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Jun 15, 2012

Amsterdam: In A Nutshell

"Some tourists think Amsterdam is a city of sin, but in truth it is a city of freedom. And in freedom, most people find sin."
 -John Green

I read this quote in a travel magazine this week and thought it quite appropriate. It seems to perfectly embody the concept of a city like Amsterdam to those who've never experienced it. Amsterdam has a notorious reputation, being well-known for its Red Light District and legalized marijuana, but as I mentioned in my previous post, there's another side to Amsterdam. One that's sophisticated and historic, with a extensive collection of fine art museums and picturesque canals. A side that celebrates Amsterdam's diversification and bicycle friendly streets. A side that evokes a romantic aura that doesn't necessarily have to be X-rated. While you may be curious about the clandestine attractions, don't forget to make time to explore Amsterdam's more refined sights. You'll find they're a tourists delight.

Our first stop of the day was at the Heineken Experience. Truth be told, not a single soul in our group cares for the taste of Heineken. If you've ever tasted a real German Hefeweizen, you'd understand why. No beer compares (in my book, at least). But we'd read some reviews that said this brewery tour should not be missed. Thankfully, I'd say they were right.  We spent over 2 hours exploring Heineken's first brewing facility and tasting their claim to fame made with their patented "A-yeast". Something about drinking the beer fresh from the brewery's tap made the formerly undesirable beer taste quite good. Excellent, in fact. And with having 3 glasses of it included in the price of the tour, you'd be a fool not to enjoy it.

After getting our fill of the famous Dutch beer, we began making our way through the canal lined streets in search of the historic Anne Frank House.

Ever since reading the memoirs recounting her family's time in hiding during the Nazi occupation of The Netherlands in 1942, I've been fascinated with Anne Frank and her passion for words and her Jewish heritage. She was obviously wise beyond her years. Her story is so moving, so profound that it still gives me chills to this day. Seeing where she spent 2 years of her young life trapped in fear and torment, all in the name of anti-Semitism, was an absolute must during our tour of Amsterdam. Although we waited almost 2 hours to get inside (go early or buy advanced tickets from this site), the wait was well worth it. What we saw in that house, the place they called "The Annex," completely humbled us all.

After our time spent with Anne, we continued our walk through the streets of Amsterdam. We had spent so much time standing in lines that most museums were starting to close for the day. So, we pulled out our map and attempted to make our way to a quiet square where we could enjoy a relaxing dinner. But somehow we ended up lost (for the 2nd time) and from the time we got lost to finally finding our destination we:

1) Almost got hit by a line of bicyclers who apparently always have the right of way.
2) Got to experience the Red Light District and all its X-rated glory (sorry, I've got no photos to prove it). And...
3) Found ourselves a Dutch cheese shop and sampled the most delicious Gouda I've ever tasted in my life. 

Moral of the story is, even the best laid travel plans can go awry, but often end up surprising you! Just go with the flow and enjoy!

{I brought these bad boys back with me. In order of deliciousness: Manchego, Blueberry Stilton,  Goat's Milk Pesto Gouda, Baby Gouda, and Herbed Edam. You have my permission to drool.}

As our day in Amsterdam was coming to an end, we FINALLY found the square we were looking for and were rewarded with a dinner of epic proportions. All-you-can-eat SUSHI! I literally couldn't get in the door of that restaurant fast enough. We've yet to find a good sushi restaurant in Germany, so this place was a godsend! And we gorged ourselves silly. If you ever get a hankering for sushi while visiting Amsterdam, Sumo Sushi Grill & Restaurant is the place to go.

 So, there you have it. One whirlwind day in eclectic Amsterdam. Will we ever go back? Eh...there are still so many places on our Euro bucket list we've yet to see, so we're leaning towards no. But one can never say never, so we will see! 

Up next on our tour of The Netherlands is the town of Lisse where we spent our Easter Sunday among the tulips in the Keukenhof Gardens! Happy Friday, friends!


  1. Amsterdam is soooo pretty! I want to go on a beer tour of some sort when we come next year. Also, your hair is starting to look auburn in your pictures and I LIKE IT! Miss you!

  2. amazing! i can't wait to visit

  3. I have ALWAYS wanted to visit Amsterdam! (And certainly not for the marijuana or the red light district.) Your pictures definitely reminded me that I have to go to Amsterdam very soon. They look amazing. :)

  4. Thank you for this blogpost! Finally someone who also made a day tour to Amsterdam, just like I am planning to do right now. And my plans will be very similar to yours :)

  5. I love your blog! Do you remember the name of the cheese shop?? I would love to try some of those cheeses!


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