Amsterdam – The City of Pancakes & Canals

For the past two and a half days, we’ve been touring the beautiful city of Amsterdam. The weather was wonderful, around 75-80 every day with a pretty constant breeze. The downside is that we didn’t have air conditioning in our hostel, so that was different. But most nights, it cooled down to the 60s so we just left the windows open.

Our hostel was more like an Airbnb-style accommodation; the owners live upstairs and rent out their first-floor downstairs apartment (just one room). The room was private and small, but had everything we needed (a bed and bathroom). It was right off a lovely canal and within walking distance of pretty much everything. 

The first day, we arrived at the airport around 12:30, took a metro train to not the right stop, and proceeded to walk way farther than we needed to. The metro system is a learning process. We made it to the apartment around 2 or so, unpacked a bit, took a shower, then headed out for lunch/dinner. We stopped at the first place we saw because we were both starving, which was a small little Italian restaurant. Zeus ordered a pizza with ham and pineapple and I ordered lasagna. It came in an oval-shaped ceramic dish that I guess they baked the whole thing in. The lasagna was delicious, and very hot (I burnt my tongue eating it lol). There was so much cheese! 

After dinner, we took a train to no destination really. Just rode and watched the city go by. The jet lag hit us then so we headed home to go to sleep. We stopped for some ice cream first though. It was the perfect little treat. I got a waffle cone with a scoop of white chocolate and Zeus ordered mocha. The ice cream essentially tasted like vanilla but it had chunks of white chocolate all throughout. So. Good.

We made it home around 7 and laid down for a much-needed night of sleep.

Day 2: we woke around 9:30 or so and headed out for breakfast. Zeus found this place called Mook Pancakes. There are pancake places everywhere in Amsterdam, and they all seem to offer something different. Mook’s offerings were all organic, and the way this place looked, that made complete sense. It was a split level restaurant, with most of the decor being white, gray, or green. The lower floor had long bench seats with pillows along each wall, with tables in front of them and chairs on the other sides. They had hanging plants everywhere and there were multiple skylights letting in natural light. The walls were particle board that had been whitewashed. It’s not something you’d think to use without some sort of drywall on top of it, but the whitewash effect made it look more natural, almost tree like even. It was a lovely little place. 

The menu had some avocado appetizers and about 12 different kinds of pancakes, including both savory and sweet options. Zeus ordered The Blue Magic Deluxe, which had blueberries, strawberries, bananas, grated coconut, and maple syrup. I went for the simpler Blue Magic dish, which just had blueberries, grated coconut, and maple syrup. They served the pancakes on these flat, round, white plates that had a raised edge so no syrup could slip off. The pancakes were fluffy and so delicious. I’d never thought to add coconut to them, but the tart blueberries and sweet coconut were the perfect combination. I stole a few of Zeus’ bananas too. 😉 The service was friendly and quick, and the prices were reasonable. Would definitely go back upon another visit. 

After breakfast, we took a train to Museumplein and walked through the Rijksmuseum and Van Gogh Museum. The Rijksmuseum is a gorgeous castle-like building with four levels of all sorts of art–sculptures, paintings, ship models, weapons, you name it. Highlights here include Rembrandt’s “The Night Watch” (there was a huge crowd around this one so not easy to get a good picture of it), the library (the smell of old books was delightful to this book lover), and the ship models and weapons. I’m not usually one to care about weapons, but the way they displayed them here was just amazing. The way they displayed everything in this museum was to be honest. I loved it.

The Van Gogh Museum was also a good time. I love his unique style of painting, how you can see every stroke he took. Plus, he had such an interesting, though depressing story. The museum had a special, newly opened exhibit that went into great detail about his illness, of which they’re still not entirely sure what it was. The only complaint I have of this museum is that you’re not allowed to take pictures. I did anyway because no one said anything until we were almost through. I’m a rebel I guess. 

