european adventures: amsterdam, netherlands

Amsterdam was lovely and weird, all bundled up in one adorably Dutch city. The narrow buildings that look like they've been carefully cut out and pasted together were my absolute favorite thing about the city. You just can't help but love the quaintness of it all, especially surrounded by countless canals. As a desert-born girl, I am a sucker for water. The combination of the architecture and canals was just perfect, and the fact that the wonderfully flat city is so catered to bikes made me smile. Our second day, I went on my first long bike ride ever through the city and surrounding countryside with success, and was even rewarded with a windmill and cheese samples. It made me wonder why I don't bike in Portland, but then I remembered that Portland isn't flat at all...Still, I want to start biking there eventually!

On King's Day, we escaped the rowdy celebrations (thankfully) for the Keukenhof tulips with our friends. Solid choice. 
We were utterly spoiled in Amsterdam, staying in the loveliest little flat of one of Ted's family friend's. Her and her husband were so kind to us. She set up the living room for us so sweetly and with gifts! As if the free travel cards and mattresses weren't enough, she gave us a fancy Easter egg filled with the yummiest chocolates and an Amsterdam Time Out book, along with some maps. We were blown away by her hospitality and her lovely home. I will be drawing inspiration from her kitchen for my future home's kitchen, you can count on it! 
The museums I had the pleasure to visit (a photojournalism exhibit in the Niewe Kerk, the Anne Frank huis, and the Van Gogh museum) were all fantastic in their own ways--the first gave me an overview of the good and bad of 2013 brought to life through images, the house where Anne Frank hid with seven others in the secret annex was bizarre and special, although it didn't quite sink in where I was until I saw the faded and torn images cut out from magazines and books pasted on the walls of the room she shared in the annex. The Van Gogh museum was one of the best art museums I've been to, and it was a shame when we were rushed out at 9:55pm after such a lovely hour and a half there, soaking up the paintings and listening to live music waft in from the ground level.  
The Dutch food I tried was so delicious and comforting. Our first full day in town we went to Hap Hmm, where we had stewed beef, meatballs, boiled potatoes, peas and some other green veggies I don't know the name of, and lots and lots of gravy. Gravy just warms the heart, doesn't it? That meal reminded me of many home-cooked meals made with love (and lots of gravy). 

My second favorite meal was our last. We went to the perfectly enthusiastically named Pancakes! We split the goat cheese, spinach, pine nut, and oil Dutch pancake and the Camembert, ham, and raspberry Dutch pancake, with a side of bacon of course (the real stuff--not the British kind). Other tasty snacks included a stroopwaffel, an almond paste cookie, and some Dutch Apple pie. Not the healthiest food I've ever consumed, but I'd say the Dutch know how to make the soul cozy and happy. 

Of course, not every meal was as picturesque--we spent one evening, after struggling to find anything decent open after getting out of the Van Gogh museum, going to a weird little supermarket, and getting a baguette, goat cheese, and baba ghanoush, which we carefully ate over our mattress on the floor. Our meal was complimented by the giant Easter egg that Irthe gave us. Yep, we are traveling college students.

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