he only preconceptions I really had about Amsterdam were canals, bikes and the obvious - coffeeshops. While all those things were there, in abundance, I was pleasantly surprised by the other things we found - wonderful food, great shops and some of the most beautiful sky I've seen. Luckily, the rain that threatened the whole week we were there only fell in a drop here and there, and a brief shower on our final day. Otherwise, the weather reminded me a lot San Francisco - windy with a sea-based chill that made my hair thankful for what it was not missing in California.
Mmm... giant, juicy burgers, thick-cut fries and a regional Fanta flavor - Cassis
Our first day was only a half-day, since we drove up, but it still gave us time to get out and get a feel for the city. And get our hands on what we were told are the second-best burgers in Europe (harder to find than the one might suspect)! Being an American living in the land of pork, a perfect burger or amazing steak are things to covet while traveling. That's right In'N'Out - I'm coming for you when we're in California this summer!
The architecture was also even more impressive than I expected. The cute little blocks along the canals were just like in pictures, but the way they are slanted and jumbled together was so curious. The more we travel to older towns like this, the more I appreciate skylines that aren't cut with the jagged, towering silhouettes of skyscrapers. It makes it easier to see what life looked a hundred of years ago and appreciate the history and enduring culture in such beautiful cities.
Forget the leaning tower of Pisa -
Amsterdam's got more uneven architecture!
Even the little details were amazing
Sticking to our usual game plan of just hanging out and trying to live like locals, we did lots of walking around the city, in addition to our two days of biking everywhere. While we didn't make it to any museums, we did manage to get in on a cheese tasting at the Reypenaer shop....
... and some whisky tasting at Whiskycafé L&B - home of over 1,000 different whiskies! - including a lovely Nikka whisky from Japan.
We ate traditional Dutch fare, like bitterballen, a sort of fried, doughy-meat ball thing (better than it sounds)...
pannenkoeken, a crepey-pancake, sweet or savory...
and Indonesian food, very big in Amsterdam.
We saw animals, fuzzy and cute...
and scary and strange,
and the funniest, tiniest cars we'd ever seen!
All in all, it was a great trip to a great city - and I'm pretty sure we'll be back. This was definitely a city we could see ourselves living in. The food, the biking culture, the fashion - oh, the fashion! It was just nice to be in a town where the median age was anything below 50 and the height of style included something other than a fur coat with a face. I love where we live, but it was nice to feel like we were among peers, nevermind the fact that we don't speak Dutch. And since everyone got around on a bike, women could enjoy the loveliest heels, making me very jealous. If for nothing else, I could go back just for the cheese and the shopping (Scotch & Soda for my husband and WE for me).
Thanks for the memories, Amsterdam! We hope to see you again someday!
*Daily Drop Cap by Jessica Hische