So, as promised, I'm finally finding some time to sit down and blog about our weekend in Amsterdam. It's an incredibly short 45 minute flight between London and Amsterdam's Schipol airport. It actually look us longer on the tube to get out to Heathrow!
When we arrived we got a 3 day Amsterdam transport pass, which worked out really well, since it included trains to and from the airport as well as unlimited trams in the city, which we used a lot. Jumping on a tram again, hearing it screech as it rounded a bend, and 'ding' happily as the tram driver passed a mate driving the other way, made me quite nostalgic for Melbourne. I do miss the trams!
Amsterdam had plenty to entertain us for the weekend and we were really lucky with the weather. It is starting to get cold here now, about an average of 14 degrees during the day, but it is still very crisp and clear and we got no rain while in Amsterdam. On the Saturday night we had a few giggles doing a red light district tour and then found a pub with some friendly Aussies in it to watch the Australia v England rugby match. It didn't finish until about 11pm, by which time we were starving, on a Saturday night, in the middle of the red light district. Not a great combination! Anyway, we found a decent restaurant that did late night burgers, chips etc and demolished those, followed by post midnight waffles and ice-cream at a cute little chocolate and waffle shop I'd spotted during the tour.
After a lazy breakfast at our hotel on Sunday, we set out for, well, more lazing about really. We sauntered over to the Jordaan area, which is hipster central, full of great coffee (actual coffee shops, not the Amsterdam special variety) and places that just sell designer backpacks, or rubber duck bath toys (seriously, we found a shop that just sold duck bath toys), or raincoats, or sneakers. We walked to the Amsterdam Sunday Market, which was set up in a gorgeous quiet area next to a canal and a park. We wanted to eat EVERYTHING there, of course. And to buy about half of the cute crafts too! Ed somehow managed to get himself a free serve of mussels, and I had some great treats including really delicious baked potato skins and fresh pierogi dumplings which were rolled, filled and cooked while we waited. Ed of course had to try the BBQ ribs, which were 'most excellent' according to him.
In the afternoon we braved the line outside the Anne Frank House and it paid off as it moved quite quickly, so we were only waiting about 40 minutes to get in. It's a very sober, sad kind of experience, but also really interesting. The museum has had a lot of investment and the way it is set out, the displays and resources are all really impressive.
On Sunday night we picked a great Turkish restaurant called Maydanoz which was in a quiet local area near our hotel. It was very low key, certainly not fancy, but the food tasted authentic and delicious and since there were only few tables of locals in there on a Sunday night, we got very friendly service and a speedy kitchen which whipped up homemade dips, filo pastry and cheese parcels, whole baked eggplant, couscous, salad and lamb for us.
After another sleep in (we got quite used to the black out curtains and jumbo king sized bed at the hotel!) we went to the Rijksmuseum on Monday. Compared to the cramped hiding space which forms the central section of the Anne Frank museum, this places is immense. It's basically a huge converted palace stuffed full of art. We only had a few hours, so we couldn't see everything, but headed to the most popular floors to see the Rembrandts and Vermeers. While busy, it was a lot better than what I experienced a few years ago when I visited the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam - wall to wall Americans with telescopic lenses and no way of getting anywhere near the artworks on the walls!
We finished off our long weekend with lunch at a cute cafe that could have been in North Melbourne if it wasn't for the prices in Euros. We flew home (or to what is now home, London) and into London City Airport, meaning it took us only about 45 minutes on the train door to door to get home to our flat.
Amsterdam was our first real experience of what a weekend in Europe is like, having London as your base. We loved it, of course, and are planning our next trip (Paris) for late November.