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Friday, April 20, 2012

Crazy news: We're going to Amsterdam!

So, I have some crazy news: We're taking a (very) spontaneous quick trip to Amsterdam! Leaving tomorrow!! Here's the story: We were planning to take Toby to Europe this summer, but we priced out the flights, and it was prohibitively expensive. (Summer flights to most major European cities started at $1400; and we'd need to buy three.) We figured our Europe dreams were dashed, until we realized that if we squeezed a trip in April, the flights were much less expensive—and the overall trip would be doable if we stayed for just a handful of days.

So! We decided to plan a less expensive family vacation this summer in the midwest, but to scratch our Europe itch, Alex and I are taking a quick trip to Amsterdam this weekend! We're going for just four days, while Toby stays home with his beloved babysitters (since a weekend trip to Europe—with long flights + jetlag—would be no fun for a two-year-old). I'm so excited to visit Amsterdam: I've always wanted to see the cool houseboats and even cooler bikers. Also, one of my best friends from college—Penny—is living there right now, and we can't wait to see her.

This is all so exciting and heady—I'm the least spontaneous person ever, so it's funny/thrilling to be heading to a big city without any planning. If you have any Amsterdam tips, we'd LOVE to hear them! Have you ever been?

Weekend round-up coming up, and sending you a big kiss! Eeks!
P.S. I've written a bunch of posts for next week that I hope you enjoy.
(We'll miss this little dude)

293 comments:

1 – 200 of 293   Newer›   Newest»
Fancy Pants said...

I've never been but have heard they have AMAZING art museums! Enjoy! How fun and romantic!

Jamie said...

So fun! When I saw the header I got excited because my husband and I might be going there in June. His company may move his converence from New York to Amsterdam! Not as short-notice as your trip, but for me it's short notice! Can't wait to see pictures as we've never been.

natalie said...

Yay! It's the year of spontaneous European adventures. Have a great time! xoxo

Joanna Goddard said...

jamie, how fun!!! :)

Ash the Bash said...

Fantastic, you will have an awesome time Amsterdam is beautiful, we were there in January. Best advice would be to hire some bikes it's the easiest way to get around and visit this brewery http://www.brouwerijhetij.nl/

Enjoy xox

Anne said...

Woah! How exciting for you guys. I've only had one spontaneous trip in my life (made the decision and bought the ticket 4 hours before the flight), and it resulted in my first date with my now fiance.

So . . . go spontaneity!

dee said...

Four days is a quickie but you must do the touristy Ann Frank Huis! The old Pancake House nearby was AMAZING. It might be rainy per usual but don't let that distract you from the beauty of a place Amsterdam is. Have a blast!!

Emma said...

you realy should visit the lovely little shopping district the '9 straatjes' (9 streets). It has realy nice independent shops and restaurants. Also the Haarlemmerstraat and Haarlemmerdijk are well worth a visit: it has great independent shops, reastaurants and above all great food shops :)
I hope you have a great time!

lauren @ balue said...

My boyfriend is from Amsterdam and his favorite weekend breakfast to make is some simple fresh bread with slices of good Dutch cheese (or chocolate!). Any country that embraces bread and cheese or bread and chocolate for breakfast MUST be amazing! Have an incredible trip! :)

Lauren

Hannah said...

The Van Gogh Museum is incredible (as expected).

Soup En Zo for gorgeous homemade modern soups to take out.

Sunday Market at Westerpark is worth the walk!

Brecht cafe is quirky and not very well known.

Singel 404 is lovely for snacks too.

Enjoy. You'll love the bikes!

Lindsey McLean said...

It's beautiful. I loved walking along the canals and through the neighborhoods. The Anne Frank is wonderful even though it's very sad. The Van Gogh museum and the park next to it are a must. :) Have a wonderful time!!!

Molly said...

So exciting!! This makes me want to take a spontaneous trip so badly. You might just be my inspiration. Enjoy!

Irene said...

FOAM museum is my best! And the Vondelpark.

Have fun!

Jeanelle said...

Wow that is so exciting! I live here now, (originally from California but now living in Amsterdam with my Dutch BF) and really love it.

Things to try:

** Poffertjes - little pancakes
** Frites and mayo - very un-American but DELICIOUS
**Have your friend bring you to 'a brown bar' - basically it is a cozy, wooden bar with many different types of beers... very Dutch!

Unusual Museums:
**House of Bols
**Tassenmuseum - the PURSE musuem

Rent a bicycle! If the weather permits go to the Keukenhof, a beautiful tulip garden.

Lastly.. SHOPPING - The 9 Streets... the best quirky boutiques!

I wish you were coming for more than 4 days, would have loved to meet you over a coffee, or biertje (little beer) as the Dutch say :)

ENJOY!
x

Amanda said...

Ohhhh my!!! You NEED to go to the Van Gogh art museum, it is amazing. Have fun, mama! Oh, and canal cruise at night. How I ADORE this city of bikes!

xo, Amanda

http://mamawatters.blogspot.com

ashley faye said...

AWESOME! im soo jealous. my dad went this past november for the cannabis cup and said it was amazing... you guys will have a blast. xx

Unknown said...

there must be something about amsterdam & spontaneity - when i was a senior in high school, my friend called me during winter break and said "do you want to go to amsterdam...tonight?" and we jetted off for 3 days! (it helped her dad is a pilot so standby tickets were easy!)

don't miss the anne frank house!!

Alice said...

Don't forget to visit the secret garden

www.begijnhofamsterdam.nl

not 'so' secret of course and they have some amazing markets.

Enjoy

Estelle said...

It sounds SOOOOO exciting !! I hope you'll love it !!! (I was an inch away from writing all this comment in caps lock, I just love last minute travel plans :)

Enjoy your stay in Amsterdam !

xx

Estelle

SLOmygosh said...

Van Goh museum and the Anne Frank house are can't miss spots. And renting bikes, of course! See if you can get on a canal boat trip. Those are amazing. Especially if they'll take you out of the city center. Little kids and old people run out of their homes to hold out a clog on a fishing pole, and the boat driver puts a coun in the clog, and then a little bridge is raised... It's darling.

The food was suuuuper disappointing. We ended up eating at a Hard Rock cafe (seriously) and subsisting on gummy bears when we got hungry enough. The food was the most disappointing thing about the city. Take snacks. Oh, and find a fruit truck. You can't wrong with fresh fruit.

The ARCHITECTURE, Joanna... You will die. And the house boats with their amazing flowers!!! Incredible.

YAY, for crazy spontaneity!!! :) HAVE FUN!

nicole said...

Wow! I've ALWAYS wanted to visit the place where Anne Frank wrote her diary. Have a fantastic trip! Cheers to spontaneity! xo.

Laura said...

If you have a chance to get out of Amsterdam, try a quick trip to Marken (a cute fishing village) or Kinderdijk (where you can see windmills). Both are a quick drive out of town, and part of what's cool about the Netherlands is the amazingly flat topography. I'm from Illinois, which is pretty flat, and I still found it stunning.

Bubbs... said...

Ahhhh! So exciting! Have a fabulous (and safe) trip!

Bubbs :)

A FANCY DAY said...

How fun, I love spontaneous trips. We've never gone out of the country more just like 4 hours away, but I hope to do something like this one day. I can't wait to see all of your pictures!

from lara said...

Make sure you rent bikes while you're there! It's the best way to see the city :)

Jess said...

You MUST have a quick look through Liz's blog - she's an American living in Amsterdam and has some great tips! Whenever anyone asks me about Amsterdam I always point them to her :) http://www.exploredreamdiscoverblog.com

Bon voyage!

~ Dellah ~ said...

