introducing rachael // 48 hours in amsterdam.
September 4, 2013 § 4 Comments
Being in London over the summer rejuvenated my love of Europe.
I’d constantly get lost in thought over how much travelling I would do if I lived there permanently. So, so many amazing options.
But in the meantime, I waltz over to a number of fabulous blogs to get my European fix. Not only do these ladies get to call this continent their home but they’ve become serious experts in the fields of expat living and travelling.
So in an effort to learn more about Europe and to introduce you to some of my favorite blogs, I bring you the second instalment of my “48 Hours In…” series! They get to brag and we get to learn a little something. Sounds pretty great don’t you think?
Today I bring you Rachael of Let’s Be Adventurers, a SoCal expat living in Amsterdam. If that wasn’t a cool enough gig, she’s marrying her Dutch beau Christian on a beach in Mexico this fall, then taking off for a six month adventure around Asia and the Middle East and then moving to San Francisco.
I know. Amazing.
Hi eyes/ears/mouth+lens readers! I am so happy to be guest-posting for Lauren today about my favorite city and home for the last 5+ years: Amsterdam! Ever since first visiting Amsterdam in 2005, I have never tired of the laid-back vibe of this beautiful city – the most magical moments in Amsterdam are spent biking along picturesque canals usually stopping along the way to dangle your feet over the edge and enjoy the view. So let’s get started! Here are some of my favorite weekend activities to do in the city and my 48-hour guide to Amsterdam:
Late afternoon: Welcome to Amsterdam! Whether you arrive by plane, train, boat or any other mode of transporation, 99% of the time you will first enter the Amsterdam city center by way of Amsterdam Centraal Station. Fortunately, you’ll be just in time for a Dutch borreltje (or happy hour). Make your way to Hanneke’s Boom, a hipster bar right on the water about 5-10 minutes walk from Centraal Station, and toast to your upcoming weekend. Be sure to order a La Chouffe beer and Dutch beet snacks such as bitterballen (like deep-fried meatballs) and kaasstengels (spicy cheese snacks).
After you make friends with the Dutch during a borreltje, take the 20-minute ‘scenic’ walk to your hotel for the weekend: The Bulldog Hotel and Hostel. The best thing about The Bulldog is location, location, location! Situated right on the canal and between Dam Square and the Red Light District, this hotel and hostels offers both clean and colorful dorm rooms and private rooms, some of them with a canal view. Drop your bag off because it’s time to stroll around the canals at sunset.
Evening: Walk through Dam Square to see the Royal Palace, De Nieuwe Kerk (where the new Dutch King and Queen were crowned this year) and head west to the gorgeous Jordaan district. There is no plan here except to get lost walking through tiny streets and over lit-up bridges. My absolute favorite pastime in Amsterdam is to watch the sun go down over the canals and watch the lights begin to glisten off the water as it gets dark. Wander into a typical Dutch brown bar anywhere in this area for dinner – chicken saté is a popular dish.
Room for dessert? Treat yourself to ice cream from Iscuypje or Prinsengracht 292 on your way back to the hotel.
Morning: Roll out of bed and into a bike shop – exploring Amsterdam by bike is an essential Dutch experience. Ride south and catch the I-Amsterdam sign in Museumplein. Treat yourself to a pastry, fresh juice or a banana crepe for breakfast just down the street at the Zuidermarkt, a small neighborhood market in Oud-Zuid. Remember that ice cream you had last night? The Anne Frank Huis is on the same canal! **Words of wisdom: arrange your admission online here and skip the long lines, cannot stress this enough!**
Afternoon: After you visit the famous Anne Frank Huis, hop on your bike and enjoy the view from two wheels. If your’e hungry, stop by B&B Lunchroom on Rokin 101 for a sandwich (the chicken avocado is delicious) or an extra large muffin. If shopping is your thing, wander in and around the Jordaan’s 9 straatjes, which is home to several local stores, boutiques and vintage shops.
While many tourists opt for the Heineken experience, there is an even better Dutch beer experience in town. Around 2:30PM, bike to the East to visit a Dutch windmill. But it’s not any Dutch windmill, it’s also the brewery of Amsterdam. The Brouwerij’t Ij brews their own beer in the windmill and offers tours every weekend. Sip a beer while you wait for the brewery tour to begin at 3:30PM (the tour is in English for 4.50 EUR including a free beer at the end, bar is open until 8PM).
Evening: After you’ve enjoyed the Ij Brewery and windmill, drop of your bike and walk through Amsterdam’s famous Red Light District en route to Leidseplein for dinner. No trip to Amsterdam is complete without a wander through the Red Light District, also known as De Wallen, which has existed since the 14th century. Don’t feel uncomfortable though, the Red Light District is a major tourist attraction in the city and this part of town is well monitored (but remember not to take pictures of the ladies int he windows). Once you reach Leidseplein, continue past the American hotel and go left toward the Holland Casino. Right on the water is a Dutch pancake house where you can get your savory or sweet Dutch pancake fix for dinner at the De Vier Pilaren. My favorite: poffertjes or mini pancakes with powdered sugar.
Spend the evening in and around Leidseplein, one of the nightlife hubs of the city. Want to dance? Paradiso, Melkweg and The Sugar Factory are a stone’s throw away! Take your pick and dance the night away…but if you’re lucky, your favorite artist may be performing in one of these venues. Be sure to check the agendas for any concerts during your visit.
Evening: As the weekend comes to a close, make your way back to where the weekend began: Centraal Station. Pick up a pack of stroopwafels (Dutch ‘syrup-caramel’ wafers) from the small store in the station and you’ll have a Dutch snack to enjoy on your way home.
BONUS POINTS: Get on a boat – Amsterdam is best seen by boat! But not those tourist tour boats. There are a couple small, not advertised boat captains who may be able to offer you a whirl around the canals for 10-15 EUR. Staff at The Bulldog helped me get on a boat a few years ago and many hotels may let you hop on their boat for a fee. Dutch people do love their boats ;) Fijne reis!
Thanks for having me Lauren!
Top graphic © Lauren Alboini // Photos © Rachel O’Banion