Lance and I took a needed summer break in August 2019, and flew to Amsterdam. Two of Lance’s closest friends recently moved to this city of canals, and nearly everyone in their friend group had made a transatlantic trip to see them. So Lance was dying to finally visit their new European home.
Once we arrived in Amsterdam I realized we had landed in a storybook. Even though August wasn’t peak tulip season, we were shocked by the amount of blooms that greeted us. To say we were spoiled would have been an understatement. From the flowering planters spanning the city to the Goldilocks weather (never too hot or too cold), we were in Dutch heaven.
To boot, Lance’s friends were expert hosts and miraculously pulled some strings among their local expat friends. They managed to land us an apartment of our own for our entire stay, which in true Amsterdam fashion included a set of bikes to explore the city with.
Our first day in the Netherlands was one for the books! Our hosts knew how to properly begin our week- a private canal cruise with plenty of wine and snacks. Our biggest responsibility was to soak in the sights, eat and drink, and simply enjoy the company of the other expats. But what made the day beyond exceptional was the progressive dinner they planned. What’s a progressive dinner you might ask (I was curious myself). It’s when you have an amazing group of friends that work together to build a dinning experiences that progresses through the afternoon and evening. During our day of biking and boating we meandered the city with stops for drinks, appetizers, drinks, salad, more drinks, dinner, and desserts. This progressive dinner was brilliant, such a perfect red carpet introduction to life in Amsterdam and the community of friends we were surrounded by!
From day one – Lance and I knew that leaving this city wouldn’t be easy. We kept our plans pretty open and tried to stay away from nailing anything down. Aka NO schedule! Our days were centered around walking (or biking) the labyrinth of streets that weaved between the canals. The top goal was to take our time, sit, shop, explore, eat, stroll, and to simply enjoy ourselves.
One of our favorite stops was just a brief bus ride outside the city, to Zaanse Schans. If you’re familiar with Amsterdam, you know this place is quite touristy. A typical day at Zaanse Schans is slammed with people from all over the world and is basically a historic reenactment from Holland’s olden days. But if you ask Lance or I, it is a must see! Everything you picture when you think of Holland is in Zaanse Schans. The windmills, the wooden clogs, and the green farmlands. If you’re looking for that picturesque moment, this is it! What made our visit to Zaanse Schans worth-while was our picnic lunch. Before our bus departed Central Station we stocked up on hummus, veggies, crackers, chocolates, and yes, plenty of wine. We even brought our own blanket to lay out right beneath a windmill. It was one of the most peaceful lunches we’ve enjoyed together. I was so relaxed that I dozed off and took a quick windmill nap. The setting was just too perfect not to.
Before we knew it we were surprised by our final day in the Netherlands. In full local fashion our hosts mapped out the day from two wheels. We biked, and biked, and biked, and then biked some more. We rode the banks of the Amstel river, pausing to eyeball the stately homes with their pristine gardens. We glided through the lush countryside and of course popped into some breweries for needed refreshments. We couldn’t have done this without our friends leading the way – they were simply the best tour guides we could have asked for. If you’re lucky enough to have someone that really knows their way around Amsterdam – spend a day biking in, around, and out of the city – it was our favorite part of the trip!
To conclude our final day we ended it the same way we began our stay – from a boat. We cruised the canals just as the sun was dipping behind Amsterdam’s tightly constructed houses. We were right, saying goodbye to this place wasn’t easy. It was by far the most relaxing trip Lance and I had been on together. Our days seemed to plan themselves, everything we ate tasted phenomenal, and if we ever got lost it just added to our experience.
It’s been almost nine months after this trip and we still bring it up multiple times a week!
Amsterdam travels part two is definitely on our horizon.