My start into a freelance business venture began in February and near the end of April I thought it was about time for some relaxing and traveling again. I departed off to Amsterdam for my second attempt at experiencing the city. I had doubts about going to the same place again in such a short time, but I also knew each time you visit a place the impression will be different! I was also very glad that the setting would be different; being in the beautiful harbor city with my girlfriend instead of a group of friends. The last visit also ended with a bitter and extended, complicated illness, so I wanted to go again and have a good end to it.
We decided to try out Airbnb for the first time. I had my worries about it working out smoothly, but it all worked out nicely when we arrived on the first day near the evening. We moved into a cozy, two story loft about 10 minutes by foot away from the center. We decided to keep a balance between cooking at home with local groceries from the food markets and eating out at restaurants.
On the first evening we ventured into the center of the city to walk around casually, keeping an eye out for starting it all off with a great dinner and wine. We ended up in a steak house sharing a grill platter for two and some red wine to go with it. Laughing and enjoying the first hours away from our daily life back home was priceless.
We wobbled back home having had a good time and trying to stay conscious of the bicycle bullets flying by us slow and dumb pedestrians.
On the second day we hopped on the city tram buying a 24 hour ticket, knowing we wanted to make a lot of distance and see more of the sights. We started out towards the museum district, then Vondel Park, and back through the city center. The friendly driver gave us our card and we were on the way.
We strolled through the museum grounds with an amazing tasting, fresh-squeezed fruit juice from the super market. We checked the ingredients and it was 100% biological and natural. We ended up buying a lot of different varieties of juice during our stay.
Neither of us was interested in any of the current exhibitions, so we decided to leave towards the Vondel Park, to lie outside and have some food. The park is very large (47 hectares / 120 acres) with many people, but also quiet niches where one can relax. I find that the Dutch are very culturally diverse, and they were always friendly to us. We also never had a language barrier problem, everyone seemed to speak English fluently.
We walked towards the center and stopped at a Cafe with tables right next to the canal. We had coffee and mozzarella and tomato sandwiches, and chocolate cake with caramel sauce and vanilla ice cream. Hey it’s a holiday after all!
The Dutch and Amsterdam lifestyle really “spoke to us” both. I always feel positively uplifted just being in the city. We continued to get “lost” and walked endlessly along the canals until we checked the clock and decided to head to the Albert Cuyp Market in the De Pijp district. They had an amazing variety of fresh produce; the vegetables and fruit all tasted great for acceptable prices. The smell of freshly baked waffles and mini pancakes filled the strolling crowd’s noses. Other ready-to-eat dishes were pickled herring, kebab sandwiches, sausages and potato chips. We thought a giant red snapper fish would be a good choice for dinner, with a seaweed, mango, tomato, zucchini, mushroom curry and rice.
The next day, on our way to a fairground in the city, we spotted the Bodies exhibit, which we both heard good things about. They take bodies of deceased people, who donated their flesh for science, and then make a biological exhibition of the parts. We decided to go there the next day, and both found it fascinating and would understand why so many have recommended seeing it.
At the fair we got on a Ferris wheel to get some nice aerial shots.
Back on the ground, we proceeded through some small shops in the twisting maze of alleys and partook of some street food. We were in a lot of hip shops, 10 minutes from the central train station, with UV decorated gadgets and clothing.
On our last day we decided to visit the zoo. The park and animal enclaves were built with a lot of space and were clean. There was enough to do and see and we didn’t expect to spend almost the whole day there. It was busy, but not overfilled or crowded, and it offered a big variety of animals!
The last day we consumed the last of our groceries and stayed up the night to catch our flight back home at 6 in the morning. Sleep deprivation, tight airplane seats and the most obnoxious seat partners behind us rounded off our vacation. Thankfully the flight back wasn’t very long.