Will’s First Northern European Steps

Amsterdam Canals

Click on the photo to go to the album on Facebook

After two days of traveling, from Charlotte, NC to Toronto, where we sat and waited with all our bags for 6 hours for the Iceland Air check-in counter to open, and then to Amsterdam via Reykjavik, where we quickly bought a sandwich before boarding, we finally arrived to the beautiful capital of my country. The whole journey went relatively well and, although “slightly” exhausted, we were happy to be there.

Saturday
A quick shower at my friend’s house and we were immediately off to wander around the canals of Amsterdam. First stop: Anne Frank House. The line was endless, so we didn’t even think about going in. Instead, we decided it’d be a much better idea to get out of the pouring rain and straight into the first bar we spotted: Café Chris, established 1624 in the Jordaan. Cheers!

Cafe Chris 1624

Cafe Chris – Established 1624

Typical Dutch Golden Age Pub

Typical Dutch Golden Age Pub

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While we were enjoying one of our national thirst quenchers called Amstel Beer, we managed to unfreeze our toes and dry off our shoulders. In other words, as soon as we stepped into the bar, the sun started shining… (Typical). Time for some more sightseeing!

Dam Royal Palace

Dam Royal Palace

We walked around the Jordaan to take in some folk history (a.k.a. old bars), then towards Dam Square to admire the Royal Palace, and all the way down to the Leidseplein. On the way there we made a quick stop at our oh-so-popular “coin slot food places” (as Will likes to call them). Commonly called ‘de trekmuur’ by us Dutchies. Yummy! Fried food stuff! Y’all can imagine Will’s delighted reaction :-)

Dutch Fried Foods!

Dutch Fried Foods!

“De Trekmuur”

Het Leidseplein is one of the popular squares to enjoy Amsterdam’s night life, but also a great place to sit and people watch. A little (too) chilly to be outside, but we persevered with heating lamps and blankets. Why? Just because we can.

Not at all to kill some time, so that when I showed Will around the Red Lights District, it would actually be dark out. Not at ALL. ;-)

Red Lights District

Red Lights District

Sunday
Unsurprisingly, we had a little bit of a hard time waking up. Despite my best efforts to get us going around 9.30 – along with two annoying alarm clocks – we closed the front door behind us just before 11. We picked up some picnic supplies and headed towards the Vondelpark. The weather became so nice that we found ourselves soaking in the sun on a café terrace overlooking the water until 5 pm. We followed that with great beers and a tasty Italian dinner with friends in the Pijp, a snap shot of the Andre Hazes statue, one of our most famous Dutch musicians, and a night cap back in the Red Lights District.

Relaxing in the Vondelpark

Relaxing in the Vondelpark

André Hazes Statue

André Hazes Statue

Monday
Just one item on the agenda: a visit to the Rijksmuseum! Got there early to avoid the lines, then rushed to Rembrandt’s Night Watch to have some one on one time with the masterpiece. From there we strolled through room after room, seeing centuries worth of Dutch artistic history. Johannes Vermeer’s Milk Maid, Vincent van Gogh’s Self Portrait, Jan Willem Pieneman’s immense Waterloo scene, and the Merry Family of Jan Steen, to name a few of the most famous ones. All in all, we managed to see (almost) the whole museum in approximately 4 hours. Been there, done that! Time for lunch… Not the best idea in hindsight, but we then rushed our full shaking bellies across Amsterdam, to quickly pack up our stuff and get ready to leave. Dragging our bags and suitcases behind us, over cobblestones and sett pavements, across tram rails and canals, we somehow managed to still make the first possible train to my home town Deurne.

The Night Watch

The Night Watch

Breathing heavily for the first 10 minutes, we then sat back to comfortably enjoy the ride. Until we got to Eindhoven, which is where we had to switch trains and thus platforms. Twenty minutes later, the train rolled into my quaint village.

Tuesday & Wednesday
Two days of prepping, packing, dentist visits, taxes, travel insurance research, and ticket booking. But most importantly, a reunion with my ‘mammie en pappie’. Will met the parents. Yay!

Sweden and Germany, here we come! :D

* Note: the Facebook photos are only available for family and friends. 

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