I had a work meeting in Rotterdam on Wednesday and Thursday and I decided to stay in Amsterdam for the long weekend. I love the possibility to combine business with pleasure. I also managed to talk my friend into joining me. Ever since she moved to Switzerland and I to Sweden, we don’t get to see each other very often, so this was a great opportunity to meet mid-way between the countries. In addition, I haven’t been in Amsterdam in years and I love the city, so I was excited about the opportunity to see it again.
The accommodation in Amsterdam is crazy expensive, but at least this time I have two reward nights saved at Hotels.com, which I used to this accommodation, so at least the price for the hotel became much more reasonable. We stayed at Ibis Amsterdam Centre, which had the unbeatable location, but the room was tiny and the bed quite uncomfortable.
So I arrived by train from Rotterdam on Thursday evening and my friend flew in from Zurich and we checked in and went for dinner at Tales & Spirits. Both of us had a rough week and we needed some cocktails. 😉 We didn’t have a reservation, but managed to get a seat at the bar within 15min. We ordered drinks and some food and they both were really good. This is more of a bar than a restaurant, but their dishes were very good.
The next morning we bought 3-day travel cards and went to have breakfast at Gartine. When we got off the tram, I realised that I have already lost the travel card. Like what the hell?! I never lose anything! So in the end I had to buy a bunch of single-use cards, because I felt too pissed off to spend another 30€ on public transportation within one hour.
At the cafe my friend said that she was not feeling great, so I had a bagel with fresh mint tea and she had tea and some toast. Considering that Gartine ranks really high on Tripadvisor, I think it was ok, but not amazing. The service was very kind, but the food didn’t live up to the hype.
Then we walked around a little bit.
Also checked out the 365 days Christmas shop, which amazingly somehow survives year after year.
The flowers in the Netherlands are so cheap. If I lived there, I would be buying flowers all the time.
My friend wasn’t feeling so great, so I bought a snack and we went back to the hotel for a little while.
In the evening I had a restaurant reservation to Parallel, which had really great food, but rather slow service. My friend once again ate just a little bit, so this was really not her best time in Amsterdam.
The next day, or should I say that I had breakfast at Greenwoods. They have really some good food, so this is not the first time I’m eating there.
Then we walked around again just a bit before heading to Moco Museum, which has a Banksy exhibition.
It is a bit weird concept to have street art in the museum, but it was a great overview of Banksy’s work.
They also had a smaller exhibition from brothers Icy & Sot, which had a lot of the same message as Banksy, but it was framed in a different culture.
After the museum we wanted to do something that my friend could do as well as she was still feeling sick and hasn’t eaten in over a day. So we went for a canal boat ride in Amsterdam Open Boat Tour. I’ve done the canal cruise a couple of times, but it has been in big tourist boats, when open boats fit something like 10 people and you’re much closer to the water. It’s also just a little bit more expensive, so I really recommend to take the open boat tour if you have the chance.
The boat was leaving from behind the Rijksmuseum and we had a guide, who lived in Amsterdam her whole life and many years in a house boat, so she could tell us interesting facts about Amsterdam. I also love how you get a completely different view of the city from the water.
After the boat tour we went to a cafe to warm up a little bit as end of September turned out to be a bit colder than we estimated. Back to Black cafe was very close and we stopped there for tea. It was cozy and had space to sit and enjoy the sunshine.
After that we had to cut the day short and return to the hotel to rest for a while. In the evening we went to an Indian restaurant (I cancelled our reservation to a fancier one because clearly my friend couldn’t eat anything anyway, so why waste the money). The food was good, but it was quite normal Indian food, so I even forgot to take pictures.
On Sunday my friend’s flight was quite early and mine was in the afternoon, so I slept in, packed, put my suitcase in a storage locker and headed to Foodhallen, which is something quite new in Amsterdam. It was not too crowded on a Sunday morning, so I walked around and wanted to eat everything. 😀 In the end, I settled for a smoothie and a yoghurt as I haven’t had any breakfast yet.
After Foodhallen, I popped in in a couple of stores and then it was already time to head back to the airport. I lived in Amsterdam for a year in 2010-2011 and the city has changed enormously since then. In a way nothing has changed in the city center, but they keep building on the outskirts of the city. New restaurants and cafes are everywhere and the food quality has improved greatly. 😉
Also, English is spoken everywhere, and it’s not like it wasn’t like that before, but before Dutch people spoke good English. Nowadays, the workers in cafes and shops are not Dutch, so the city has become even more international. The long weekend reminded me how much I really love Amsterdam and the way of living there. The lower price level for helps as well. I haven’t seen a glass of wine for 5 EUR in an eternity as it’s minimum double that in Sweden. 😀 I would’ve loved to stay longer and spend days visiting restaurants and just walking the streets. Oh well, need to make my next trip to Amsterdam be rather sooner than later.