We wake up and it’s a chili Sunday morning.
This time of the year can be a bit challenging to travel to Europe because the days are shorter. Meaning that the sun rises a little later and sets quite early. But it’s so worth it to be freely exploring the city minus tourist-filled streets. And let’s not forget that the most magical season is beginning. Christmas! The streets of Amsterdam look quite festive this time of the year.
To be honest, we weren’t too sure what we were going to do that day. When planning for this trip, I researched in places like Trip Advisor, travel blogs, and even watched tons of YouTube videos. I wanted to be prepared and know exactly what one’s supposed to see.
Every Amsterdam YouTube video I watched by travel vloggers was a little frustrating for me because the main things mentioned were Anne Frank, Van Gogh, and biking. We still had one full day and ½ of Monday left in the city . And as you already know, we weren’t able to go to Anne Frank or Van Gogh. As for biking, I wasn’t feeling too confident in my biking skills to try this one out. I figured that that could be a next trip thing. They have traffic lights for bikes for crying out loud! You gotta know what you’re doing.
That morning after breakfast we decided to explore the streets and see what happened. And this was the BEST idea! We headed in the direction of the neighborhood Jordaan and an area in Amsterdam called The 9 Streets or De 9 Straatjes. As the name suggests, it consists of 9 little streets with beautiful picturesque canals EVERYWHERE! It’s full of little shops and amazing food. Although we had had breakfast not that long ago, we came across a few cafes and baked goods shops that were a must.
Before getting into the delicious part of this post, I want to share with you something. I learned in my trip that I can’t call cafes coffee shops. Wanna know why? Well, in Amsterdam, coffee shops are where you go to purchase weed or ‘special’ baked goods. Did that knowledge stop me from calling cafes coffee shops EVERY TIME? Nope. Hey, I’ve been calling it coffee shop my entire life. Old habits die hard. It did make me chuckle every time I said it though.
So back to food! Warning: reading this may lead to salivating. So if you’re currently hungry, go grab a snack before proceeding ;). While walking around we stumbled upon a line of people waiting outside a bakery called Van Stapele Koekmakerij. And no, I didn’t just type that out of memory. Curiosity peaked and the unmistakable smell of freshly baked cookies took over my senses.
JP and I got in line and waited for our turn to purchase the cookies that had so many waiting in line outside the shop. It turns out that these cookies are quite a must when visiting Amsterdam. This shop sells only one type of cookie and in my opinion, that’s the only cookie you need in your life. It’s a delicious, warm, freshly baked chocolate cookie with the surprise gooey white chocolate cream inside.
The shop is quite small. There’s only room for a few people to be there at once. There are no tables inside. It’s just a quick shop stop. We bought a box of 6 cookies since we had no idea what to expect. The smell of the cookie alone was enough to hijack my brain though. Just take my money and give me the cookies! We waited to step out of the shop to finally try one. The box felt warm and as soon as we popped open the lid, you experience the rich chocolate aroma combined with a little magic. Pixie dust maybe? The cookie itself was FANTASTIC! Crispy outside, warm and decadent inside.
And if you’re wondering “Raisa, don’t you have to stick to a gluten-free diet?”. I say this to you. There’s no way on Earth that I would not have bread and gluten on this trip. In fact, I made the conscious decision to enjoy the food and deal with the consequences: dermatitis. I did prepare for it though and traveled with my colloidal oatmeal cream. It doesn’t fully solve the issue, but it greatly minimizes my discomfort. The best thing for my health is still to go fully gluten-free. Not for this trip though.
Right next to the cookies, we found another little gem. It’s called Lanskroon Bakery. Here you can stop to enjoy a coffee and the famous stroopwafels. This is a pretty common treat in this neck of the woods. Stroopwafel is like a thin wafer cookie sandwich with caramel in the middle. It’s as good as it sounds. You can find it in just about any shop here and it can be prepared in different ways too. We actually brought home one that the caramel filling had a hint of coffee flavor. That’s long gone in my tummy though. So good!
Did we spend the entire day eating? Maybe. But we did other things too, OK?
After wrapping up our second breakfast consisting of chocolate and waffle cookies, we arrived to one of the places on my to-do’s. The flower market or Bloemenmarkt. This market is actually the only floating flower market in the world. The shops stand on houseboats and here you can find a variety of flowers and typical dutch souvenirs. From real and/or wooden tulips, to Christmas tree decorations, clogs, magnets, and mugs.
JP and I hit these shops hard and we were here for quite a few hours. Because not only do you have the houseboats on one side. You also have on the other side of the sidewalk little cheese and cookie shops. Including Van Delft cookies. These reminded me of small, crunchy gingerbread cookies. In the shop you will find probably around 50 different flavors of these cookies. And just like in most cheese shops, you are able to enjoy samples in the Van Delft stores. My cousin did mention that these are typically seasonal shops though. So perhaps if you visit Amsterdam on a different time of year, you might not see them as much.
Looking retrospectively, we did spend a good part of the day trying cookies, didn’t we?
Four bags of Van Delft cookie bags in our backpack later, we decided to explore a little neighborhood called De Pijp. It was about a 30 minute walk from where we were. I had read up about this little bohemian neighborhood that is known for its market among other things.
Unfortunately it was Sunday and the only day that the market would not be open. But we still wanted to check it out. And it was quite charming with its restaurants, cafes, and little shops. We stopped for lunch at Cafe Flinck. We wanted a quick option and this was perfect. I ordered a mushroom and cheese toast with a coffee. And we kept going.
The last thing on the agenda for that day was to visit the “central park” of Amsterdam called Vondelpark. This park is located close to the Rijksmuseum and it’s one of the free attractions to visit. It was a beautiful walk! Despite it being a little chili for a tropical girl, the park was full of people walking, biking, and sitting on the grass. In the middle of the park you’ll also find little restaurants and cafes (not coffee shops). We were in the park until the sun rays started to bid adieu for the day.
But if you think we were done for the day, well think again. When my cousin met us in the museum the day before, she had told us about the best apple pie in town. I’m more of a chocolate girl myself, but I do respect a good apple pie. JP and I decided to check it out and see if its as good as its reputation.
The place is called Winkel 43. Remember that name. We walked searching for this place. JP using his phone to guide us. It was freaking far from where we were and all I could think of while we walked for what seemed like an eternity was: this apple pie better be the best freaking thing in the world.
We finally arrived to Winkel 43. It was packed! We were able to find the only remaining two seats on the bar and finally ordered a slice of the famous apple pie to share with a cup of hot chocolate. I told you I was the hot chocolate girl.
The pie arrived and we took the first bite. Darn it! Why did we order just one slice? It was so good! I don’t know how they make it. The dough is completely different from the American apple pie. Inside, you find endless layers of warm and spiced apple slices. I know I’m not doing it any justice describing it. You just HAVE to try it. Trust me on this one. And make sure to have an entire slice for yourself. Because this is a good one!
Happily walking back to our hotel (slowly, my legs were done from the day), we gave our goodbyes to the beautiful night lights of the city. When we arrived at our hotel, the cheery front desk lady asked if I was ready for my hot chocolate. Having just enjoyed one with my amazing apple pie, for the first time since we arrived I had to say “not tonight”.
And off to bed we went!