For those of you who have been reading my blog for sometime, you may already know that I am an ex-pat living in Belgium for the past three years with my family. Unfortunately or fortunately we are leaving Europe and going back to our home in the USA in less than a month. It’s a mixed feeling for all of us…we kind of got used to this relaxed life in Belgium, at the same time we missed our friends, families, and familiar things of what we left behind in Oregon. I do want to thank you all my readers and followers for supporting me with your “Likes” and your nice comments. After moving back to the USA, our goal is to start exploring South America, Australia, and some parts of Asia.
Only 4 weeks left before we say good-bye to this beautiful land of Belgium and all Europe. We may come here in the future again to visit but won’t be for this long. After we came back from Belgrade, Serbia we are utilizing every weekend to go everywhere for one last time. We visited Germany 2 weeks ago and were in Amsterdam for the last time this past weekend. We will probably make one last trip to Paris and some other old/new places, and the last weekend we kept it to visit Mont Blanc … the French Alps that we have been longing to go for a long time.
So saying it all, here are some of the stuff we did during our last visit to Amsterdam.
First time we came to Amsterdam was when we were flying from Portland, Oregon, USA to Stuttgart, Germany. We had a stop over in Amsterdam Airport Schipol for few hours. We had only 5 hours to explore the city before our next flight to Germany. It was 1st week of April and the weather was simply marvelous. Second time we went there was in 1st week of September, 2011, on a Saturday. The weather was awesome, not too hot and luckily no rain. Another time we were in Amsterdam was when we took our Baltic Sea Cruise by Carnival Legend in August of 2013. We only visited Van Gogh Museum the day we docked in this city. Last time we went to Amsterdam was before we left Europe for good, in June of 2014. My husband’s aunt was here from Virginia and we spent a weekend there to enjoy all the Dutch environment we could for one last time. Weather was nice, around mid 60s during day and a bit on the cold side after evening.
EATING and SHOPPING: Few times we were in Amsterdam, we had mostly fast food or street food, like hotdogs, Subway, and Burger King. We were told by few people that Amsterdam is well-known for Indonesian restaurants. So when we visited Amsterdam for the last time before leaving Europe, we had to try some Indonesian food. There are plenty of them in the center, and all around. We sat down in “Srikandi” near Rijksmuseum. This is a small but very homely restaurant. They have a wide range of options but no pork or ham. It’s a bit pricey, dishes start from 20 euros, but very tasty food with rich flavors. We had fried rice, yellow rice, spicy beef, whole fish, and a mix meat platter…every single dish was unbelievably good. For dessert, we had Javanese cinnamon cake, coconut slices in syrup, and some exotic fruits with ice-cream.
For shopping, Damrak or the small streets near Dam Square and in city center are very good. When you are in The Netherlands, you gotta buy wooden shoes, ceramic windmills, or wooden tulips. You can also find blue and white Delft potteries in most of the stores along with generic t-shirts, mugs, magnets, post-cards, key-rings, and etc.
PLACES WE’VE VISITED:We were lucky enough to get many chances of visiting Amsterdam from time to time. Different times we visited different sections of this town. Most of the attractions are in or around Dam Square. Museumplein is the best place to hangout for all the museum-lovers. Walking in Amsterdam can be a bit hard because of overly crowded tourists, locals, and bi-cycles, but this the best way to enjoy its true beauty. For me, canals of Amsterdam are the most unique and I prefer walking over anything to get the most of it. There are trams, rickshaws, and other public transportation available if it’s too much for you. This time we visited Rijksmuseum, took a canal cruise, saw the beautiful building of Central Station and walked along Damrak.
DAMRAK and CENTRAL STATION: Damrak is main street that connects Dam Square and Amsterdam Central Station. Damrak is the place to for souvenirs hunters, but shops are a bit pricey on this street. You can find plenty of cafes, snack-bars, restaurants here as well. Sex Museum, Medieval Torture Museum are also located on this crowded street. The walk between Dam Square and Central station is less than 10 minutes. Central Station is where we came to first time we reached Schiphol Airport in The Netherlands. This is an imposing building inside and out. Trains for all the big cities, like Paris, Brussels come here everyday.
RIJKSMUSEUM: On our last visit to Amsterdam, we had only two agendas – one was to visit Rijksmuseum and another was to take a boat ride in the canals. Rijksmuseum is considered as one of the top ten museums in the world. The building itself of this museum is very artistic from outside. There are total four immensely big floors to explore in Rijksmuseum and each floor has two wings to cover.
The museum has unique collections of some of the extraordinary masterpieces of famous Dutch painters like Rembrandt, Van Gogh, Vermeer, and many other medieval and contemporary artists. Arts and artifacts here are from 1100s up to 2000s. Delft collections and other ceramics/potteries left me in awe for more. There is also a small portion of Waterloo, ship models, dolls’ houses, art nouveau, arms, jewelries are just some of the sections you have to visit in Rijksmuseum.
Rijksmuseum is located near Museumplein and the “Amsterdam” sign. Ticket is 15 euros per adult and free for anyone below 19 years of age. Guided tour is available for 5 euros only which takes about an hour. We toured the museum by ourselves and it took about three hours…may take more for others if you take time to go thru everything. There are some cafes/restaurants inside the museums as well as a big gift shop. Despite having hundreds and thousands of visitors each day, the staffs of Rijksmuseum is extremely helpful and friendly.
AMSTERDAM by BOAT: I couldn’t leave Europe without taking a boat ride in the canals of Amsterdam at least once. Opposite of Rijksmuseum, there were few boat companies who offer different options for canal tours. The one we took was “Lovers”. It was a 45-minutes ride which starts in front of the museum and took us to the big canal near Central Station. We were dropped off very close to the main train station. The boat runs thru historic buildings and landmarks like Anne Frank’s House and famous churches and cathedrals. You also have the option of getting off at any particular spot and get on the boat again when you are done.
Our one-way ticket was 10 euros per person. Round trips are also available for 14 euros which is for 1 1/2 hours ride.
Thanks for being with me in all my journeys. I still have many places left that I need to post about…keep in touch.