We just spent Thanksgiving weekend in Amsterdam. What an interesting, beautiful city!
When the idea for a trip over Thanksgiving was forming, our first criteria was a non-stop flight. A quick google search revealed that Delta had a non-stop flight from Boston to Amsterdam so we moved to step 2, finding a hotel. Since this trip involved meeting family in Amsterdam we needed to find a suitable place that would work for both parties. My brother-in-law chose the Pulitzer hotel that proved to be a terrific home base for 4 nights. Our room rate included a delicious buffet breakfast that kept us well-fueled until the middle of the afternoon! The room came equipped with a french press, a hario long neck kettle and a cup with coloured pencils. Clearly a hotel that takes coffee seriously.
We had a great dinner at Nooch our first night. After walking all afternoon we were chilled through so the pad thai and chicken noodle soup really hit the spot. Plus the restaurant was around the corner from our hotel so our cold, jet-lagged bodies didn’t have far to walk. Another night we ate at Plantage, a large beautiful space with high ceilings, plenty of glass walls and really creative food. Rick Steves recommended having an Indonesian rijsttafel or rice table, a by-product of Dutch colonialism in Indonesia. Apparently when the Dutch returned home they brought an affection for spicy peanut sauce and the practice of serving many small Indonesian dishes revolving around rice. We enjoyed our rice table at Long Pura, a short walk from our hotel and recommended by the concierge. We stopped at Bocca Coffee Roasters on two separate occasions, once for coffee and once for hot cocoa. We even met the man that sources all the chocolate for the hot cocoa as he happened to stop in the shop while we were raving about the cocoa!
I had ordered tickets online for the Anne Frank Museum so we were able to walk right in and not wait in line. The museum starts with a tour of the actual space Anne and her family lived in while hiding and includes very steep steps up to the attic and the moveable bookcase that hid the entry. It certainly makes history come alive. We didn’t pre-order tickets for the Van Gogh or Rijks Museum but had no trouble getting in mid afternoon. Both museums were terrific.
I have yet to mention the bicycles…apparently bikes outnumber people, there are 881,000 bikes and 800,000 people. They were everywhere and appear to have the right of way over pedestrians and cars! Several times we had a walk signal at a crosswalk and while cars obeyed the light, bicycles didn’t…many intersections were challenging to cross safely!
What I observed about biking in Amsterdam — No one wears a helmet. Kids sit on the front or the back or in crate. People transport everything on their bike. We saw very few overweight people!
The NYTimes 36 hours article recommended the Boerenmarkt, an organic weekly market on Noordermarkt. On this pretty square, Dutch farmers and food purveyors set up booths overflowing with the local bounty: veggie-packed quiches, live crayfish, wild mushrooms and giant wheels of Dutch cheese. We could only window shop as we were leaving the next morning but it was fun to browse.
During our visit we sampled cheese, tried pickled herring, drank jenever and ate chocolate. And we walked, at least 10 miles a day because walking is such a great way to see a city.
We would love to return to Amsterdam. It is a city that is tolerant, practical and beautiful.