Amsterdam Day 1: “DAAAAMMM BABY!

I don’t know how this could have happened. I don’t know how I could have missed it. How could it have taken me so long to realize…..that a Belgian cappuccino is sooooo much better than a regular cappuccino???

Every day should start with a little whipped cream. Don’t you think?

I had the pleasure of discovering this tasty treat while waiting for the Thalys to Amsterdam. The train ride takes less than two hours, and deposits you smack dab in the middle of the city at Central Station.

Before I left for my trip, everyone kept saying, “when in Amsterdam, you must rent a bicycle,” but I figured it was just a random travel tip from my well-meaning but delusional friends, who clearly had not met me yet. You see, bicycles and I are not friends. In fact, about a month or so after moving to Manhattan, bicycles became my mortal enemy. To be fair, it is not the bikes themselves but rather the crazy-ass food-delivery motherf*&@*s who ride them without any regard for human life or traffic laws. I try really, really hard not to hate things. But in those few moments following yet another near death experience while trying to cross the street, I hate these bike-riding bitches with the passion of a thousand burning suns. I mean, is my life really worth you getting the guy in 23B his beef bean burrito from Blockheads? In the immortal words of my hero and namesake of this blog, “You know we’re living in a society!” 

But back to my first few moments in Amsterdam. As the automatic doors leading outside swung open, two very conflicting emotions fought for control inside my body. The first was awe — at the sight of the rows of quaint and colorful town houses. The second was loathing — at the sight of the rows, and rows, and rows of bicycles. It was as if I had walked out into a swarm of bicycles. As I processed what I was up against, I briefly entertained the idea of going back inside and getting my phobic ass on a train to Paris, but sensibility (and the fact that I had prepaid for my hotel) won out and I soldiered on.

(You no doubt notice the absence of any photographic evidence of said bicycles. I tend to avoid taking pictures of things that freak me out. Which is why you will never see photos of spiders or styrofoam on this website. If you’re interested in said photographic evidence, check this out, and this, and then come back here and apologize for judging me.)

My hotel, the Banks Mansion, was located on the Hgkwvstkwtsvtgvsk Canal (starting now, all Amsterdam street names will be spelled phonetically). A block away from Amsterdam’s famed Flower Market.

See that sign there. It’s for bike rentals. Dutch irony.

I loved everything about this hotel. The location was perfect for my walking addiction, the rooms were modern and spotless, and the staff attentive and friendly. Best of all, the price per night included everything from a full, cooked-to-order breakfast, to wi-fi, to a 24 hr. lobby lounge open bar. There was also a complimentary daily happy hour, where you could munch on local cheeses and salamis while sipping a glass of crispy Sauvignon Blanc. I was lucky enough to score a room on the top floor overlooking the canal, with a large window that opened wide to let in the canal breezes and the noise of the life below.

View from room 404.

I dumped my bags and set off to explore. First stop was the flower market.

My ode to Van Gogh.

And then a long stroll along the canal.

Is this place not the most ridiculously cutest thing you’ve ever seen??? It’s like the baby polar bear version of cities. I kept wanting to rub its belly. At times, it almost felt unreal. Like at any moment the director would yell, “CUT!” and the rows of townhouses would be wheeled away to reveal the bare walls of a massive studio lot. I totally fell in love with the city, and promised myself that I would come back someday soon.

(By the way, did you notice how it is almost impossible to take a photo here without some random bicycle photo-bombing the shit out of it?)

________________________________________________________

Lunch was at a local spot called Brix. I had walked by it earlier in the day and noticed that it was full of locals, which is always a good sign. After a quick search revealed that they offered a stellar burger, I was sold.

One good-ass burger and fries. Plus my first-ever Vedett. This beer and I would become close friends over the course of my short visit. I vowed to keep in frequent touch.

After lunch, much walking was had. The absurdity of the charmingnosity (new word, you’re welcome Webster’s) even made me forget that at any moment I could perish, crushed beneath the bike wheels of some European youth or over-zealous Japanese tourist. I made a stop at the Bijbels Museum (the Biblical Museum) to check out their Belief in Nature, Flowers with a Message exhibit, which featured beautiful flower paintings from the Golden Age. The museum also had a small, historical garden where you could enjoy a contemplative espresso next to a pond full of water lilies. I tend not to take photos when I am particularly moved by something. It is too easy to get lost behind the lens of a camera. So you’ll just have to go and visit. This little green pocket of loveliness is worth it.

It was now nearing 5 p.m., so I headed back to the hotel to meet up with some friends from Miami, who happened to be passing through Amsterdam on their way to the Italian coast. (Total rands, right?) DJ and his girlfriend, Billie, are a couple whom I met through J. They are gorgeous, fun, and hysterically funny. We had some freebie cocktails at my hotel, and then headed out to catch up and grab a snack.

DJ. He doesn’t look like a serial killer, does he. (Billie was camera-shy that day.)

Tasty spinach ravioli at Frenzi. The manchego cheese with plum chutney hiding in the back was also a winner.

As we shared some tapas and beers, DJ and Billie brought me up to speed on their misadventure upon arriving in Amsterdam the day prior. Their flight had landed particularly early, and they were at the door of their hotel by 6 a.m., which, as we know, is not necessarily a good thing. Not only were they unable to check into their room, they didn’t even make it into the lobby. Apparently “24 hour-attended lobby” means “please come back later” in Amsterdamian. They found themselves — exhausted and dressed for the balmy 90 degree Miami weather they had just left behind — having to wander the cold and drizzly, grey streets for hours before even being able to get a cup of coffee. While this didn’t stop them from having a blast in Amsterdam, I couldn’t help but think that if I were DJ, I would have sold Billie and bribed my way into a Four Seasons. Which is so like me. (J, if you’re reading this, don’t worry, I would totally try to sell my ring first before resorting to anything more drastic. xoxo.)

Having had our fill of Frenzi, and feeling good after the few beers and many laughs, we decided to take our party elsewhere and kick things up a notch. So we



Categories: NYC & Travel, Yummy

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5 replies

  1. How have you *really* found the food so far? I think it’s woeful!

  2. For someone that hates bicycles so much, you’re in the worst city possible for that. Hehehe…but in all seriousness, Amsterdam was a lot of fun. And it’s a really great walking city, too. I will say this about Belgium: They know their food.

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