Many people rigorously plan a schedule of everything they want to see and do in a place. They plan out museum times and events around when to beat the crowds. They find the most hip places to eat and popular hotels with the best views.
I couldn’t be more far from this …
I plan on whim and go into travel with no agenda except my flight and housing. I use Air BnB religiously and I have had nothing but exceptional experiences with this. I don’t fuss or look at the “things to do” in a city.
I simply show up.
This is a beautiful part of traveling solo because I am on my own agenda and my own schedule. And my free spirited personality loves to wander.
Flying into Amsterdam I knew how to get to my apartment via directions from the host. I always choose public transportation because I love the experience of finding my way around the same way people who live there do. I like to live like the locals whenever I travel as much as possible and I believe public transportation is one of the key factors for doing this. You see people in their element and just living life. For someone who enjoys people watching, I love getting onto a train in a foreign place and just observing.
I headed out from the airport to my neighborhood in Amsterdam Oud-West and I fell in love immediately with the area. My apartment was on the most beautiful street that reminded me of the upper east side in New York City. My host was extremely gracious and got me all settled in before leaving me on my way. I love meeting my hosts! They are always so friendly and I believe pay a little more special attention to you when you travel solo!
I headed out immediately as I was starving! I found a grocery store and loaded up on chocolate because where else would I go first when I am in Europe! HA! I got to the checkout line and they didn’t take credit cards and their ATM was broke so with a sad heart, I left my chocolate and went out to find a bank. I stopped at a few boutique hotels and they all pointed me to the nearest ATM. When I finally got my cash I headed back and got my chocolate!!! Yes, this is a MASSIVE priority! Chocolate in tow and I knew I needed actual food now. But before I could find a place to eat, I found the cutest wine shop so obviously had to stop in there to grab a bottle. NOW I needed real food and since it was later and I was so tired I settled on a take away pizza from a small pizzeria close to my apartment. So dinner that night I chowed at home … pizza, chocolate, wine … off to bed and I was a happy woman!
I got up and went for a morning run around Vondel Park! It was SO beautiful and I loved being outside in the fall crisp air! The sun was shining and there were so many people out. I ran about 5k and headed to grab some food. Hands down one of my favorite things to do in Europe is find small cafes and sip a cappuccino and enjoy a pastry or breakfast. I found a cute one next to my home and enjoyed a relaxing morning in the cafe with some wandering the streets and shops after. I also found the I AMSTERDAM sign downtown and I snapped a bazillion pictures!
I went to the Amsterdam Marathon Expo later this day. I have some friends from Scotland, one I met in Chicago at the marathon in 2014 and the other I went to Kenya with in 2015 through our mutual friends charity trip! They had one other friend join them too. We all met up and it was such a joyous reunion seeing them!! We snapped pictures and got all our gear for the race before heading out to dinner. We found a cute pub type place and caught up on everything from our personal lives to our adventures to politics!
I slept in late and knew it was going to be a more chill day with my feet up most of the day because I had a race the next day. I did have some plans though to meet up with Sarah, a girl I had met through Instagram who lived near Amsterdam and was running the marathon as well. We met in a really cute cafe and instantly hit it off. One thing I have learned with meeting random strangers from the internet (could that sound any more creepy!?!) is that you never REALLY know what you are going to get. My gut has been right most all of the time however, but it is pretty funny when someone has a persona online and they are nothing like what you thought OR they look differently OR you have zero chemistry OR the opposite and someone who you didn’t think you would maybe like turns out to be someone you simply adore. This is why we can’t read too much into social media and have to be flexible in our thinking of what and who IS this person outside of a square box. Needless to say, Sarah and I were kindred spirits from the moment we met and had such a great time chatting all morning over multiple cups of cappuccino and coffee, cake and yummy breakfast! I wrote more about her in my marathon blog post HERE.
After we parted ways, I headed to the grocery store to grab a few things and then went back for a nap. After my nap I wandered the streets and grabbed a nice soup and cappuccino while people watching and just relaxing with my feet up in a cafe. I spent a chunk of my afternoon here and then headed home after grabbing a sandwich to eat before bed. I went to sleep early to make sure I was rested up for the big race!
MARATHON DAY!!!!! You can read my full marathon recap HERE.
I met up with my Scottish boys for a late brunch at the cutest little cafe! Such a great time. I love these dudes and we parted ways saying … We will see you somewhere in the world next time! It is a fun feeling knowing you have people you love and who love you scattered across the globe and you never know when by chance your paths may cross again. I love these connections and friendships. They mean everything to me. Things don’t mean shit to me. If you were to go in home you would find cheap picture frames with people and mostly my children and all of our memories. I collect memories and people from around the world … not “things”.
The rest of Monday I played tourist just wandering the streets.
Anne Frank Home
“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.”
I walked to the Anne Frank home because I love her stories and book and have since I was a little girl. Knowing the line would be outrageous I just wanted to walk by there. As suspected the line was long and I am not patient enough to wait in long lines and be funneled through places with people. SOOOOOO in my style I found a cozy bench and just looked at the outside of the home.