I have found that the last two spur of the moment trips the Hubby and I have gone on {Las Vegas + recently AZ} have turned out to be the most fun, maybe it's all the rush of going somewhere on a short notice {although you definitely have us beat}. When we went to Las Vegas our youngest was about 10 months old, and I was so freaked out leaving him for 4 days. It's always great when the kids can stay with peeps, they love!
Well have a fabulous trip {loving that pic of the mom and her bike riding troupe} we all anticipate photos of you & the hubby riding your bikes! Safe travels.

Clare said...

My hubbie and I were there for about 4 days a couple of years ago. Best tip - walk. walk everywhere, it is such a brilliant city. we loved it at night esp.
Don't forget to get onto the tulip fields if you can or at least see the flower market. There is an AMAZING art noveau cinema you should visit one night. http://en.fishki.net/comment.php?id=91415

Eat at the Vroom & Dreesman food hall, it really is amazing.

Have a great time cx

elizabeth said...

Definitely hit the Van Gogh museum.

And eat your weight in stroopwafels.

I love Amsterdam. Enjoy!

Olivia said...

Anne Frank House and the Van Gogh museum. Preferably in that order as the Van Gogh can cheer you up after the Anne Frank, it is very sad but wonderfully moving. If you want a day trip into the countryside the poppy fields are breathtaking and very romantic, my friend's husband proposed to her there.

We took a spontaneous Amsterdam trip a couple of years ago, but as we live in London it wasn't quite as far! Have a wonderful time. xx

Carly Taylor said...

Enjoy it :)

Melissa said...

I was just there in February! Have lunch at Singel 404 (the most amazing open-faced sandwiches) and then go shopping in The Nine Streets (lots of great shops and cafes) I would skip the touristy museums (maybe except for the Van Gogh) and go to Foam, a contemporary photography museum. If you're there on a Monday, go to Noordermark - an outdoor vintage clothing/antique market and then have a casual dinner at Abyssinia (Ethiopian food). Hope that helps!

acz said...

Ahhh I love Amsterdam! And that's awesome you're going on 4/20 weekend. Definitely go to VanGogh museum and of course cruise through the red light district, it's so bizarre!

Moonlight said...

You should visit the Van Gogh museum, the house of Anne Frank, and the rijksmuseum, and then rembrandts house etc!
there are very cool things to do and see, and its very relaxing to stroll the streets of amsterdam, or ride a bike (which we know you loooove) on the cute bridges over the canals!

oh and there's a fun boat-bus you could take! incredible!

there was a nice place to eat/drink on the go, called La Place if i remember correctly, look it up! (i still remember the freshness of everything there!)

also, be sure to notice how time seems to run more slowly there!

enjoy yourselves!!!!!

Cassaundra said...

that is so exciting! have a wonderful time, joanna!

tracypea said...

So awesome!!! I went to Amsterdam on my honeymoon, it was so magical!! I highly recommend the Anne Frank House, and make sure you visit De Hortus Botanical garden. Have so much fun, I wish I could go again!!

JB said...

The weather is crazy so dress in layers and bring an umbrella! Sunny one second and raining the next.

Sit on a patio and enjoy people watching.

Visit the flower market.

Bring your camera and an extra memory card because every corner is a photo opp - it's STUNNING.

You will see tulips everywhere!

Visit the ann frank house. It's really moving.

Go to the Van Gogh museum.

Walking is the best way to get around.

So exciting! Have fun!

anna said...

So exciting! Have a wonderful trip!

thelifeacademic said...

Wonderful! I lived in Amsterdam for a while and I absolutely love and miss that fabulous town. Here're my two cents:

1. Weather permitting, take the ferry to the Amsterdamse Bos (the forest) and bike through to the panenkoken huis in the center. There's a petting zoo with goat!
2. If you have time to get out of the city and explore a little of the rest of Holland, going to the Panorama Mesdag in Den Haag is probably the most amazing thing you could do.
3. Eat rijs taffel!
4. The smaller museums are as amazing as the big ones -- sometimes, they're even better.
5. There's a surprisingly amazing Irish Pub called Mulligan's right on the Amsterl up by Rembrantplein that will knock your socks off. Fantastic music, the best pulled pint of Guiness around, and quintessentially Dutch ambiance.

Enjoy your trip! I'm so jealous.

Dutch Frenchtoast said...

Whaa, I work in Amsterdam and live in Haarlem. (Not Harlem, but the real Haarlem :)
Tips, I have plenty:
- Go shopping in the Utrechtsestraat, nice!
- Go shopping in the 9 straatjes /9 streets.
- Have a coffee at the best coffee place: "two for joy" at the Frederiksplein. (end of the Utrechtsestraat)
- rent a bike and go cycling in 'het voldelpark'. If you are brave enough go on the streets outside of the park but Amsterdammers' are notourious for not taking care of cycling tourists! And beware of the tram tracks!
- have dinner at "Cafe restaurant Amsterdam"
- Have dinner at " Hotel de Goudfazant" it's in Amsterdam north, you can take the ferry to it and grab a cab from there.
I have many many more tips if you like, but maybe it's a bit weird to make a mega long comment here.
let me know if you want me to drop an email.

Most of all, have fun!
Eefje

Al said...

My boyfriend lives in Amsterdam and I go there quite often. A while ago I wrote a kind of guide post about it, so if you want to have a look here it is (just quicker to leave the link instead of writing down my recommendations here): http://www.the-reddot.com/2011/11/24/als-little-guide-to-amsterdam/

After writing the post I discovered Toos & Roos in Herengracht 309 http://www.toosenroos.nl/index.html which is an amazing place for lunch!! Try it, I love it

Enjoy your trip, it's an amazing city!!! (and I so hope the weather will be fine so you can have long strolls in Vondelpark, De Jordaan area and De Pijp neighbourhood... Right now it's horrible :/)

Kisses

Al

-The Red Dot-

Helen said...

My big advice is NOT to visit the Anne Frank House, at least not if you're looking for a quiet, considered, emotional visit. I had always dreamed of visiting and to me it was a special place that deserved some reverence. However all the tourists were pushing and shoving, talking loudly and letting their kids run around. It was probably just me but it didn't seem respectful and I felt that I didn't have the time to think or feel the enormity of what happened there which spoiled the experience for me. However, the Jewish History Museum was incredible. I'd highly recommend it. Try and find The Pancake House (think that's it's name), eat LOTS of apple cake, drink beer and take a boat tour of the canals. You'll love it! Enjoy!

Yvonne said...

So great that you'll get to see Amsterdam! I have to agree with other comments: the Van Gogh museum is amazing.
I went to Amsterdam a couple of years ago and absolutely loved it!

One of my favorite things to do there was to simply...walk! It's such a beautiful city so it's nice to just stroll around the canals, watch people, etc.
I'd also recommend to head to the center at night - I took some beautiful pictures at night of the canals and the reflections of the amazing houses.
Another interesting thing to do (albeit touristy) is to take a boat tour. But it was a great, unusual way to get around and you'll learn so many interesting facts about Amsterdam.

Lastly, flowers and tulips. You can find them in many places and they'll just make you happy. Now should be the perfect time for that anyways.

Have a great trip!

-Yvonne

http://goinwiththeseasons.blogspot.com/

bendancin said...

I leave for there on Wednesday, I have never been! Let me know how the weather is. :)

Jenni Austria Germany said...

you will l-o-v-e it.

RedMeehan said...

Oh jippie, that's where I live! You only have 4 days, and a lot of suggestions have already been made, but maybe try to squeeze in this museum http://www.opsolder.nl/eng/home.php (it's located in the heart of the red light district ;)) And food can be really amazing, you just need to know where to go...I hope your friend can be of assistance with that. ENJOY!

Annie said...

Amsterdam is so awesome!! Definitely check out the cool art museums; the Anne Frank museum is so movie; and maybe take a ride on the canals. When I went to visit with my friend a few years ago, we just liked hanging out and people-watching, too. And I ended up scoring an awesome satchel that I used for the rest of my European experience.

Crèmebrûlivin said...

