Amsterdam, Netherlands: November 2016

The only direct flight from Kiev to Amsterdam on a reputable airline was at 5:30AM on KLM, which was fine by us since we wanted to get out of Ukraine.

These are two stamps I’m proud to have in my passport, because it displays the trials and tribulations of Ukraine.  Hahaha

The airport in Amsterdam was nothing short of fascinating, I loved the interior and architecture.  Too bad we wouldn’t be flying out of here!

We took the train to the main train station, Centraal, and got off to walk in the general direction of our hotel.  Since we took such an early flight, we were at Centraal by 9AM ready to start our day!

Immediately upon arrival we felt completely different from when we were in Ukraine.  The architecture alone made the trip worth it.

I was stunned by how many bikes there were in Amsterdam, and how much bike parking there was as well.

Amsterdam also has efficient public transportation, although everyone usually bikes everywhere.

Breakfast was Dutch pancakes, but we found that most places aren’t open too early…  Well unless it’s a dispensary.  Anyway, Dutch pancakes are great!

Andy loved the pancakes.

We quickly realized that things just don’t open early in Amsterdam and that nobody is out and about until later in the day, as referenced by this totally empty square that we went back to the next day later in the day and it was completely filled with people.

I’m sure it’s easy to use the public transportation but we didn’t really understand it so we walked to our hotel – it was a bit of a walk, but we got to walk through all of the canals and it was absolutely beautiful.

We got to our hotel to check in, it was 12 by this time, and apparently their check in is at 2 and if we wanted to check in 2 hours early, it would be 36 euros.  So we opted to just store our things in their storage closet…  But either way, I was really disappointed with their check in procedures because instead of a counter with a designated line it was a round table with only one person working, and he sort of just lackadaisically chose people to “help next” but he wasn’t helpful.  And it wasn’t just that instance either, we tried to get a taxi that night and after waiting for 15 minutes while they weren’t doing anything we had to say “uh…. excuse me?”  To get them to call our cab for us.

Anyway one of the main attractions in Amsterdam is the Rijksmuseum, which is mainly history and some art.  Since you have to pay, we opted to do the Van Gogh museum instead.  You still have to pay for that museum but we felt if we’re going to pay, we’d prefer the Van Gogh.

Then it was off to the Van Gogh museum. They didn’t allow pictures so this is the only picture I took.  It was a great museum and really went into the history of Van Gogh’s life, I guess I never really realized how troubled he was.

Back to the hotel to freshen up, then off to dinner.  Our clocks were off (biological clocks) so our dinner time started at 5, which was a bit…. early, so we drank champagne until 6 before we ordered.

While we were flying over to Amsterdam one of the flight attendants gave us some great recommendations for things to see and a few restaurants, so we went to one of them for dinner and it was definitely worth it.  We went to the Harbour Club, which is you guessed it, along the harbor and it used to be a wine cellar.

One of their specialties was seafood so we got some oysters and they were really, really good… But I guess a little expensive because 6 were 20 euro.

They are also known for their meats, which they display for everyone to see during the aging process.

So I ordered some.

Then they gave us a complimentary chocolate dessert thing, which we paired with some coffee martini thing.

We walked around and found a piano bar with some, uh, sorta snooty people in there, it was as if we walked into “their” bar and we were outsiders.  So we had a drink and left.

The next morning we caught some breakfast and set out to see the town.

Amsterdam is suffering from sinking issues, and becomes evident in certain sections of town.

I found it…. Interesting that there was a dispensary literally connected to this church…

Back walking through that square, there was definitely a lot more people here!

I luckily got us a spot for the Anne Frank tour, so we headed that direction.

Anne Frank’s house is in the middle.

Amsterdam is anti-pictures so the only picture I got in the entire place was this one.

The museum taught me a lot more than what I learned in school.  You really feel for Anne and while we can never understand what she went through, it amazed me how intelligent, and how much of a deep thinker she was.  But what really hit me is she is one of millions with the same story, of hiding from the Nazi regime only to be caught and sent to a concentration camp.

Afterwards we found a restaurant thanks to a recommendation from a friend, and enjoyed a 3 course meal.  Really, all the food we ate on the entire trip was exceptional (except Ukraine)

Scallops

Pork shoulder

Lamb

From there we walked to a local pub street and found a bar that was pretty cool, if you order a certain drink they bring out a piece of paper where you write your hopes and dreams on it, and they put it in a cask that has a counter on it.  When we were there it had over 13,000 slips on the counter!

When we were headed over to the restaurant in the beginning of the night we drove past a place called “Ice Bar” so thinking it was like the Vegas one we had to check it out right?

It was basically a glorified meat freezer with a bunch of ice in it and really thin coats, but I think they make the coats thin on purpose so you don’t stay in there for so long.  Oh well, at least we can say we’ve done it!  Oh and drinks were served in glasses made of ice so that was cool.

Next stop, Paris!

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