A Quick Trip to Amsterdam, My Former Home

I’ve dreamt of being in this city so often, it almost feels like I never left.

Amsterdam may have been thousands of miles away from me for years, but it was never far from my mind. And while I had been in Utrecht a little over a week before taking the trip back, it somehow still felt worlds away — even after a twenty minute train ride.

There were only a few things on my to-do list to enjoy my short day in Amsterdam. I wanted to walk the streets and get beers at my two favorite bars, Hannekes Boom & Brouwerij ‘t IJ. Like I’ve said before, it doesn’t take much to make me happy.

IMG_3676We started out at Hannekes, which back in my erasmus days, was a stone’s throw from the flat. But this time around we were bikeless, and headed from central station — so we weaved in and out of tourists, and narrowly avoided a few reckless bikers, as we headed east — we weren’t in Utrecht anymore.

Past the library and over the bridge, the sun was drenching the docks and there was a small crowd enjoying lunch. We snagged a table and began drooling over the menu. After two coffees, no breakfast, and a lot of running around, I would normally be hangry. But I was in Amsterdam, at my favorite spot, and the sun was out, so it actually didn’t matter at all. On top of that the waiter told me my Dutch accent was perfect and he thought I was a native. Best compliment ever. Especially because it is one of three phrases I actually know. I don’t need to learn anymore, right?

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all smiles in Amsterdam

We ate sandwiches and sucked down coffee and orange juice. I began feeling human again, and once again realized I was back in Amsterdam. The boats of sunbathers went floating by, and we decided to move out and about ourselves.

We walked into the center starting out at Waterlooplein, and working our way around the center rings. Avoiding the chaos that is Dam Square and the red light district, we crossed over Rokin, past Spui, and into the De 9 Straatjes. By now the sun was high in the sky, and I had actually worked up a sweat. Sweat, in Amsterdam? Yes you read that right.

On a hot summer day this is a part of the city you actually want to be in. The 9 streets offer some shade, and boast some of the best shopping in the entire city. It’s the perfect excuse to stop window shopping, and actually get inside and check out that piece you’re drooling over. Besides that, it is way less crowded than the immediate center rings.

IMG_3685After Jeff checked me back into reality — reminding me we’re on a budget and I don’t need (gorgeous) new heels — we kept walking. We ended up near the Jordaan, sitting by the canal and soaking in the sun. Whether you’ve got days, or hours in Amsterdam, this is a must. Get out of the crowds and into the neighborhoods. Sit by a canal, let your feet hang, and watch the world go by. This is the real essence of the city. Professionals hustling about,  moms balancing babies on bikes, and tourists gawking. Sit back, and enjoy it all.

IMG_3744At this point we’d worked up an appetite. So I decided to surprise Jeff and satisfy his sweet tooth with a little surprise at Winkel — where they have the best damn apple pie in Amsterdam, and quite possibly the entire planet. It’s just sweet enough, & the crust crumbles then melts in your mouth. (It’s so good, I once got in a street fight with a guy because he slowed me down getting there. OK — it didn’t exactly go down like that, but there was a street fight. If you don’t know this infamous story of mine, let’s have coffee sometime and I’ll tell you.) In short, if you’re visiting in Amsterdam, this must be on your to-do list. No excuses.

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i spy with my little eye … a lucha-libre-esque batman

With full bellies we stumbled over to the Jordaan. Winkel is either in it, or just on the cusp — either way, Haarlemmerstraat isn’t far. There you can find funky stores, and charming cafes. Take the time to walk down one side, then the other on your way back, all the while weaving in and out of hip & quirky shops. (Not pictured: the awesome Spanish deli we visited. There you can get jamon on a baguette, or buy some outright. If you need a break from all the frites and bitterballen you’ve been scarfing down in Holland, this is the perfect place to stop for a quick bite.)

You can enjoy this part of town for hours on end, or pick up on the vibes during a quick visit. If you do have time though, I suggest pick up a bottle of wine//some beers at one of the shops and walk to the end of the street and down a ways, and you’ll find Westerpark. Break out your booze and enjoy the views — it’s a great place to sit back, relax and feel like a local.

Finally, we wrapped up our day back at Hannekes Boom for some beers. I wanted to get to the brewery but our feet were tired and it was quite a ways from the Jordaan. Hannekes is close to the station and lively in the evening, so we went there to wind down. Four beers and some bitterballen later, we had to get back to Utrecht to meet with friends. I could have sat there all night watching the late summer sun set as the boaters came in, and listening to the chatter of people excited for their weekend ahead — but I knew I’d be back soon.

Six hours in Amsterdam and I felt quite accomplished. Heading back this weekend with some erasmus friends for a festival and some fun in our old city. A post on that next week! Until then, be sure to follow my day to day adventures via instagram.

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