a birthday weekend, amsterdam

if you’ve been following me on instagram, you’d probably remember my post on my birthday, November last year, when we found a row of happy laughing buddhas, around the Zeedijk area in Amsterdam. it was a very eventful weekend, we were celebrating my birthday — walking around the canal ring, we took the awesome canal cruise and almost froze ourselves to oblivion in the minus centrigade - strangely enough, when it’s super sunny. lots of delicious food helped. anyway, here’s a photo diary of amsterdam, mostly from my phone image archive. i miss the city already.

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from AMS Schiphol Airport, we took the train to Amsterdam Central Station. we struggled a little with the ticket purchase but the metro to our accommodation for the weekend was easy enough to find. we got off at the ‘Waterlooplein’ station and walked to Ecomama Hotel, where we’d spend our 2 nights here. high ceilings, vintage furnitures, eco-friendly, modern design. we liked our stay, everyone was friendly and helpful. the location was also perfect - we walked everywhere and in any direction, we’d reach a different side of town, each with its own appeal. I would recommend this hotel to anyone visiting for the first time!

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we walked towards the central canal area on our first morning, and i thought, what an interesting city. i’ve been staying in Denmark for a few weeks prior to this trip, and there’s just a stark difference that i couldn’t point out. probably it’s the people, the architecture, the way everything came together. we hit Zeedijk (Amsterdam’s Chinatown) without noticing it at first - and a part of me feels a familiar sense of sort. Amsterdam is a melting pot of so many different asian cultures and it’s very nice to see. indonesian restaurant at one corner, and statues of laughing buddhas at the other.

we enjoyed breakfast at Omelegg - after a furious search by hungry me, so curious to taste something local. it didn’t disappoint. a cozy little restaurant on Ferdinand Bolstraat, where we had to wait in line (outside!) for about 10 minutes before we got in, but it was worth the wait. and the cold.

we ordered —

  1. the dutchie’ (omelette with dutch spiced bacon, onion, mushrooms, bell pepper, farmer cheese)

  2. farmboy’ (also omelette, with bacon, sausage, salami, broccoli, onion, mushrooms, spinach, bell pepper, sundried tomatoes, farmer cheese, thyme, rosemary)

the ‘farmboy’ was a little sour to K’s liking, because of the sundried tomatoes, but i was happy with both servings. fact: this is where i fell in love with the taste of dutch cheese. just give me all of it. also, coffee was good here and we enjoyed our time in the crowded restaurant before we continued exploring (also when i started to feel bad for people waiting in line outside!)

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we walked everywhere and we didn’t mind. we’d trade the cold, pleasant weather with KL’s heat anytime. we were also really looking forward to the canal cruise and decided to take the 24-hours package with Stromma - so that we can continue again in the morning of our final day (we didn’t after we discovered it takes too long to actually line up and wait for a boat to pick us up from Centrum). all boats take around an hour for a complete cruise, we stopped at A’dam Lookout around sunset - I’ll post about it in another entry - and we had the best view of the city.

i’ll also go into the details of our canal cruise experience in another post, too good for just a summary :)

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we loveee food so naturally, our food-hunting adventures must be included here. also because i think food in the netherlands deserve a highlight! throughout the trip i kept in mind to try something local, something the locals would eat.

for breakfast on our final 2 days — we found great bagels at Tony’s NY City Bagels, just a stone’s throw away from Ecomama, and superb Dutch pancakes at Prins-Heerlijk, another cozy little place we stumbled upon on our morning walk towards Amsterdam-Centrum. i enjoyed my Dutch apple pancakes with a good cup of coffee.

those odd-looking meatballs? are the best meatballs i’ve had eating out. they were the size of our fists. we found Mister Meatballs along Nieuwe Brugsteeg after a longggg day of walking and i wish we’ve had more days in Amsterdam just so we could go again. it’s a very local food, tasted homemade, and the tiny restaurant’s walls were full of post-its from happy customers. the nice lady who took our order recommended grandma’s meatballs with stamppot (mashed potatoes with some local veggies in it). delicious.

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i’m not sure where to start with the markets in amsterdam, i’ve also reserved it for another post. the highlight was the floating flower market (Bloemenmarkt), located on the Singel canal between the Koningsplein and the Muntplein. it was not what we expected, but i was probably imagining it’s similar to the floating market in thailand, with rowing boats and all - but this was a proper market area, covered structures, almost permanent. it didn’t feel very ‘floaty’. i was glad the stalls were covered because it was a very windy/cold day and i was desperate for a public washroom (so hard to come by, btw!)

along the Bloemenmarkt, we shopped for cheese, got some really good gouda cheese from Henri Willig cheese shop. there were so many beautiful fresh tulips at the market, needless to say, and we bought some interesting magnets - yes, i collect fridge magnets too. i don’t find it lame ;) also, 2 pairs of pretty handmade wooden clogs - we had to get the infamous dutch clogs of course. a pair is now sitting pretty on a shelf in our bedroom and i gave another pair to my mother-in-law. she loves it.

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we found ourselves on a quick walk through De Wallen, the infamous red light district. i don’t have photos, i have mixed feelings about the whole setup but it was such an interesting experience for me walking through the narrow alleys, past the red neon windows, each with someone posing in it, like a mannequin display, half-naked. it was an eye-opener, that’s for sure. but it also felt sad in more ways that one.

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and there was my birthday dinner! K chose this place and he did such a good job surprising me. Haven van Texel is a truly Dutch bar-restaurant. the food was beyond even K’s expectation — we’d never have thought we’d love pea soup, but we did. we started of the night with Texel’s own brewed beers. it was the perfect choice.

we also ordered —

  1. Dutch Pea Soup, with smoked sausage, served with rye bread and smoked bacon. as starters to share. out of this world.

  2. HAVEN VAN TEXEL Burger - beef burger with baked onions, bacon and Cheddar cheese. K really enjoyed it.

  3. Spareribs - marinated spareribs served with cocktail sauce and garlic sauce for me. it’s also served with salad and french fries.

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so this was a considerably short visit (3D and 2N), i was happy all the time, mostly grateful that i get to celebrate another birthday, exploring someplace new at that, with my then soon-to-be husband. i think it has become a little yearly tradition of ours — for me and K to go on a mini vacation on my birthdays.

look forward to more posts on Amsterdam, i have a thousand more photos to share :P