After three weeks touring Holland, we ended our trip to The Netherlands in one key spot: Amsterdam.
Staying at The Hoxton, we were ready for a bit of R&R before heading back to work. As you may have guessed, hotels in Amsterdam are a bit pricey – especially during peak summer season. But, upon checking in, the lively lobby-turned-lounge area reassured us that we had chosen the right place. Cozy seating areas, a cocktail bar, and a spiral staircase leading up to a quiet area provided an array of options to sit and relax – and in fact, encouraged it!
After a swift check-in and a short elevator ride to our room, the comfortable yet trendy atmosphere made for the perfect home away from home. With thoughtful branding, a large bathroom, soft linens, and cool colours, it was every bit worth the splurge.
If you haven’t heard of The Hoxton, it’s made up of 5 canal houses and was once the home to the Mayor back in the 17th century. Now, it’s livened up and made into a trendy upscale place for the traveller.
We threw down our bags, freshened up, and then headed out to explore the city. As our hotel was situated smack-dab in the Nine Streets, the second we stepped outside we were surrounded by restaurants, boutiques, and canals.
As it was already early in the afternoon, we questioned what to eat for lunch, before deciding on a Dutch classic: pannekoeken. If you haven’t heard of pannekoeken before, they’re thin crepe-like pancakes, topped with either sweet or savoury items, and typically the size of a large plate.
Pancakes! is known as one of the best spots for pannekoeken in Amsterdam, and lucky for us, they had a location right in the centre of the Nine Streets. After a short wait in line, we were seated at an outdoor table and provided with quite the menu.
Representing an array of the options on offer, we went for a savoury breakfast-style pancake topped with bacon. Another with a variety of seeds and one large chunk of goat cheese. And, a sweeter option topped with fresh strawberries, chocolate sauce, and vanilla ice cream.
I’m sure you can guess which one was mine.
Afterwards, Cole & I set off to explore a bit of the surrounding area, making our way through the entirety of the centrum area.
There was no shortage of Dutch architecture, as brick buildings line each street. Typically a red, orange, brown, or white colour, each tiny building had a decorative roof and a pulley on top.
Just prior to our trip, we had been advised to watch out for the pulleys since they aren’t something you typically see elsewhere in the world. In fact, these pulleys are actually used to help residents move their furniture and otherwise large belongings, since the stairs inside are often winding and narrow. These canal-style houses are specifically designed to slant forward ever-so-slightly, to facilitate this type of moving system.
After walking for quite some time, our feet inevitably led us back to food. Not wanting to miss out on a single Amsterdam favourite, we found ourselves at Winkel 43, a cafe known for the best apple cake, ever.
The line-up for a slice was a bit daunting, but happened to move quite quickly. And once we got inside for a peak, we realized why. Apple cakes were coming out of the ovens just as fast as they were being ordered – and what looked like 30 of them were ready at any given time. The smell of fresh baked cakes was glorious, to say the least.
We each ordered slices, with whipped cream on top (a must!), before finding a spot in the covered patio area outside. The cakes were quite delicious, made with fresh crunchy apples and a soft pastry shell. Even though each slice was quite massive, we managed to make it all the way through…
After a much needed rest (read: food coma), we set out on another large walk – determined to see as much of the massive city as we could.
With random twists and turns, an evening walk led us through the city. Often, the best way to see the sights is to stroll along with no real plan in mind, letting the city guide your way.
And this time, that plan didn’t fail. In fact, it led us all the way to the Rijksmuseum and a tourist classic – the IAMSTERDAM sign.
I indulged myself in playing tourist, fighting for a piece of the sign, and waiting to snap a picture at that perfect moment when it wasn’t covered in others attempting to do the same.
As the sun began to set, we headed out in search of dinner, stopping in for steak frites at Red – before heading back to the hotel for a good night’s sleep.