Amsterdam, Netherlands

After a wonderful night’s sleep on the night train we arrived to sunny skies and cooler temperatures in Amsterdam. It was heavenly! The Spences’ met us at the train station and we made the short walk over to our Airbnb. This was my first time using Airbnb and I cannot say enough great things about our host. We stayed at Guesthouse De Lindeboom, a renovated apartment on the bottom floor of a canal house on the Herengracht canal. The apartment was beautiful and the location could not have been better! We were out of the hustle and bustle of the city center but close enough to walk everywhere. We had a fantastic lunch at Black and Blue including the best gin and tonic I’ve ever had! We moved on to waffles and pick up supplies at the grocery store.

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Tight quarters on the night train
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View from the door of our apartment and our host’s precious dog!

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One of the best parts about this trip was being able to reunite with so many friends from all over the world including my Dutch BFF Merel. We worked together when she was at Texas A&M University for an internship and were the best of friends. She is now a doctor and took the train to Amsterdam in between night shifts just to see us for one night! Marieke and Maarten (who I also know from working on collaborative research in Texas) soon arrived to pick us and we joined their friends for a canal boat ride. Even though I was pretty under the weather this was probably one of my favorite days of the trip! It could have been the fact that I was reunited with my one true love STROOFWAFELS or the flowing champagne and wine BUT good times were had by all and it was so fun to be exploring Amsterdam with the locals and catching up with friends!

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Traffic jam in the canals.. police coming to sort it out.. and obviously selfies.

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That night we headed to the red light district… Intriguing yet disturbing. I would recommend going if you have never visited Amsterdam! Fari (yes, another Dutch person I met in Texas!) met us out for drinks and late night “Dutch” snacks!

The next day started with a bit of a slow start… could have been the drinks from the previous day but who knows. Breakfast included my first Dutch pancake, savory cheese and speck (bacon). We stopped by Wynand Fockink for a jenever tasting.  Unfortunately, we had to say goodbye to Merel but afterwards we headed over to the Sex Museum. For €3, you have to check it out. There aren’t any G rated pictures for this blog but we had quite a few laughs! We wandered through the city and settled in for some mid-day drinks then I had a hot, fresh, EXTRA LARGE chocolate stroopwafel. Pretty sure I experienced a diabetic emergency as soon as I finished eating it but it was heavenly! We visited Headfirst Coffee Roasters  for a late afternoon pick me up and some truly amazing coffee! For dinner, we had Thai food at Snackbar Bird. The chicken red curry was some of the best I’ve ever had and for only €10 I barely put a dent in the amount of food they gave me!

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We met Marieke and Marteen for drinks at Hiding in Plain Sight. They did fabulous specialty cocktails. The Beetlejuice and HPS Mule were divine! Another full but wonderful day with friends!

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Our last day in Amsterdam, we committed to making the trip to the Anne Frank house. We arrived at 8:15 am and waiting in line during a cold, steady rain (while sick) but we were in the house by 9:15 am. During peak summer hours, I would recommend buying tickets ahead of time (they were sold out months on advance) and if that isn’t possible to go during a week day and arrive early! It was so surreal to be in the same place they all hid together. The most moving part for me was seeing the photo of Otto standing in the empty house post war knowing his entire family was dead…

Afterwards we went to Pancakes! Amsterdam for brunch. We got there just in time as people started to line the streets (in the rain!) after we arrived just waiting to get a table. The goat cheese and pine nut pancake was AH-MAZING! We visited the Poozenboot house boat for cat adoptions. Ultimately, not our best choice as it smelled like cat shit (how did we not see that coming?!). I left a donation none the less!

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We said goodbye to the Spences’ and had a very late lunch in an old bar with a fat cat before boarding our train back to Paris to catch our flight to head home.

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Overall, we had such an amazing trip! If I had to pick my one favorite place I would choose Amsterdam although I truly loved them all! I loved getting to see Vienna and Amsterdam from a local’s perspective and being able to see so many friends I’ve met along the way but there was also just something magical about Paris! Everywhere we went the people were super friendly and we didn’t have (much) trouble navigating the way or overcoming language barriers. We are definitely “budget” travelers (hence the night train and round trip tickets from Paris) but I didn’t feel like it took away from our experience! I can definitely say that this will not be our last trip to Europe!

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