Amsterdam Travel Guide

Amsterdam is the capital of The Netherlands, and one of the most popular destinations in Europe, if not the world. Home of Anne Frank and Vincent van Gogh. Famous for its Red Light District and cannabis coffee shops. Filled with winding canals, beautiful houses, millions of bicycles, great restaurants and amazingly curated concept stores. Not to mention that the Dutch might be some of the nicest people I have ever met. If I could move there, I would in a heartbeat. Amsterdam, you have completely captured my heart!

TRAVEL

Direct flights from Vienna to Amsterdam cost about €200, and take less than 2 hours. From the airport, it is a 20 minute train ride to the Amsterdam Centraal Station. Depending on where your hotel is, you can walk or jump on a tram in front of the train station.

EAT

Mashua  |  A European, Latin American fusion restaurant with tables right alongside the canal. This place was absolutely packed every time I went by, and I was lucky to snag a little table outside for an early dinner. I had my favorite lomo saltado and it was delicious!

Japanese Pancake World  | I love pancakes and I love Japanese food, so I figured why not. I had never heard of Okonomiyaki before, but it was really tasty. The food takes forever to come out, so if you are in a hurry this is not the place to come.

CT Coffee & Coconuts  |  In a 1920’s theatre building, Coffee & Coconuts has delicious food in such a cool and inviting atmosphere. Hanging plants, bean bag chairs, comfy couches and tables hanging from the ceiling with rope. In my dream world, where I live in Amsterdam, this is where I come to sit with my laptop and get work done while enjoying the scrambled eggs and fresh avocado on sourdough toast and fresh coconut juice.

SLA  |  If you are looking for something a little healthier, SLA has 5 locations in Amsterdam and delicious made to order salads. They are all beautifully decorated, so it is a nice spot to sit and enjoy a quick meal.

The Butcher  |  This is a little hole in the wall burger joint in De Pjip. During the day, you can barely see it because it is right in the middle of the Albert Cuypmarkt. But I heard they had the best burgers in town so I had to search it out. I love a good cheeseburger, and this one definitely did not disappoint. Big, juicy, and delicious! Just the way I like it.

Street Food  |  You absolutely cannot visit Amsterdam without trying poffertjes, stroopwafels, and fries. Poffertjes are little puffy pancakes served with butter and powdered sugar. Stroopwafels are two thin, crispy cookies with warm caramel in the middle. And fries, well, are fries, but somehow the fries in Amsterdam are just better.

SLEEP

The Hoxton  |  A brand new, very stylish hotel on the Herengracht Canal, located in five canal houses from the 17th century. A perfect location, gorgeous building, and plenty of unique, luxurious touches to make a very memorable stay. Read more about my stay at the Hoxton.

Check the latest prices on:  Booking  |  Hotels.com  |  Agoda

Read reviews on:  TripAdvisor

SEE & DO

Anne Frank House  |  As soon as you plan your trip to Amsterdam, try to book tickets online to visit the Anne Frank House. When I was planning my trip, there were no tickets available for the next 2 months. I was not looking forward to standing in line for hours, so I kept checking every couple of days. While I was in the airport, on my way to Amsterdam, I randomly checked again and there were tickets available for the following day. I was so relieved to bypass that long line!

FOAM Photography Museum  |  A great little museum with 4 rotating exhibits. While like I enjoyed all of the exhibits, the one that really stood out to me was Katy Grannan’s The Nine and the Ninety Nine. Set in the Central valley of California, it is so heartbreakingly real.

Rent a Bike  |  The absolute best way to get around Amsterdam is on a bike. There are bike rental shops all over the city, and the rates are very reasonable. It is so much fun, and you will feel like a local. Just pay attention, no one wears a helmet and everyone rides fast!

SHOP

Amsterdam is filled with amazing, beautiful shops and concept stores. You could spend days and days just discovering new little shops and admiring everything they have. Here are just a few of the many, many shops I fell in love with:

Sukha Amsterdam  |  If I could move right into this store, I would. When you walk in the door, you feel immediately comforted by all of the natural materials and white color. I don’t think there was anything in the entire store that I didn’t want in my home.

