Once I got past my morning sickness during the first trimester, Ara and I set out to make our destination list of places to visit pre-baby. Amsterdam was high on that list! We both hadn’t been and were excited to check out the history, food and sights of the city.
We started our road trip on Friday morning and made the drive up north to Amsterdam. Traffic was a little crazy and it ended up taking a little longer than expected, about 5 hours total. We were able to park our car outside the city at one of the Park and Ride (P + R) locations and take the train to the main train station. We would definitely do this option again as the parking fee is only $1 per day, versus trying to find parking inside the city center. Not to mention the hassle of driving in Amsterdam with all the one way streets and bike traffic!
After getting off the train at the central station, we walked 10 min to our hotel, The Hoxton. I had visited the Hoxton hotel in Paris and knew that the hotel would be a great spot for our stay in Amsterdam. They welcomed us for our “mini-babymoon” with a cute love balloon on the bed and some great snacks—trail mix and a chocolate bar. I also loved that they provided a breakfast bag in the morning outside your room with a banana, orange juice and yogurt. Before bed, we’d select what time we wanted the bag and in the morning we’d grab it. This worked out exceptionally well because even though we had breakfast reservations each morning I love having a little something in my stomach right when I wake up (especially during this stage of pregnancy.)
The Hoxton is located in the The Nine Streets neighborhood, or De Negen Straatjes in Dutch — and was a great location to find some cute shops as well as walking distance to most of the places we wanted to check out. We indulged in fresh stroopwafels, a Dutch treat made of two thin waffle cookies with caramel in the middle, and we took these handy treats around the neighborhood to check out the canals of Amsterdam.
I was really looking forward to our dinner that evening at Restaurant Vermeer, but I have to sadly report that we had a terrible experience and would not recommend dining there.
We started out our Saturday with a walk over to the Amsterdam-West neighborhood for brunch at Ted’s. A friend had recommended this spot to me and I’m always willing to try out a spot with a delicious looking french toast on the menu.
After brunch, we made our way with our trusty umbrella in the drizzly weather to the Anne Frank Haus. This was one of the historical spots that we knew we couldn’t miss while in Amsterdam. If you are preparing for a trip to Amsterdam, plan ahead! The tickets go on sale on the website two months in advance and sell out rather quickly. Inside the building, we narrowly wound up the stairs and did the self-guided audio tour through the hiding place of the Frank family during WWII. It was a sobering sight to take in and try to imagine how those hiding felt each day going to bed and waking up, fearing for their lives.
While in the Anne Frank Haus, the sun had decided to show up, so we took advantage of it and made our way over to the infamous “I Amsterdam” sign. We got our requisite pictures and just as we were figuring out our next plan, the sky decided to open up with another bout of rain. We decided it was time for another snack and headed to The Pancake Bakery. I opted for a standard pancake with banana and nutella while Ara indulged in the “Dutch” pancake, complete with stroopwafel, cinnamon ice cream, chocolate flakes and whipped cream that should probably be shared with friends. It was a good way to get out of the rain for awhile!
With all the rain, we decided to head back to the hotel and take advantage of the beautiful bar and restaurant in the hotel for the evening. They even have an old-school photo booth that we took full advantage of in the lobby of the hotel! We enjoyed dinner leisurely at Lotti’s after napping off our afternoon pancakes. Their house-made ginger beer was amazing and I still can’t stop thinking about it!
The next morning we made our way over to Bakers & Roasters for breakfast. I suggest going early as this spot doesn’t take reservations and it gets packed fast — for good reason! We enjoyed some amazingly crafted coffee, fresh juice, eggs benedict and an acai power bowl. I love a hearty and well-done brunch while we are traveling and this fit the bill 100%!
We walked over to the Bloemenmarkt, in the city’s southern canal belt. It was beautiful to take in all the flower stands lined up along the canal, but I was disappointed more of the stalls weren’t selling fresh flowers.
Everywhere we walked, we came across so many bicycles! Amsterdam is definitely known for being bicycle friendly, but I had no idea how intense it really is. There’s bicycles parked EVERYWHERE and when crossing the roads, you have to look left and right, and then left and right again to make sure you aren’t going to get in the way of a bicycle! There is also a fun contraption that many people had on the front of the bike to carry their goods or kids in!
We loved our time in Amsterdam and have it on our list to make it back! We weren’t able to take in the Van Gogh museum (we didn’t realize you needed to reserve tickets in advance!) and hope to make our way through more Amsterdam restaurants next time.