In the spirit of the (Hallmark) Day of Love, I couldn’t help but think back on our European Honeymoon! It was quite possibly the most romantic, frustrating, incredible, hectic, amazing experience of my life.
With that being said, I wouldn’t trade the 12 day, 4 country excursion for anything and am breaking it down in 4 separate posts to celebrate the day (or week) of love! If you are looking for a romantic vacation, a long much-needed escape, or just like to read about travel, read on!
First, I will start by saying one of my best friends is an incredible travel agent and has been all over the world so, in no way, did I plan these locations and the travel to and fro by myself. We left for our honeymoon on the Monday after our Saturday wedding and there was no time between work and wedding planning to even think about the trip so BLESS HER!
Our first location was Amsterdam for three days (“Een” is 1 in Dutch). We arrived later in the evening and were completely jet lagged and just really needed something other than ZZZquil and Pretzels…
On our way to our hotel, we asked our driver for any recommendations on where we should eat and he let us know that Amsterdam is one of the only places you can find what’s known as the Rijsttagel (pronounced “Rice-Taffel), an Indo-Dutch specialty, and gave us a few places we should check out, so we knew that’s where we were going right after check in!
We stayed at The Albus, a chic boutique hotel right in the middle of City Centre. Highly suggest a stay there! Great service, bubbly at check in, great breakfast included, and fashionable. But, back to the food.
We walked to Restaurant Indrapura on Rembrandt Square and tried to remember what the driver had told us, we remembered Rice Table but didn’t realize there were so many options under that umbrella! As we stumbled through ordering, we had no idea what to expect and, you guys, all of a sudden these adorable waitresses started bringing out plates upon bowls upon heaters to our table! It was sooooo delicious and I can’t wait to try it again on our next visit! It was hysterical to watch my picky ass eater of a husband examine everything while I shoved everything in my face.
Everything in Amsterdam is walkable and here are a few of my other “MUSTS” in Amsterdam:
- The Anne Frank Museum is incredible and so, so humbling. Get there first thing in the morning and wait. Even though the line will be long, it will so be worth it.
- It’s hard to do anything too crazy after that experience but that area is a great place to walk around and explore. We stumbled into the Tulip Museum and the Cheese Museum. Every flavor of cheese you could think of! Grab some of your favorite cheese and a baguette and go discuss the morning, or just sit in silence like we did.
- Find a great bar with a front row view of the Royal Palace. Bonus Points if it has an incredible straw like this!
- Don’t be afraid to be a tourist and take a bajillion pictures of the canals. Whether taken during the sunrise, sunset, mid-morning, noon, and especially night time, you’ll love looking back on these!
- Eat a million Stroopwafels straight off the carts. Have at least two a day. Try all the carts and pick your favorite. Seriously, I still dream of these.
- FRIES! Oh. My. Gosh. They are not kidding with their fry carts. Really anything you buy off of the food street carts are amazing. They have so many different dips and sauces and you’ll just be so excited. Of note, “chili sauce” does not mean bean chili. It’s like a sweet and sour. My husbands mind is still blown about it!
- Other food items that are a must are the Bitterballen (full disclosure, I hated every single one of these I tried but it’s still a must eat so you can say you did!). Poffertjes, sort of like mini pancakes, are served at every breakfast restaurant but you can’t beat the ones in a paper bag from a street vendor and the oil stains it will cause on your favorite jeans and finally…PICKLED HERRING! Just do it. Take a video. You’ll thank yourself years later.
- Visit the Red Light District during the day and at night! At night is fun for the usual reasons, there’s so many interesting people to meet, cocktails to drink and dogs to pet! (My favorite part was a musician who had his Doberman holding his tip basket!) We had an absolute blast that night but I was so curious of what it looked like in the daylight so we trekked back over there the next day and honestly, you would have almost no idea! Next door to where a “transaction” took place is a lovely little daycare! It was a trip. Loved it! (They also have slot machines and originally being from Nevada, you know we had to take a chance on some big money…)
- Although the States are now legalizing marijuana more and more, you still may be interested in partaking in Amsterdam…we did! My best advice in this arena is to go to one that is more “touristy”, the small, side street shops that cater to locals can smell you right when you walk in the door and it may make it a not so great experience for you if you are already a little nervous! When you go in, be completely honest with the person working. If you do not smoke weed often or ever (like myself) do not pretend you do! They are great at picking something out for you that fits your experience. Grab it to go (maybe grab a mini pringles can out of their vending machine) and go relax and people watch, eat one (or two or three) cones of fries and enjoy this amazing city!
- Museums! They have so many incredible museums to explore but make sure you buy your tickets ahead of time if you are sure you want to visit! We started with the Rijksmuseum, which is the State museum dedicated to the arts and history of Amsterdam. It’s huuuuuuge and will take some time but so worth it. The building itself is a work of art and I so enjoyed the Rembrandts. Then we visited the Van Gogh Museum (after a Stroopwafel break) and I basically cried the entire time. I have always been such a huge Van Gogh fan and, not only seeing his works, but learning more about his life was incredible! One museum we didn’t stop at was the Sexmuseum but it’s on the list for next time…
I will note that my husband is extremely tall and uncomfortable on most “normal” sized bikes so renting bikes and rolling around was a no go. If you do decide to rent and ride, remember that bicycles are the main mode of transportation and you have to keep up! Really watch for cars, pedestrians, and most importantly, the other bikers. Just remember to be safe and watch for signs. Practice riding in a quieter area before heading towards Rembrant or Museum square!
Amsterdam was such a wonderful place to start our European Honeymoon. The people are absolutely incredible (and most speak fluent English which is always helpful), the food was mostly delicious, the drinks were always flowing and it’s such an incredibly beautiful place, both man-made and natural. It’s absolutely on our list for a return visit!
I hope this has inspired you to look into a visit for yourself and your loved one; a spouse, friend, or family member! I will post our next stop, PARIS, FRANCE, later on today!