Saturday, May 24, 2014

Amsterdam Part 1

I'm baaaaaack!!! And I have tons of posts to catch up on. Can't wait to update all of you with what we've been up to over here across the pond. It's hard to believe we've been here for over 4 months already!

Back in mid-March we took a spontaneous weekend trip to Amsterdam thanks to some extra airline miles we have. We booked a prime location apartment through Airbnb (which I highly recommend, btw) that turned out great (minus the clean-but-super-small Dutch style bathroom.)

After dropping the pups off at their hotel mid-afternoon, we hopped on the tube to central London where we caught an express train to Luton airport. One of the downsides to using airline miles was not being able to use the most convenient airport for us, which is usually London Stansted. Oh well, nothing that a little public transportation couldn't fix.

Luckily, Amsterdam is only about an hour-long flight from London. However, by the time we arrived at our apartment that evening, we were feeling pretty tired and decided to stay in, drink some wine, and enjoy the views of Amsterdam nightlife from our window. 

The following morning, we were well-rested and ready to conquer the city. While I was finishing up getting ready, Jason popped down to the bakery below our apartment to grab a quick dessert breakfast for us.

We started our "walking tour" near central station and slowly made our way down to the museum district, admiring the architecture along the way.

Lots of goodies displayed in a storefront.

As we approached the Spui neighborhood, we came across the The Begijnhof, a hidden courtyard that was originally a sanctuary and living quarters for the Begijntjes, a Catholic sisterhood of nuns. Today, it is occupied by single women who have chosen to live simply.

Next up was lunch at Cafe Luxembourg and a chance to rest our feet.

We snagged a seat right next to the front window and enjoyed watching locals walk and cycle by, busy completing their Saturday afternoon errands.

Espresso for me, hot chocolate for Jason (naturally).

And delicious, fresh salads to make up for our rather sweet breakfast!

After lunch we were re-energized and ready to check out the flower market. This was a much anticipated sight for me. Tulips are my faaaavorite!

Here you can see the backside of the market, hence the term floating flower market.

Beautiful flowers everywhere!

And bulbs, seeds, and starter plants of all varieties!

Just when I thought things couldn't get any better with all of the gorgeous flowers, I spotted several cheese shops across the street. 

All of the shops offered generous samples. Let's just say Jason had to cut me off.

I. love. cheese.

We continued our walking tour, crossing our first picturesque canal.

When we finally arrived in the museum district, we decided to purchase our tickets to the Van Gogh museum for a specific scheduled time, in order to avoid the long lines. This turned out to be a great choice, as the crowds were in full force.

With 30 minutes to kill, it was a perfect opportunity to capture a classic Amsterdam photo.

It was really interesting learning about Van Gogh's life and seeing his paintings. He was an incredibly talented artist who constantly battled mental illness, which unfortunately eventually took his life. After a solid two hours at the museum, we were ready for some late afternoon downtime. We took the tram back to our apartment and rested up for a flavorful evening in the Red Light District (RLD).

Unfortunately, I didn't capture any photos of the RLD. I think I was too busy taking in every detail of people watching (and I had previously heard that if you're spotted taking pictures your camera will get thrown into the canal, ha). It was certainly an experience, to say the least. It left me rather intrigued with the prostitution industry in Amsterdam. So much that I gathered a few facts for you:

-about 1,000 prostitutes work in Amsterdam every single day
-prostitutes pay taxes just like any other job
-prostitutes even have a union called De Rode Draad
-on average, prostitutes pay 85 euros to rent a window during the day & 115 euros at night
-they typically charge 50 euros for a 15-20 minute service

Stay tuned for Amsterdam Part 2!

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