Monday, September 28, 2015

Amsterdam, Netherlands

*WARNING: this post contains a picture over load of the most beautiful flowers, and the cuties/chubbiest baby ever.

I had been to Amsterdam once before and it was somewhere I always wanted to return. I truly can't explain why, maybe because it reminds me of the Great North West were I grew up. Anyway I just like it and wanted to go back with Blake. He HAD to try a stroopwafle, which is an amazing waffle type dessert made of two thin waffly layers with a caramel/syrup-ish filling. It is wonderful to the taste buds. You can find them in the US, but eating them hot and fresh is a whole other experience. One of my biggest love/hate relationship about traveling is finding the best food, some you dream about for years, and then never being able to replicate it. Stroopwafle is one of those foods for me. 

A little back story about when we were planning our trip through Europe, originally we planned to travel a little loop starting in London and ending in Brussels. However the night we booked our first train tickets and a few airbnb's, I went to bed dreaming about all the up coming adventures; but after a thought came to my mind, and I shot out of bed... TULIP SEASON!!!!

We would be starting our Europe trip at the mid-latter part of the season and if Amsterdam was one of our last stops there was almost no chance we would get to see the colorful gardens and fields of flowers. So that same night we called and switched the dates of our reservations. It was a good thing we did too. We arrived at the Keukenhof Gardens at a perfect time, when many if not all the beautiful flowers were in full bloom. 

Walking through Keukenhof was like walking though a coloring book, it is unbelievable that nature can be so vibrant. Pictures do not show the magnitude of the garden grounds, but lets just say we literally got lost... which we could not complain about. Walking around there are benches, over sized chess and checker sets, and pathways all throughout the flowers. It was pure lovely. Lizzy took a nap in her carrier for part of our time there. When she was woke up she loved watching the swans, or colorful birds in large enclosures, and she could not help but try to get her hands on some of the blooms. We even got the first of many stroopwafles at the cafe inside.
Notice the little Lizzy foot? Sitting in the gardens and nursing little Lizzy was a little slice of heaven. Blake was off taking pictures of flowers, and I was surprised to find this one when looking through the camera. I'm so grateful he captured this moment, which will now be forever frozen in time for me. 
After spending the morning in the gardens, we took a drive to the fields. Sadly most of the colorful flowers had been "Beheaded" (as a local told us) the week before. Like any crop, they had to be sold to market. We did however find a few not yet harvested, and when we did we had no choice but to stop the car and get a closer look. It was everything I had hoped for. So glad we took the extra time to change the whole course of our trip for tulip season. 
We spent the rest of the afternoon and evening in the city. After doing lots of research we had a long list of things we couldn't miss. Some things included were walking around the beautiful Jordaan district, which then led us to the Rijks museum, seeing Anne Frank's house, and a boat tour through the historic city, the whole time while eating stroopwafles and other goodies. The history is hard to ignore in Amsterdam (just another reason I love the place), but just across the IJ are some impressive modern buildings. If we had more time I wouldn't mind exploring that part of the city too.

That evening we sat on a waiting list to eat at Moeders for a good true dutch meal. Moeders means Mothers in Dutch and the place is known for their "home cooked / just like mom makes it" meals. The place was recommended by our airbnb host, who by the way was amazing giving us all sorts of advice. And even though we had to wait a little, it was not a disappointment. The place is decorated with pictures of moms and antiques, just my kind of place. For dinner we got a sampler meal of sorts, they filled our small table with potato both mashed and boiled, sauerkraut, warm apple sauce, beets, boiled pears, two types of roasted meats, sausage and bacon. It was amazing. Being that my mom is from a danish heritage the meal made me think of her, and some of dinners she puts together.
I asked Blake to go find some stroopwafles for us to eat while we waited for our boat tour. He came back with his hands full, and I did not complain. We ate our treat right in front of The Ann Frank House. The only indication that there was anything special about this house was the longest line outside its doors. Like I said history! I had been inside the house on my first visit to the city and with Lizzy we did not feel like ruffing the line. But definitely an experience I would recommend. 

^^Moeders Restaurant^^
That night we went to bed with full stomachs, and happy hearts. Amsterdam remains one of my favorite places. I would not mind another visit. 

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