Hoorah! How I love Amsterdam. One fun thing would be a bike tour to get a quick overview of the city. (I remember Mike's Bikes from back in the day.) And like others mentioned, 9 straatjes and the Van Gogh museum. Oh, and the rijstafel at Kantjil! And there is a crazy beer shop with everything called De Bierkoning.

Cecilia said...

Agh! Have a blast. I've never been to Europe but I'm dying to go. How spontaneous!

annabelvita.com said...

You're going to have so much fun! Make sure you take a boat trip. One fun thing I noticed there was that all their windows are outlined in black and white, so they really pop! look- http://annabelvita.com/2011/11/03/looking-pretty-trim/
Have a great trip!

Meletta Pardo said...

Hi Joanna! Amsterdam is amazing though very touristic.
Don't miss a boat trip and the wonderful Van Gogh Museum! You can eat Surinamese food in Amsterdam (there are very few Surinamese restaurants in Europe!) and drink Grolsch, my favourite beer.

I love to eat here whenever I am in Amsterdam: http://kantjil.nl/en/ (Indonesian food)

Enjoy your trip!

Meletta

http://melettapardo.com/

Crèmebrûlivin said...

Oh, and how could I forget- the Keukenhof is going on right now as well. A short road trip, but the most incredible display of flowers you will ever see, and quintessentially Dutch!

Corinne said...

Bring an umbrella!!! The weather can do some funky things there...sunny one sec and then drizzling like CRAZY the next. And if you do a biking tour, which is one the coolest ways to see the city, you don't want to be weather unprepared.

Also: falafel. You can get some reaaally good ones there (and this is coming from someone who lives in NYC). Oh, and don't forget Heineken!

Poet Whale said...

The blog, "Morning T" on Blogspot, (March 22nd) post is about her family Amsterdam trip. Beautiful photos.

Have a great time!

redwhitebride said...

Cool! Amsterdam should be really pretty this time of the year! Enjoy!

Jennifer Chick said...

Can you blog any hotel recommendations? I'll be in Paris + Berlin this September (running a marathon) and I'm tacking on a day to Amsterdam since I've never been. Would love a recommendation!

Enjoy your trip!

Anonymous said...

Fantastic! Can't wait to hear all about it. I went once a very long time ago and it was gorgeous!

Lauren said...

One of my favorite cities!! Was there in the Fall and rented our own boat on the canals. So worth it!! Wrote about it here: http://sisterdisco.com/2011/11/16/amsterdam/

Juultje said...

Amsterdam, best way to get around is by bike (I am dutch so I can tell you its the easiest way:-)) They have seats for little ones to go in the front and they love it. Typical dutch is the Jordaan, lovely houses, little bars and you can look into peoples homes. Albert Cuijp, during the week and on saturday, they have a nice market there. Waterlooplein, bit touristic, but a lovely market with clothes, second hand stuff etc. Nieuwmarket, next to the chinese neighbourhoud and red light district, has som great chines food. Negen straatjes, cute little shops. Westergasterrein, this sunday has a Sunday Market (google it, it has a website), with handmade stuff and a great atmosphere and usually something to do for kids. Toby can run around there if he is coming along. A stroll along the canals at night or a boat tour, so pretty. Usally hotels have them or ask for a VVV, they have free maps.
I live in Haarlem, small amsterdam as they call it, but lived in Amsterdam before. If you wanna have some more tips, just drop me an email, happy to help!
Have fun!!

Wandering Voyager said...

How exciting! I love Amsterdam. First off- be careful of the bikes! One misstep and you could be hit. They really do rule the city (more than cars) and they have little patience for lost or oblivious tourists so I always played it safe, looked both ways and tried to walk in a straight line. (Easier said than done!) As everyone's already said, although touristy, you have to visit the Anne Frank house and the Van Gogh Musuem. Both are amazing. Also- I discovered an amazing bakery on the walk from our hotel to the museum- I seriously had the best lemon cake ever there. http://www.wanderingvoyager.com/2012/03/bakken-met-passie-bakery-in-amsterdam.html

If time permits, I really suggest checking out one of Amsterdam's oldest drugstores, Jacob Hooy on the Kloveniersburgwal in Nieuwmarkt- it was right next to our hotel and the owners told me to go there when I needed cough drops- it is like stepping back in time! (There's even jars where they used to sell opium.) Finally, my favorite dinner in Amsterdam was at Tempo Doeloe, an Indonesian-Dutch restaurant where you can order the rijsttafel or "rice table" and get as many as 20 very small dishes to go with your rice. (Lots of fun for indecisive people like myself.) Just a warning, unlike in the US where restaurants are overly cautious on spicy ratings, the 3-star chicken rendang dish here was brutal- my brother ordered it and suffered the entire meal. It was quite an adventure and funny store to tell later. Have fun!!

dreamday said...

these are my favorite type of trips!!! off the cuff spontaneous fun. the days always seem so long, especially without little ones when you are used to having them with you. there will be so much to do and see, i'm happily jealous for you. have a dreamy time with your hubby!

Emily A. said...

I have three suggestions for things to do!
1. Vondelpark is pretty special.
2. Even though it is "tourist-y" definitely do a canal boat cruise.
3. Rembrandt's House (Rembrandthuis) is really special.

(oh, and definitely ask your friend for restaurant suggestions, the food in Amsterdam is delicious)

redfrizzz said...

Congrats on your spontaneity! I LOVE Amsterdam!!! Rent bikes, eat fries with mayo, visit the enormous flower market and check out the house boats. Enjoy!!!

Jennifer said...

celebrating 4/20 weekend in style!

Nora said...

yeah! have fun. Amsterdam is a loooovely city (I heard) :) Enjoy!
xx Nora

Alyssa said...

Get poffertjes and Pannekoeken for breakfast! I loved them so much on my trip this summer (and I get raving about them) that for Christmas my boyfriend's parents bought me the special cast iron pan to make them!

And if you're nerdy like me, the world sea level measurement is there for viewing. It's pretty neat, if you're into quirky quick fun!

Have fun!

Gabriella said...

Hey Joanna, your blog is so cool and you always come up with really original stuff! You have helped me a lot! Form birthday gifts to exploring more about who I am. Thank you so much!I am from Amsterdam myself, born and raised although I have been living in Germany for the last 2 years (also pretty cool!). I am far from an expert when in comes to tips on Amsterdam but here are a few that I really like, if you're interested:
1. De bakkerswinkel (http://www.debakkerswinkel.com/) is a very nice cafe to eat, drink coffee and check out people :-)They have multiple locations, the one at the Westerpark I like the best! Easily reached by bike.
2. Rent a bike of course! But not a red one, because only tourists ride red bikes. :-)
3. The van Gogh Museum is definitely worth going to. The building is open and light and the art is not overwhelming. Plus next to the van Gogh museum you will find the new building for the stedelijk museum, really cool as well! In the shape of a bath tub.
http://www.stedelijk.nl/en
Unfortunately not open yet, but worth stepping of your bike for!
4. Also check out the new film museum, "the eye" behind central station. Very cool! And you can go there to the movies as well.
http://www.eyefilm.nl/en/newlocation
Hope these tips help you! Have a very lovely time!
Lieve groetjes Gabriëlla

Alyssa said...

Also don't forget to eat your heart out at an Indonesian feast, they are part of the traditional cuisine there. It's called a Rijsttafel http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rijsttafel
(for anyone who isn't sure what it is) it's delicious and filling and a fun experience to see all the amazing spicy food options they serve.

Noelani Nadine said...

Yay, how exciting?! I hope you and your husband have a wonderful time :)

lisacng said...

Have fun! I know you'll love Amsterdam!

Remodelista said...

I just loved Amsterdam. I went there with my husband and we had rent a car. It was great! We went to see the windmills.. You have to go to Red Light District The food is great and all the city is so cool ! Full of beautifull people, biclicles (Watch out, really they are everywere! )lots of culture.. just fabulous !