Things I like, Things I love  |  Lovely concept store, with both vintage and new home goods and clothes. They designed the hip Hotel Dwars, and I wouldn’t complain at all if they wanted to design a room in our house.

Concrete Matter & Six and Sons  |  Really cool men’s shops filled with well designed men’s grooming products, clothes, bags, and gifts.

Gather Shop  |  A wonderfully curated shop of paper goods, jewelry, accessories, and home goods from independent designers and artists.

De Emaillekeizer  |  Beautiful enamelware made in the Netherlands. I came home with a tea set for my girls that they absolutely love. You can also find a great selection of African baskets, music and crafts.

De Kleine Parade  |  A kid’s concept store in the De Pjip area. Part kid-friendly cafe with play area, part shop filled with beautifully designed kid’s clothes and gear, and part workspace for kid’s classes and activities, this is the ultimate place to hang out for mamas with little ones. I wish we had something like this in Vienna!

MORE

If you have time, try to combine your trip to Amsterdam with a trip to Rotterdam or Utrecht. They are both just a short train ride from Amsterdam, and a completely different (but still wonderful) experience.

Read more posts about The Netherlands.

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P.S. – More Travel Guides

Feeding Baby - Pasta

Once your baby is ready for some texture in her food, it’s time for baby pasta! Of course you can do the basic plain buttered noodles. But here are three easy recipes that will continue introducing baby to new flavors, and are a lot more exciting and nutritious than plain pasta.

The key is finding little tiny baby pasta. Below are three of our favorites, but you can use any small pasta you can find. From left to right: pastini, acini di pepe, and tiny alphabet pasta.

quick & easy homemade baby pasta recipes

Each of these recipes are simple enough for baby, but tasty enough be served to the whole family. Just add a little salt and pepper, and maybe switch out the pasta to penne or fusilli. I haven’t included quantities, because it depends on how much you would like to make.

quick & easy homemade baby pasta recipes

Baby’s First Mac & Cheese

quick & easy homemade baby pasta recipesquick & easy homemade baby pasta recipes

Ingredients:

  • pastina
  • baby spinach
  • broccolini
  • whole milk
  • unsalted butter
  • flour
  • baby swiss cheese

Directions:

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
  2. Finely chop the baby spinach and broccolini.
  3. Cook pasta according to package instructions.
  4. During the last minute of cooking, add the spinach and broccolini into the pot with the pasta.
  5. Drain well.
  6. In a small saucepan, melt the butter, add a bit of flour, and whisk in some milk to make a roux.
  7. Add the baby swiss, and stir until melted and creamy.
  8. Add the pasta and vegetables and stir well.
  9. Serve immediately, or freeze like you would with baby purées.

quick & easy homemade baby macaroni & cheese recipes

Baby’s First Kale & Basil Pesto

quick & easy homemade baby pasta recipesquick & easy homemade baby pasta recipes

Ingredients:

  • small pasta
  • fresh basil
  • fresh kale
  • fresh garlic
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • parmesan cheese

Directions:

  1. In a blender or food processor, combine equal parts basil and kale.
  2. Add olive oil, garlic and parmesan cheese and blend.
  3. Cook pasta according to package instructions, reserving a bit of cooking water.
  4. Add the pesto and a bit of the reserved cooking water, if needed, and stir well.
  5. Serve immediately, or freeze like you would with baby purées.

quick & easy homemade baby pasta recipes

Baby’s First Tomato and Basil Pasta

quick & easy homemade baby pasta recipesquick & easy homemade baby pasta recipes

Ingredients:

  • tiny alphabet pasta
  • fresh tomatoes (or your favorite jarred marinara sauce)
  • fresh basil
  • parmesan cheese

Directions:

  1. Cook pasta according to package instructions.
  2. Add the marinara sauce, finely chopped fresh basil, and parmesan cheese.
  3. Serve immediately, or freeze like you would with baby purées.

