This past Thanksgiving, my boyfriend and I decided against the normal family weekend and took an impromptu trip to Amsterdam. One day we found ourselves over a tasty cheese & charcuterie plate and a glass of wine at one of our favorite wine bars in the city. As that glass turned to a bottle and we started dreaming of our next travel destination, we thought we might as well take a peek at Skyscanner. We had been planning to go to Chicago over that Thanksgiving weekend to visit his parents, but we saw $500 round-trip flights to Amsterdam with WowAir. This was almost half the price it was going to be if we went to Chicago, which was too good of a deal to pass up. We giddily purchased our tickets that night and crossed out our “travel to another country” bullet on our list of things to do before the 2016 year was up.
The day finally came and we packed our bags up with puffy jackets, raincoats and walking boots and readied ourselves for the winter chill of Amsterdam.
Finally arriving in Amsterdam after a somewhat painful WowAir experience, we immediately fell in love with our Airbnb and neighborhood in between the Haarlemmerbuurt and the Jordaan districts. It was a four-level skinny (and steep) little apartment. It was the perfect spot to plan out our adventures over the next nine days.
There are too many things to go into everything in detail, but if I had to pick my favorite part of Amsterdam, it would have to be the canals. At that time of the year, all the trees lining the canals were full of golden yellow leaves that would fall to the surface of the water, creating a beautiful impressionist like scene from a painting. The architecture itself is also incredible...
One day we decided to check out the Van Gogh Museum, which I would definitely recommend, and when we came out we were met with the most beautiful sunset I’ve ever seen. It was vibrant red-almost purple streaks painted across the sky with slashes of orange and yellow. Besides the breathtaking scenery, many parks and architecture, we had some amazing meals, took a boat cruise through the canals, experienced coffee shops, wandered around the different districts and found some incredibly old bars and hip new hangout spots.
Much to my happiness, we also ran into a few different cats around the city. It is definitely more of a cat vs. dog city, which makes sense with its tiny houses. The first bar we went to we saw a woman with her cat just curled up next to her. Another night we had a friendly, big, orange cat (we nicknamed him Nacho) follow us home hoping for more pets and treats. Throughout our trip we’d stop by restaurants that had their token cat hanging out under the windowsill, basking in the sun.
We also found the BEST apple pie I’ve ever had at Winkel 43. No exaggeration. After my first slice of the perfect mixture of thick slices of spiced apple and a melt in your mouth crumbly crust, I was tempted to immediately order another one. Pat wisely deterred me, but we definitely came back for round two on another day. We also got excellent mint tea, which was just a huge mint bunch soaking in hot water - straight from the source.
One our second to last day, we celebrated Thanksgiving by cooking up a feast at home and stopping by the necessary coffee shop beforehand, which became an adventure in its own.
All in all, Amsterdam was a great city. I loved that you could walk everywhere, sit along the canals or stop by local bars to people watch. We unfortunately didn’t get a chance to bike, but next time it’s a must! My friend is just about to move to Amsterdam (sadly for me!) but I’m excited to have the chance to revisit Amsterdam again soon!
Below are a few notable places we loved on our trip:
- Harlem - Bar/restaurant we went to a few different times. It has surprisingly great nachos and it’s where we discovered an amazing dutch IPA beer called Thai Thai from Oedipus Brewing
- Vesper Bar - Tasty cocktails near our Airbnb
- Cafe de Oranjerie - Great local bar + pub food, friendly bartenders that we played Jenga with and I repeatedly lost at.
- Temple Doeloe - Awesome Indonesian restaurant where we got rijsttafel - 36 tiny portions of foods with varying spice temperature
- De Blauwe Druif - Great bar, great Bitterballen
- PIQNIQ - Great spot to grab lunch and walk around the Joordan neighborhood
- Il Pacioccone - tiny Italian family-run restaurant, amazing pasta and Caponata
- Brouwerij 't IJ - Awesome brewery in a windmill, they only have one english tour a day, so we missed it but great beer and tasty cheese + grilled sausages
- G’s - Somewhat hidden breakfast place, the menus were on record players and they had amazing drinks and brunch-like options (think chicken & waffles and benedicts)
- ‘T Blaauwhooft - first spot we visited, great local pub w/ good food