Last October, in the middle of our Italian honeymoon, Chris and I decided to jet off for a mini trip to Amsterdam. I thought the city had so much charm, history, and energy - it's one of my favorite cities I've ever been to.
I adoreeeed this city!
We got there right as the leaves were all starting to turn color.
We found the cutest Airbnb of all time located in the Joordan, a charming historic district on the west side of the city.
Joordan was once a working-class neighborhood that started shifting in the 1960s into an upscale burough packed with modern art museums and hip cafés.
There are many theories on how Joordan obtained its name. The most common theory is that Joordan was derived from the French word jardin, meaning garden. Most of the street names in the neighborhood are named after trees and flowers. I'm basically disregarding all other theories I've heard because this one sounds so romantic.
Rembrandt spent his final years of life in the district and the Anne Frank House is also located on the edge of Joordan. The Anne Frank is absolutely worth a visit. It is emotional and heart-wrenching to walk though the museum but Anne Frank's positive attitude during the darkest of times also fills you with hope.
Pro tip: Book your tickets in advance on the Anne Frank House website so you don't have to wait in line for them. We visited at night and there was little to no crowd or wait.
After weeks of eating nothing but Italian food (so good, but yes, it can get old), we found ourselves in food mecca. Much like the United States, every type of cultural cuisine can be found along with all of the must-have Dutch dishes.
We downed burgers, pastas, drunken noodles, all kinds of pastry and cake – everything! I am pretty sure I gained five pounds in our five days in the city. Totally worth it!
When visiting Amsterdam, you have to try poffertjes, a local treat. They are essentially mini pancakes covered in powerdered sugar (so yum). The Dutch are also known for their stroopwafels, which are two layers of very thin waffle separated by a sticky, caramel-y syrup. You can find them in many shops but if you can find them fresh, that’s even better.
Amsterdam is a canal city. There's not a ton of car traffic overall and most people get around by foot or bike. We walked everywhere in the city and skipped the bikes (because I get nervous riding bikes on the street) - I definitely regret not riding though. It would have been quick and easy to get around and really, the areas we were exploring were so mellow traffic-wise. Next time we visit, I will be braver and we will definitely rent bikes!
I loved the plant life in Amsterdam. A lot of times, big cities feel like a concrete jungle and that was not quite the case here. It seemed like residents really made an effort to bring life into the city. These creeping plants were so fun - we visited Amsterdam in autumn but I would love to see this city in the spring when it's in full bloom.
I could have tried every single one of the treats from Petit Gateau. We tried the bramen (blackberry) and framboos (raspberry).
One of my favorite things about Amsterdam was looking at each building’s markings – the ornate, handpainted typograpy, numbers and illustrations or hand crafted plaques. These date back to the Middle Ages when many people could not read and used the plaques to identify street names or name/business of the owner.
I am a huge art and history nerd and if I had it to do again, I would definitely take a historical bus tour (also a food tour!) around the city. While the internet definitely has lots of historical information, it just doesn’t quite cut it the way a tour guide could – and there’s so much more insight among the locals studying this history.
This building (above) was my favorite discovery along Haarlemmerstraat.
The building is located at Haarlemmerdijk 39 and was designed by Francois Marie Joseph Caron. It was once a visch and fruithandel (fish and fruit) shop and you can definitely see how that influenced the design and tile artwork. There’s also an element of Japonism which you can see in the asymmetrical graphic floral patterns in dark red. And of course, there’s a heavy influence of art nouveau in the subject matter (lots of nature themes) and the line work within the window frames (very organic, curvy, and free).
It’s so pretty and I literally gasped out loud when I saw this beauty. They just don’t make ‘em like they used to. More information on this particular building here!
We visited the Foam Museum, a photography museum in the heart of the city. I highly recommend a visit if you are interested in this medium. There were some really interesting pieces, I liked:
Such a modern feel and I loved those pops of color against the black and white background.
Love the color combo in this piece (above). Blush + berry forever!
Give yourself plenty of time to wander the Foam Museum. They have an amazing collection and the museum itself has some pretty fun architectural moments.
Amsterdam was such a treat - I loved the quirky, crooked buildings, the energy, the food, the history, and the calm canals. It is definitely one of my top five favorite cities I've visited thus far.
If you're interested in visiting, one of my favorite resources for planning trips is here.
Until next time, Amsterdam!