Hope that you enjoy it!

All the best from Portugal ;)

xx

Joana

http://remodelista-lx.blogspot.co.uk/

kelly said...

take a river boat cruise during the day AND at night! Totally different experiences!! the day one will be fun and colorful (bring snacks!) and the night one will be soft and romantic. you can find little cruise boats all over the city and many are priced very reasonably!! Have a great time, Amsterdam is a beautiful place!

Anonymous said...

We went a few years ago on our honeymoon adn adored this city! We printed out this Design Sponge city guide and found it super helpful: http://www.designsponge.com/2009/10/amsterdam-guide.html.

Someone already mentioned it, but be sure to hit the brewery next to the only windmill in Amsterdam. Also, Red Light District, the city library (so super cool), Anne Frank House, Van Gogh museum, Albert Cuyp market, biking, the floating flower market, etc... So much to do. I disagree that the food isn't good. We had some excellent Ethiopian food near the Albery Cuyp market, I think. That area is neat. Well, enjoy! You won't be lacking for things to see/do....

Kirsteen said...

Amazing! Have lots and lots of fun! x

Rhett said...

Oh, I am SOOO jealous! My husband is Dutch and we now live in Montana. It's been way too long since we've been back for a visit. The Van Gogh Museum is great and be sure to take a boat tour of the canals. The Keukenhof gardens are supposed to be awesome but I've never made it there. Please go and take pictures! Also, you must try the poffertjes (little pancakes) and/or pannekoeken (sweet or savory). Have a fantastic trip!!

Mia said...

Going right after 4/20- Be ready for a ton of tourists! :) My college friends are there right now! Amsterdam is amazing- one of my favorite cities I visited! Be sure to eat LOTS of fries!

ms wendy said...

Amsterdam is one of my favourite cities in the world (not that I have been to all the cities, but you know!). My husband and I have been lucky enough to spend quite a bit of time there (when we lived over in UK) as he has family friends there who would often give us their apartment while they went on summer holidays.

Tips more than recommendations - get bikes! Amsterdam is a great bike city. Don't be afraid to eat the food from the automated machines. We stayed near Vondlepark (as that is where our friends live) and it is a gorgeous part of town. Go to the public library! It is a fantastic building! Nordemarkt is a great place to wander around as well.

I miss Amsterdam! We are planning a European trip this summer - husband is English and we are currently living in Vancouver and we are due a trip back. My husband can go for work (he is an academic) so that is why we can take the $1400 hit for my ticket! We are primarily going to be in the UK, but have been talking about a European component...Amsterdam wasn't on the list because we have been there so much, but you have got me longing....

Have a great time!

Life Abroad said...

You spontaneous couple you! That's awesome, I hope you have a wonderful stay in Amsterdam. My whole blog is like a little love letter to the city, with lots of tips etc from when I lived there. I would recommend visiting De Pijp neighbourhood (just south of the main centrum ring), it's the bohemian area of the city with the best cafes, etc. Have FUN!!

Julianne Thompson said...

How incredibly exciting! I have always wanted to visit Amsterdam too!

Rhett said...

The Anne Frank Huis, too! So sad but an amazing story and well worth a visit.

ElsaD said...

I'm so happy for u guys! Have fun! I just crossed the pond on Easter, spending 4 days in Germany! xoxo

ana {bluebirdkisses} said...

so very exciting! We're heading to Amsterdam in October with our son too. We try to take him to Europe every year on a trip.

Actually the fall in Europe is beautiful. September/October are perfect.

Ashley F. said...

Spring is such a beautiful time to visit Amsterdam! I was there last year around this time and I'm sure you'll find plenty to do in the city, but if you're looking for a relaxing afternoon you should try and pop over to Lisse and visit the tulip garden -- Keukenhof. You can take a short train ride there (I believe it was only 45 minutes, my boyfriend and I grabbed some sandwiches and wine for the ride!) and along the way you'll see rows and rows of brightly colored tulips. It's quite magical (I think I remember them saying there were 7 million flowers in bloom) so in my opinion it's worth a peek. Enjoy your trip :)

Laura said...

Try to go to the Keukenhof - it's the annual flower festival that only runs for 6 weeks! http://www.keukenhof.nl/

mira said...

You are spontaneously amazing

Anna said...

how exciting! for just strolling around, avoid the big tourist shopping streets. instead, just look for the 'nine streets' quarter in the middle of the city. full of little design and fashion shops, great cafés and restaurants and much less tourist-y. also a great area: haarlemmerdijk right behind the main station. i guess you don't need any hotel recommendations? have tons of fun!

Annis said...

Amsterdam is great. You've already get some good tips. I have some advice for you, it may seem weird. But really LOOk when you decide to cross a street. Biking is normal in Holland, and they go quite fast. I've had a lot of people complain that in Holland they drive like crazy, but hey, we think people should just not walk in front of our bike haha.

Votre Amie said...

You will have a lovely time!! Amsterdam at this time of year should be absolutely beautiful! Take some bike rides around the city, a canal boat ride, and museums of course!! Enjoy!

Xx

www.iloveublank.blogspot.com

Votre Amie said...

You will have a lovely time!! Amsterdam at this time of year should be absolutely beautiful! Take some bike rides around the city, a canal boat ride, and museums of course!! Enjoy!

Xx

www.iloveublank.blogspot.com

Sally said...

AAAAH! That is TOO cool!! I've always wanted to go to Amsterdam. I wonder if the tulips are blooming yet? Make sure to eat lots of good cheese and to visit the Anne Frank House. Bon voyage!

southfeasterdelphia said...

I was just there in January on a work trip! I stayed in Den Haag (the Hague), and really want to go back. If you have time, Den Haag is extremely family-friendly and a quick train ride from Amsterdam. Every shop I went in had a kid's table, and there are plenty of playgrounds in both Amsterdam and Den Haag. Most everyone knows English, so it should be a fun and easy trip. Enjoy.

Allison said...

Make sure you visit the Rijksmuseum! They have an amazing collection!!

Bente said...

Joanna that's awesome news! I am from Holland, I live in Haarlem but I work in Amsterdam. Amsterdam is an amazing city but please do make sure to not only visit the touristy spots (although the Van Gogh museum is a must see, still amazes me every time). Really the quiet, less known canals are the most beautiful spots. I love the Egelantiersgracht for example, which is especially beautiful in the evening. I would also recommend a day trip to the coast, for example at Bloemendaal and then you could squeeze in a visit to Haarlem as well, which is a beautiful beautiful city. Check out a concert at Paradiso, which is a music venue located in an Amsterdam church. Take a boat trip, bike around. Spend some time on a bench on a square or canal and enjoy all the different people walking and mostly biking around. Go to a market. Enjoy the beers and food.

I've just come back from a trip to NYC with my boyfriend (he proposed to me in central park!!!!), and your NYC guide has been so helpful, so I would really like to "pay you back" by giving you more tips, so let me know if I can help!

Enjoy!!

Sarah Carlson said...

Wow! That's so exciting! Sometimes, the nervous part of spontaneity can be the most exciting! Have a wonderful, safe trip!

Marte said...

I live in Amsterdam. I second the recommendation for FOAM: beatiful photography exhibitions in an amazing stately canalhouse. http://www.foam.org/

Someone said the food was horrible in Amsterdam, but that is mainly the case if you visit the touristy restaurants immediately next to dam square. Don't do that :-D I think in general if a menu has pictures of the food, then that is a bad sign. Leave. Amsterdam has loads of wonderful places to eat.
I can recommend A la ferme: http://www.alaferme.nl/restaurant.asp.
In the city center, Tokyo Cafe has very good sushi and you can eat until you explode there: http://www.tokyocafe.nl/
Apparently the new place to be is Hanneke's Boom: http://www.hannekesboom.nl/

If you like architecture you should visit the public library. Beautiful building! http://www.oba.nl/index.cfm/t/Bereikbaarheid/vid/B0412085-0C24-1F1F-7883DDCA69BAA082
It has a restaurant on the top floor, which has a wonderful view over the city. Don't eat dinner there, just have a cup of tea and enjoy the view. That's not an especially good restaurant :-D

in dreams said...

have fun!! i've never been, but that photo you posted makes me feel that i need to add it to my bucket list...i LOVE canals at night - so romantic! :)

Marte said...

btw Rijksmuseum is undergoing extensive renovations, so only a small part of the collection is on display.

maevdkrogt said...

