Throwback to old Holland: Windmills, a fishing village and Dutch clogs

Day three in Amsterdam calls for an adventure outside the city. While the trains in Europe make it incredible easy to travel to other countries in a few hours there is a lot to see in the Netherlands. A trip to the Holland countryside is the perfect half day trip. You'll see the old windmills in Zaanse Schans which once powered the country's economy, the fishing village of Marken, an old school shoe making factory (Dutch clogs) and a trip to the seaside town of Volendam. You can find this particular tour on Viator which makes your life easier because the company will provide all tour guides, transport to and from as well as entrance fees. 

The windmills of Zaanse Schans

The windmills of Zaanse Schans

The clog factory/store in Marken 

The clog factory/store in Marken 

The cute town of Volendam by the water

The cute town of Volendam by the water

While you are in Volendam you'll have the chance to eat some local delicacies like kibbeling (fried fish), bitterballen and waffles. The tour also includes a stop at the cheese museum where you can sample various types of Dutch cheeses!

Kibbeling and fries

Kibbeling and fries

Bitterballen

Bitterballen

Waffles with powdered sugar, chocolate spread, jam

Waffles with powdered sugar, chocolate spread, jam

The tour ends around 6:30 and you'll get back to Amsterdam around 7-7:30pm. Although you do snack throughout the tour, a late dinner in the city is definitely doable and something I encourage! Bussia is a great choice for a modern Italian dinner. The restaurant offers a selection of tasting courses and a la carte dishes. The tasting menus are a great to sample all the dishes the restaurant has to offer and the additional wine tasting is definitely worth the splurge. The restaurant layout is open, well lit but intimate at the same time. 

Amuse bouche

Amuse bouche

Amuse bouche

Amuse bouche

Salad of jerusalem artichoke, homemade fresh cheese and roasted red onion

Salad of jerusalem artichoke, homemade fresh cheese and roasted red onion

Red gurnard of the char grill

Red gurnard of the char grill

Watercress stuffed ravioli 

Watercress stuffed ravioli 

Risotto with fresh porcini mushrooms

Risotto with fresh porcini mushrooms

Roasted wild duck with pumpkin and black trumpet mushrooms

Roasted wild duck with pumpkin and black trumpet mushrooms

Chocolate mousse with red berries, dolce di latte ice-cream and sauce of hazelnut

Chocolate mousse with red berries, dolce di latte ice-cream and sauce of hazelnut

I hope day three has been more relaxing and filled with delicious foods. It's amazing how even a small city like Amsterdam has so much to offer whether it is different cuisines, history, modern art exhibits and of course the gorgeous canals.

Waffles, Bitterballen and one of the best restaurants you'll ever eat at

Rise and shine! It's day two in Amsterdam and the city awaits you. Now Amsterdam has some rich World War II history and you'll definitely be familiar with one of the most frequently told stories told from that era, Anne Frank's story. The house that she hid and wrote her diary in during Nazi reign is in Amsterdam proper (right along one of the canals) and you can visit it. I highly encourage you to buy e-tickets beforehand because the line for non-ticket holders can go over two hours!

The entire self guided tour will take you about an hour to an hour and a half to complete. If you've done the tour in the morning then you're probably feeling hungry now. Get some waffles with toppings or mini pancakes called poffertjes for a late breakfast. You can get them from any street vendor or cafes in the city. Some places I would recommend is Cafe T Smalle or Koffiehuis de Hoek (cash only)

Unless you've booked a specific tour then you've probably got some free time. Check out FOAM photo gallery museum (free admission with your Iamsterdam card) where you'll find contemporary exhibits and of course some incredible film and photography. When I visited I was fortunate enough to the see the Ai Weiwei #SafePassage exhibit.

The FOAM gallery is near the Heineken factory which you can tour. Although it is quite touristy if you're a beer lover then this may be right up your alley. Or you can use the time to do some shopping along the 9 streets and stop for some happy hour treats. I really liked getting cocktails at The Lobby Nespelin Restaurant & Bar where we indulged in veal bitterballen and some spritz. 

The Lobby is near the Red Light district and if it is your first time in Amsterdam then I am assuming you'll let your curiosity guide you there. There's also plenty of Red Light tours and museums if you're interested in learning how a district like the Red Light district can even exist.

Dinnertime is fast approaching and you'll need to get changed. Since it is day two in Amsterdam you'll want to check out a nice fine dining restaurant. Restaurant De Kas is the place to go. It is outside of Amsterdam central so you'll need to Uber or get a taxi but it is worth the journey. The restaurant is inside its very own greenhouse inside of a park. This incredible place aims to provide you with exceptional vegetable dishes picked daily from its greenhouse. Although the vegetables are extraordinary the fish and meat dishes are just as good. The chefs deserve so much praise for delivering on a menu that is simple, organic, local and hits all the taste marks. You can do the fixed menu for dinner (about 5 courses) or if you're celebrating a special occasion then opt for the chef's table which is 10 courses with wine pairing included. The chef's table is an experience unlike any other. You actually sit inside the kitchen and watch the chefs work. You'll then get a tour of the greenhouse halfway through your meal and you'll finish your cheese and dessert courses in the main dining room. Eating at Restaurant De Kas was not only just a major highlight of my Amsterdam trip but it was one of the best experiences of my life.

