When deciding on what cities to visit on our trip we knew Berlin and Paris would be our must-sees, but we had room in the itinerary for one more place. We tossed around a few ideas and landed on Amsterdam not knowing too much about it (besides the canals) or what to expect. This was also the shortest stop on our trip. To say we were enchanted would be a bit of an understatement.
After another lovely train ride through the countryside (and Rory’s game of ‘count the windmills’) we arrived in Amsterdam and once again managed to easily navigate to our Airbnb using public transit (Can I seriously tell you the love affair I had with the transit systems over there?! I was constantly in awe of the simplicity and intuitiveness of getting around. It makes me feel just a little more dissatisfied with the system at home…). When looking for places to stay, we found that Amsterdam had the least available options without going way over our price range, so my tip for those looking to travel here would definitely be to find your accommodations early!
Our apartment was located just north of the Jordaan, in Westerpark. It was a charming ground-floor suite that was beautifully decorated. The big draw was access to the garden space. It was total bliss to eat breakfast on the deck in the sun.
Westerpark itself was a 2 minute walk away and was a refreshing and open green space. It was nice to walk around and explore and so many people were out enjoying the summer, with picnics and lawn games abound. It was perfect to have this little oasis so close to our place.
As we told everyone before our trip, Rory and I didn’t want to plan in too many things. We wanted to take it one day at a time and not live to a structured schedule. However there was one big exception that I made sure to reserve months in advance: A coffee date at a cat cafe!
Kattencabinet Kopjes was adorable, trendy and full of happy kitties. On our way over, we got slightly off track and I was so worried we would miss our reservation, but I had nothing to worry about. The ladies there were so friendly and didn’t mind that we arrived a few minutes late.
The cats themselves were so chill and seemed to take advantage of the sprawling network of bridges, stairs and beds expertly designed and placed in the space. Most of them were sleeping but every once in a while a cat would saunter through the space and soak up the attention of everyone’s eyes on him. All the cafe guests were trying to be aloof about the cats, pretending to focus on their company and beverages. But soon enough someone broke the ice and we were all wandering about taking photos and dangling toys for the cats who were game.
Luckily, allergic Rory wasn’t bothered by them and could stay with me to enjoy some refreshing iced tea and delicious homemade desserts. There was however, one incident that took place. At one point I went to the washroom and Rory was left alone, a sneaky kitty decided he wanted some pie. That being a definite no-no, he now had to protect both our plates and tea from the feline’s grasp. He guarded them valiantly as the onlookers giggled at the scene. He let out a cry for help and I came running back to remove the little thief and we enjoyed the rest of our desserts in peace.
It was an Instagram paradise and just a cool place to hang out. They even had a shelf full of cat books, comics and colouring pages. Seriously, if you like cats even a little bit I HIGHLY recommend this place if you are ever in the city.
We flirted with a few stops in the museum district but settled on two places to explore. First, the FOAM photography museum. The exhibits they had in place were really cool. But the feature exhibit, Swinging Sixties London, definitely piqued my interest and was so fascinating to me. I absolutely LOVE vintage photography, especially in the 50s and 60s, so it was just perfect. The museum had multiple stairways and we accidentally entered the exhibit from the back entrance and saw the decade in reverse, which was fine. I also didn’t see the ‘no photos’ sign at the door. Whoopsie.
Just a block away, we HAD to stop at the Kattenkabinet, a very strange but also awesome museum featuring all-cats-all-the-time type art. It was housed in what appeared to be someone’s home (we couldn’t go up the stairs), but it was ornately decorated and even had two feline residents. It was short but very fun to see.
As for the shopping, I found that Harlemmerstraat had just the right vibe I was looking for. There were many vintage inspired dress shops, fabulously decorated independent stores and shops featuring local artists like Restored and Sukha.
I attemped to get some fabric shopping in at the famed textile Noodermarkt on Monday, but it was wayyyy to crazy for me to look closely at anything and the quality didn’t seem very high. I probably could have found some hidden gems but seriously could not handle constantly being shoulder to shoulder with people.
We also took a canal tour that was interesting but more than anything was really relaxing. We also stopped by Museumplien for a picnic (and to take a nap), though the I AMsterdam letters were swarming with people to get a decent photo.
Of all the cities we visted I found Amsterdam was the coolest place to just walk around. It was the most dynamic and interesting to explore without purpose. Everything felt so close and accessible. There were clearly a lot of tourists but it never felt ‘touristy’ to me which was nice. The cafes and restaurants felt authentic and accessible and it was perfect summer weather.
I’d love to come back and spend a few more days (and have another afternoon at Kopjes) and think it would be beautiful in the spring to wander the tulip fields.