Travel Diaries: Amsterdam - Part 1 ~ Diane's Vintage Zest!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Travel Diaries: Amsterdam - Part 1

I was sad to leave Paris, but super excited to catch up with my man and his sister in Amsterdam. We were all coming from different countries to meet up, me from France, my guy from the U.S., and his sister from Italy. We were all excited to see each other and visit Amsterdam for the very first time. :)

Here's the first part of that journey!


*Update: See the whole trip here!*















Day 1 (Thursday, 4/11)
  • Sights: Train station
  • Eats: Il Panorama

I had a 7:22am train to catch from Gare du Nord, but my friend had an even earlier plane! We parted ways very early in the morning. I met my aunt for just a little bit while I packed, and then we stopped to get one last pastry from Du Pain des Idees.

The rest of the day was a mess. First, I forgot my converter in the flat, which I realized only after it was too late to turn back. I hadn't factored in how long of a walk it would be to Gare du Nord and I ended up having to leave my aunt behind to run and make my train just 1 minute before it departed. I entered on a train car towards the beginning and had to haul all of my stuff through four different passenger cars. Whew!

Then, I got off at Antwerp because I heard "Antwerpen Centraal" called over the loudspeaker in Dutch, which I mistakenly heard as "Amsterdaam Centraal." No one near me on the train spoke English and there wasn't a route map anywhere to confirm. I asked a lady who had just entered the train by pointing to the station and asking "Amsterdaam Centraal?" and she nodded yes. She motioned that she was sitting in my seat for the next leg, so I promptly got my suitcase and left the train. Then, I confirmed with a girl by pointing at the platform I was standing on and asking "Amsterdaam Centraal?" again, to which I received a nodding of yes again. I was ready to head up the escalator, when I saw the sign for the station reading "Antwerpen Centraal." I started to run to the train when I realized where I was. The girl came towards me and said "Train to Amsterdaam Centraal. Not station." Well, yes I figured that out already! So I hauled my stuff back onto the train late again. I motioned to another late passenger "Amsterdaam Centraal?" and she responded "Yes, we will reach Amsterdam after a few stops." English! She told me that there would be 3 more stops before mine, so I could finally relax. Well, after I hauled my stuff back to my original seat, I relaxed. By the way, that first lady sitting in my seat was actually across the aisle from me, so her misleading answer almost stranded me in Antwerp!

When I finally got to Amsterdam, I turned around to see a beautiful train station! Definitely rivals Gare du Nord in the style category, but not size for sure. I love the wind direction indicator!




Then, part two of my nightmare.


I had already mapped out a way to get to my rented flat via a short bus ride. My host suggested that I walk the 20 minutes from the station, but I thought a bus would be easier and I didn't want to get a cab by myself. So I bought a 4 day bus/tram ticket, found the bus stop, and got on. Then, the bus driver told me that I couldn't use the bus because it was operated by a different company. What??? So I ended up having to make up a route on the fly...

I got on a tram that passed my destination and I probably walked more than I really needed to in the rain, with heavy luggage, and juggling my phone map. It was a big mess, but I finally arrived at my destination by 11:45 am. Already a looong morning!

Then, I proceeded to get settled, connect to the Internet, and wait for my guy to arrive soon! I almost met him at the airport, but after my catastrophe using public transport and lugging my suitcase around the whole morning, I needed a breather. He arrived at 2 pm, so I only needed to kill about 1.5 hours before he'd message me once he arrived.

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And part three of the terrible day.  So 2 pm rolled around and nothing. Half an hour later and no contact yet. I checked on the flight, and he arrived at 2:09 pm, 4 minutes later than scheduled, but still landed. Then it was 3 pm, and soon 4 pm before I started to worry more. By the time 5 pm hit, I started to really freak out. I was about to call the airlines or the airport to see if he was detained. I thought he got lost or attacked or something terrible had happened! I contacted his sister, who hadn't heard anything. Then I called my sister to ask if it took forever in customs when she had visited Amsterdam. I was on the phone and in tears, when I heard a knock on the door and there was my man all wet from the rain and smiling and happy to see me. I said "He's here!" to my sister and hung up on her.Then, I simultaneously hugged him and scolded him for not contacting me quicker. Yep, now I know what my mom feels like...