Oh how fun, you'll just love Amsterdam. I've been living here for six months and love it. Here's a roundup of my favorite Amsterdam things (http://maevdkrogt.wordpress.com/2012/02/29/amsterdam-insights-february-round-up/) but definitely a walk through the Jordaan (Nine Streets), lunch at Singel 404 for amazing sandwiches, a walk down the Haarlemmerstraat and Haarlemmerdijk (voted best shopping street in the Netherlands) but be sure to get back the few coffeeshops at the beginning! At the end you'll also find Two For Joy Coffee Roasters (Haarlemmerdijk 182), just amazing. Also, at the photography museum Foam there is an exhibition "New York Times Magazine Photographs" that is really great. Enjoy!

Anonymous said...

ok, i'm trying again. please forgive me if this pops up three times!!

google keukenhoff and go see it!! it's millions of flowers and it looks and smells amazing. you're so lucky to be going while it's happening. don't miss it! it's only about 20 minutes outside of amsterdam...an easy train ride.

Bente said...

OMG. I almost forgot: CHEESE. Go to a cheese shop. I enjoyed Murray's on Bleecker in NYC but to be honest, it's got nothing on dutch cheese shops.

southfeasterdelphia said...

Didn't read your entire post when I first commented, I guess the little one isn't going on this trip. I still vote for an afternoon trip to Den Haag :) Obviously, I was very impressed by that little city. The Anne Frank house was kind of a let-down. You will need a map for Amsterdam exploring, it's a must!

Mandee said...

Anne Frank's house was an amazing, surreal experience! It is a beautiful city on the canals. We did a boat tour on the canals and learned a lot about the city that way!

Lauren Kaye said...

OH --you're so lucky! It's such a wonderful, magical place.

Definitely hit up the Van Gogh museum. And be sure to take a boat ride on the canals even though you'll feel a bit like a corny tourist :)

I'm guessing you already have a hotel res, but I stayed here: http://www.ambassade-hotel.nl/en/rooms/standardrooms/ -- and it was such a lovely room with amazing high, peaked ceilings; was also in a great location, reasonably priced and very charming.

Have fun!!!!

*** KITSCH *** said...

I understand you so much! I am the least spontaneous person i know, and last summer my husband ( he loves travelling and since jon birth i hate even more flying...) prepared a surprise trip to London in August...
I got in shock the morning he told me that in 3 hours we would fly to London! 5 days without my son... my son! he stayed with my mama, she knew everything about the trip...
It was and amazing and funny trip!

http://mykitschworld.blogspot.com.es/2011/08/london-part-4.html

When we did not have our son we used to travel quite a lot, We went to Amsterdam and i love this city!

AVY said...

Good for you, I love to travel. Stay away from the drugs though.

/ Avy
http://MyMotherFuckedMickJagger.blogspot.com



kaitlin said...

You're going to have SO. MUCH. FUN. If you can, I would strongly recommend eating at De Kas. They're located right on a gorgeous park a short tram (or bike) ride away from downtown. They grow their produce on site and it was really the best meal I had in all of Europe.

I can't wait to hear all about your adventures!

maureenmachine said...

Hi Joanna and ALex!

You are going to love Amsterdam. I recommend taking a canal tour, going to the Anne Frank house (so moving) and eating Indonesian food there. Since Indonesia was a Dutch colony for so long, they have lots of spicy dishes for you to try!

Anonymous said...

I would feel so wrong being in another continent to my little boy! Poor Toby

Lindsey said...

I have always wanted to go to Amsterdam!!! Love how spontaneous you all are being... What a fun adventure!
http://lindseyyoung.net

lilywanderlust said...

Welcome (almost) to Amsterdam! I moved here in 2009 and you can find lots of great spots on my blog over at www.lilywanderlust.com I hope you enjoy your quick trip! :)

Romy van K. said...

Amsterdam is my hometown! How lovely that you're going there now! Great :)

Go to all the small alleys to shop for the most amazing things. 'De Negen Straatjes' (The Nine Streets)is something you need to visit! All these small streets where you can buy cool stuff!

Go to the Anne Frank museum, art galleries, de Kalverstraat for some great shopping, and go on boats and lot's more!

Have fun xx Romy

http://stories-of-a-student.blogspot.com/

Alex said...

How exciting to take a spontaneous international trip!! Don't miss the tulip market and all the cool outdoor cafes. Amsterdam is a great city to just wander in. Enjoy!!

Michelle {lovely little things} said...

Wow, that's so exciting! Have an amazing time!!

Merel said...

Ofcourse visit some museums, here a few of my favorite restaurants in Amsterdam:
Rem eiland, spectacular views And good food
hotel de goudfazant in Amsterdam noord
Eat at one of the Chinese restaurants at de zeedijk (in THE redlight district)
Restaurant rijssel
Or Toscanini in de Jordaan!
Have a burger @burgermeester

I am dure you will enjoy Amsterdam and make dure you have a window seat in the plane as you will have a great view at tullip fields!

Have fun, Merel

Julia said...

How exciting!

I was in Amsterdam only for 1 day (something like arriving at the airport 7am and our next flight was in the afternoon). We took a day-city-tour right there at the airport and they drove us around the city, stopping at a mill, a cheese factory, we had a boat tour too along the canals...

Anyway, I loved it so much! I'm sure you'll have more time to really explore the city.

Have a blast! Eat cheese! Buy those wooden shoes, xo!

-Julia from Montreal, Canada

Beatrix said...

Have fun! Amserdam is so lovely! Stay away from the skeezy train station and explore the little non-touristy neighborhoods. You'll have a blast, the Dutch are SO NICE!

Abby said...

Sounds fun!! Have a fantastic time! You should still try to do a trip in the midwest this summer, I live in Wisconsin (and Minnesota during the school year) and I have to say it's gorgeous here!!

Anonymous said...

You must visit the FOAM museum as it is the best museum around !!! (mainly contemporary photography)

Then, the Utrechtsestraat is great for shopping, you have some of the best coffee in Amsterdam at the ''Koffiesalon'' and ''Two for joy'' (which is just around the corner on the Frederiksplein). There is also a really nice shoe-store called Fred de la Bretonniere and a design/clothing store called Sissy Boy.

Next to that I would suggest the Gerard Doustraat as they have a 'kinderfeestwinkel' which means a children's party store, it's great. Also around the corner of the Gerard Douplein (Gerard Dousquare) there is a store called 'het is liefde' (lovestore) from the same owners, they sell all kinds of crazy stuff for weddings and such.

A last tip: you should visit the store HEMA, you can find it almost everywhere and it is typically dutch and nice and cheap.

Have a great time ! Here are some of the links:

www.foam.org
http://kinderfeestwinkel.nl/
http://hetisliefde.nl/
www.koffiesalon.nl
www.sissy-boy.nl

VintageDanielle said...

How fun! Love how you are still able to do things on the whim

Wh. said...

How exciting!!! Have an amazing trip :)

Lynn said...

I was there in January and had dinner at de 3 Vrienden
Frans Halsstraat 28
1072 BS Amsterdam
Had the chefs tour of several courses. you don't know what will arrive and the food was amazing. My bf is half Italian and food is very important and he LOVED it. Recommendations don't get better that that!

Eva said...

