One quick day in Amsterdam
After spending only one day in Amsterdam, frequent traveller Louise Nobles simply can't find fault with the Venice of the North....
One of the beauties of Amsterdam is that it’s a hub city. I have often changed planes in Amsterdam when I was travelling to a farther flung European city, but I had never managed to see anything more than the airport. So when I was booking my last trip to Budapest, I decided to stop over in Amsterdam for a day. I figured the least I could do is visit a museum, do a little shopping and have dinner. I might not get the whole Amsterdam experience, but I thought it might whet my appetite and make me want to go back. I was right.
After dropped my bags off at the hotel, I immediately walked over to the Rijksmuseum. The museum is undergoing a vast renovation and during the construction, a very comprehensive collection of some of the main pieces is on display in one of the wings. I got my first look at Rembrandt’s The Nightwatch, which was thrilling. There are also paintings by other big names, and standing in front of them I got a better understanding of why they are so well known. However, I must say that the part of the exhibit that I enjoyed most was all of the room with Delft blue pottery. The pottery has such a clean, fresh feeling – even after hundreds of years. The craftsmanship is amazing. I definitely want to make another visit when the museum reopens. The building is marvellous and it will be a great place to spend a few hours.
Lots of friends have told me that Amsterdam has many amazing little, independent shops. On a recommendation of one of these friends, I headed out to a little shop called The Otherist. From the Rijksmuseum it’s a very pleasant walk along the Prinsengracht, although any of the canals are worth your time. It’s like walking in a postcard. The Otherist is a little shop run by a couple of American expats who have interesting taste. They sell art, cards and beautiful yarn, but I was most impressed with their home accessories. Everything is artfully done. Every spoon, cup or tea towel has been made with amazing craftsmanship. If I had more room in my luggage, I would have bought much more. But I walked out with a new passport wallet: a nice reminder of this surprising city.
For an early dinner, I headed to a new restaurant called Sumo. A colleague had recommended it to me. Sumo is an all-you-can-eat restaurant right off of Leidseplein, but it’s not like any all-you-can-eat restaurant I’ve ever been to. The atmosphere is wonderful. It’s very sleek. It feels expensive; certainly not what I expected from something that advertises itself as ‘all-you-can-eat.’ The service was wonderful. But most importantly, the food is incredible. I ordered a several pieces of sushi, hand roll and then I ate a wonderful chicken curry. Anything on the menu is fair game for one price. There are not hidden charges. The only catch is that you have to eat everything you order. Not a problem for me, as I have a healthy appetite.
The hotel I stayed in was the Park Hotel, right across from the entrance to the Vondelpark, the large, busy, centrally located park that everyone knows about. The Park Hotel recently underwent a renovation where they re-did everything from the rooms to a charming little restaurant on the ground floor called Momo. My room was cosy and modern, very comfortable, nothing like the many standard hotel rooms I’ve stayed in over the years. It had a sitting area that was perfect for the few bits of business I had to do. There was also a luxurious bathroom and the bed was incredibly comfortable. I had no trouble sleeping.
The next morning, I had brunch the morning in the restaurant. The buffet was very affordable and beautifully prepared. As the icing on the cake of the hotel experience, the staff of the hotel was so amazingly pleasant. I felt like I had their attention when I was talking to them. I’ve been shuffled around in hotels all over the world. At the Park, they smiled and welcomed me. That’s very important when you travel as much as I do.
I’ll definitely go back to Amsterdam. The small taste I got made me want to find out more about this incredible city. And from what I’ve heard from friends who’ve had longer stays, there’s a lot more to see, taste and experience.
Louise Nobles / Expatica
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