Amsterdam, the Netherlands

To be perfectly honest, I don’t remember much of what happened in Amsterdam. And no, it has nothing to do with the use of “illegal” substances. What I do remember, and enjoy, were those leisurely strolls we had from our lovely apartment – which we rented on Airbnb – to the city centre. It is somewhat surreal waking up and, looking out the window behind your bed, seeing the canals which are so synonymous with Amsterdam, otherwise known as the Venice of the North.

We arrived late in the night, and kind of got lost for a bit trying to find the apartment. But our Airbnb host waited very patiently for us and warmly welcomed us. The apartment was really nice and had two bedrooms and a couch that could be used as a bed for one. If interested, let me know, and I can drop you the host’s profile on Airbnb.

On the first day, I took a walk with Dj to the city centre. I wanted to visit the Anne Frank House.

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In Amsterdam, cycling is probably THE way to get around. You don’t see that many cars on the roads. Instead, lots of cyclists. Very eco-friendly. Apparently, the number of bicycles outnumber the number of citizens, over a million!

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IMG_6896The idyllic canals of Amsterdam

We first stopped for lunch at Toos & Roos. I don’t think I’ve ever had so much cheese in my life in a single seating. I had a goat cheese sandwich with honey and walnuts, which was served with pumpkin soup shooters. I was expecting just one slice of goat cheese, but I got three. Thankfully, Dj was there to save the day, otherwise I would have puked trying to finish it all. Goat cheese is really strong and way too cloying after a while.

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I’m sure most of us know the story of Anne Frank. I read the book as a teenager. Even to this day, I enjoy reading stories about the war and memoirs most. The Diary of a Young Girl is beautifully told. Visiting the Anne Frank House was truly a haunting experience for me. It is definitely one of the better museums around. Even those who have never read her story should visit it. There are many good museums in Amsterdam, but this was the only I wanted to visit. Other museums to consider are the Van Gogh Museum, the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam Museum and Rembrandt House Museum. Museumplein (Museum Plain) is where you can find the major museums.

IMG_6907Anne Frank House

After the Anne Frank House, we met up with the rest. And that was when I made a discovery – Speculoos! As someone who loves baking and looking for new recipes, I’ve always wanted to try Speculoos and transform this yummy cookie butter spread into a cupcake. We first bought one bottle, but after our first try the next morning at breakfast, we were hunting the supermarkets for more.

IMG_6923The original Speculoos spread

It was soon dinner, and we came across Manneken PisNope, not the bronze sculpture of a pissing boy which can be found in Brussels, but the store that sells huge-ass servings of kick-ass fries. We had ours drowned in Samurai sauce because we really, really missed spicy food. Unfortunately, it was more tangy than anything. The fries were delicious and piping hot, perfect for the chilly weather!

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No trip to Amsterdam is complete without a visit to one of their renowned coffee shops. We were looking for Green House, which is pictured on the left of this beautiful shot I caught on my iPhone 😛

I was sulking at this point, as this was the first time we had actually been in cold weather. In the day, it was warm, but by evening it was so cold, and I was in my tank top and shorts with just a thin cardigan. All I wanted to do was go back to the apartment and sleep.

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IMG_6983Green House

To look around and see so many people smoking weed like it’s no big deal is actually quite the experience. Amsterdam is also the place where I first learnt how to identify the smell of weed. This would later serve as an important skill while traveling around Europe.

So, enough talk of weed and space cakes… which I have to add, is a total waste of a perfectly delicious marble cake, because it tastes like grass… to more delicious things. There was a really good ice cream place called Yscuypje that we passed pretty often. We went there twice. The first time, we had chocolate and Speculoos. GOOD!

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On our way to the city centre, we also pass by this really awesome store that sells such a wide variety of cheeses. They’ve got really exotic flavours such as wasabi and pesto too. Dj and I walked in twice just to taste the samples! The store is called Kaashuis Tromp. They even have yummy looking cheesecakes which I was so tempted to buy!

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Amsterdam also has great architecture… like almost every European country. Something will catch your eye. That’s why I enjoy walking over taking the tram. You’re bound to discover something.

IMG_7092Spotted a rainbow!

IMG_7056Amsterdam Centraal

Amsterdam Centraal is the main railway station. The building is huge and so grand. A very beautiful design with its red bricks.

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IMG_7037Street performers

IMG_7088By far, my favourite shot taken in Amsterdam. The Royal Palace of Amsterdam.

Another must-visit is the Red Light District. Before entering, you are welcomed by a “traffic light” that is red. Upon entering, you are welcomed by scowling, and very plastic-looking prostitutes in glass windows. I found them to be highly entertaining and offensive at the same time, if that’s possible. Try not to take photos of them, they really hate it.

IMG_7102Red Light District

To prove that you really have been to Amsterdam, visit the Rijksmuseum, where the famous “I amsterdam” sign can be found. When we got there, it was crowded and we had to wait quite a while for the place to clear out before climbing up those letters. Please be careful when climbing, it can be awfully painful. I think Dj got a cut somewhere. But we got up relatively easy. We are fit people!

IMG_7163“I amsterdam” at the Rijksmuseum

At the park outside the Rijksmuseum, you can get some snacks and just people-watch. A must-try food here is the Stroopwafel. Yes, you can get them in Singapore, and the good ones cost a bomb, but you can get these freshly made, warm and filled with that unbelievable gooey-goodness, for an affordable price in Amsterdam. This was the best I had there. I wish I had eaten more of these fresh ones before leaving.

IMG_7133Fresh Stroopwafel

We took a walk to Vondelpark after the Rijksmuseum. Vondelpark is the largest park in Amsterdam. Europeans really enjoy their parks. I guess the weather makes it a much more pleasant experience.

IMG_7168Vondelpark

Our last meal in Amsterdam was at Pancakes! AmsterdamThis was beside Toos & Roos, where I had my first meal. Dutch pancakes, Pannekoek, are unlike the standard American pancakes we get. They are thin and large. I chose the lemon sugar pancake, while the boys got the apple with nuts and Calvados, and paprika, mushroom, bacon and cheese pancakes. All very yummy, especially the lemon sugar. Amazing how something made with flour, eggs and milk can be so yummy!

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That marked the end of our trip to Amsterdam. We left at about sunset with a bag full of Speculoos and supermarket brand Speculaas and stroopwafels.

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Next stop, London!

Aside

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