Read that title as “Amsterdam for people with kids who can’t go out in the evening anymore, but still want to go to fun places on bank holiday weekends”.
High on the to-do list, with beautiful architecture and scenery, plus the benefit of a succinct 45 min flight away, visiting Amsterdam on a long weekend in March was too good to pass up. Being too old for the boozy, red-light district themed trips of people’s early 20s we based ourselves in the Museum Quarter and took in the more serene side that the city has to offer.
Our antique and character filled apartment rental found us in a South Ken-esque neighbourhood with historic quiet streets, with local boutique shops and restaurants. Near the Vondelpark, the museums and the tram it was a perfect base to explore.
We spent our afternoons wandering the canals, organised in concentric semi circles from the central station, and quickly realised the centre was not for us. Inside the two inner canals was total chaos and we spent most of our time on the periphery with the prettiest canals and bridges along Reguliersgracht in Gratchengordel.
We also followed a Rick Steves audio tour of the Jordaan which takes you from the bustling central area out to a quieter world and past Anne Frank’s house. (We didn’t do it, heard it was great if you know the story, but that it took 2+ hours to get in).
Obviously all that walking is tiring work and respites must be taken. With a bit of research you can found some non-stag-focussed beer bars and we visited De Brabanste Aap and Arendsnest which were both great pit stops.
In the evenings, after our strolls, we generally ate in the neighbourhood having some excellent Italian at Di Bruno and a phenomenal steak at Cafe Loetje. The service can be gruff and sedate, but the food was worth it.
On our last night we met up with my brother, who was coincidentally in town, and checked out the Foodhallen. An indoor food market with communal tables and bars, they served up some superb food. Go hungry and split lots of different things. We took on burgers, taco samplers, bahn mi and pulled pork sandwiches, washed it down with craft beers and G&Ts and closed out the banquet with Belgian waffle wrapped ice cream. Yep, we ate all that. It was awesome.
Most mornings, thanks to C’s early rises, we beat the crowds and took in a museum each morning – taking in the Rijksmuseum and the Van Gogh Museum (~€15 prebooked online). We timed the trips perfectly: our 9am start meant C was taking her first nap and we avoided most of the crowds.
I say most, but the Rijks is always packed – it’s their equivalent to the Louvre and is full of tour groups. We managed to whiz round most of it, admiring the huge Rembrandts, in about 1.5 hours. Avoid the showpieces and you can find some beautiful and private rooms.
On our last day we had a lie in before venturing out to the tulip fields of Keukenhof. It’s only open two months a year during their bloom displaying are acres of manicured tulip exhibitions. However, we didn’t think it through and by the time we leisurely arrived at the airport to catch the transfer bus there was a 60 min wait to take the 45 min bus. Whoops.
Finally, sleeping beauty woke up, so we took about 3,000 iPhone photos and played with miffy before slogging it back home. It was an exhausting expedition, but, if planned properly, would be an excellent day out. You can also rent bike to pedal through the fields, but we’d had enough.
Until next time