A couple of weekends ago, Maria and I went to Amsterdam to visit our university friend, Carolyn, who moved to the Netherlands from London last summer.
We had a wonderful weekend, albeit a rainy one, wandering around the beautiful Amsterdam canals and catching up over long meals!
We arrived late on Friday night, so caught up over a cup of tea before hitting the hay, ready to wake up and take on Amsterdam the next morning.
Saturday was a rainy morning, but that wasn’t going to stop us from exploring! After a quick breakfast at home, where we tested out the local breakfast Hagelslag, basically chocolate sprinkles on toast (delicious!), we headed into the centre to the Van Gogh Museum.
Although the museum is a bit busy, being very popular among tourists and locals alike, it is a must see spot for any visitor to the city. Just make sure to book in advance so you can skip the queue!
The museum is home to over 200 paintings and 500 drawings of Vincent van Gogh.
The whole place is a feast for the eyes. It is amazing how many pieces of work van Gogh completed in his short life, which ended in tragic circumstances in 1890 at the age of just 37.
After touring the museum, we headed to lunch close by at a place called Blushing.
A great cafe for a light meal if you are near the Museum Quarter. The restaurant is full of nutritious juices, salads and sandwiches.
The place is bustling and the staff are very friendly.
After lunch we walked to Van Stapele Koekmakerij for our dessert. Carolyn had been raving about this place, so we were glad it did not disappoint.
Van Stapele Koekmakerij is a famous and historic cookie shop that has been based in Amsterdam for many years. It’s famous for making only one type of cookie, according to a recipe developed by Vera van Stapele and her team while attempting to create the ‘perfect cookie’.
The end result is outstanding- a double chocolate cookie with a creamy white chocolate gooey surprise at the centre. Yummy!
We couldn’t wait to get stuck in!
Passing by the Amsterdam flower market (Bloemenmark), where you will find tulips and in every colour, we headed into the centre.
The rest of the afternoon was spent dashing in and out of beautiful cafes, boutiques and vintage shops in the De 9 Straatjes (The 9 Streets).
This quaint area is one of the most beautiful in Amsterdam, running along Amsterdam’s grandest canals, including the Pinsengracht, Keizersgracht and the Herengracht.
In the sixteenth century, the Dutch government levied property taxes based on the width of each house, and the results were tall, skinny houses that line the city centre, giving Amsterdam its iconic look. The narrowest home is rumoured to be only around 80 cm wide!
There are also great food shops. Amsterdam is famous for its cheese!
For dinner, we went to a traditional French restaurant, Le Petit Latin. A simple menu, with only six starters and six mains that were read out to us by a lovely French maître d’.
The food was tasty and the wine was delicious!
We ended our evening with another walk around the city centre. The canals are just as beautiful at night!
The next day we slept in and went for lunch near Carolyn’s home at Dignita, definitely my favourite restaurant of the trip.
This hipster cafe, served up all the classics: poached eggs, avocado on toast, coconut yogurt and granola with great coffee to boot. There are plenty of gluten free options too!
With just a few hours left before we had to catch our flight back to London the girls headed to the Anne Frank Museum, while I decided to walk around the Jordaan.
The Jordaan was originally a working-class neighbourhood, a base for local craftsmen and artists, but it has become one of the most desirable areas in the Netherlands in more recent times. I can see why – the area is very charming!
It is home to many art galleries and markets, and is also dotted with speciality shops and restaurants.
And just like that our Amsterdam weekend came to an end.
A lovely couple days in a beautiful city with some of my favourite people!