Hello Friends & Family,
I just returned home from a wonderful trip to Holland. After finishing up the regular season our team had four days off. I spontaneously decided to join my teammate and friend, Michelle, her husband, Corbin, their dog, Champion, and her mom, Julie, on their Amsterdam adventure. I have so many fun memories from this trip as we biked around the city, saw historical sites, and ate delicious food. I also have never seen so many TUBS of Nutella in my whole entire life. I felt right at home. Here are my trip highlights:
ANNE FRANK HOUSE
This was without a doubt the highlight of the trip for me. I love learning about WWII history, and I can distinctly remember reading The Diary of Anne Frank and wondering if one day I would be able to visit this exact place. First things first, huge thank you goes out to Corbin who got up early and went to stand in line for us. We were “those people” who jumped the line to meet up with someone and got right in when the doors opened. The whole experience was quite surreal as we walked along the downstairs office space watching videos and looking at artifacts. I was feeling jittery when it was my turn to walk through the door hidden by the bookcase and in to the attic. What hit home the most for me was seeing the marks on the wall where the children’s heights were measured. You could see the initials and dates for the different kids. It was absolutely incredible to physically be standing where Anne Frank once stood, and I tried to imagine what it was like when she stood there. This made it all so real for me. This was their home, their hiding place.
Later on in the tour there was a room displaying several of Anne’s diaries with which dates where covered in each diary. I was overwhelmed thinking about how I was looking directly at her diary, her handwriting, and her both beautiful and sad thoughts. To say it was an incredible moment would be a gross understatement. The history in that attic is hard to fathom, and I feel incredibly blessed that I was able to go and see it for myself.
If you want to pretend to be a local, ride a bike! In Amsterdam biking is a lifestyle, and we wanted to be a part of that. So we rented bikes and took off to explore the maze of canals, parks and city streets. I never felt more like a tourist than when I was trying to navigate my way through a tricky bike lane only to have someone ding their bell at me to indicate they would be speeding by on the left. These locals had it down.
On our first day with the bikes we explored down to the Albert Cuyp Market where we let our taste buds do some exploring. This market had a fresh-made Stroopwaffle stand. For those of you who have never had a stroopwaffle, I’m sorry. They are two thin waffles that are bonded together by a layer of caramel syrup goodness in the middle. I’ve tried them before as the Dutch girls on our team have brought some back after they visit home. But to have a warm one made fresh in front of my eyes was a whole different experience. Delightful! Also, we loaded up on fresh olives, hummus, bread, and delicious smoked cheese to take on with us as a snack.
We hopped back on our bikes to head toward Museumplein which is a large area that contains all of the major museums in Amsterdam. Here you also find the staple “I Amsterdam” letters. After climbing through and on top of the letters for a photo opp, we sat down to enjoy our snack in the sun. It was a fun moment to reflect on what a great time we were having, and to take in all that Amsterdam has to offer. After we filled up on our goodies we took off to spin around Vondelpark. We biked along the trails below the trees and along the ponds where birds were playing. It was a gorgeous sight and very relaxing.
On our second day of bike adventures we pedaled around the Jordaan neighborhood of Amsterdam. This area is filled with canals, flowers, and stunning homes along the alleys. I couldn’t get enough of the beauty. The houses all seem like they are a little crooked and leaning. Some of the door frames are angled pretty funny and we were wondering how the door even hinges properly. All a part of the Amsterdam charm. I kept annoying Corbin to no end as I kept stopping him so he could take pictures of Michelle and me. I just wanted to be able to capture it all. The sun came out for our adventure and reflected off the water in the canals. I felt like I was in a painting.
On our last evening in Amsterdam we decided to see the city by water and boarded a canal boat. In order to get the best views, we sat on the uncovered back section of the boat and braved the colder temperatures as the sun began to set. It was so worth it. As we cruised around the beautiful city we mused on what it would be like to live in one of the buildings along the canals. They’re all so intricately decorated with different moldings, windows, and door features. My favorite was the natural brick apartments or the buildings painted navy with white trim (Go Nittany Lions!). We figured that we just may not be able to afford these million dollar buildings and might have to settle for a house boat. So we took our turn at looking in to the windows of the house boats that lined either side of the canal. Some of them looked very extravagant inside, and we decided that HGTV needs to come to Amsterdam and to a special feature on these floating homes.
THE RED LIGHT DISTRICT
We had to take a stroll up this infamous district because…Amsterdam. I did my best to act natural and not look totally out of place, but I definitely was. I’ll just say that the reviews I had read on the internet proved to be true.
MY FAVORITE EATS…
For starters, I want to live in this coffee shop café. It is decorated like a perfect spring-time dream with soft colors, bird cages, and uniquely-placed frames. I felt cozy and bright all at once. We went for brunch and I enjoyed the gluten-free banana pancakes topped with fresh fruit. I washed it down with the most delicious chai tea latte I’ve ever tasted. We highly recommend this place to anyone looking for a cute place to eat healthy in Amsterdam!
We entered in to this hole-in-the-wall restaurant kind of by accident as we wandered the beautiful alley ways looking for a dinner spot. Inside there was an awesome vibe as you could see them make your food fresh, and a vibrant dragon painting covered the wall. The toasted goat cheese sandwich was what I think food in Heaven should taste like. I wish we had discovered this place on the first day because I would have been there for lunch every day.
3. Hard Rock Café
Okay, so this isn’t an original choice, but the Hard Rock has the two main attractions we were searching for: Ranch & Refills. Ranch dressing does not exist in Europe. Yes, Does. Not. Exist. But at Hard Rock there are endless amounts of ranch, and after almost eight months without a taste of that deliciousness, it’s something we had to have. In addition to that, there are FREE refills on all sodas, etc. In Europe you get one glass and you better drink it slow because that’s all you’re going to get unless you bite the bullet and buy another glass. You even have to pay a pretty penny for water over here. So when I heard there were free refills, I didn’t hold back. I was even happier when my soda showed up with ice in the glass! Ice is another rare find out here in the mean streets of Europe. I sat with my ranch and refills and pretended I was in America.
This dinner did not disappoint. We enjoyed cheese fondue, steak fondue, soups and salads. All of the food was delicious and we left with full bellies. A fun spot to have dinner if you’re in Amsterdam and like fondue!
….And that sums it up. An amazing break that I will never forget! Thanks to Michelle & family for letting me tag along on this fun adventure.