomorrow has in store!
Here are some resources for your next trip to Amsterdam!
Where to Stay:
Boats are everywhere in Amsterdam SO were initially trying to stay on a houseboat in Amsterdam, but they were all booked up! If you go to Amsterdam I recommend that you stay on one! Here are few that we found online
Taking the tram:
The tram is a fantastic way to get around, most tourists don’t use it because they don’t really understand how to. Just hop on and buy a ticket. Some trams have a ticket booth but many do not, if they don’t walk up to the first car and buy a ticket directly from the conducter. Make sure that you buy one though, the fine for sneaking on without a ticket is 30 Euro!
There are LOTS of organized boat tours, but many of them are covered in glass so you sort of feel like a hamster in their habitrail. If it’s a nice day, venture out on a smaller boat. Head to a small hotel in the area and ask if they do small boat tours. What you will get is a native Amsterdam-ian? taking you out on his own boat! The price should be about 10 euro each and the trip should last about 90 minutes!
A fun Amsterdam Flea Market:
Everywhere I go, I ALWAYS hit a flea market, and Amsterdam has a REALLY fun one! It’s called Waterlooplein and it’s located along the canal in front of the Rembrandt Museum. There is LOTS of cheesy stuff there, but PLENTY of cool stuff too! I picked up a black leather trench coat for 10 Euro. You HAVE to bargain at this place! Vendors here appreciated some good haggling!
EVERYONE bikes in this city, and you should too, HOWEVER, I will caution you that unless you are familiar with Dutch, learning how to pronounce and recognize street names is a TOTAL disaster. It’s a good idea to take the first day on foot so that you can get a bit of the lay of the land before you go flying down Amsterdam streets. A bike should cost you 10 Euro for 24 hours, and make sure to lock your bike up, even though it’s extremely safe, EVERYONE locks their bikes!
This restaurant is well worth the 10 minute tram ride! Take the number 5 Tram (the blue line, from central Amsterdam south and get off at the Princes Irenestraat stop, right next to Beatrix Park (ask the conductor to let you know when that is)
Prinses Irenestraat 19
Amsterdam. 1077 WT
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