We‚Äôre back! We had a fabulous time visiting friends in Europe and I‚Äôve got lots of photos to share. I've got lots of blogs and emails to catch up with, so I'm going to break the trip down into smaller posts that feature each city that we visited.
We flew into Amsterdam last Saturday and spent two days exploring the city. We saw the big sites (the Rijksmuseum, the Van Gogh Museum and the Anne Frank House), rented bikes for an afternoon, took a canal boat tour of the city and pinched ourselves because we still couldn‚Äôt believe that we had finally made it to Europe.
The museums were fabulous and the Rijksmuseum ended up being our favorite museum of the trip. The audio guide was excellent, even though we were fighting back tiredness as we listened to the soothing voice of the narrator. It was so surreal to go through the Anne Frank House. I loved reading her diary when I was younger and it was so moving to see the place where she spent all of her time.
Anne Frank House
I went to a Dutch college, so it was a lot of fun to be in Amsterdam and be familiar with lots of Dutch vocabulary and last names that I was first introduced to in school. Plus, the Dutch are some of the tallest people in the world, so I didn't have to duck to take a shower at the hotel (can't say the same about our trip to Japan).
Amsterdam is absolutely adorable! It was one of our favorite cities on the trip (right up there with Berlin) for the overall ambience and feel of the city. I totally want to start riding my bike everywhere now (unfortunately, winter is upon us).
We rented bikes on Sunday morning and rode in the direction of the Van Gogh museum. Jon and I ended up getting separated two different sides of the Amsterdam Marathon route (crazy and frustrating, yes!). Fortunately we were able to find a spot up the street with less traffic and police officers and sneak across to the other side to meet up with each other again.
We stayed at a cute little hotel on the Herengracht Canal that we‚Äôd definitely recommend, chic&basic Amsterdam. It‚Äôs a Spanish chain hotel that was recommended in the Rick Steves Best of Europe guide (our most used book of the week). The staff at the hotel was so friendly and helpful and welcoming and we had a great canal view from our room.
During our first day in Amsterdam we starting looking for a place to eat lunch a little too late and we were both a bit cranky and really hungry. After we almost settled on lunch at an average caf√©, we turned around and saw "Maoz Vegetarian" calling our name. This is a chain falafel place that has a few locations in the US and had a great selection of Middle eastern salads and toppings to add to the falafel sandwich. I wish they would open up a place in Detroit, although we are very spoiled with Middle eastern food here.
Many thanks to Rick Steves for also recommending one of our favorite food stops of the trip, the caf√© at La Place (trip advisor review here).
It was basically a clean, fresh gourmet food court with tons of
options...fresh fruit, stir fry, breads and pastries, salads and side
dishes. Jon and I both had an Asian stir fry with tons of random
vegetables. Vegetables were rare to come by in the bread and carb
filled culinary world of Europe, so we stocked up here!
Here's the rest of my Amsterdam pictures: Amsterdam flickr set.
And here's a design*sponge Amsterdam city guide. Unfortunately, we didn't have enough time to visit some of the places that we had wanted to from this list (the common theme throughout most of our trip!).