Last fall we took our first big leap into international travel. Billy had just finished training for a regional airline and had a week before work would begin. It was also our five year wedding anniversary as well as our 10 year dating anniversary. Did the stars align? Yes. Did I work really hard to make them align? Yes.
We could have gone anywhere in the world. We chose Amsterdam. This would be our first time flying standby (using Billy’s new flight benefits), and it was a bucket list location. There was also a plethora of direct flights from Seattle, which de-stresses the standby flying process.
We stayed a week in an AirBNB. It was wonderful. Amsterdam is more beautiful than Paris, and you can’t help but fall in love.
The only thing you need to do is take a walk. And you’ll fall in love.
What We Did And Saw
Anne Frank House
Anne Frank is a household name, with most kids in America growing up reading the Anne Frank Diary. Going to the Anne Frank House was a no brainer for us and one we would recommend.
Confession: We messed around during the day and got to the Rijksmuseum 90 minutes before it closed. We didn’t realize it wasn’t open in the evening. Do not make our mistake. Check the hours. It was remarkable and one of our big regrets was not giving this museum more of our time.
Museum Willet-Holthuysen was one of my favorite afternoons. I’m always looking for house museums when we travel so I can go inside and ogle at the architecture and decor. You get a real sense of life that other museums don’t.
This ‘double-wide’ home (because it takes up the two of the traditionally skinny facades) is filled with period furniture and beautiful decor. It paints a picture of how the wealthy merchant lived and gives you Dutch City-Folk Downton Abbey vibes. While we toured, there were few visitors, which made it so you could go at your own pace through the home. One of my favorite things was the small room used just to house all the hospitality items like tablecloths and silver. Includes a free audio tour.
The Royal Palace
One of our first stops was the Royal Palace. Check before you go, it’s only open when the king and queen are not home, which is often. My absolute favorite part of this was the ballroom. The showstopper was the marble floors and an inlay of brass and silver depicting astrological maps.
Zaanse Schans is a short train ride away from the city. This is where you go for the iconic dutch countryside photos. We purposefully chose a windy day to go see the windmills. Great for windmill photos. Not so great for selfies. Each windmill charged a small fee (around $4) to enter and look around. We chose to go in a peanut oil windmill. It was charming, but after one, you get the gist and can skip the rest. Another windmill was selling delicious hot cholcolate, with the option to spike it. We couldn’t pass it up.
For lunch we stopped at Restaurant d’Swarte Walvis, which was oh-so-charming. I was smitten.
I wouldn’t actually say we went to the Tulip Museum, but we definitely stopped in. The dutch are known for their flowers and flower markets, so it’s worth a peek!
Here are some of the restaurants we went to that we’d definitely detour to on another visit.
We celebrated our 5 year wedding anniversary, which also marked out 10 years together. We splurged on dinner at Brasserie Ambassadore, which is connected to the Ambassadore Hotel. It is french, fine dining, it was one of my favorite evenings. The drinks, dinner and dessert were all above par and fitting of a special evening. While it was a splurge for us, I still think it’s reasonable. It clocked in at around 120 euros.
De Pizzabakkers Haarlemmerdijk
Our last day we went for dinner at De Pizzabakkers Haarlemmerdijk, aka the “pizza and prosecco” restaurant. It was by far my favorite. It was such a cute, cozy place and the food was delicious.
One afternoon we enjoyed lunch at Lion Noir. I’m so happy we stopped in. What stuck out about this place was the design. I loved the colors and the textures. I even picked up one of their business cards to frame.