Inside the greenhouse

Inside the greenhouse

View from the chef's table

View from the chef's table

Bread, olives, grilled brussel sprouts

Bread, olives, grilled brussel sprouts

Egg pastry and fish egg

Egg pastry and fish egg

Kale and fennel

Kale and fennel

Dutch fish with potato and fish egg

Dutch fish with potato and fish egg

Burrata

Burrata

Only the best cabbage I've ever had

Only the best cabbage I've ever had

Baby potatoes

Baby potatoes

Perch

Perch

Steak

Steak

Fig, cheddar, brie, a mix of blue cheese

Fig, cheddar, brie, a mix of blue cheese

Chocolate fruit cake

Chocolate fruit cake

Hopefully day two has left you full and satisfied. Perhaps we'll explore other parts of Holland on day three? Stay tuned! 

 

 

 

 

 

All is gouda in Amsterdam

Welcome to the gorgeous city of Amsterdam! Don't worry there is no such thing as too many canal pictures. Take some time to walk along the canals, the 9 streets and shop in the city's adorable minimalist shops. 

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Neighborhoods to stay in:

Jordaan- This neighborhood runs along the canals and is incredibly picturesque. The shops, cafes and restaurants are trendy but not overrun with tourists. The neighborhood is relatively quiet and about a 15 minute walk from all the action.

De Pijp- This neighborhood is further away from the canals (about a 10-15 minute) but close to the gorgeous Vondelpark which will remind you of Central Park in NYC. De Pijp has an array of concept stores, it is home to the famous Albert Cuyp street market and has bars that locals frequent. 

Lunching and brunching:

Bakers & Roasters- If you've ever wondered what a take on Brazilian and New Zealand brunch would look like then come to Bakers & Roasters. Yes it looks like it belongs in Brooklyn but there are at least 5 languages being spoken here at all times. Also did I mention they have amazing egg benedict and an egg plate with haloumi, avocado and creamy mushrooms? Because they do. 

Egg benedict on sourdough

Egg benedict on sourdough

Egg plate with haloumi, avocado and creamy mushrooms

Egg plate with haloumi, avocado and creamy mushrooms

The Butcher- The burgers are as good as they look in all the pictures. Do yourself a favor and splurge on the cheeseburger because it comes with Danish cheese which is soooo gouda ;) . The burgers are flipped on a charcoal grill in front of you. Now this is the fast/casual food we all deserve. 

The Butcher with cheese- Prime Aberdeen Angus beef, lettuce, tomato, gherkin, grilled onion & Dutch Edam cheese.

The Butcher with cheese- Prime Aberdeen Angus beef, lettuce, tomato, gherkin, grilled onion & Dutch Edam cheese.

Who let the dogs out- 100% beef hot dog with grilled onions & The Butcher sauce.

Who let the dogs out- 100% beef hot dog with grilled onions & The Butcher sauce.

What to do

You can spend hours exploring the Museum mile in Amsterdam. The stand out museums for me were: 

The Van Gogh Museum- They house a large collection of Van Gogh's works since he painted primarily in the Netherlands. The museum is curated really well and will make you feel like you have a personal connection with the artist.

MoCo- They're currently showing Banky's work which is a must see! I can't believe I got to see the girl with a balloon in person. They also have a great selection of Andy Warhol's iconic pieces. 

Stedelijk Museum- I'm a big fan of contemporary art so I loved this museum. The exhibitions were topical with exhibitions ranging from in vitro beef, sustainable housing, WikiLeaks and so much more. 

If you have time left after seeing these museums then consider taking a canal cruise. The sun may be setting but the city is still lovely to see at night and especially so from the canals. 

Pro tip: If you like museums then consider purchasing the Iamsterdam city card which gives you access to many museums for free including all of the above except MoCo, canal cruise, galleries and more. 

Dinner time!

Moeders- Moeders is "mother" in Dutch and you'll understand why once you eat here. Moeders serves traditional Dutch food so think cabbage, beef stew, smoked salmon, mashed potatoes and Dutch apple pie. The walls are covered in pictures of mothers from all over the world and you can also bring a picture of yours for them to hang up. This restaurant embodies the essence of home cooking to the fullest.

Duck confit with potato and root celery mash

Duck confit with potato and root celery mash

Dutch apple pie served with vanilla ice cream

Dutch apple pie served with vanilla ice cream

Kartika- Did you know there is a huge Indonesian food scene in Amsterdam? The Indonesian restaurants here serve a famous rice table which in Dutch is called, Rijsttafel, that comes with a selection of at least 10 different curries. Kartika is renowned for their rice table and curries that I thankfully got to taste first hand. If you've never had Indonesian food I can best describe it as a fusion between Bangladeshi, Thai and Filipino food. 

Day one in Amsterdam complete! The adventures are just beginning.