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Well, after we both settled down, him with luggage and me with the emotions! We were both exhausted from the day, but we had to go back to the train station to buy him a bus pass and to buy some museum passes. After that, it was pretty late and we ate at the first place we could find that was open, called Il Panorama.




We shared a seafood pasta and an okay pizza.  Honestly, we were just happy to be warm, dry, and full!


Day 2 (Friday, 4/12)

  • Sights: Anne Frank House, Hop-On Hop-Off Bus, Red Light District
  • Eats: t'smalle, Wok to Walk


The next day, we didn't set an alarm so we slept in to around 10:30 am. My guy's sister arrived at around 9am with two of her friends and they hit the ground running! They went to the Anne Frank house first and told us that we should go ahead and see it too while they had a breakfast of pancakes. So, we got our lazy bones our of bed and headed to the museum. There was a long, long line and it was raining so we broke out the umbrellas. I had brought my tiny travel one and my friend left behind her broken umbrella from Paris, which I packed and my guy used. It was sooo necessary. Thanks Mary!

Then, we saw inside the house and learned about how Anne Frank lived for the years she was confined to the attic during the Nazi occupation. There was such a long line because the house itself was tiny and couldn't have handled so many people at a time. I teared up a couple of times reading her beautiful words and experiencing what happened through her eyes.




I'm sharing only this one picture because I think everyone should see for themselves and have the full experience.

Next, we tried to track down the rest of our group, and my poor guy's umbrella gave out. We tried to share, but it just made us both wet! Instead, we ran down the street to Leidseplein until we reached the pancake place. Of course, we missed them so we ended up checking our messages over Wifi and found out she was headed to the Heineken experience. We headed home and looked over our plans. Instead, I suggested that we set a specific time for a drink at the bar around the corner from us, t'smalle. In the meantime, we used the free Hop-On, Hop-Off tour that came with our museum pass, but it was raining and the windows got foggy. But at least weren't running around town in the rain again! :)

Then, we walked home and met up for the drinks at t'smalle. I had a jenever, Dutch gin, while everyone else had Belgian beers.




Afterwards, we went to Wok to Walk because the girls were craving Asian food after living in Italy for the last 3 months.




All full of noodles, we walked to the Red Light District to see what it was like, and of course no pictures are allowed. Then we headed home early to get a jump on the next day!



Day 3 (Saturday, 4/13)

  • Sights: Dam Square, Cheese Museum, Noordermarkt, Canal cruise, Westerkerk church, Bicycle tour, Vondelpark, Hermitage museum, Nine Streets, Boom Chicago
  • Eats: De Winkel, Noordermarkt, Manneken Pis, FEBO, t'smalle


The next morning, I wanted to do a couple of things before meeting up, so I dragged my guy to De Winkel. It was located only 2 blocks where we were staying, so we had a toasted Edam and tomato sandwich for breakfast and their fabulous apple pie.




No wonder it is so popular! There is something about the crust that is so, so good. To me, it is almost like a Madeleine: buttery, moist, and not too sweet. Perfect for the slightly tart apples!




Afterwards, we headed to Noordermarkt for the weekly organic food market and checked out the wares for sale.

Cheese!




Bread!




Fresh pasta and pastries!




Mushrooms!




Clothing!




Flowers!




Doorknobs!




Fresh herbs!




We bought a loaf of spelt bread and smoked Gouda for our future breakfasts, and a strawberry rhubarb muffin for a snack later in the day. Yum!

We then met with our group and headed to Dam Square so they could have a breakfast of hot dogs. Apparently, they were terrible, but at least I had an opportunity to take a picture of the square itself. :)




Next, we went to a canal cruise, but we had to wait a bit, so we went to the nearby Cheese Museum for some cheese sample tasting and souvenirs.




The canal cruise was pretty fun and we saw some unique sights! The amazing houseboats...




Bridges...




And beautiful buildings.




Afterwards, we headed back to De Winkel after talking up the apple pie to our group. On the way, we walked by Westerkerk church, which we passed by almost every day because our closest tram stop was located just across the street.




Also, I just had to take a picture of these tiny cars, which would be absolutely necessary on the super small streets of Amsterdam!




While the rest of them were in line, we headed back to the market and bought the focaccia loaf, which they warmed up for us in the oven, and the berry cake behind it. Sooo good, but yes I am missing fresh fruits and veggies!




