Lavender season in Provence. Autumn apple season in the country. There are a few places that make perfect things, at the precisely perfect time. In the Spring, the most perfect tulips are grown in The Netherlands, and I just had to see them for myself.
As a 30th birthday present to myself, I went to Amsterdam. BY MYSELF (minus 1 day.) It was such a liberating, creatively stimulating trip for me. I discovered so much - it was so hard for me to edit this content down! But I wanted to share a few of my favorites, so you won't have to second guess where to go when you head to Amsterdam.
So, these tulips! Even if you aren't a flower lover, this is the place to visit in the Spring months! The Keukenhof is the largest spring garden in the world, and one of the biggest attractions in Amsterdam. To get here, I had to walk a mile, take a ferry, the take a bus to the countryside of Lisse, Holland. The number of blooms in so many colors - it is breathtaking. They have so much more than tulips - there are dozens of varieties of flowers here.
The Keukenhof is only open from Mid-March through May, so you have to plan carefully so you don't miss this! I went in early April, but the most popular time to visit is late April, so I missed the crowds!
The Library at the Rijksmuseum
After wandering around the Rijksmuseum for a half hour, I finally found what I was looking for. I have seen so many pictures of this view, and seriously, not one of them does this justice. The Cuypers Library is the oldest art library on The Netherlands, and it is in Amsterdam's most popular museum, the Rijksmuseum. If you spend some time here, you will feel the gravity of the massive amount of history held within these walls.
I have always loved the smell of old books - if you are weird like me, this is the place for you. You can even pull books off of the shelves and look through them. It is a fully functioning library, so speaking isn't allowed. Every time my camera shuttered, that small sound seemed to echo through the whole room. But the silence was nice actually. Peaceful. I sat there, in silence, until a security guard told me the library was closing.
But, I wasn't ready to leave. I had to make a few more stops on my way out.
So peep my man on the right side of the picture - here is another security guard, asking me to leave after I ignored the first one. OK, I'M GOING! Haha
Hotel Recommendation - Monet Garden Hotel
I stayed in a whopping 4 HOTELS when I was in Amsterdam - when you are solo traveling, you do what you want! And I wanted to stay in 4 different parts of the city. When choosing my favorite, there is no comparison - the Monet Garden Hotel was top notch! So amazing, that I extended my stay!
This is a boutique hotel, with trendy, unique rooms and plush amenities. The only feature I loved more than the marble bathroom and the plush robe and slippers was the NESPRESSO MAKER! I love coffee, but I looooove Nespresso. I woke up every morning feeling refreshed and energetic.
This stay is only a half a mile from the city centre - it's close enough to be convenient, but far enough to have peace and quiet.
Amsterdam Travel Tips
A few tips from my stay:
The Red Light District - Everything you have heard is accurate. It's raunchy and very, very crowded, but definitely a sight to see. MAJOR TIP - don't try and take pictures of the girls. A friend of mine tried to take a pic, and I thought the girl was going to chase us down! Very sketchy cell phone picture, below.
Soup - Eat soup while in Amsterdam. It's that simple. I guess, because of the cooler climate, the Dutch are SOUP MASTERS. My favorite soup was from Soup en Zo. I know. It's just soup. But it's really, really good soup. With cheesy pastry bread!!!!
Pot - Yes, there is weed (marijuana) everywhere! There are a plethora of places to buy, if you wish, and you will smell it a lot in the air. MAJOR TIP: In Amsterdam, weed cafes are called coffee shops. Places to get coffee are called cafes. Do not make the mistake of getting coffee at a coffee shop - it will be gross, but the weed will probably be good LOL.
Breakfast - After being in Amsterdam for a few hours, I realized that Amsterdam had A LOT of breakfast restaurants. To my surprise, some of my favorite meals were breakfasts! I was certainly on vacation - I usually don't even eat breakfast. Both Omelegg and Bakers and Roasters (pictured) had pretty long wait times. But, since I was traveling solo, I was able to get in with ease...
Pastries - Like most places in Europe, flaky pastry is king. I had croissants and muffins and cinnamon twists and SO MANY yummy gooey Dutch desserts that I couldn't pronounce. Don't fight the urge - when you smell that buttery, delicious aroma, find where it is coming from and TREAT YO SELF!
Stay tuned for my next Amsterdam post, reviewing this beautiful place, and the best meal of my life!