Hi Joanna!
What a great last-minute decision!! You´ll definitely have a great time here (I live in Amsterdam), but as stated before: bring your umbrella! Forecast isn't the best..
There are already a lot of great tips here about biking, musea and areas's (pijp, Jordaan & utrechtsestraat) but wanted to share some great restaurants.
- Braque (french bistro style, great food & ambiance. Area: Pijp
- Cafe Reuring (pijp; best restaurant cafe style in Amsterdam. Make sure to book a table)
- Loetje (typical Dutch ambiance, steak!) Centre/Pijp
- For lunch in Jordaan: Go to Boca's (westerstraat). great mini sandwiches so you can choose multiple.. seriously the best!)
- Cafe restaurant Daalder: also in Jordaan and great food & ambiance.

If you have any questions, drop me an email! Enjoy your stay together!

Eva

Perri said...

SO exciting! Go to the Pancake Bakery for some traditional dutch pancakes (nearby Anne Frank house too)! We also saw Boom Chicago which was hilarious!! Have the best time!

nienke said...

Go to the lovely Burgers Patio for diner and to cafe de Tuin (opposite) for a drink (both in de Jordaan). We live just around the corner and keep coming back there. And also, hotel de goudfazant is definitely worth a visit Take the ferry and let the place, the food and the nice people surprise you. Have fun.

Olya said...

GOod luck! Have a safe and easy trip!

olya
www.livingnotesfromnyc.com

Daphné said...

Joanna, you HAVE to go and have lunch at Latei, in the Red District! It is a must-see in Amsterdam! I was there in Janauary and this place is my favorite memory of Amsterdam!

rachel said...

oh, that's so exciting! I've only been to amsterdam for about half an hour during a layover to paris :) I'd love to go back one day and see more than just the airport. have a wonderful time!

Spencer and Michelle said...

Anne Frank House and the Corrie Tenboom House are a must I think.
Also another must is taking a train up to the coast - beautiful!!!
And riding bikes of course.
There are a ton of sex shops as well. I am a bit giggly and silly when it comes to that stuff, so when my husband dragged me into one for fun I was so embarrassed! But kind of fun to be pushed out of your comfort zone, don't you think?

Abby said...

That's so exciting! I've been to Amsterdam only once (a long time ago, too), but the Rijksmuseum (http://www.rijksmuseum.nl) was fabulous. You can see Rembrandt's Night Watch and loads of other masterpieces. And we also went to Anne Frank's house (http://www.annefrank.org/), which is heartbreaking and fascinating.

Have a wonderful trip!

monica said...

spontaneous and exciting trips are always the best! and amsterdam is an amazing and so romantic city!

...my only but is...have you ever considered the impact on the environment of such a long flight? it really is huge and i wouldn`t personally do it because it would make me feel guilty. that is way, being italian, if i plan to go to the states i need to stay at least 3 weeks; to hush up my `green` coscience..! but it`s probably just me!

please use the bike while you`re there to balance!
have fun!

Merle, Gisbert & Hannelore said...

have fun and enjoy! I've been there a few times and it's a great city! love it!

Anonymous said...

You must get some herring from a food stand!!!

Amy said...

I agree on the Anne Frank house. It is powerful. Also, we took an evening boat cruise and really enjoyed it. Have fun!

Lisa said...

woooo hooo spontaneous last minute trips are the BEST! enjoy! i've never been to amsterdam but heard it is fantastic!
in dramatic fashion

Anonymous said...

Great idea! I'm a local there and I'd really recommend you to climb the westertower (next to the anne frank house) or the zuidertower (near waterlooplein). The view from the towers is so amazing! You'll see the whole city from above (especially from the wester, it's the highest viewpoint in the city.)

another beautiful place is the 'begijnehof' it's a hidden courtyard on the 'spui'. And from there you can walk through a small gallery with 17th (or soemthing) century paintings.

Enjoy!!

sweet harvest moon said...

Amazing news! Too bad about the weather, it's pretty cold here in Brussels :(

If you do vist Anna Franks house, go early because the waiting to go inside can be long sometimes..

Have a safe trip and have fun!

Elise said...

I just got back from Amsterdam a few days ago! I absolutely fell in love - I had been there with my parents as an infant, but obviously didn't remember too much. I'm absolutely heartsick for it already (I literally could barely read the other comments because I miss it so much!) and I'm way jealous that you're going back.

I'll echo the recommendation for Kantjil - AMAZING Indonesian food, definitely one of the best meals I've eaten in a while. I also really enjoyed just wandering around all the canals, renting a bike, etc.

Just an FYI, the Rijksmuseum is under construction at the moment (still open, but the exhibits are kind of limited I think) - we decided to skip it and didn't really feel like we missed out.

nadia said...

How wonderful! You will fall in LOVE. Hands down my favorite city in the world :)

xo Nadia

Amy Plummer said...

I haven't been to Amsterdam (someday, though!) but my husband & I took a very spontaneous trip to Australia & it was our favorite vacation ever. I don't know that we would've changed a thing, even if we had planned the trip for months. Enjoy!

quinn said...

Amsterdam is awesome! You should stay at the Hotel Weber! It's this super small, super cute boutique hotel.

quinn said...

Amsterdam is awesome! You should stay at the Hotel Weber! It's this super small, super cute boutique hotel.

LK said...

That sounds wonderful! It seems like a huge advantage to living on the east coast is that long weekend Europe trips are possible. I'm in the west so it's impossible for me to do something like that. That sounds like such a fun and romantic trip! Enjoy and take lots of pictures. The house boats fascinate me.

Claudia Cifuentes said...

That's so exciting! I've never been but definitely on the list. I love that you guys are doing it on a sort-of whim! It's a reminder that sometimes we don't have to be so rigid about travel. I always forget that. Have a wonderful trip! xo

Bethezda said...

I love Amsterdam! Have a great time, a little bit jealous!! :)

Anonymous said...

I am sitting in a small café in amsterdam right now : one tip: rent a bike (another one, take a canalboat ) enjoy!

Rosanneke said...

You will love Amsterdam, no doubt about that (cause it's that great, not just because I'm biased ;-))

Definate do's:
-Anne Frank Huis
-Rijksmuseum
-Have tea or lunch at a cute place called De Bakkerswinkel, they have the best pastries in town!
-Visit NEMO, a wonderful science museum
-Take a canaltour, in the evening, and see the city in lights (very romantic)
-Have a drink at 't Blauwe Theehuis, a great place located in the wonderful Vondelpark
-Eat dinner at KANTJIL
-Look at the royal palace at Dam square and feed the pigeons

Need some tips? Let me know. Enjoy your stay!

Katelyn said...

Wow that sounds like SO much fun! It'll probably be strange not to to have your little boy around, but freeing. Enjoy!

Trina said...

How fun! I totally want to do Amsterdam and Bruges as my next solo trip. April does seem like a less expensive time to fly, even over the fall (I was hoping to go in the fall, but may postpone 'til next spring to snag the lower fare).

One thing I really liked reading about Amsterdam was this I Heart My City rundown from Nat Geo Traveler: http://intelligenttravel.nationalgeographic.com/2011/08/19/i-heart-my-city-keiths-amsterdam/

Have an awesome time and eat well! Can't wait to see the photos and read about your experience. :) I live vicariously.

Sarah said...

Vesper cocktail bar is my tip

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Achiamar said...

I am so jealous! Amsterdam is one of the most beautiful cities I've ever been to. Some definite must sees would have to be the Van Gogh Museum and the glorious Vondelpark. Have a beautiful time! :)

macaca grava por cima said...

Beawere of bikes!!! :-DDD

What's not to love in Amesterdam!!! My first time in Amesterdam: my 3 best girl friends kidnapped me a month before my wedding and we went to Amesterdam. My future husband was so jellous because he already knew the city and wanted to be the first person to take me there, because he always says that Amsterdam is the most romantic place, with the water cannals and the tulips and everything...

