I hate myself for this post’s title, too.
Hi everyone! We spent most of this week in Amsterdam, as you may have gathered. It was so awesome and I’m eager to tell you all about it before my travel-tired brain forgets everything that happened.
On Monday, we flew in from Stockholm and hopped on a train from the airport to a smaller town outside the city where our Airbnb was located. It was called Weesp and to be honest, the main reason we ended up there was because I found an Airbnb there that was on a SAILBOAT, but we ended up really loving the town itself too! Like Amsterdam, it’s divided by little canals all throughout and has beautiful rows of houses, cafés, shops, etc, but there are just about 90% fewer tourists. So when we got to the boat that day, we basically just basked in its beauty and wonderfulness. It was seriously picturesque — gorgeous old boat, peaceful canal, cute cottages on the other side, and a couple of historic windmills about a hundred meters away. We went to the grocery to stock up on food (and had a whole ordeal in which we were almost completely through checking out when we learned we had to pay in cash and we had none but my blood pressure eventually returned to normal levels), then hung out on the boat for the night.
Tuesday, I…was a lazy sleep monster. When I am sleeping well and have no official obligations til later in the day, it is astoundingly hard to force myself out of bed and often I just don’t and suddenly it’s 12:30 and I get up and meet our Airbnb host for the first time in my pajamas and he’s like “girl wut.” Alright, so he didn’t say that, but you know he had to be judging at least a little. But Stephen was apparently productive and got some work done in addition to taking a little kayak adventure around the town. In the afternoon, we had a pre-arranged boat ride with our host that was super cool! He took us out in one of his other boats (this guy lives the dream, okay), a 100 year-old tugboat, through Weesp and down the Vecht river, through the locks in a town called Muiden, then out into the big wavy windy lake whose name I can’t remember, then back into Muiden to stop by a local bar before heading back. He taught us a lot about the area and at the bar, bought us all a round of this beverage that was apparently a favorite of all the ol’ grizzly sailors from back in the day called Schipper Bitter. That’s the story he gave with it, anyway, but I am not quite convinced that it wasn’t Listerine that had gone bad. But reader, I drank it all. Stephen was very impressed, as was I. Apparently my gracious guest tendencies override my strong liquor aversion. Traveling has taught me a beautiful-if-somewhat-concerning lesson.
Wednesday, we went into Amsterdam! Yay! Coming from the littler town, my main impression that morning while I tried to explore on my own (Steph did some work at the library) was “wow big overwhelming.” I didn’t manage to find much initially, but I enjoyed walking along the canals and seeing rows and rows of pretty and historic buildings. In the afternoon, we met back up and went on an ADVENTURE…called a group tour. We had very little idea what we were getting into on the so-called “Countryside Tour,” but it turned out to be super fun (and super funny a lot of the time). We boarded a big double-decker bus and it took us first to another smaller town outside of Amsterdam to an open-air museum called Zaanse Schans. The main thing we saw here were a few historic windmills that are still in operation (some since the 1600s!!). We toured one that makes different oils, and on that day it was crushing peanuts for peanut oil. The miller went through his whole spiel about how it works, then summed it up by basically saying, “yeah, we produce, like, .0002% of what factories nowadays can, but we keep it going because why not, ya know.” Respect the self-awareness, my dude.
Next, the tour took us to Volendam, a fishing village on the coast of the massive lake (Isselmeer maybe?? I need to look up the name of this body of water but I’m LAZY TONIGHT) with a bunch of little shops and restaurants that are mainly kitschy but still cute. Stephen compared it to Gatlinburg, for reference, but a little less…commercial/cheesy/inundated with airbrush t-shirts? No offense, Gatlinburg — love me some Old Smokey Mountain Candy Kitchen. While there, we went to a cheese factory and got a short demo and tour that ended with a free-for-all cheese tasting. It was every woman for herself out there. I just tried not to think about all of the finger and mouth germs of other humans that I was probably ingesting while stuffing myself with free cheese samples until they made us leave. Then we had a little break for dinner in which Steph and I chose to forgo the seafood restaurant (#vegetarian and my #vegetarianally) for frites and waffles by the water. Great decision. Then we got a fun little demo on how this one bakery makes stroopwaffels, which are like thin crunchy waffle sandwiches with caramel in the middle. It was followed by another free sampling, this one much more controlled and much less germy. Finally, we boarded a big boat and crossed the lake to an even smaller fishing village called Marken. It was incredibly charming, not least because the main reason we were there was to visit a wooden shoe factory. Yes, people, contrary to what I thought, the wooden clog thing is not just a Netherlands stereotype. Apparently people, especially farmers or others who work outdoors, still wear them because they are water resistant, can get dirty, and keep your feet protected from any rogue livestock stomping. I am now quite pro-wooden clog. Sadly, my luggage is already overstuffed so I couldn’t get my own pair, but it was still fun to learn about them and see how they’re made. Then we boarded the bus and headed back to Amsterdam, tired and happy. The group tour was a good way to get out and see some things we wouldn’t have otherwise thought to see, aaand as a bonus, fantastic people-watching. There are some weirdos out there, my friends (she says whilst looking in the mirror).
Thursday was our last full day in the Netherlands, and my industrious little boo took to the University of Amsterdam library again for a full 8-5 day of working. I, a useless layabout, slept on the boat for longer than intended before heading to the Rijksmuseum. I tried my darnedest (so, not very hard) to get tickets to the Anne Frank House and Van Gogh Museum, but wouldn’t you know it, those places are popular! They sell out at least a couple of weeks in advance, it seems, so they’re on the list for next time. But the Rijksmuseum was actually at the top of my list after a friend recently visited and told me good things, and I loved it! It’s primarily made up of art and other artifacts from Dutch culture, and I thought the museum did a really good job of weaving history lessons all throughout. I purchased an additional “multimedia guide” before realizing that I could’ve just brought headphones and used my phone to get all the multimedia stuff for free, but I used the little museum tablet anyway, on a lanyard around my neck, because it completed my image of Woman So Effortlessly Cool She Has To Be Local. This is what I have been exuding all throughout Europe so far. Anyway, the multimedia guide really enhanced the experience and I was thriving up until its battery died and the museum was closing anyway. Then I met up with Stephen and we used the FREE canal cruise tickets that came with our bus tour! I am, like, the opposite of an Amsterdam tour guide/travel agent, but I feel like anyone who visits has to see the city from the water at some point. It just felt so ~classic Amsterdam~ plus I learned more history which is my fav, so all in all a good way to complete our time in the city before going back to bask in our sailboat life for one more night.
Yesterday morning, we headed out on a bus in the morning and came all the waaay…to a place I will write about in my next post!!! Cliffhanger. But as for my main Netherlands impressions: lurved it, especially due to the vibes we got in the town or Weesp and on our little countryside tour. Amsterdam was awesome, but we are not really Big City Folk, so I mainly enjoyed that museum life with a healthy dose of fresh rural/suburban air. The landscape is just so unique with so. much. WATER, and a ton of wind, thus the zillions of very classic-Holland-looking windmills and did I mention the water-resistant wooden clogs? So all in all, a delightful little country with a lot to offer the naïve tourist like myself.
Thanks for continuing to follow along! Apparently my texts/iMessages haven’t been working this week, so this is truly the first that anyone outside of Stephen is hearing about my week. So on that note, love u miss u family!
Back to anxiously awaiting the Eurovision song contest winner while in my hotel robe eating Haribo gummy smurfs, a.k.a. living the mother effing dream…