This week, my mom, my brother and I decided to go on a little trip to Amsterdam. I had been there two times before, but only very shortly, and it seemed like a nice idea to go there again and explore the city a little more. I love how easy it is to do these kinds of things when you live in Europe. I’ve never been in North America, but I can imagine that things are very different there. A train ride from Antwerp to Amsterdam only takes three hours, and it’s not even that expensive. Anyway, I decided to write a little travel diary for you, along with some tips for nice places to go to if you’re in Amsterdam.
So we woke up at six in the morning and hopped on an early train to Amsterdam. When we were riding through the green landscapes in Northern Belgium, we were blinded by the sun shining through the trees. It seems like every time I go on a trip, I get hungry the second I’m on the road, even if I just had a large breakfast.
When we arrived in the city, it was still too early to check in to our hotel, so we took the tram to the museum square. The tram was super crowded, and in Belgium that would mean that the tram driver would shout things like “move on, please”, but instead, this tram driver said “ladies and gentleman, it’s very crowded, so if you could just move your divine bodies a little bit further into the tram”. I thought it was hilarious.
After a nice cup of hot chocolate at the Cobra Café, we went to the Rijksmuseum, where you can see lots of paintings and other kinds of art by Dutch artists, from the 16th till the 20th century. There were lots of people, especially at the Nachtwacht (“the Night Watch”), which is the most famous painting of the museum. I thought it was a bit annoying, because you could just tell that most of the people just came there because their travel guide told them to. I literally saw people coming into a room, taking a picture of a painting and then moving on to the next room, without even taking a proper look at the paintings. But besides that, it was a nice museum.
I thought it was interesting to see how all of the paintings (except some of the ones from the 20th century), were just normal, figurative paintings, but you could clearly see how much the style changed through the ages. It was also nice to see some paintings I already knew, like Winterlandschap met schaatsers (“Winter Landscape with Skaters”) by Hendrick Avercamp, which used to be my desktop image a few years ago, and Het zieke kind (“The sick child”) by Gabriël Metsu, which played an important role in one of my favourite children’s books.
When we were done at the museum, we checked in at our hotel. It was a very small place near a canal, and I liked it. We had lunch at a place called Soup en Zo (I’m not sure how to translate the “en zo”, but you could say it’s something like “and stuff”). I had a delicious North African pea soup, and then I got a cookie at the shop on the other side of the street, which was called Stach.
It was amazing how many bicycles there were. I always thought it was more or less the same as in Belgium, but boy was I wrong! Parked bicycles everywhere, and tons of cyclists, who didn’t seem to care about the pedestrians or the cars the least bit. When I’m riding my bike in Leuven, I often get sucked into crowds of walking people, and usually the only thing I can do then is to get of my bike and walk. In Amsterdam, it’s pretty much the other way around.
In the afternoon, we did some shopping in the centre of the city. We went to all the nice stores we don’t have in Antwerp, like Episode, Monki and Weekday, and I found some pretty nice things! For some reason, my feet started to hurt like crazy (I was wearing my Dr. Martens, but I don’t get how they could be so uncomfortable all of a sudden, because I had worn them on city trips before), so we decided to go for dinner at an Italian restaurant, which wasn’t that special, but the food was okay.
The girl at the cash register at Weekday had told us about the EYE, which is a film museum and cinema located on the other side of the IJ river. They were playing Magic in the Moonlight, so we thought it would be nice to go there in the evening. We took ferry to the other side of the river, but as it turned out the film was already sold out. So we just sat at the outdoor café for a while with some tea, and then we went back to the hotel to get some sleep.
When I woke up the next day, my feet were still hurting. After a nice breakfast at the hotel, it was time to go exploring again. We passed by a shoe shop and got some insoles to put in my shoes, and my feet were happy.
Next, we went to a small museum called het Kattenkabinet (“the Cat Cabinet”), where there were tons of posters, pictures and paintings of cats. I loved it! If you’re a cat lover, you should definitely go there.
When we got out of the museum, it had started raining and we went to a clothing store called Zipper, where they have both second hand and new clothes made from older clothes. I got a pair of sunglasses. We had lunch at a place called Lef. It was really tiny in there, and you had to take some pretty steep stairs to get to the second floor, but it was super cosy and the sandwiches tasted well.
After lunch, it had started to thunder as well, and we decided to go to the shopping street, so at least we could be inside for a little while. I went into this big department store called de Bijenkorf (“the Beehive”), and I discovered they had Topshop there! I had been looking for a pair of perfect black skinnies since forever, and Estée was always talking about how much she liked the Jamie jeans from Topshop, so I went in there to try them, and I instantly fell in love. Talking about #theessiebuttoneffect!
Since we had to get our bags at the hotel before five, we went back there and brought them to the train station, and then went back to the Museum Square. I saw this family and I thought it was the sweetest thing. It seemed like a nice idea to go to the Van Gogh museum, but it turned out it was a one and a half hour wait and we thought that was crazy.
So we went to the Vondelpark for a little while, and then it was time to head back home.
We heard there were some problems with one of the train lines, so we were a little worried we wouldn’t get home, but luckily they were solved in time.
And then we were back in pretty, pretty Belgium, with sore feet, a bag of new clothes and some new memories.