Since then, I've been to Amesterdam another 4 times, I guess. It's always very nice (last time was in december, with our 1 year old son)

Museums are a must: the national museum and van ghogs museum!!

The flower market, the coffee shops, the Vondel Park, red light district...

LF said...

I live close to Amsterdam! I hope you have a pleasant stay there...

Funny thing is... next week I'm in NY for 5 days... :)

Kenly said...

We brought our toddler (1yr at the time) to Amsterdam last November and we had a GREAT time. I mean, a really fabulous time. The entire time while we were there, we were dreaming about buying an apartment and visiting a zillion times a year. Have fun! We're jealous.

ps. We actually eloped in Amsterdam and were married on a small wood boat on the canal, which was insanely romantic.

Jennifer__NJ said...

So jealous....have a wonderful time! Enjoy.

Gesci said...

I agree with Dee- The Pancake House near the Anne Frank Huis is great! We actually just ate there... an hour ago! I'm in Amsterdam right now, although we're headed to Den Haag on Sunday, then on to Brussels. Have a great time!! According to the locals the current weather (grey skies and rainy) is supposed to last through the weekend, but nice skies are in store next week, so hopefully they come early for you!

Supernegron said...

Ha!! Me and my husband just got back from 4 days there. The most beautiful city Ive ever seen. People is super stylish, bakeries are super-uber delicious, they have very good coffee everywhere. You will def love the bikes and the beautiful people in there.
Take some time to go to FOAM museum, where they are having a photography exposition on "The New York Times Magazine", which is completely amazing!!! And The Van Gogh museum in brilliant as well.
awwww I love that city!! Have fun guys!!!

Anonymous said...

Joanna, i'm leaving for Amsterdam tomorrow as well. We planning to visit Keukenhof on Monday. Weather forecast is ominous.

Hugs
Naaz

Trish said...

How fantastic ! You will have to save up and bring Toby to Dublin next year... It's the perfect place to bring a kiddie on holidays. Have fun......

EDizzle said...

I went to Amsterdam and LOVED it!!
Great museums & yummy food.

Definitely rent bikes, and don't be afraid to leave the city center (you can do that in about 10 minutes). Ride to Vondelpark & through the cute surrounding neighborhoods.

The Anne Frank museum is worth seeing for sure.

Also, right near the Anne Frank House is a place to get authentic delicious pancakes. It's simply called The Pancake Bakery and you have your choice of sweet or savory pancakes.

Have a wonderful trip!

Amsterdam is one of my favorite places I have visited!!

Nicole said...

Check out polkadotchair.com. They just returned from a trip to Amsterdam!

Marie said...

Agree with the '9 straatjes' tip (with the amazing vintage shop http://lauradols.nl and delicious cakes at www.patisseriepompadour.com ), and buy some Reypenaer XO reserve cheese while you are there.

Karina Cifuentes said...

I love spontaneous trips! I went to Paris not too long ago on a whim, and it was the most exhilarating experience. Instead of over thinking my weekend agenda there, I did everything spontaneously! And to this day, remains one of the best trips of my life. I'd love to do that in Amsterdam! Have a great time + safe travels!

Kathryn and Ryan said...

Check our this blog. I read along with yours and they just moved to Amsterdam. She has posted things they have done, etc.

http://www.exploredreamdiscoverblog.com/

Lauren Ashley said...

I went to Amsterdam a few years ago and it is one of my most favorite cities in europe. There is a central flea market on the weekends (we found some awesome antiques, including a great door knocker that no lives on out bathroom door), if you go, be sure to grab an apple pastry or apple pie from the little cafe looking onto the market. The fondue was also amazing, and the canals are beautiful - worth taking a tour for sure.

Have fun!

Cláudia (Lisbon) said...

How exciting! I'm living in Amsterdam at the moment, I'll be walking around because I have friends visiting, if I see you walking around I might not resist saying hello...oh my, did this sounded too weird? Anyways, I'd recommend the Noordmarket for a classic dutch Saturday morning rituals. Right next to it it's Winkel Caffe with it's famous apple pie. Typical walk through the 9 streets and the main canals (Herengracht, Keisergracht, Prisengracht...rent a bike!) I have a special love for Westerpark/Westergasfabriek (if it's not raining you can relax on the grass with Toby) and Haarlemmerstraat. The secret neighborhood Begijnhof, FOAM museum and Van Gogh Museum...But Amsterdam is one of those cities that is enjoyable even if you're just walking or cycling through the streets. I'm curious to see your post when you come back!Have fun!!!

Miss Becca said...

SO excited for you! It willl be a wonderful trip I am sure! Please take lots of houseboat photos!!

Abby said...

I studied abroad in Amsterdam many moons ago! So while I don't have any advice about restaurants or anything above a student budget, I *do* know about inexpensive treats:

* Near the museums is the busy Leidseplein area, and in there is an ice cream shop called Australian Homemade -- it seems weird to go to a place called Australian in the Netherlands for delicious ice cream, but there you go. My faaaaavorite is the speculoos flavor, which is something like a spiced gingerbread cookie -- so so good!

* DO eat stroopwafels -- you can actually get these at Trader Joe's, but they're so much better in the Netherlands, even if you just pick up a package from the grocery store (which is a lot cheaper than getting them from the tourist shops). So worth it, and be sure to bring a bunch home too!

* Just for fun, you might want to try a late-night snack from one of the many FEBO food vending machines around town. Just to say that you've tried it! I'm sure it's not quite as tasty if you're not drunk, but I remember the croquettes (krokets) being good, or as the Dutch say, lekker.

Enjoy!!

RuBee said...

I went last Summer on my way to Croatia and then Venice and I loved it! There's some great independent restaurants and some really cute shops around Haarlemmerstraat. Definitly try to visit the Van Gogh Museum if you can and I loved visiting Ann Frank's house beacuse I was a little obsessed with her diary as a teenager (print tickets before if you do because there are huge queues but you can beat them with pre-bought tickets with a set time on). Also, I loved an Etheopian restaurant called Semhar where they served loads of piles of curry type food on a giant plate with pancake/bread things to soak it all up and the coconut and banana beers served in coconut shells were pretty special too. Have a great time. x

Jeanne said...

My favorite part of our trip was a visit to the flower market in Aalsmeer. It is on the outskirts of Amsterdam but easy to get to by city bus. And don't forget to eat lots of pomme frites in paper cones! I'm sure you'll have a great time!

mo said...

WOW! I am so excited for you! Amsterdam is at the top of my list of places I want to go, and now I get to hear your tips after you get back. :) Good for you guys! Have a great time!

iamchasingthirty said...

Joanna - you MUST stop by the absolute best sandwich shop ever - Hartenkaas http://www.hartenkaas.nl/home/view/?path=&p=index.html - and order De Dubbel. It is the most fantastic sandwich I have ever had and my husband and I dream about it on the daily. Have so much fun!! Will be hard not to over there:)

www.iamchasingbaby.com
www.chasingyouphoto.com

Nicole Miazgowicz said...

Amsterdam is one of the prettiest & one of my favorite cities I've ever been to! If you're in to museums, the Anne Frank House and the Van Gogh museum are great. One thing you MUST do however, is go to one of their pancake houses--they do thin, almost crepe like pancakes as big as a pizza with every topping imaginable available. I had a cinnamon/apple/whipped cream one and a curry pancake as well! Enjoy:)

Mindy said...

I love Holland!! I've been there about 6 times as I have a good friend who lives outside Amsterdam. Must do's (if possible):
--Canal ride,
--bicycle tour in Amsterdam (although I've never done one...I'm sure it would be very interesting),
--the Keukenhof would be beautiful (but a short-ish train ride outside the city)
--Anne Frank Haus (but the Corrie ten Boom Haus in Haarlem is better, in my opinion)
--I'm sure the Rijkmuseum is fasinating (never been) but it is quite huge and can take up a great deal of time. If you want to see a musuem though, maybe go to the Van Gogh museum.

