Amsterdam day two
We set out to find coffee and came across a cute bakery (see above) that smelled like heaven and chocolate. We were eating at the famous Pancake Bakery in the Jordaan district. I’d read in guidebooks and online that the place fills up quickly and can have a long wait, so we aimed to get there when the place opened. It wasn’t very crowded though so we immediately got a table and ordered our pancakes.
I had no idea the pancakes wouldn’t be like American pancakes. The list of various kinds was kind of crazy so we went traditional — mine with bacon and his just plain. They were pretty amazing though.
After breakfast we went walking, aiming to hit all the major sites on my list. It was kind of a lovely day so we just strolled through the city. We were going to rent bikes (our hotel offered them as well) but the husband felt intimidated by it. And I don’t blame him. We didn’t really know where we were going and we were just wondering so walking suited us just fine.
We walked around the dam and were effectively harassed by petitioners (or so they said).
Then we walked down to the Flower Market. It was a lovely walk, just strolling along the street, looking in windows and marveling at the city.
The flower market wasn’t all that impressive. I’d pictured stalls on stalls of flowers but in reality it was a bunch of touristy junk and flower bulbs. We thought about bringing home some bulbs but decided against it. In the whole street for the market only two shops had real flowers. And they were beautiful.
As we continued to stroll toward the museum district, we stopped for a beer at another brown cafe. We needed a rest for a bit.
Talk about Gezelligheid (the Dutch word for comfy, cozy, nice atmosphere). I’d read about it in books but that’s really how it felt. And is probably one of the reasons I loved Amsterdam so much. It just felt like such a chill place.
We watched the people bike by the bar and the cars angle for road space. We enjoyed picking out the tourists. I can’t think of a better way to spend an afternoon.
I’d pre-booked tickets to the Rijksmuseum. We opted for it over the other smaller museums because it was cheaper and would let us see a broader collection rather than just Van Gogh or just Rembrandt. I was all prepared for long lines but there weren’t any. Even if we didn’t have a pass.
So we started strolling around the place and it was pretty remarkable. Of course, the highlight was the Rembrandts, Vermeer and Van Gogh paintings.
We strolled more after leaving the museum, back up to the hotel. We stopped at other brown cafe I’d been dying to go to — Cafe Hoppe. Here’s how Lonely Planet describes the place:
Boasting the city’s highest beer turnover rate, gritty Hoppe has been filling glasses for more than 300 years. Journalists, barflies, socialites and raconteurs toss back brews amid the ancient wood panelling. Most months the energetic crowd spews out from the dark interior and onto the Spui. Read more
The place really seemed to define the brown cafe culture. There was a group of old men in there doing exactly what you read about as the definition of brown cafes.
Next door we nabbed some frites, which we topped with spicy mayo and sweet chili ketchup. NOM.
And then we kept walking. We discovered Beer Temple, a bar dedicated to American craft beer. What are the chances? We settled at the bar and enjoyed some beers we can’t get in South Carolina and chatted with the bartender and other customers about American beer.
We walked from there over to Wynand Fockink, a traditional jenever house that’s been distilling since 1679. It was a bit difficult to find, hidden down a side alley off the dam. We ordered the house speciality boswandeling (secret of the forest, a combination of young jenever, herb bitters and orange liqueur – the effect tastes like cloves) and a beer. The place was very cool. We couldn’t leave without a bottle to bring home.
I’d read “Everything Is Going to Be Great: An Underfunded and Overexposed European Grand Tour,” which details Rachel Shukert’s post-grad experiences abroad including a time living in Amsterdam, on the trip over. She spend a brief time working at Boom Chicago so I googled tickets and we decided it would be an interesting way to spend a night in the city.
So we walked over to the theater, bought tickets and then walked across the street for dinner. We dined at Mazzo, which was pretty great Italian fare. It just felt like being back in an American city. (below, my surprise dinner since I had no idea what I ordered before it arrived).
Back at the theater we grabbed a bottle of wine and took our seats for the show. It was pretty hilarious and not something we would normally do. I get that it was probably pretty touristy of us but it was fun.
We enjoyed another walk back to the hotel after the show in the perfect weather, strolling by the canals. It was such a beautiful place to be. I love Amsterdam.