McEuroTrip14: Amsterdam day one

Amsterdam canals and bikes

When hopped on the train to the Munich airport early in the morning on day four (days one, two, three). Just a few hours later we touched down in Amsterdam. The first thing I noticed, I didn’t feel like I was in a foreign country. Almost every sign was in English. Navigating the airport and then the train stations was pretty simple, except for the part where the husband didn’t swipe his train ticket getting on.

Beyond the short panic attack for how we were going to get out of the station, the real panic set in when I realized my phone wasn’t working (no signal) and I had no idea where our hotel was. We stepped out Amsterdam Centraal we were really unsure what to do. I tried searching for wi-fi and nabbed a signal while we waited in line for a taxi. Thankfully the driver was nice enough to tell us our hotel was just a few blocks away and not really worth the car trip. So we started walking and found our place about half a mile from the station.

I had pre-purchased tickets to the Anne Frank House and we had about an hour before our pre-arranged time. We checked in, took a short breather and downloaded directions. I soon realized Amsterdam is extraordinarily walkable. The museum was just a few blocks away.

anne frank house amsterdam

Pre-purchasing our tickets saved us so much time. The line was looping around the building and down the block but we walked directly in and joined the line through the house. I’d re-read Anne’s diary before arriving so it was all fresh in my mind (and I’d watched the newer movie available on Netflix. It was pretty true to the book/story. See more on my cultural prep). It was definitely one of my favorite experiences. The one thing that stuck with me — how dark it was in the rooms. I’d thought so much about how small it was or how quiet they had to be, but the darkness really stood out.

We came back out onto the canal to venture out to a brown cafe for an afternoon drink and snack. We needed to relax after that experience. I’d found a brown cafe, ‘t smalle, in my guidebooks. When I Googled the place the images that popped up screamed Amsterdam so I knew we had to stop by.

't smalle brown cafe

It was the perfect place for an afternoon coffee and beer on the canal. It doesn’t get any more Amsterdam than this.

2014-08-26 17.09.06

Chas was hankering for some ethnic food. I guess the Thai food we had in Austria set off a domino effect. We searched Yelp for a good Indian place and found one near the Damrak (Gandhi restaurant). It was tucked down an alley, underneath a Turkish bath. But the food was awesome and the service was wonderful. We’d discovered by this point that everyone in Amsterdam was very friendly and spoke excellent English.

I’d also pre-booked tickets on a wine and cheese canal cruise for the evening. We strolled back to the Centraal area (again, so walkable) to wait for our boat.

centraal area of amsterdam

The trip wasn’t anything special but we did have a private table and plenty of wine. The cheeses were all local Dutch cheeses. Noms. It had to be a better trip than an overcrowded tour.

cheese plate

It was a wonderful way to end the day and we really got to see the sparkling city drift by. Plus, we enjoyed looking in the houses lining the canals.

2014-08-26 21.13.30

Back at the hotel, we capped the night off with traditional jenever (more on that later) at the hotel bar and crashed. There was plenty of to-do items I’d crossed off from the day. But we had two more days left in Amsterdam so there was a lot to still see.

traditional jenever

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