quick & easy homemade baby pasta recipesquick & easy homemade baby pasta recipes

The Nightingale; Unbecoming; The Girls From Corona del Mar; Remember Me Like This

On My Bookshelf this month:

The Nightingale  |  The story of two sisters in occupied France during World War II, and the role they each play in the French Resistance. I have been obsessed with WWII novels this year, and this is my favorite of all that I have read. It is a beautiful story of strength, courage, love and survival, and left me in tears at the end.  |  “If I have learned anything in this long life of mine, it is this: in love we find out who we want to be; in war we find out who we are.”

Unbecoming  |  A girl from small town Tennessee plans a robbery, then escapes to Prague with a stolen painting as her husband and his best friend go to jail for the crime. Not spectacular, but interesting enough.  |  “Real liars don’t lie about anything, they just lie. ‘About’ is a word liars use to justify their lying, to make it seem like a localized problem…With a liar, you can never know the whole truth, ever. You can’t ever be sure that this version is the real version. There is no end, no bottom. Sometimes I wonder if the whole thing was a hoax.”

The Girls From Corona del Mar  |  A very real and somewhat depressing look at a lifelong friendship between two girls. One seemingly perfect, who hits a string of bad luck that never really ends, and her flawed best friend from a dysfunctional family, who in the end realizes that you can never really know another person.  | “What had been so funny? But you can never remember what you were laughing about, and even if you could, it seems doubtful that it would still be funny.”

Remember Me Like This  |  An 11 year old boy disappears, and as the years go by, his family never gives up hope of finding him. After 4 years, he is miraculously found in a neighboring town, having been abducted by a violent pedophile. But instead of this being the happy ending, the book explores how this affects each of the members of his family.  |  “Those four years had gutted her family. How could she not understand such hideous gravity? Everywhere she looked, the absolute and crushing weight of the past. At times she’d been bloated with sadness, leaden and unmovable. Other times, she would have sworn she was a sieve…Life started to feel – what? Not normal. Not familiar. Inhabitable. Navigable.” “The past was a bridge that looked solid and sturdy, but once you were on it, you saw that it extended only far enough to strand you, to suspend you between loss and longing with nowhere to go at all.”

I’m always looking for good book recommendations! What are your favorites?

 

A Weekend in Prague

Often called the city of a thousand squires, or even the Paris of Eastern Europe, Prague is breathtakingly gorgeous. It is easy to see why people fall in love with this beautiful old city. Prague’s historic center is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and there is no shortage of great restaurants, museums, galleries and world class shopping. Plus, the beer is cheaper than water!

(more…)

Moving Abroad Survival Tips

Moving Abroad Survival Tip #1: Give it a year.

We arrived in Vienna a year ago today. It has been a wonderful year, full of amazing friends and exciting adventures. But it has also been a year of challenges. New schools, new jobs, a new house, a new language. And more lessons learned than I can even count.

I started to write about what I have learned in the last 12 months, and quickly realized I could go on and on and on, and still not even come close to covering everything. So I will break it down into little tidbits, lessons learned, survival tips for moving abroad.

My hope is that this series will offer tips for anyone who is moving abroad, for the first time or the fifteenth. And if you aren’t moving abroad, it will give you a peek into the expat experience. The good, the bad, and the ugly.

My very first tip is to give it a year.

Some people will tell you to give it a few months. I think it takes an entire year.

Moving to a new place is hard. And when that new place happens to be on the other side of the world, it is even harder. Confusion, self doubt, denial, anger, frustration, loneliness and self pity are just a few of the emotions you experience in those early days. You feel like you will never master even the most routine of tasks, like navigating the grocery store, or setting up your cell phone. Everything is a chore, and you ask yourself over and over again why you are doing this.

But, as the weeks and months go on, it gets easier. Little by little you make friends, you build a community, you learn the ropes.

Until one day you look around and you realize that this is home. And you are happy here.

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