Something I’ve learned these past few months in Europe is that the cheapest way to travel is never going to be the easiest. At this point I have done just about every form of transportation – plane, bus, train, ferry – and when you include 2+ hours getting to a station or airport with the actual journey time, the cheapest travel might not necessarily be the best option in the end. This weekend I pushed my luck by booking a super cheap round trip ticket from London to Amsterdam and back, an 11 hour ride there and a 13 hour ride back. My reasoning behind this was that this would be $200+ cheaper than taking a train, ferry or flying. I thought that because it was overnight I would be able to sleep through most of it (not true). I was also sick of flying Ryanair.
In the end, I slept about 3 hours on the ride over. As the sunrise began outside (9 hours into the trip) I realized that we had reached Holland and became fascinated with the different language that was appearing on the buildings and signs that we were passing by. I caught a few glimpses of canals and realized that there was no way my body was going to let me sleep until we reached the city.
The bus pulled into Duivendrecht at 5:30 a.m. Ben and I spent a good half hour freezing outside waiting in line to buy train tickets only to find out that the machine was only accepting coins and the tickets were not working to get into the station. We eventually were able to get service on our phones and found out that the Airbnb we were staying at was just a 9 minute car ride away. Switching gears we found a cab, got to the house and took a much needed nap.
We started our day a few hours later, hungry, and took the tram to Café Koosje (Restaurant Review Coming Up Next!). I had an amazing sandwich with melted goat cheese, walnuts and spinach that made me immediately fall in love with Dutch cooking and Amsterdam. (The quickest way to the heart is through the stomach, right?) Ben and I shared a “Dutch pancake” which is the code phrase for… crepe! It was huge and delicious with Nutella and strawberries. The dough was what made it so great – infused with cinnamon – which was a pleasant change to the standard sweet crepe. (Will definitely try this when I make crepes this week!)
Next we were eager to just get into the main city, despite the freezing temperature outside (what happened to the weather report that said it would be low 50’s??). Three things about Amsterdam became immediately clear after walking around the main area for an afternoon. 1. This city is made for people who love to bike. 2. The magic of the city lies in the canals. 3. The overall vibe of the city can be explained by the number of coffee shops that appear on each street.
The museum area of the city (with the iconic I AMsterdam logo sign in the main square) was blocks of the most popular art museums. Our first stop was the Van Gogh Museum which featured so many of his works that I had no idea he had created. I personally fell in love with his masterpieces that he made during the time he spent in Paris. Some of them had Matisse-esq elements, which may have something to do with my bias!
Next stop was a nearby coffee shop and lunch at “Pancake House.” The coffee shops were incredibly zen and encouraged the same intellectual exchange that traditional American coffee shops meant to inspire (like the traditional hipster spots in the Village, not Starbucks and Dunkin…) even though the goods they were selling were a bit stronger than the traditional caffeine.
Our second (and third) pancakes of the day were just as delicious as usual. We shared a “Pizza Pancake” and an “Apple Cinnamon Pancake” (both of which were disguised as crepes) and filled us up for the rest of the afternoon. We took the tram back to the Airbnb – the tram system is amazing and super easy and clean! I really want to check it out in San Francisco now – but first stopped at a HEMA, local grocery store, (fun fact: the Dutch word for “store” is “winkle”) to get some groceries for the next few days.
And then, in the city with arguably the craziest nightlife in the world, we finally succumbed to the exhaustion that we had accumulated from the bus ride, watched the first few episodes of the new season of House of Cards and went to bed.
Stay Classy! xx