When we booked our trip to Copenhagen, we thought it might be cool to add another city on our way back to Paris. Mostly because I’m not a fan of packing and unpacking, we figure why not kill two birds with one suitcase (or in our case 4 suitcases). Monsieur and I traveled to Amsterdam in February 2020 just before Covid, sans kids. We thought it would be a great chance for us to return and take the kids with us. Copenhagen to Amsterdam is just an hour flight and then we could take the high speed Thalys train back to Paris. Easy!
Amsterdam is Copenhagen times ten. The canals, the bikes, the people. Amazing. And not because you can legally buy marijuana on seemingly every corner. Did you know that Amsterdam has more canals than Venice? Another highly walkable city, it is incredibly picturesque as you cross bridges and stop for a beer canal side. We lucked out with the weather, warm summer like days were a treat as we walked for miles around the city.
Our first order of business was a boat tour on the canals. The canal network is amazing and really is a part of life in Amsterdam. This city has adapted to life on the water. Boats replace balconies and patios as we saw so many people enjoying picnic dinners on the canals. The old fishing boats converted into homes, the barges now playgrounds. Amazing to see all the life that happens here on the water.
Our Captain Mathias guided us through the canals with lots of great history and anecdotes about life in Amsterdam. Highly recommend this as an outing. The boat, Ivresse is very cute and one of the historic canal boats from the Netherlands. Definitely worth it!
It is possible that the laid back vibe of Amsterdam could be attributed to the marijuana. Pot was decriminalized here in the 70s and now you can easily buy it in one of the many coffee shops. Not to be confused with a cafe, a coffee shop is similar to the dispensaries we have in Canada. Tidy little shops with salesmen in bowties offer you the menu of the various marijuana varieties available. Pre-rolled joints are ready to go. Just don’t try and order coffee in the coffee shop, for that you have to go to the cafe.
Amsterdam has some great museums. We made the Anne Frank House a priority on this trip. With only 2 days in the city, we decided this was the one thing we definitely needed to do with the kids. Its heart-wrenching to see, but as the Big Kid pointed out Anne must be happy as even though she died a tragic young death, she did fulfil her dream of becoming a famous writer. The house has been remarkably kept intact and to see the rooms where the Frank family hid from the Nazis is very powerful. I couldn’t help but look at our kids as we walked the tiny flights of stairs to the attic of the Annex and feel grateful for all we have.
While we didn’t make it there this time, we did love The Van Gogh Museum, the collection is vast and covers 3 full floors of the Museum. If you like Van Gogh, don’t miss it.
As Vancouver-ites, we are big fans of all types of Asian cuisine (Japanese, Vietnamese, Indian – North and South, Thai etc etc etc). We’re lucky in Vancouver to have so much amazing and varied foods just outside our door. In Europe, we’ve enjoyed the hunt for great Asian food and Amsterdam offers a great option with the Indonesian Rice Table, Rijsttafel. An amazing array of dishes; rice, curries, pickles etc. We had dinner at Long Pura and it was yummy. The servers were also very sweet and kind of adorable.
As with Copenhagen, we also loved checking out some of the cool antique and design focused shops. We were lucky enough to catch Mariska Meijers’ Amsterdam shop just before it closed (check out her online shop for some amazing colourful housewares and design!). We picked up some cool canvases and Delft ceramics. Super cool!
If you’re planning a European adventure, highly (see what I did there) recommend you make Amsterdam a priority. Its a very cool city and a nice change of pace from some of the other busier major European cities.