Between Good Friday and the bank holiday on Monday, we managed to get four days off for Easter, which was great, so we took the chance to go to Amsterdam for the long weekend. The city is absolutely beautiful with the old Dutch architecture and the canals. At one point we ended up wandering through the red light district and didn’t even realize it until afterward. So obviously there were no prostitutes hanging out in the windows.

It was a bit windy and rainy our first two days, but we had gorgeous weather the last day. And even with the grey skies we managed to enjoy hanging out in the many street and canal-side cafes. Before going, a few people mentioned that the overall atmosphere of the place is just pleasant. All you really want to do is hang out (probably because everyone is stoned). We didn’t do anything stupid that would risk our security clearances, but it was still lovely and relaxing just to be there.

So here are a few kernels of wisdom that I gained from our trip:

  1. Be prepared for the weather. Even though it’s on the continent and slightly further south than London, they get the breezes gale force winds out of the North Sea.
  2. Watch out for the bicycles. They may sound enlightened and environmentally friendly, but they are everywhere. They are a menace. And apparently they have the right of way. Each year, about 100,000 of them are stolen and 25,000 end up in the canals.
  3. Amsterdam is known for its pancakes. The Pancake Bakery is a famous spot in the old Dutch East India Company warehouse and in a cute location, but it is ridiculously overpriced for what you get (and it takes a lot for me to say that). We probably spent $100 USD on three orders with not much to them.
  4. Taste the cheese before you buy it. I bought half a dozen different kinds and wasn’t sure if they were supposed to smell sour and stinky when we got them home, or if they’d been in the heat too long.
  5. Get off the beaten path. The best meal we had the entire time we were there was in a little place that my hubby spotted from the tram on the way into town from our hotel. They had fantastic local beers, schnitzel to die for and an amazingly decadent spinach crepe for a place that looked like a corner pub.
  6. Buy your museum tickets online in advance. The Van Gogh museum was an afterthought on our list, but we quickly changed our minds when we saw the hour-long line to the entrance. The NEMO science museum however had no line and was a definite hit with our son. Plus it has great views of the city from the roof.
  7. Go to the Keukenhoff Gardens and see the tulips. They’re an hour outside of town, but every tour company will take you there. They’re only open for two months out of the year while the flowers in bloom, but avoid Easter weekend if you can because you will hate people by the end of it. But the flowers are beyond amazing!
The Rijksmuseum - Dutch national museum.

The Rijksmuseum – Dutch national museum.

Canal boat.

Canal boat.

Three-story bike parking garage.

Three-story bike parking garage.

Kid sitting in his window enjoying the sun.

Kid sitting in his window enjoying the sun.

Great cheese shop.

Great cheese shop.

Flower fields outside Keukenhof Gardens.

Flower fields outside Keukenhof Gardens.

Flower art.

Flower art.

More than just tulips.

More than just tulips.

My favorite...the purple parrot tulip.

My favorite…the purple parrot tulip.

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