People say Venice is one of the most romantic cities in the world because of its canals, but how come Amsterdam never gets any love? Their canals are lined with gorgeous trees, boats, and bikes. So much more character. There are even houseboats along the larger canals. On a beautiful day like this one, everyone and their mama were out traversing the canals!
Throughout all our wanderings, the best thing we carried with us (besides an umbrella & a camera) was a map! Amsterdam was not built on a grid system. In fact, the inner part of it near the water has streets lined in the shape of a tulip (I could say U-shaped, but since we’re in Holland…) with intersecting streets. You can’t really get too lost here though since the city’s not that big. Plus, it’s just so much fun to explore this town.
Our map on Day 1 – just a tiny slit. By Day 6, imagine that slit in practically every crease in the map.
Upon our explorations, we found some GREAT places to eat. One place was so good that we went back twice…Rainarai, the best (and only) Algerian restaurant I’ve ever been to. We happened upon their little hole in the wall place, but apparently after checking the website, they have a full on sit down restaurant. The food is beyond amazing.
And how nice is it to be able to dine al fresco on a gorgeous day? If you come to Amsterdam, you HAVE to visit De Jordaan neighborhood. Clean, picturesque, and filled with tons of great restaurants, shops, and bars. La Oliva has the best tiramisu we’ve ever had outside of Tuscany. (And that one was made by a Tuscan mom who lived in the hills of Tuscany – just like in the movies!)
Yup, this is one excited man folks.
The skyward view from dinner that nite.
This particular street in De Joordan where we dined is lined with restaurants. Since the sun doesn’t set til about 10 in July, people were still eating when we left around 11! And yes, the street really is that narrow. For being the tallest people in the world, the Dutch sure know how to make do with little space. I’m still baffled by how those big feet make it down long flights of stairs with tiny steps!
I don’t know if it’s like this all the time in the Netherlands, but everywhere we went, flowers were in bloom. Hydrangeas and hollyhocks on every street. I think it helps put smiles on people’s faces during the gray days. It sure did for me!
Another thing the Netherlands is known for…good Indonesian food. Not because the Dutch know how to make Indonesian, but because they had colonized Indonesia once and there’s a decent population living there now, especially in De Pijp. We went to two different Indonesian restaurants to try rijsttafel (rice table), rice accompanied by a variety of side dishes of meat, seafood, and vegetables. The Indonesian restaurant we stumbled upon around 9:30 one night also happened to be the one Anthony Bourdain featured on his show The Layover. The place is called Tempo Doeloe, and for not making any reservations, we got lucky with a table at the back of the restaurant! If you’re in Amsterdam and want to try this place, I’d suggest making reservations ahead of time. You can thank Anthony Bourdain for that.
Yes, it was as much fun trying all the different dishes as it is looking at it right now. Ok, maybe even better. The dishes were lined up in order of spiciness, so that by the last dish you eat you won’t be able to feel your tongue anymore. All worth it.
I’m not sure who was more excited to eat.
The second Indonesian rijsttafel we tried was down the street from our apartment, Puri Indonesia. It’s a mom and pop restaurant, so there was less variety in terms of the number of dishes (though we could’ve ordered more), and the presentation wasn’t all that, but I think their dishes had more flavor than Bourdain’s.
If you want to have a drink somewhere and be surrounded by a ton of people, head to Rembrandtplein, dedicated to the famous Dutch painter, Rembrandt van Rijn. If you’ve ever taken a lighting class, then you’ve heard all about Rembrandt lighting, that special technique that results in a face illuminated on one side, with light falling on the other side of the face in the shape of an upside down triangle, right under the eye. It was serendipitous that we happened to be there listening to these two musicians play in Rembrandt square as sunlight fell on his statue creating Rembrandt lighting on his face! Do you know how excited I was about that???
Anyways, back to the square where we sat and listened to two talented street musicians. Here they are performing Coldplay’s The Scientist. Kooky man in the front – not a part of the act.
And just because I like the pigeon formation in this picture. Kooky man still in my shot though!