Amsterdam, Because Every Honeymoon Needs Style Points.


My initial thought on Amsterdam was something along the lines of, “Oh dear, I need a personal stylist and a personal trainer, immediately.” The Dutch have incredible style and 95% of the people you pass on the street are tall, fit, well-dressed and gorgeous. Sobs. My parting thought on Amsterdam was that I feel bad for the city. It’s famous for certain things [ahem, this and this], when it really should be famous for being absolutely beautiful, or for its awesome fashion and shopping, or for the great foodie melting pot its turned into thanks to the colonial cuisines that pepper the city. Or for the gouda. I had a lot of gouda.

Amsterdam was a pleasant surprise. Although it was Shaun’s second visit, I didn’t know what to expect [except for, you know, that and that] but quickly fell in love. It’s an incredible city. It’s so unique. There are canals without the crazies you crash into in Venice. And significantly fewer pigeons. And there’s gouda. Did I mention the gouda?

Not too shabby.

I’ll talk about the gouda in the room for a split second before moving on to the cool stuff. I’m kind of obsessed with gouda. If I’m makin’ you a cheese plate, you better be ready for some gouda. Young gouda, aged gouda, gouda with mustard seeds, peppered gouda, the word is starting to look funny but I still love the cheese. So Amsterdam was ahead of the curve before we even got there. When every cheese shop and farmer’s market stand had FREE SAMPLES I LOST MY HEAD. And whatever semblance of a waistline that remained from the first eight cities.

Gouda aside, we had a really relaxing stay in Amsterdam thanks to Another Reason It’s Awesome: BIKES. I’ve never seen a city with such a strong bike culture. They’re more ubiquitous than cars, and easily accessible to tourists. Because of the size of the city and my complete inability to walk by this point, we rented bikes to get around and life got really, really good. It helped us hit everything we wanted to hit without tears.

We had two nights and made two dinner reservations before arriving, so our evenings were taken care of. The first night we ate ate De Waaghals, an organic vegetarian restaurant near the Heineken brewery. We had a good meal, but nothing spectacular. Maitrea really changed the way we both look at vegetarian restaurants. De Waaghals has a rotating menu they change every two weeks based on what’s seasonal and local. We shared a small tapas plate to begin with olives, dates and hummus. For our meals, we split moroccan pumpkin couscous [actually really good] and a chickpea curry. Shaun had a Dutch beer called Willeke Trippel [vill-uh-kuh] – it was the star of the dinner. Like I said, the food was good, but not too creative and oh my god Amsterdam is SO expensive. It sucked us dry. But they have gouda, so it’s all gouda. Ha ha ha.

Our second night we tried Indonesian food. Indonesia is a former colony of The Netherlands, so there’s no shortage of restaurants with its traditional dishes. We picked Puri Mas based on recommendations, and settled in for the [in]famous Rijsttafel menu. Rijsttafel is a tasting platter of various Indonesian dishes, served tapas-style, except they put everything on your table at once. It’s similar to the salatim, an assortment of Israeli salads that you can get at [wait for it] Zahav. Except bigger, and with like three bowls of rice. Shaun got the Rijsttafel menu with meat, and I got the vegetarian Rijsttafel. It was delicious and unique. I really enjoyed the salad made with beans and eggs that was smothered in a thick, peanut-y sauce. There was also a good corn soup, a tempeh in an orange sauce, a cabbage salad, and plantain dessert. But sadly, the flavors were bland. The waiter kept warning us about the “really spicy” dishes, yet nothing registered on my heat radar. It was a let down. By the end, the flavors from each dish melted together such that they all tasted the same. Obviously, I don’t think all Indonesian restaurants are like this, and I’d be down to try another next time I’m in town. I never give up that easily.

The afternoons truly were relaxing. We biked. A lot. We had a really awesome bowl of Moroccan lentil soup at a tea room called Greenwoods. I don’t know why this soup stood out to me so much, but I LOVED it. We walked the Albert Cuyp Market and weeded through the junk shops to find – wait for it – gouda, and pickled herring [the dish I’m convinced Shaun was most excited about for the entire trip… he loved it, too] and stroopwafels. They’re thin, made-to-order waffles with caramel sandwiched inside. They’re made from a firm dough rather than a batter, which gives them a fresh-baked cookie texture. We shared one. I got caramel all over myself.  We shopped at really incredible, well-curated stores with denim so beautiful you could eat it. I ended up buying the coolest Vans I’ve ever owned in a shop called Baskets. The coolness was an added plus, what I really wanted was the sturdiness of a new shoe to help my foot. When we got back to Philly and found no trace of them at Ubiq [another store that sells Vans’ California line], I felt even cooler. If you’d like to see them, here’s my tweet.

We also spent an afternoon picnicking in Museumplein, which is the giant park/complex that houses most of the museums in town including the Van Gogh Museum which was prohibitively expensive. I’m actually extremely disappointed that we didn’t end up going in. It’s my biggest regret of the trip. But the picnic was grand, and we got to see THIS GUY.

And I ate THESE THINGS.

Dutch baby carrots. Shaped into tiny little balls. I was so excited by this that we had to buy them. So excited that I took this photo at the checkout counter, even though the cashier was really freaked out.

It’s safe to say your days were extremely relaxing when the highlights were Vans and baby carrots,* but by this point in our trip the leisurely pace was a welcome break. We were really able to take in our surroundings [gorgeous] and take a breather after literally going non-stop in Prague because I went all crazy. The train leaving Amsterdam was a little bittersweet because we knew it was our last train ride and our trip was coming to a close, but then we got off in Brussels and life was good again.

* And gouda.

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Categories: Travel, Wedding

Author:ryesandshine

Courtney grew up in Reading, PA, and has lived in New York City (where she earned a bachelor's degree at NYU), Prague, Philadelphia, and Charlottesville (where she received a J.D. from UVa Law). Courtney and her new husband will settle in Philadelphia following a six-week Euro-trip extravaganza in September of 2012. Courtney's interests include music, writing, criticism, fitness, travel, cooking, and sports. Please enjoy the blog. LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/pub/courtney-marello/1a/375/b30 Tumblr: http://abarrelofoddsandends.tumblr.com/

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3 Comments on “Amsterdam, Because Every Honeymoon Needs Style Points.”

  1. Laura McDonald
    September 28, 2012 at 11:51 am #

    I LOVE Amsterdam. I lucked out and visited during tulip season. I loved biking through the city, stopping at the HUGE open air markets that sold tulips by the thousands. And the canals, bridges and architecture! I miss it!
    I’m sad you didn’t make it to the Van Gogh museum! I do remember it being expensive, but it’s one of the best art museums I’ve ever been to – I think mostly because of the narrative. Since it’s primarily Van Gogh, they place the paintings in chronological order and match his biography to the different movements. Gave some fantastic context to an art newbie like myself 🙂 Worth it if you ever make it back to Amsterdam!

    • September 28, 2012 at 12:11 pm #

      Ahh! I’m so jealous. If we were to go back I would love it to be during tulip season. I think we’re lucky because Philly is really bike friendly, too, so I can recreate my Amsterdam experience here (minus the canals, sadly). I’m sad we’ll be missing your visit to the city next weekend!!

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. And We’re Back. | Ryes and 'Shine - September 28, 2012

    […] our travels. Stay tuned for: Madrid, Barcelona, Nice, Rome, Siena, Munich, Budapest, Prague, Amsterdam, and Brussels. If the Internet Guy gets here on time tomorrow, the posts will come sooner rather […]

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