After these two, we had lunch at The Cobra Cafe right outside the Rijksmuseum. We sat by an open window that let the breeze come in and enjoyed the gorgeous view of the museum, and of course, people watching. I took a gamble and ordered a Dutch dish–beef croquets with fries. The beef croquets were about 3″ or 4″ long, cylindrical shaped, and fried. Inside, there was this gravy-type substance and little pieces of beef. The taste was… interesting. Not bad, I’m glad I tried it, but I wouldn’t necessarily order them again. I think the ratio of beef to gravy (or whatever it was) was a little low. It’s hard to describe really. But the fries were delicious! Zeus ordered a grilled ham, tomato, and cheese sandwich with fries. And we split a bottle of white wine. It was a perfect and relaxing lunch. 

Afterwards, we walked to the Heineken Brewery for a tour and tasting. The tour was self-guided for the most part, but there were sections of instruction. They had a Brew You “ride” that showed how their beer is made. The platform you’re standing on moves along with the video and there are fun effects like water spraying you or a heat lamp (not my favorite as I was already hot). Then they showed you how to pour the perfect beer and gave all of us one to drink. We even made our own beer label but the machine broke so we didn’t get it (they still charged us though, so if you go, pay later, not at the machine). There were a bunch of interactive exhibits and lots of historical info about the company, and even some horses (didn’t know horses were a Heineken thing). The entry fee includes two beers per person so we drank one each (I’m not a fan, but Zeus loves it), walked through the gift shop (bought some koozies of course), and left for home. 

For dinner, I found a Dutch bar that had cheese and sausage platters that sounded amazing, but after we walked all the way there, we discovered they were way too crowded. The place next door to it wasn’t though, so we went in there. Lieve (restaurant name) offers three different dining styles (three- and four-course meals and a tapas-style option) and you pick which one you want before the hostess seats you. While the halted sets up the table, they let you sit in this lounge area with a big, red sectional sofa and even bring you drinks. The restaurant was very eclectic and fun. Each room had a different decor style. We sat down and took a look at the menu. It was a bit fancy, with things on the menu that we weren’t entirely sure about. For the dining style we chose, we were able to choose three starters (cold dishes), four entrees (hot dishes), and three desserts. The starters we chose were a cheese-filled waffle with beer dip, some kind of pork thing with fruit, and a salad with chickpeas. Ironically the thing I was most excited for in those choices (cheese waffle) was the worst of them all. I have no idea what kind of cheese they filled that waffle with but it tasted like fish, and it was disgusting. Even Zeus, who likes fish, didn’t like it. The pork thing looked like dog food but tasted decent enough. The fruit with it were tasty! But the combination of those two things was very strange to me. The chickpea salad was the highlight here. It was filled with arugula, chickpeas, and beet “strings.” 

Our entrees were beer-marinated chicken (can’t fuck this up right?) with roasted potatoes, braised pork with lettuce mashed potatoes (this is a literal explanation–there were pieces of lettuce in the mashed potatoes. Just why?), zucchini cake with tzaziki sauce, and quiche with red peppers and tomatoes. All of these options were really delicious but why was there lettuce in the potatoes? It was just so strange. 

Next were desserts–the best part of this meal. We ordered a lime cake, chocolate cake, and creme brûlée. The lime cake tasted just like key lime pie (yum!), the creme brûlée had a mocha flavor so that was interesting, and the chocolate cake was so rich and amazing that I ate every bite. It was a combination of two different kinds of chocolate (reminded me of fudge) and then had chocolate sauce drizzled over it. It was to die for. 

I regret not taking pictures of the food, but here’s some of the restaurant. 

After dinner, we walked around the central downtown area. Stopped at a few bars here and there and just explored the area. 

