I have a love of all things Europe.
I especially love when the airlines make it ridiculously affordable to visit there, and lately, they have really been having the sales. Under $500 round-trip? Sign me up, any day of the week.
Rust and I, before we even got engaged, booked a December jaunt to Amsterdam en route to Hungary. That turned out to be fortuitous, as we used that trip as part of our Honeymoon Trifecta. (yep, we are taking 3 honeymoons! Why not??)
Amsterdam is a lovely, bustling town. City, I guess, but the city center is so historic and charming, that you feel as if you are always strolling around a cobblestoned park versus an actual city. Gorgeous churches and grand hotels line canal after canal, and you can’t help but be entranced. We only stayed a couple of days, but we really enjoyed our time here.
One of the grand hotels in Amsterdam is the Intercontinental, or, as it is historically known, The Amstel.
Perched right on the waters edge, central to so many things, the Amstel is a beautiful example of all that Amsterdam is and was.
The staff, right away, was amazing. Our flights got us into town at 10am, so of course, our room wasn’t ready. At their urging, we changed into swimsuits and headed to the lower level indoor pool and spa, where we swam in the hot tub, and lounged on the super comfy beds until we were called to check in.
Oh my. Tucked in to the eaves of this hotel was our fabulous suite (upgraded, because of our IHG status, I presume, though that is a story for another day), and gifted with a bottle of champagne (not the cheap stuff) and chocolate covered strawberries, thanks to our honeymoon. Later that evening, rose petals covered our bed at turn down service, and the attention to detail never waned for our entire stay.
The restaurant and bar on site are stunning, and definitely worth looking in to, especially if you are tired or want to just get dressed up but stay in because walking in heels all over town doesn’t seem so grand.
There are plenty of things to do in Amsterdam, from cathedrals, to canal tours (there is even an All You Can Eat Pancake Cruise!!), to museums, to the Red Light District.
If you have only a couple of days in town, I highly recommend a canal cruise, as you will see the most of the city as you can in the shortest amount of time. As for a museum, Anne Frank House is pretty much a given. So much to learn here, and it really gives you an idea of what life might have been like for her. The “attic” they lived in isn’t anything like I had imagined it would be…just, you have to go for yourself to get a sense of it.
If art is your thing, The Van Gogh Museum is an option. I went to college for art, and sadly, this museum just wasn’t for me. The neighboring Rijksmuseum is larger, the same price, and has more to offer. I simply wasn’t impressed with the paintings on hand at the Van Gogh Museum, and for the cost of $20 USD each, I felt my money could have been better spent. If you are a Van Gogh fan however, this is your place. Even if you do not care to go to a museum, you should at least LOOK at the Rijksmuseum. It is STUNNING architecture, and full of photo ops.
Call me crazy, but I am now a believer that you should visit the Red Light District, especially at night. What I imagined as dirty, seedy, and obscene turned out to be pretty impressive. I can’t put it into words exactly, but, you see families and couples down there, just walking around, peeping at the window girls, giggling at the toys in the shops. Sure, we all know what’s actually going on here, but, when seen as a tourist attraction (and these days, I full on believe that is what it has become versus what it began as), you can have quite an interesting night walk, and have plenty of silly memories to share.
When it comes to food in Amsterdam, I have but one suggestion.
Not just pancakes, pancakes, but poffertjes’ – mini pancakes covered in powdered sugar. To say these are mini pancakes kind of steers you wrong. These have a lofty, yeasty quality, and are little spheres of goodness. The first batch I had was at Carrousel Pancake House, which looks like an old, enclosed Carousel and has antique wooden horses inside to further prove that feeling. I ordered them with chocolate and bananas, and honestly, I could have died from happiness then and there. The next day, I SO wanted to eat there AGAIN, but because being a tourist means trying new things, we stumbled on to what appeared to be the REST of the torn down carousel, in another restaurant, De Vier Pilaren, located a few blocks away. Here I had my poffertjes with fresh strawberries, and was equally enamored. SO, SO Good. In fact, I have my eye on buying my own poffertjes pan, and recreating these things at home.
Stay tuned for THAT!
As we always do, Rust and I had an amazing vacation in Amsterdam, and I am so looking forward to seeing more of the world with him. I love that he shares my enthusiasm for travel, and has a schedule flexible enough that we can make our dreams realities. I’m so blessed to have this life, full of love and family and friends. So very lucky.
Now, if I could just get him to buy me that poffertjes pan, I can say I have it all.
If anyone has ANY questions about Europe, or Amsterdam, or traveling in general, please feel free to reach out to me. I LOVE helping people see the world, and if there is anything I can do to help you do that, from airline advice to hotel ideas or pancakes, I am happy to do it!