Let’s start this blog post with something different, a walk down memory lane…. During my college years I spent 6 months studying abroad in Sevilla, Spain. Following the semester, I set out on a European trip to see a few more cities before heading back home to Texas for the summer. From Sevilla I headed to London, where I met up with college friends for a fun few days of seeing one of my favorite cities.
And then is where I made the mistake – I said bye to my friends and headed to Amsterdam for a solo trip, just me and 100lbs of luggage.
An initially cheap Ryan Air flight turned out to be the opposite of cheap when I paid for my 2 suitcases (6 months worth of stuff!). I arrived in Amsterdam with my bags, but I was so broke I literally couldn’t pay for my 13 euro hostel. My first day in Amsterdam was spent wandering the streets looking for an ATM or store that would give cash-back. Once I finally got into my hostel room, it was filthy and covered with scary signs. Even worse, I had to share my hostel room 9 German men, who didn’t speak a lick of English and were all high as kites if you catch my drift.
All alone in a frightening hostel, starving and with zero euros to my name, I kept myself busy counting down the hours until I could leave for the airport. I HATED Amsterdam.
Which leads me to today’s blog post. When my jetsetting sister invited me on a quick weekend work trip to Amsterdam, all expenses paid, I only momentarily thought back to my PURE HATRED for the city for a few moments before joining the trip. I was excited to give the city a second chance under better circumstances – more than 13 euro in my wallet and with my sister.
We left DC Friday night and landed in Amsterdam Saturday morning. A quick nap later, we hit the road for a quick day of museum viewing, food tasting, and canal wandering. Tickets for the Anne Frank House had sold out for the day, so we headed over to the amazing Van Gogh Museum. No photos were allowed in the museum – so just imagine the two of us oohing and aahhing at some of his most famous work.
After we finished at the museum we walked across to the Rijksmuseum.
The museum is also home to the famous IAmsterdam sign, which was literally crawling with people.
Everyone going nuts for a photo with the giant sign.
We moved on from the crowds to find all the beautiful canals. Everything in the city was so photogenic.
I loved all the bikes lining the canal sidewalks.
We wandered through the winding streets and eventually found our way to the main shopping area.
And food! We were starving at this point so we headed to the first shop we could find. We both scarfed down a nutella-covered waffle and a coffee. Hit the spot.
With some food in our stomachs, Devan asked if we could go find the flower market. Unfortunately the flower market was in winter-mode. Not a ton of fresh flowers, just lots and lots of seeds and bulbs to prepare shoppers for next spring. Even without a lot of fresh blooms, the stores were still beautiful.
I loved the flower market stores, filled with such color.
If only I had more space to plant the flowers (and more of a green thumb honestly,) I would have brought back some bulbs home with me.
After browsing through the flower market, we stopped into one of the many cheese shops. Apparently the Netherlands are known for gouda cheese, so we did some cheese tasting and picked up a small wheel of gold willig to take home.
Across from the cheese shop we saw a sign that Devan had been looking for all day – “made to order stroopwaffles.” We were full from all our taste testing, but this was the main event of our Amsterdam food tour. We split a hot and fresh stroopwaffle, which was more maple tasting than the caramel flavor we’ve had before. So delicious.
Next we headed to Dam Square. My solo trip to Amsterdam years ago had coincided with the World Cup, and I remember Dam Square being filled with so many orange-wearing soccer fans. Crazy the things you can still remember from 8+ years ago.
Devan had one final item on her Amsterdam bucket list – a peek at the infamous red-light district, which seemed to be more popular as a tourist attraction than with locals. After a quick walk past one of the windows, Devan scurried away. She was so creeped out! So we settled for happy hour in the red-light neighborhood, pints of Heineken of course.
While our weekend in Amsterdam was short, I must admit my mind has been changed. I am grateful I was able to give this charming and historic city a second chance & spend the weekend with my sister. Thanks for the invite, Dev!