Amsterdam Day 1
I made it! I arrived in Amsterdam around 8am Saturday morning after an 8 hour flight that I slept through most of (thanks to a little help from my friend Ambien). Upon arrival I had a few obstacles to navigate through before I was on my way; finding a pre-paid SIM card for my iPhone 5 was the first. Mike was still in The Hague and me without a phone to help me navigate is just a recipe for disaster….and heaven forbid I can’t post to Instagram!
After wandering around the Amsterdam airport for awhile I finally found a cell phone shop in the arrivals hall and was able to get a T-Mobile SIM card with 1GB of data and 20€ worth of texting and phone for a total of 45€. For some reason they required the 20€ minimum for the phone/text capability. I was only planning on texting Mike until he got here and 1 text is 25 cents (are Euro cents still cents??) but whatever. I wasn’t shopping around for the best plan at that point. Cell phone-check. Next, figure out the trains.
I planned ahead and got euros from my bank at home but of course the train ticket kiosks only accept a debit/credit card with a chip and PIN or coin. So…detour to find an exchange to give me coins and then get my train ticket. It was a quick train ride to Amsterdam Centraal and from there I hopped on a tram to my final destination.
Mike and I rented a studio apartment through Airbnb.com-B&B MNQUE. The location was great and the price was right so we went for it and I’m SO happy we did-highly recommend to anyone visiting Amsterdam. The space is a small studio but perfect for what we need it for. Like I said-great location, clean, the owner is super nice, there are huge windows that let in loads of natural light (I’m pretty big on natural light), and the bed is to die for. Staying in an apartment also makes you feel like you’re living in the city rather than just visiting and that is a big plus for us. I wasn’t able to drop my bags there until 11a when the last guests left so I decided to grab some breakfast at a highly recommended spot I found on Trip Advisor: Gartine.
Gartine is super small and I would definitely suggest a reservation if you really have your heart set on it. I arrived before they opened and it was just me so they were able to seat me (and my bags) in the one table upstairs that they have reserved for walk-ins. The owners are so sweet and the food was delicious. I went all out and had the large breakfast: croissant with butter, sourdough toast, French toast, homemade pineapple and strawberry jams, slices of prosciutto and brie, fried egg, coffee, and orange juice. Don’t judge…the last time I ate was at Portillo’s on my way to the airport so I have an excuse ;). The fresh squeezed OJ was some of the best I’ve ever had-super fresh and pulpy, just awesome. Strong coffee, flaky croissant, creamy cheese, salty meat, sweet jams, and amazing French toast. I made a reservation to bring Mike back tomorrow, if that gives you any indication of how much I enjoyed it.
After breakfast I was able to stop off at the apartment and drop off my bags and then I pretty much just wandered for the rest of the day until Mike arrived. Thank goodness I got that data plan for my iPhone, because I would get lost on all these little alley-like streets! Although when I first set out, getting lost was the whole point…
The day started off somewhat cold and gloomy day but I found colorful graffiti and lots of tulips to add a little brightness to the mix. Around midday the sun came out and it was beautiful-bikes everywhere, lots of shopping and TONS of people. I found several fun shops-my favorites were Cheese & More (with endless samples of cheese…and more) and BarongBarong Gallery (a unique jewelry store somewhat off the beaten path).
Mike finally arrived in the early evening and we shared a bottle of wine in our apartment before heading out for dinner. The sun was shining in, the bars across the way were bustling with people, and we had a live violin player right outside our window. It felt like the perfect beginning to our first night in Amsterdam.
We didn’t want to venture too far for dinner on our first night so we found a small spot nearby called Tomaz. Very hearty, traditional Dutch food-nice place to stop if you’re in the area but not necessarily somewhere I would seek out. Although, they do have a very nice collection of board games and the garlic aioli they serve with their bread is pretty killer! We played a little Connect Four while enjoying our drinks and bread and then ordered starters of the tomato soup and the ravioli served with Dutch beef stew. Both were surprisingly flavorful and we had the intention of ordering more food but we were already so full that we decided to stop while we were ahead. Like I said, hearty food.
Great first day in Amsterdam…until tomorrow…