10 Things To Do In Amsterdam

I was so thrilled to finally get back to Amsterdam (Chad and I got engaged there!), and this time with Julian. We were so excited to show him the canal where Chad proposed. His reaction was...underwhelming, to say the least. Maybe he will get it in a few years. Both times that we have been have been TOO quick, and I am always left wanting more, but I still have a pretty solid list of things to do (and eat!):

1. Rent a boat! You can hop on big boats with 50 other people, but you are stuck behind a window, and on someone else's route. You can rent small boats there that you drive yourself (when we got engaged it was just Chad and me in our little boat!), and it is SUCH a fun way to see the city.

2. Go see the prettiest row of houses at Damrak. It is a super touristy area so beware, but bonus: it is right by an ice cream shop I am about to tell you about...

3. Get ice cream sent straight from heaven at Banketbakkerij Van der Linde. It is a super simple vanilla soft serve, but there is whipped cream folded into it, and it makes the fluffiest, creamiest treat you can imagine. Next time I am bringing a jar of Mrs. Richardson's hot fudge and buying ten cones. It is so amazing. Thank you to my sweet friend Morena for telling me about this place!

4. Explore 9 Streets. This area is the absolute prettiest. There are tons of little canals (even complete with flower boxes), lots of bright doors, and even some wisteria! I went back every day we were there this time because I never felt like I had enough.

5. Get traditional Dutch apple pie (with a pile of whipped cream) at Winkel. It is SO good and makes me so happy just thinking about it. I don't why they are so much better at making pie over there, but they are and you have to experience it.

6. Go hear the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, one of the very best in the world. Both times I have been to Amsterdam, they have not been performing, but I have heard them at Carnegie Hall in New York and they are absolutely glorious. To make up for not hearing them in Amsterdam, we did a tour of the concert hall, which kind of made me feel better.

7. Maybe it is silly to even mention the museums, because they are SO obvious, but you have to go to the Rijksmuseum, the Van Gogh Museum, and if you enjoy modern art, the Stedelijk. And read Van Gogh: The Life before you go. And cry a few times. And buy your tickets in advance!! If you try to day of, you will most likely be out of luck (to Van Gogh, I was fine walking up with the other two).

8. Another obvious one: Anne Frank House. And another one that is mandatory to get tickets in advance. Then go to the Pancake Bakery down the street for a bit of a pick me up.

9. It sounds a bit silly to go to a movie on vacation, but you really should consider it just to see the inside of the Pathe Tuschinski. It's drop dead stunning.

10. BEST FOR LAST: Van Stapele Koekmakerij!! They make ONE cookie: dark chocolate with a melty white chocolate center. They are continuously baking them all day, so you always get them hot (because there is always a line out the door), and they are so dang good. I was devastated when I asked to buy 20 and they told me I could only buy 14. (I went back the next day.)

Tulips in Holland

It has been my dream to see the tulips in Holland since we moved abroad, and we FINALLY made it happen. Three years later. It was worth the wait and completely lived up to the hype. It was obviously incredible to visit Keukenhof, but the best part of the trip was driving around and finding open tulip fields that you can explore. I had heard a lot that you can't really walk into the fields because they are basically like people's backyards, but after driving past lots and lots like that, we found some fields that were completely open, not by any houses, and right off the side of the road. Here are a few of my tips if you are considering a trip here next year, or the year after that, or the year after that!

  • Go to Keukenhof at 8:00am RIGHT WHEN IT OPENS (and buy your tickets before so you can walk right in). It becomes a zoo an hour or so later, and makes it kind of hard to enjoy the place. Walking around and having the place to ourselves really felt like a dream.
  • Rent a car! If you are just going to Keukenhof, you won't need this (there are shuttles from every hotel), but as I mentioned, we loved driving around and looking at the big fields the very most. There are no fields at Keukenhof, it is just gardens and smaller bunches of flower displays.
  • Drive the Bloemen Route! Start in Haarlem and take the N208 south to Lisse (this is where Keukenhof is). Continue on the N208 until you hit the A44 and you will find Leiden. The Botanical Garden is here, and many people call it a mini-Keukenhof (which is certainly less crowded). From there, take the A4 south and turn west on the N222 until Naaldwijk. This route takes you through the highest concentration of flower fields in Holland and is such a treat!
  • To get to the open fields that were super easy to walk out onto, you have to go off the beaten Bloemen Route a bit. We found a gold mine by driving down Van Lyndenweg, which is a road just south of Keukenhof.
  • Go mid-April to avoid miles and miles of cut flowers! While we did see so many flowers, I couldn't help but feel a little bit bummed when we drove past fields of green that had surely been blazing red or yellow or pink just weeks earlier! I think it is different every year, but I would err on the early side so you don't show up to find a bunch of cut flowers!

Chefchaouen, Morocco

Chefchaouen Morocco 29.jpg

Chefchaouen is a MAGICAL place. It is a tiny little town up in the mountains (and really far away from any other city you might visit in Morocco), entirely painted blue. What a fantastic idea! I have heard a few different stories explaining why, from symbolizing the sky (and therefore, God) to keeping mosquitos away (mosquitos don't like blue?). I think it is probably because it looked REALLY GOOD. People kept commenting that my photos looked like paintings, but it seriously feels like you are walking around in a painting there. It is such a special little place, one that I actually don't have a long list of recommendations for, because the way to enjoy Chefchaouen is to just walk around and explore it.

We stayed at Casa Perleta, which was a perfect location, and its rooftop was stunning with its blue walls and striking pink flowers and pillows. Eating breakfast up there wasn't enough so I usually popped up whenever we stopped in for a nap. We hired a driver to take us there from Fez (the ride was about 3.5 hours and $150), and then from there to the airport in Tangier (about 2.5 hours and $50). We stayed two days, which felt like plenty of time to see everything the city had to offer.

One of the best things about Chefchaouen is that since it is so small and so inconvenient to get to, there are far fewer tourists, which means WAY better deals. We finally bought a rug once we got there, and they kept saying that we would pay double in Marrakech. I know they were trying to sell us on it, but I totally believe that. And since I told our rug guy I would tell all of my friends about him, his name was Garanti, and he garanti'd that we would be happy with our rug forever. And I know we will. Actually walking out of a shop with a rug was one of my happiest moments of this trip.

Ahhhhh I am so sad it is all over. It has been so fun to re-live this trip by going through photos and writing up blog posts. I seriously can't wait to go back to this incredible country. I still have a lot left to see on my list! And if you are even slightly considering going, I can't recommend it enough!! Run, don't walk. Morocco is a MUST. And enjoy it for me as I'll be over here having fomo the whole time.