Remember yesterday when we were having such a good time in Amsterdam? Well those times just rolled right on over to Saturday and didn’t let up until the next morning.
Given what we ate and drank the night before we got up at an impressively early time and rode over the Noordermarkt for the weekly organic market. A quick side note: while we really loved the apartment we stayed in, we cannot say the same about the people who stayed above us. They had what sounded like four or five kids running around up there, but, in reality, was one heavy-footed (maybe club-footed?) and rambunctious child. Beginning at around 8:00 he would hop-scotch his way across the apartment only to finish with what must have been a particularly Stomp-inspired round of Dance Dance Revolution (can I get an “Amen” for those references, by the way?). It was infuriating, but we tried to be nice people and I only gave him the strong stank-eye once.
The market has stalls with various produce and baked goods, along with pungently fresh seafood, meats, and cheeses. There were also several vendors selling vintage clothes, old books and posters, jewelry and other handicrafts. After trolling the aisles we stopped for coffees and split a dynamite croque madame at Finch, a trendy bar overlooking the square. One reviewer on Yelp said it was visited by “good-looking…people around 30″ and I’m like, shyeah it was!
We really liked it there.
Next comes the sort of sad part I tried to explain yesterday. We had the BEST intentions of going out to Keukenhof, but it totally didn’t happen. I am disappointed in a way because I know it would have been gorgeous and such a unique experience, but at the time of booking my interpersonal skills were such that it would have been best for me to stay a ways away from someone asking for my money (and time). So we did what we did instead. Upward and onward!
After walking through the Oost neighborhood and visiting the interesting market they have on that side of town we decided to grab lunch at Wilde Zwijnen. Looking through the windows I was sure the place was closed but the gorgeous weather simply deterred people from dining inside so we had the place to ourselves. We had a scrumptious lunch but I think dinner there would be awesome. The New York Times has a great little article about the slow revival of Dutch cuisine and Wilde Zwijnen’s role in those recent improvements (along with Marius, the parent restaurant Worst Wijncafe, which we frequented on Thursday night).
As with so many of our experiences, the people at the restaurant were impossibly friendly. Our waitress sat and talked with us for a bit about the restaurant and the evolution of the menu and the area. She listed off some of her favorite spots and gave us a few tips and recommendations for the remainder of our trip. We also talked about the Jeff Wall exhibit at the Stedelijk museum and then became best friends. What is in the water there?!
Oysters for lunch? Yup. What a treat! If you’re looking for a bit of a fancy lunch then please, by all means, stop here. We would highly recommend it.
We then strolled around the neighborhood and back to where we left our bikes by the brewery. Brouwerij’t IJ competes with Vondelpark for the where-the-locals-hang-when-it’s-warm award and if you can elbow your way in I definitely suggest stopping there for a brew or two. Located directly beneath the tallest wooden windmill in the Netherlands the brewery offers a regularly rotating list of beers to please a variety of palates. You can also take a tour in English on Fridays and Saturdays at 3:30. We especially liked the IJWit and the IPA, but everything sounded tasty and thirst quenching. Oh, and don’t forget a side of cheeeeeeese:
^^the visually delicious Nemo building
All boozed up, we decided to hit the Red Light District because I wasn’t sure I could handle the absurdity stone cold sober. Turns out, I definitely could have because it was lame. So lame. The girls in the windows were gross and cheesy and the stag and hen parties staggering along the streets were comical yet wholly ridiculous. Granted, we were there at 5:00 in the afternoon so well before the place gets going, but really it was quite a tame affair. I suppose if you’ve never been and have any interest it’s worth a gander. All in good fun, of course.
We continued on our bikes back to our neighborhood and walked and walked until the sun nearly gave out.
That evening we were pretty beat from our big day and wanted to take it easy before our flight home the next morning. We again went around the corner for a bite and ended up at La Perla for the most delicious pizza on the planet (not true, but, dang, it was good). While the service was normal by Swiss standards compared to the rest of our experiences we felt downright assaulted here by our frosty waitress. This seems to be the general consensus though at this joint, so if you don’t mind communicating via grunts and dead stares then you’ll be totally fine.
We left right after shotgunning our pizzas and returned to the apartment for some hardcore TV watching. Flipping through channels has become a near-distant memory and it felt almost decadent to switch between National Geographic Wild and the Discovery Channel with abandon. It might seem like a waste to some to spend an evening in front of the tube, but it felt like a little vacation perk and I was more than happy to just drink water and devour some questionable television for a couple hours.
The next morning, Easter Sunday, we were off to the airport, looking at the canals longingly one last time secretly wishing we could stay a bit longer for what looked like a promising day. Instead, we got on our train to head to the airport and
arrived on time and made our flight without compromise. Oh, no, no. We actually departed from the train station on a train packed with sweaty bodies and immediately braked about two hundred yards down the track. We started up again and then braked once more about two hundred yards further. This happened constantly the entire way to the airport, but got monumentally worse about three quarters of the way there. The conductor finally got on the intercom to alert the grumpy passengers that the brakes were malfunctioning and stopping on their own without any direction or warning. So what should have been a 16-minute trip became just over 50 and we got to the airline desk just in time for them to close it and give us a customer service number to call and reschedule our flight.
I’ll spare you the rest of the grizzly details because they are not flattering or useful. But, we made it back into town and stayed another night at the apartment and were booked on Monday’s flight. These are the things that happen when you travel and my only advice is to keep in mind that you will eventually get to your next destination and, most importantly, remember that your partner is not the enemy. I’m continually grateful that Adam is so easy to travel with and flexible because it makes traveling far more comfortable and comforting.
Yet more reading and wandering. You know, Amsterdam is an interesting place to be on Easter as I expected everything to be sort of quiet and closed. But it was as lively as any other day and the optimism was palpable. It was such an obvious difference between holidays here in Switzerland, wherein everything is closed and people generally hang out at home with family. For instance, we couldn’t even do laundry in our apartment on Friday in preparation for Sunday’s holy day.
That said, there was another perhaps far more significant holiday being celebrated on Sunday and those celebrants and their celebrations were most certainly made known ; ) Again, Amsterdam was a very interesting and entertaining place to be on this particular Sunday.
We had Easter dinner at Wijnbar di’Vino and were so happy with its cozy atmosphere and delicious food. They have an excellent wine selection if you’re interested in tasting a few options and several snacks to accompany your glass or two. Each night they offer a different set menu based on what’s in season and available and I’d recommend that as well. But, an evening spent on the corner soaking up the last few rays of warm sun are just perfect.
Oh, Amsterdam, you are a treasure. We love you so! I was constantly awed and inspired by your chic inhabitants and similarly stoked by your crazy language. Dutch sounds like someone speaking German with marbles in their mouth. Insanity! Thank you for being so kind and generous to us; I promise we will be back.
Have you been? Do I sound crazy? Did anyone else fall in love like a wild, fevered teenager? What are some of your favorite destinations?