On day three, we split up for a bit. Zeus went in search of a converter for the plug so we could have our fan and a new suitcase for me because on day one, the wheels broke off the back. Piece of shit luggage. Meanwhile, I went exploring local churches. Stop one was the massive Westerkerk. It was pretty simple inside but the enormity of the building and the Windows was impressive. You could climb the bell tower for 7€ but I didn’t feel like climbing all the stairs. Next was Zuiderkerk, which was closed. So that was unfortunate. I’d say it was a waste of a walk but I saw lots of cool things on the way so I’m not disappointed. Lastly, the Church/Basilica of St. Nicholas. This one was right outside Amsterdam Centraal station so I saw it coming in. It was dark inside with the exception of the gorgeous stained glass windows on the far end. I only got to stay here for a few minutes because they were about to start mass and you can’t take any pictures during. 

Met up with Zeus after this and we took our luggage back to the room. Then we went to lunch at a place around the corner. Zeus had a half chicken plate with salad and fries and I had a grilled ham, tomato, and cheese sandwich with fries. Fries. fries are everywhere too. During our meal, we were visited by a little black cat with bright green eyes. We noticed some cat toys and a scratching post underneath one of the tables so I think it lives there lol.

Next after lunch: Vondelpark, a huge and beautiful green space in the middle of the city. The weather was perfect so we walked around a bit and took some pictures, then stopped at a cafe in the middle the park and had two bottles of wine and some coffee. There was also a bunch of pokestops here so I was in heaven. Caught four Jynxs!

On the recommendation of a friend, we visited the Wurst & Schnitzelhaus for dinner. This was in a lovely little area of town that reminded me a lot of Bourbon Street in New Orleans, though much nicer and cleaner lol. We sat outside for dinner, right across from the canal. We each ordered beers and split a plate of sausage (bratwurst) and schnitzel. The schnitzel had onions, cheese, and hollandaise sauce melted on top. Sides were potato salad and a small salad. I loved the schnitzel, but Zeus was not crazy about it. The cheese (thankfully not that nasty fish cheese) was the perfect topping. Everything else was delicious as well. Thanks James and Michelle for recommending!

After dinner, we walked to a nearby piano bar. It was 9:40 and a piano player was set to come on at 10:00 so we figured we would wait. The bouncer let us in and we walked into a completely empty bar. No bartender. We figured they would come out eventually and even joked, “might have to pour our own beers!” I went to the restroom and when I came back Zeus had a beer but there was still no bartender, or patrons. “I poured it myself,” he said. I laughed and asked if he was serious. He was. After another minute or two, and still no bartender, I found a bottle of Pinot Grigio and poured myself a glass. About 10 minutes later, a bartender finally walked in and asked how we got our drinks. We said we poured them ourselves, no one was here. He was shocked that we admitted it, and also annoyed at the bouncer for letting us in. He apologized. We told him we were the best people to have walked in to an empty bar, because all we want are drinks. I might also add that the cash register was full of money and completely open and exposed. We chatted with him a while and laughed about the situation, then we paid for our drinks and left. I had dessert on my mind! 

We went back to the downtown area and walked around a bit. There are shops all over that sell these delicious looking sweets–waffles covered in chocolate and every other topping you can imagine. I ordered one with chocolate, bananas, strawberries, and a vanilla cream. It was delightful. Everything I wanted it to be lol. After dessert, we hit up some more bars and then went home, very inebriated. 

Today we made our way to Brussels, but before boarding the train, we stopped at Pancakes Amsterdam for another round of pancakes. Zeus just got some plain ones with maple syrup and I ordered a Dutch pancake (flat, not fluffy) with bananas, some type of almond-like nut, and chocolate sauce. It was a split second decision because the waitress asked for our order sooner than expected but j wasn’t disappointed. The pancake was very tasty, and the toppings were very rich. I couldn’t finish all of it because it was just so sweet. Zeus’ pancakes were the normal fluffy American style, and they tasted great mixed with mine. 

I loved Amsterdam and can’t wait to go back one day. I could live there. It’s such a beautiful city with so much to do. 

Onto Brussels! 


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