What can you possibly do when you have exactly 23 hours to spend in the Netherlands? A lot more than you’d think.
My friend and I were training it to Amsterdam from Berlin. We added Amsterdam to our journey because she had a friend attending school at the Utrecht University in the smaller town of Utrecht, outside of Amsterdam. A free place to stay is never too far out of the way. Man, was it worth it. We arrived in the Amsterdam Train station. We met her friend and my new friend and then we were on our way:
We squeezed both of our bags into a train station locker and headed out for the walking tour. We walked through a farmers market where we sampled delicious cheeses such as fresh smoked gouda and goat cheese and breads. Then I had a stroopwafle and since my life has been forever more fulfilled. Okay… I ate an entire package of stroopwafles, and I enjoyed every single bite. If you have never had a stroopwafle, please do a Google search and find one near you if you can. I know that certain Trader Joe’s sell them occasionally, but even in NYC they are fairly hard to find if not in The Netherlands.
So, we ate our stroopwafles and then we went to the craft flower market where they sell everything from shot glasses and wooden shoes, to handmade clothes, flower bulbs, art, trinkets, crafts, and anything you can imagine. We picked up a few souvenirs and continued our tour. We walked along the beautiful canals and almost got killed a few times as fast cyclers whizzed past us.
This stroll led us to the I AM STERDAM sign which we climbed on like we were children and took pictures in almost every letter. This sign is in a beautiful plaza/ park with fountains and lush green grass perfect for an afternoon read/ nap/ or cuddle. We had a light lunch of fresh produce and more cheese and bread, and then continued our stroll past the Oude Kerk (The Old Church) and through the museum district, pausing long enough to take a few photos of the beautiful examples of architecture.
We then strolled through the red light district (at roughly 2 in the afternoon) and there was not a lot happening. We did see one man stumble drunkenly into an open door, but most of the girls were sitting in their windows, in tank tops and small shorts, either waving, dreaming out their windows, or texting. From the red light district we found ourselves a nice cozy “coffee shop” where we settled in with some fresh blueberries for the afternoon. Then we spent the next three hours on the edge of a canal, smoking cigarettes until one of us (me) was calm enough to move around again. Then we saw the most beautiful sunset. We were standing in the center of a bridge and the sun began to set behind the most amazing building. It was breath-taking.
As the sun set, we headed to the train station, grabbed our bags, and took the bus to our friends apartment in Utrecht. In the field directly behind her building lives a flock of sheep so loud, that I can’t see how any one ever sleeps… I thought it was amazing.
The next morning we set out through the Dutch countryside on borrowed bikes, with packs full of snack, water, our cameras, etc. We rode for miles and miles through the countryside. Wind in our hair and sun on our backs. We stumbled upon an old bunker from the war (though I’m not sure which war because there was no sign), we frolicked in fields, and acted like children on those bikes. Then we reached our destination. A Dutch Pancake house in the middle of absolute nowhere. It was set on a quaint farm complete with two very friendly Donkeys. We all ordered something different though my favorite example of Dutch pancakes were the half apple cinnamon, half bacon pancakes I had ordered. Everything about this setting was perfect. The food, the view, the company, and even the farm animals.
We paid our check, rode our bikes back to Utrecht, packed and headed back to Amsterdam to catch our train: the 14 hour night train from Amsterdam to Prague, but that is whole different story for another day. It was a whirlwind, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world.