I am dedicating this post to one of my very good friend, Frances, who is going to Amsterdam in a short while. Franci, may you have the best time and enjoy every second of your adventure!
I have always planned to write a blog on this trip of mine, but never found the inspiration or time- and since I did this trip long before my blog started to wasn't as if I could really do a day by day travel journal, which I am planning to do on any future international trips. This blog will be slightly longer and will include inspiration from my diary entires and LOTS of photos so I hope you all enjoy.
I have a Dutch and Belgian Heritage, but until this trip I was never given an opportunity to trace up my roots. I am fluent in Dutch and have a Belgian passport and I am so glad I got to explore my home countries in such a stimulating and amazing way. On September 19 2013 I boarded a busy flight with KLM airways and I must say it was one of the best planes service wise. We got really crappy seats, but the amazing air hostesses made up for it and the food- oh my goodness (note: all the meals mentioned came from a time before I realised that sugar and carbs were not a combination for me!). I remember having breakfast on the plane before it landed in Schiphol International Airport. I expected the standard gross powdered egg and old bacon in an aluminium bowl. Nope. Proper plate, forks and knives and apple cinnamon pancakes with ice cream for breakfast! The Schiphol airport is lovely, and has a train station connected at the bottom, which is how we got from the airport to some other station I can't remember.
We decided to rent an apartment for the first 5 days in Amsterdam, because it is cheaper as a family of 3 and is a lot more spacious than a small European style hotel room! We met our renter at the station and walked (luckily we had wheeled luggage) to a part of the city near our apartment. The was a flower and vegetable market, cafe´, cheese deli, curio shop and square nearby. Our renter, Aarjen, let us in the house to put down our luggage and he said goodbye. We went down to the cafe´ for a bite to eat and explored the city on foot (with a map).
The next thing that I really loved was China town. Also just a short walk from my apartment the place was lively and colourful, and often times eccentric. We ate supper here quite a few times, and once lunch. This is really the place to be if you are looking for good food on a budget. The cuisine is very traditional Chinese and most restaurants will have peking duck hanging in the windows. Although the atmosphere in all the restaurants isn't great, you don’t notice the decor when you have good company and an excellent meal. Most of the place also do takeout (better than any Chinese takeout at home) which you could take with and eat at preferred spot. The people are very friendly and you can find just about anything Asian on the menu that your heart desires. I would highly recommend Crispy Pork and Noodle soup, it's seriously one of the best dishes I have ever had!
Another big highlight was a viator tour my mom booked. We got up very early and walked to a big luxury tour bus to begin our journey. The tour bus took us to a small town called Marken where we watched a clog making demonstration and were told about the history of this iconically Dutch shoe. We were left to shop in the clog factory and I bought myself a tiny pair of clogs to take back home. We walked through the small town and noticed that most of the houses where black painted wood with white finishes and shutters, very village like and quaint. We took a ferry to Vollendam to watch a lovely cheese demonstration and were allowed to taste some of the best cheeses in the world. The bus picked us up and we drove to Zaanse Schans to see windmills. A famous windmill called 'De Kat' (the cat) is the only operational mill left in the world where paint is made. The wooden walls inside are beautiful and holds carved graffiti dating back to the early 1900's where many have etched their names into the building. We again hopped on the bus to go to Delft, the only town in the world where Delft pottery is still made, and there are only 2 small factories in the town itself.My parents bought a beautiful handprinted tile from the factory, but because of the rarity of this pottery type it is very expensive.
A few other places I would recommend you visit are:
I hope you all enjoyed this blog post, I know it was a lot longer than usual. I will be posting another one on Amsterdam in the next day or two, touching on traditional foods and the people and transport, so watch this space. Please like and share to Facebook if you enjoyed this, or if you know someone who is going soon to Amsterdam.
Until next time
-The Traveling Oyster xxx