It’s the Netherlands
Not Holland. You know that, right? The Netherlands has 12 provinces. Two of which are North Holland and South Holland. Amsterdam lies within North Holland. To refer to the Netherlands as Holland would be like referring to the United States as Carolina or Dakota. The people are Dutch and they speak Dutch. Our Dutch adventure begins tomorrow morning in Amsterdam with a 3 hour city bike tour. Hopefully we get some sleep on our US Air/American/British Airways flight. < That’s a bit confusing. Oh yeah, I should mention there’s an U.S. deportee on our flight. Whatever happened to ‘give me your tired, your poor..?’
It’s been many years since we’ve been to Amsterdam. This time we’re traveling with dear friends. Let the adventure begin!
Our flight arrived a bit late. By the time we got our luggage and made it through customs and immigration we missed our appointment for our private bike tour. 😞 We checked our luggage at the train station as we could not check into our Airbnb with Anita until later in the afternoon. We also bought a 3 day transportation pass to allow us to hop an and off the trams, busses, and ferries. You must ‘check-in’ and ‘check-out’ each time you get on and off the tram, but someone forgot.. often. Not me.
Getting timed tickets for Anne Frank’s house Tuesday afternoon was perfect. That made our decision to go to Antwerpen on Monday.
Ravenous. We found an adorable little restaurant called De Bakkerswinkel. They had homemade raspberry jam – the best I’ve ever had. Except maybe my Mom’s.
Time to make our way to our Airbnb. It was pretty much as expected. We had 2 bathrooms sans toilets. There was one shared toilet off the hallway. Very minimalist decor. I loved that. The flat had two very steep and narrow staircases we had to maneuver daily. We survived them. No one fell too far down. 🙂
Finally left our flat to explore Amsterdam and, we’re all in love.
Later, in Dam square, I had the best cappuccino ever! At Dam Good Coffee.
Have I mentioned the canals are beautiful?
Our day trip to Antwerpen began via a two-hour train ride! Arriving in a very quaint old city we met a candy maker selling his wares at the train station. We sampled. We bought. We wish we had bought more. Then we sampled our first Belgium waffle from a station vendor. Delicious! After a brief stop at the tourist info desk we headed to the diamond center to toured a diamond factory and take note of all the security. After strolling and meandering we had lunch in a lovely small restaurant where we had a true Belgium waffle with clotted cream. “Best ever!” Heading across the square we then had a Belgium chocolate hot cocoa. Mmmm. Nearby was the Cathedral of Our Lady. A beautiful old cathedral with many little surprises including recently discovered tombs beneath the cathedral. There was a small castle along the river, and near that an antique wooden escalator that went down to a pedestrian tunnel under the river. Back at the city center we rented bicycles and rode through the city. Grabbing dinner at the train station, we hopped on the train to return to Amsterdam. Great 1st full day!
After a delightful breakfast at Bagels and Beans, where everything was cute, well presented, and delicious, we were off. Since we missed our bike tour on Sunday, we rescheduled for this morning. Our guide, Belini, was delightful. I had a purple bike proclaiming ‘girl power’ on the side. Sam’s was called Juncker. We crisscrossed Amsterdam exploring many neighborhoods. Our guide was a wealth of information. Use Bike Tour Amsterdam if you ever get over here. We all highly recommend it. Back at our Airbnb we fixed a nice lunch made with groceries from AH, Amsterdam’s premier grocer, conveniently right around the corner. Since we had timed tickets for Anne Frank’s house, and you can’t be late, we were early. Tip: try to get these before you leave for your holiday. Sometimes they are booked months in advance. We lucked out and got 4 for 16:10, saving tons of time waiting in line. The line was around the block when we got there, but not for us. 🙂 The whole experience was very moving. I must reread the book and see the movie again very soon. Dinner that evening was at a traditional Dutch restaurant. Good. Not great. We begin our bike and barge cruise tomorrow. Meanwhile, we took a Lover’s canal cruise through the city of Amsterdam. It was informative, beautiful, and warm. A treat.
The bike culture in the Netherlands is absolutely fantastic! Young and old riding by in long streams of bike traffic, even families with their kids in a front bucket. We’ve rarely seen anyone overweight. No wonder. Loving it!
To be continued…