Then, we headed out on a bicycle tour of the city, which I was dreading. I never learned as a kid how to use a bicycle with gears and hand brakes, so I knew it would be rough having learned as an adult. The only reason I agreed is because the whole group wanted to go, and I had survived a bike tour in Vienna two years back. I had a minor crash, and only a cafe table was injured. Oops!

First, we stopped by the iamsterdam sign in Vondelpark. There was a huge gathering of people there for the grand reopening of the Rijksmuseum, which had been closed for over 11 years for renovations.




Then we headed to the Hermitage museum to see the collection of Van Gogh's works, which were temporarily housed there while the Van Gogh museum was closed.




Next, we got some fries from Manneken Pis, which the group was totally craving. Honestly, my guy and I thought they were pretty bad, so I was secretly excited to head to Belgium for the real deal!




After breaking off from the group, I decided to try out a cheese croquette from FEBO, which I had seen on No Reservations. It's like a vending machine for with burgers, sausages, and fried food inside. Honestly, it was better than I was expecting!




I was going to be semi-adventurous with a chicken satay, but my guy thought I should play it safe and not buy meat from a machine. :) I could see the "chef" refilling it, but I went with him anyways out of fear of food poisoning spoiling my trip. It happened once in the Dominican Republic to me, and I was not about to have a replay of that episode.




Afterwards, we strolled around the Nine Streets area where we were staying to see all the little shops. This is a cute one that I loved!




Next, we met up with the rest of our group at t'smalle. We got a table located right on the canal. In the meantime, I got another apple pie, which I had also heard was good.




In a head to head comparison, there were pluses and minuses for each pie, but they are both worth tasting. They REALLY know how to make their crusts in Holland. :)

Afterwards, all of us went to Boom Chicago, a comedy and improv show that the girls had heard about. My one suggestion of the night was to the prompt, "Tell me exactly what is on your mind at this very moment." I shouted out "Pineapple!" which isn't surprising that I was thinking about food. It ended up being the central prop in a skit, which took place in a strip club (a suggestion by my guy's sister).

Then, we parted ways and began the second part of Amsterdam the following day...

*Update: Continue on my journey through Amsterdam here!*




13 comments:

  1. You had a bumpy trip but I'm glad you got there so you could share the wonderful photos! I host a link party Tuesdays - Saturdays for anything on antiques, vintage, history, and historic places. I'd love for you to share this post! We Call It Olde Link-Up. Take care - Dawn @ We Call It Junkin.com

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  2. My husband is Dutch so we've been to A'dam several times. Thanks for bringing back so many happy memories for me!

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  3. I spotted your travel mascot :) I'm trying to talk my husband into getting one for our photos. Eventually we'll find something we both like.

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  4. It was! It's hard NOT to take great pictures in Amsterdam. :)

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  5. How fun! I'm glad I could bring back some good memories. I would love to go back and make more!

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  6. Ha! She's always around. :) Maybe something from his favorite sports team? I'm glad my guy is happy with Lil Miss. :)

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  7. Amazing trip! Great photos. Your a brave traveler:) I'm freaked out about being without english speaking people, getting lost or robbed!

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  8. I'm a bit too brave, according to my family and friends. :) They worry, but I always have awesome stories afterwards!

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  9. I am Dutch myself, living in Virginia, any pics from back home makes me smile! Thanks for sharing your A'dam experience! Hetty

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  10. How fun! I've never been!!

    Again, thanks for joining the Link Up this week!

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  11. Great trip. Thanks so much for sharing with Adorned From Above’s Link Party. Have a great week.

    Debi and Charly @ Adorned From Above

    http://www.adornedfromabove.com

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  12. Uhm, Amsterdam is as safe as it gets... especially compared to US cities!!

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  13. It did feel very safe in Amsterdam, but on the way there I was nervous because I was completely by myself, lugging around heavy bags, not knowing the language, and totally unfamiliar with the train system from Paris to Amsterdam. Also, I would say that it would be safe compared to major U.S. cities because there have been several times where I accidentally left my front door wide open or my keys in the car door and found everything untouched. However, my car has been ransacked once before, so you never know the ratio of good Samaritans to bad eggs. :)

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