Amsterdam, oh, Amsterdam, how you have stolen my heart. This trip to the Netherlands takes the cake for my favorite trip abroad (so far!). A lot of the time when I travel I think about how Id like to come back to visit one day, but with Amsterdam, I am positive that I will live here sometime after I finish school.
I went on this trip with Julia, Liza, and Hannah, who always make each trip so much better. Getting to see the world with your best friends is the absolute dream! Although we spent most of our time in Amsterdam, we stayed in Haarlem. Haarlem is a quaint town about 45 minutes outside of central Amsterdam, and it was full of picture-perfect restaurants, coffee shops, and boutiques.
We arrived Thursday night, which was Thanksgiving! Realizing that we are so far away from home started to set in, and we were definitely missing turkey, mashed potatoes, and pie. We were lucky enough to have found a gorgeous Airbnb in Haarlem (linked here), which had a really nice kitchen. To make up for missing turkey day, I headed to the store and chef-ed up a homey pasta dinner that I had ready for the rest of the ladies when they arrived from the airport. We even ended with a mini apple pie or appeltaarte in Dutch!
The next day, we made our way into Amsterdam. We got into the city by train, which dropped us in Amsterdam Centraal station. Part of the beauty of trips like these is that there is no set schedule, we can do whatever we want!
So we just started walking and observing, pretty aimlessly really. We accidentally stumbled into the Red Light district, which was definitely a surprise if you don’t know that it’s coming. Eventually, we decided to head towards Vondelpark, which is a beautiful green space in Amsterdam with lots of lakes, playgrounds and is full of people enjoying the little bits of sunshine that the day offered.
We played on swings, petted dogs and dodged aggressive bikers. It was a gorgeous spot to watch the sunset through the trees. What we didn’t know was how close we were to the Reich Museum and the famous I Am Amsterdam sign. I instantly recognized it, and we went over to watch the flocks of other tourists take photos and enjoy the ice rink which was set up for the holiday season.
The sun sets super early in the Netherlands, so at this point, it was only about 4 p.m. We still had one important thing to do that night. Get fries. So we headed back towards Amsterdam Centraal station where we knew we had seen some prospective spots. On the walk, we started to get really cold, so we stopped in Stach Cafe.
Here we ordered Chai and Tumeric lattes and met some new friends. The guys working behind the counter were playing great music, so we struck up a conversation and agreed to meet up later in the night. Okay but back to the fries.
Fresh out of the deep frier and covered in mayo and garlic sauce (!!!!!). You guys, I finally got my street fries! We devoured our fries on the busy canals and walked to the street over to go see the Red Light district at night. I guess I had always known that it was, but I was still super surprised to see how the people on the street interacted with the women in the windows. It was definitely unlike anything I had ever seen before.
We ended the night by bar hopping and meeting up with the boys we had exchanged numbers with earlier in the night. They took us to a cozy restaurant/bar called Dapper and we all got to know each other a little better. From here we took the bus back to Haarlem and called it a night!
The next day we woke up starving, so we headed back to Amsterdam to eat brunch at Mook Pancakes. I had heard about this restaurant from a friend, and she told me it has rap music and pancakes. Nothing could go wrong.
Liza and I both got The Infamous pancakes, which were topped with banana, homemade chocolate sauce, melted peanut butter, strawberries, blackberrys, and cinnamon.
On this day, we had tickets for the Anne Frank House Museum. So we left Mook and walked through the Amsterdam Oud-West neighborhood until we made it back to the I Am Amsterdam sign in the daylight. In my book, A is for Al. Not for Amsterdam!
In my opinion, the canals in this area are the prettiest, especially at dusk. We did some window shopping and took our time walking to the Anne Frank House.
To get into the Anne Frank House Museum we had to buy our tickets around a month in advance online, and I am so glad we did. The hidden annex where Anne Frank and her family lived is now empty after the Nazi’s discovered their hiding spot but it was shocking to see how well hidden her family was.
After finishing the tour, we decided to head back to Haarlem to make dinner. We revamped the leftover pasta from the first night and made a magical cheese plate. On the walk to the bus stop we found this cheese shop called Tromp and the kindest Dutchman helped us find everything we could possibly need.
Later that night, we headed back to the city to go meet up with our new friends again. They took us to a really fun club called Bitterzoet. We danced the night away!
On our last morning, we packed our bags and walked to the Yoghurt Barn in Haarlem. Oh my god. All I ask is that we get something like this in the United States. Imagine an assembly line for create-your-own yogurt bowls, beautiful avocado toasts and freshly baked loaves of banana bread and coffee cake. Plus an array of more than a dozen teas to choose from.
From here, I hopped on the train one last time and made it with minutes to spare to my flight back to Malaga. Part of me wishes I would have missed that flight so I could have stayed and ignored all my finals!
I only have one more trip left before heading home, which is Germany! Two words: Christmas markets. I can’t wait!
Thank you to Julia for letting me include some of her gorgeous photos in this post!