Greeted by a torrential downpour, unpronounceable street names and a “what the heck are we going to do here for a week” attitude, my traveling companion and I had a storm cloud over and in our heads upon arriving in Amsterdam.
Though it remained cold and we did experience more downpours, as the days passed and we explored more, our outlook on the city became much sunnier. About the third day, in we visited the Van Gogh museum which chronicles his creative and crazy life from aspiring artist to asylum in Arles and is the best museum I’ve ever been to and that’s saying a lot since there are so many to museums to visit while traveling.
Another “must-see” is the quirky and quaint Jordaan district. This neighborhood where we stayed is filled with canals crisscrossing cobblestone roads, little shops and cafes, house boats bobbing along the edge and everyone (and I mean everyone!) is bicycling. The way the locals ride their bikes together to a restaurant, or a mom puts her toddler in the seat to do errands, or a man in a business suit rings his bell, all make up one of the most charming aspects of the city, bikes are simply a way of life here.
Along with realizing there was much to enjoy and do in Amsterdam and as it happens more often than not, we made our greatest realization when searching for food. In a city known for the legalization of pot and abundance of “coffee shops”, it was the chain of Bagels and Beans that became our drug of choice while visiting. Scattered in locations around the city, each eatery was warm and welcoming with small spaces for casual conversations or cozy corners for being one with your bagel. Topping the tables was a supply of sugary starters, colorful candies to mindlessly munch while you waited for that warm coffee and an amazing bagel concoction. With combination choices galore, we found ourselves checking out each location day after day for there really was no better way to brighten our day and send us back out exploring, rain or shine.