April 30, 2023
We took it easy today, just walking around the city and taking in the atmosphere, stopped in at the Willet-Holthuysen museum to check out what a 17th century canal house would have looked like, made a stop at a pub for beer and lunch, and then at the requisite coffee house just to check it off that we had done it. We did dinner at a southern Turkish restaurant, Orontes de Pijp. We did a few mezes and then shared the mixed grill. We really liked the cold octopus salad and the spinach with yoghurt.
It's not just the houses in Amsterdam that are skinny.
April 29, 2023
We were able to snag a reservation to Moco (the contemporary art museum) and also to Keukenhof Garden (to see the tulips) even though we were late in looking, so that would be our plan for the day.
Moco is interesting because it's a contemporary art museum in a craftsman home. It's relatively tiny, but very impactful. We saw some really cool art in about 45 minutes. They did a really good job of contextualizing the works as well.
Since it didn't take us long in Moco, we thought we would head to the Van Gogh museum to see if they offered a day-of rush line (they do not). The Stedelijk museum is in the same plaza and doesn't require a reservation, so we decided to check it out before heading to lunch. It has a modern art focus but also does some displays of contemporary art. There were a couple of great exhibitions about Felix de Rooy and The General Idea. We hadn't known that Indonesia was a colony of the Netherlands up until post-WWII. They did a very good job curating modern art work from the fight for Indonesian independence and explaining how art played a role in the resistance. We definitely didn't see anything like that in England or in France.
For lunch, we wanted to try bitterballen, which is a traditional Dutch snack. Traditional ones are made of beef gravy that they freeze in ball shapes, bread with breadcrumbs, and then take out and fry. They're made to be bar food. We wanted to try them, but weren't terribly interested in any of the other traditional Dutch foods, so we decided to go to De Ballenbar, which is in the Amsterdam Food Hall, and they only do bitterballen. They also, though, do some non-traditional flavors. We decided to do the 5-ball tasting menu. Our favorites were the bouillabaisse and the truffle balls.
Our next event for the day would be Keukenhof Garden to see the tulips. The garden is only open for about 7 weeks from the last week of March to the middle of May. Our bus to Keukenhof wasn't until 2:30, and we were done with lunch by 1, so we figured we'd head down to the bus stop and see if we could get on early. When we arrived, they clearly weren't very concerned about what time our ticket was for, so we got in line. The buses run every 7-15 minutes, and it's about an hour's trip to the gardens depending on traffic.
The gardens are huge and are covered with tulips in all different kinds of contexts. We didn't realize how many diverse varieties of tulips there are. We spend about 2.5 hours walking around and taking loads of photos. Get your tickets with bus transfer from Amsterdam here. There's even an option to include a scenic windmill cruise!
For dinner, we decided to try Indonesian food, which we had never had before. We found a small restaurant run by a family, Dapur Lucy, which was a short walk from our hotel. We really enjoyed the meal, including our lemongrass and ginger teas. We did one of the rice plates for 2 which allowed us to order a sample of 3 different meat dishes and 4 different vegetable dishes. Things were familiar from other southeast Asian cuisines, and yet a bit different as well.
April 28, 2023
Who knew that Jennifer shared birthdays with the King of the Netherlands? We stayed in Toulouse to celebrate with her last night. It was a wonderful party and we got to spend time having fun with family and also got to meet some of her current and former students.
King's day in Amsterdam is quite a party as well. There are boat parades and parties and dance events; and everyone dresses in orange. We saw pictures of it and it looks like a lot of fun. We'll have to come back in the future for it sometime.
We arrived at our hotel around 5 in the afternoon, with enough time to get settled and then head to dinner. We used Marriott points to book the Apollo Hotel, which is in their Tribute Portfolio. It didn't make sense to do an AirBnB for the 3 nights we were going to be here. The rooms are huge by Amsterdam standards, and half have a canal view.
The weather when we arrived was misty, cool, and cloudy so we decided some hot pot would be good for dinner. We headed to Hot and Hot, which luckily had one small table available for dinner. It was just what the doctor ordered on a cold evening, but we felt the broth was very salty (and we mostly noticed that with the vegetables and noodles). Usually we will have the remainder of the broth as soup after we finish the dipping, but we couldn't with this one.
That also brings us to our best piece of advice if planning a visit to Amsterdam.... Plan early! Many tourist things require reservations, and by the time we checked about 10 days before we were to arrive, many of the things we wanted to do (like the Anne Frank House, the Van Gogh museum, and the Rijksmuseum) were not available in the two days we were going to be here. Don't miss your chance like we did...you can pick up your tickets for Anne Frank House here and for the Van Gogh Museum here before they sell out.
View from our hotel.