--Hope this helps! Enjoy!! Can't wait to hear.

Jamie said...

I was there for a weekend while studying abroad in college so you can guess what we did the ENTIRE time lol! How fitting you're going on 4/20 weekend ;) Many people have suggested the Van Gogh Museum, which is a must, but if you're feeling adventurous take it to the next level and eat some (legal) shrooms before you go LOL! the paintings come alive! waves are crashing, trees are swaying, you get the idea. One of the craziest experiences i've ever had :)

astami said...

you must must must have pancakes for breakfast! i didn't think much else of their food was impressive but the pancakes were absolutely delightful!
have fun!!

Anonymous said...

Go to The Pancake Bakery on Prinsengracht. They have gorgeous pancakes that are seriously huge. You won't regret it! Alma x

iamchasingthirty said...

I just thought of another...a euro chain but so amazing...Maoz. Falafel pita loaded with goodies. Yum yum yum!!

karen mordechai said...

yay! glad to hear the europe trip worked out - and can't wait to hear how it goes with toby - i bet it'll be amazing !

Elizabeth Soule said...

Have fun! My favorite part of visiting there last year was renting a bike and just riding around. I'd recommend heading towards the museums, as there are some parks over there and it's much easier to navigate than the streets.

babytakesberlin said...

I just want to second (or maybe third) De Bakkerswinkel and Bakken met Passie - two very good bakeries!

Have a wonderful time!

Ana F. said...

That's so nice you get to go to Europe! We did realize tickets are a lot cheaper in the spring, but with so many destination weddings to attend this year, our European adventure got postponed to next year! Have fun :)

megan said...

That sounds great! Being Dutch, my favorite place in Amsterdam is a French bakery in the city centre, called 'Gebroeders Niemeijer' on the Vinkenstraat 94, although you might want to get fries, caramel waffles (stroopwafels) and cinamon sticks (kaneelstokken) if you are in the Netherlands ;) Have a great stay! Hope the weather is nice, you never know in our rainy small country.

libby said...

when i studied abroad in amsterdam, my FAVORITE thing to do was ride around aimlessly on my bike. there are so many amazing neighborhoods and areas to see. i would personally avoid visiting EVERY museum and the super touristy areas (although the red light district is the most historical part of the city). there's a windmill brewery near the intersection of sarphatistraat and zeeburgerstraat-- if the weather is nice the place fills up with locals... dangling their feet along the canals.

also! the public library (Openbare Bibliotheek Amsterdam) has some of the most amazing views of the city from the top floor.

and my favorite market to walk around is Waterlooplein.

have an amazing time! of all the european cities i've visited, amsterdam is my favorite. can't wait to read about your trip when you return.

michelle said...

Sorry if any of these are repeats:

SHOPPING on KNSM-LAAN
*Keet in Huis, Pol's Potten and Sissyboy Homeland are all on the same street.

Keet in Huis at Ksnm-Laan 297. Amazing kid store. Get a toy for Toby. http://www.keetinhuis.nl/

Pol's Potten at Knsm-Laan 39. Super rad housewares. They have limited hours.
http://www.polspotten.nl/

Sissyboy Homeland: they have a few locations, the one at knsm-Laan 19 has a cafe which was DELICIOUS. Good clothing, cute housewares.
http://www.sissy-boy.nl/


I also loved walking around the Nines neighborhood and the shop Frozen Fountain was adorable. Found at Prinsengracht 629. http://www.frozenfountain.nl/

EATS
You have to get a dutch pancake from a pancake house and some fries. Vlaams Frites Huis is famous.

Sissboy Homeland cafe was delicious, so were the sandwiches at Hartenkaas (Reestrat 19).

SITES
Definitely check out Ann Frank Huis (get tickets first, you can email Toby an e-card when you finish the tour); we also loved the Rijksmuseum to see Dutch masters at their finest; I also loved walking into Begijnhof, this adorable tiny little neighborhood with the cutest church.

Also go check out the Magere Brug (Skinny Bridge) and Blaubrug (Blue Bridge) if you have time. The Bloemenmarkt is a flower market on the water, it was sweet but only if you have time.

EXPERIENCE
Take a canal ride if you have time, definitely rent bikes, there are places all over (MacBike was easy to work with).

KEUKENHOF
Go!! It's in season, it's super touristy but so darling. We rented bikes at the parking lot and rode them around the fields. I suggest doing Keukenhof on your way out of Amsterdam. You can take a bus from the airport to Keukenhof. So just head to the airport a few hours early, stash your luggage, and go see the tulips.
http://www.keukenhof.nl/

michelle said...

Forgot to mention Van Gogh Museum in Vondelpark. Both are excellent.

Sorry for the long comments, have a fantastic time!

shanna said...

You have to visit the Anne Frank house, it's amazing :)

dyan of nita scot said...

I hope you see this or someone else recommended Nam Lee restaurant. It was the best meal we had there. You have to order the oysters in black bean sauce. Amazing!

Also, the original pancake house for a Dutch pancake

Mike's bikes have awesome bike tours, city ans countryside. And of course the Van goh and Heineken museums. Have fun. We loved Amsterdam

A said...

I just got back from a trip to The Netherlands. I'm sure it has already been said, but go to Keukenhof Gardens (it is the perfect time of year to see those tulips) and also check out The Rijksmuseum if you are an art fan. The Rembrandts are amazing! It is a lovely city. Have fun!

Anna Tallo said...

http://www.annefrank.org/

Definitely a must see.

Molly Roberson said...

Defintely take the FREE walking tour! My husband Ben & I went to Amsterdam in 2009 and loved every minute of it! Have so much fun with your man--I'm pumped you get to squeeze in a little European goodness in April. YAY.

Stephanie said...

Have a fantastic trip. I love your spontaneity with this one!

Natalia said...

Two MUST sees / people to meet in Amsterdam (I'm half dutch so I know ;) Chef Nico at Sogni del Sud. And Norman who owns the hotel/b&b Hotel Heemskerk. Really, do it! Have a blast!! Here's a little more about them:

http://www.pragill.blogspot.com/2009/05/amazing-amsterdam.html

Cathi said...

I would love to go to Amsterdam! Have a great time. Spontaneous trips are the best!

threetwentyeight said...

It's a beautiful city, so nice to just wander, get lost and discover some great places.
We just had a guest editor on our blog who lives in Amsterdam and listed a bunch of places to hit up - maybe some of these will be of interest.. http://wp.me/P1hLaC-3Kv

Leeza said...

If you like meat, make sure you have dinner at: Castell, Lijnbaansgracht 252-253-254, Amsterdam www.castellamsterdam.nl

Enjoy!

Leeza, from Holland

Christina said...

Hi Joanna,
My husband and I were in Amsterdam for a quick trip in August (just three days) and we did an awesome bike tour of the city with http://joyridetours.nl/. We did the tour on our first day and it was a great way to get acquainted with the city. It helped us decide what areas we wanted to go back to and I felt much more confident renting bikes on our own after having learned some of the 'road rules' on the tour. You guys are going to have a brilliant time - enjoy!

SRBratton said...

One of the BEST cities in the world! They have great Indonesian food (former colony) and don't miss the Anne Frank Museum. The Dylan Hotel is a great place to stop for drinks and Frozen Fountain is a fabulous design store. Hit as many museums as you can, as they are all fabulous. And the cancal boat tours are touristy, but very fun.

Aja Lake [the gold hat.] said...

this weekend? heady, indeed:)

enjoy!

xx,
Aja Lake
the gold hat.

Giulia said...

Hello Jo,

Alas, I am not writing to give any cool tips on what to do in A'dam, but to advise you to BRING YOUR WINTER GEAR!!! I live in Brussels, like 2 hours away from Amsterdam, and trust me- Benelux is freezing right now! We're talking rain and 10°C tops!

love

Giulia
http://giulesss.blogspot.com

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