The Netherlands is a great country to visit. It is a nation that maintains a great balance of respect for its history as well as a fun contemporary appeal. It is another country easily accessible by train that we had the pleasure of exploring across three days. We used Amsterdam as our base and ventured out on a day trip to Delft, a little town near Rotterdam.
Amsterdam is one of my favourite cities to visit in Europe. Besides its obvious beauty and unique city structure, Amsterdam can be (ironically) a breath of fresh air for busy travellers. We elected to stay at the Room Mate Aitana, situated on the riverside as it was an easy walk (with baggage) from the Central train station and had wonderful service and amenities.
My previous post on Amsterdam captured what we discovered on our first visit but this time I elected to be just a little bit more of a tourist and mix local wandering with cheesy activities including trying an endless amount of Dutch food (for research)!
The first day we got there involved a lot of wandering the outskirts of the canal systems, a few streets back from the Dam Square area. This allows for better photo opportunities on quiet streets, just don’t lean too close to the water. By luck, other than some initial drizzle when we arrived in the city we had really good weather during our visit. That being said I have also seen Amsterdam when it is less than pleasant outside. My advice, ditch the umbrella in favour of a good rain jacket. The wind makes the rain blow in sideways and umbrella’s just end up broken.
Once we had our initial wander we made our way into the main shopping district. This included a visit to the LEGO store, complete with its own version of a windmill and LEGO replicas of Dutch artwork. Even if you aren’t a LEGO fan it’s highly entertaining standing inside a windmill made entirely of LEGO.
By lunch time we headed straight to the Mannekenpis store for some mayo and frites. The line up for the place is always long as it is super popular but I was determined to try them this time around and was not disappointed. There are so many different topping combinations on offer and they do not hold back on the sauces given. I highly recommend grabbing a fork and napkins as though it’s delicious it is a very messy meal.
After lunch we wandered across the bridge to the Amsterdam Duck Store. This quirky little shop is home to a wide selection of themed rubber ducks. It definitely makes for a fun souvenir. The only problem is choosing which one to buy!
The next day we left relatively early to get the 1 hour train to Delft in the country’s south. Delft is a beautiful little spot that can be easily covered on foot in a day. It is about a ten minute walk from the train station to the main Town Square where you will find a good amount of restaurants, cafes and shops. We went to Delft on a weekday so it was very quiet at first but by lunch time the place livens up.
Delft is known particularly as the home of Delftware, the famous blue and white pottery. Though we did not make it to the factory where it is made there are lots of stores selling Delftware in the town centre where you can purchase tea sets, coasters, Delft tile etc. I would recommend to ask beforehand about packing and/or shipping options if you elect to buy something as Delftware, although beautiful, is quite fragile for travel.
After a little bit more shopping we did a lap of the main city attractions including the Old and New Churches, the Prince’s Court, Delft City Hall, and the Old Canal. Each site is within easy walking distance of the next and all quite striking to gawk at for a while.
We also happened upon the Rose Windmill. Dutch windmills, while world famous, are harder to find today so we were more than surprised to find the last remaining windmill of Delft in the centre of town. The 350 year old stone windmill is a real highlight and even though it is no longer in operation it’s a fun stopping point for a day in Delft.
Our last day in Amsterdam was filled with snacks and museum visits. We elected to go to the Rijksmuseum, stopping along the way for shopping and poffertjes. Those little Dutch pancakes were smothered in nutella and strawberries and were absolutely delicious! Kudos to the chef for giving us a few extras for free!
The last stop for us in Amsterdam was the Rijksmuseum. It is a Dutch national museum filled with relics of Dutch arts and history.
The experience was fantastic. The Rijksmuseum holds a great collection covering Dutch naval history, influence of religion, paintings of the Dutch masters, and heirlooms belonging to influential families from centuries ago. The stairways a little bit confusing but on the whole it was a great experience and gave us a really good overview of Dutch culture.
After the museum we made our way back slowly following the canals as the lights all came on. It’s just another little perk of Amsterdam, in January the Light Festival is on so every canal is filled with light. Check it out some time!