Anne wrote this:
“Not being able to go outside upsets me more than I can say, and I’m terrified our hiding place will be discovered and that we’ll be shot.”
I wanted to appreciate the “outside” that she so desperately longed for. I looked down the street and then walked down the block and back to my bench. I sat there and reflected. I know the inside is where her story was wrote BUT these outside streets are where she lived. I imagined her sister and her playing on the streets and tossing rocks into the canal. I imagined her mother walking them to school and then after school her running outside to the square nearby to play with her friends. I imagined walking in her footstep while she COULD take footsteps. Freely and carefree just as any child should be able to do. It was a powerful moment just being where this sweet girl told a story that changed history and continues to inspire the lives of MILLIONS of people. If that little girl could have known then how her name would go down in history as one of the greatest writers and people would line the street every single day simply to see where she wrote her diary … man … that emotion … I just felt her smiling down and shared a moment of gratitude spirit to spirit style. I then walked off and felt so happy that I could honor her life, myself. In the way that I know best to. To honor the footsteps and running and carefree childhood that I know she would not want forgotten too.
After this beautiful moment I wanted to bask in the light of the sun and parked myself at a cafe next to a canal and enjoyed an early dinner just watching people go by and feeding the little bird that kept coming up to me. It was a beautiful day spent with friends and honoring someone I revere as a hero and one of my inspirations as a fellow writer and diary keeper.
My last day in Amsterdam I once again spent wandering. Up and down the canals, taking pictures and people watching. When the weather turned to rain, I grabbed my laptop and headed to a cafe near my home. I sat for hours at the window of this cafe enjoying multiple cappuccinos and a big slice of apple pie that I savored every single bite of. I spent my moments writing and reflecting. This was my favorite time in all of Amsterdam. A rainy day, sitting at a cafe while writing. I honestly can’t think of anything or anywhere else I would rather be than in that moment. It was my personal heaven in that back corner and I will forever look upon those last hours in Amsterdam so fondly. I wrote until it was dark, packed up and grabbed a dinner to eat while I packed up back at my cozy little home away from home.
I left early Wednesday morning. Many people go on adventures to escape or because something is “missing” or they are trying to fill a void. I go on adventures because I find different pieces of myself that I didn’t know exist before. I find more trust in humanity and within myself. I find confidence in working out a tough situation. I find solace in watching the lives of people millions of miles away from my corner of the universe. I thrive on making connections and meeting people from different walks of life and different cultures. It has helped me become even more open and loving of people in general. I have never been a judgmental person but seeing the way people live in other areas other than your own bubble makes you realize there is no “one-way” or “right-way” to do ANYthing. We are all just simply humans who crave affection, love and connection at the end of the day. We are all seeking happiness and joy in our lives and find it in various means. We are all beautiful humans doing the best we can and we all fall short.
My dear Anne Frank said,
“Despite everything, I believe that people are really good at heart.”
That is one of the greatest lessons I have learned through travel and one that I pass down to my children. I believe in humanity and the good in people. I am not naive to the bad but I choose to look toward the good. I have had a drunk old man wander the streets of Rome to help me find my apartment and we parted ways with a hug. I have had flight attendants care for me on a flight I was so sick that I was laying in the airplane bathroom wanting to die. I have had a friend I met two days previous help me when I fell and impelled my arm with a stick while climbing a volcano in the middle of the night in Bali. I have had people open their homes to me, not knowing who I am or only knowing me for a few hours. People are good. Travel enhances your perception of this great big beautiful world. Amsterdam will live in my heart forever.
Until the next adventure …
Soooooo I am not a food blogger or anything BUT I wanted to share a few of my favorite places I ate while in Amsterdam!!!! You MUST try them out!!!!
I got the Eggs Norwegian here and it was to die for! I loved this little place for a late brunch and it was right around the corner from my house. The crowd was funky and VERY diverse. Great people watching and a fun atmosphere!
This is where I spent the morning with Sarah and it was probably my favorite meal in Amsterdam! I got the Eggs Benedict Et Spiritus Sancti and tons of cappuccino! The carrot cake was delicious too! This is right by the Van Gough Museum and such a fun little gem!
This little cafe was FANTASTIC and my favorite cappuccino! I got the Avocado on Toast as well and sat by the window so I could people watch! They are also known for their bloody marys!
I got brunch here with my boys after the marathon. I got the Poached Eggs “Rockafella” and wanted to lick the bowl. This place used to be a theatre and was hands down the coolest PLACE I ate at in Amsterdam. So pretty and such a funky vibe. It screamed Amsterdam to me!
5. Broodje Bert
This place came highly recommended from an Instagram friend. I got the Goat Cheese, Honey and Walnut Sandwich and sat by the canal to eat it. It was freaking delicious and massive portions for cheap. A great place to fill up for a day of walking around one of the most beautiful cities on the planet!
This place was a favorite of mine and I went multiple times! It is a tiny sandwich shop that was near my home but had the BEST Tuna Melt I have ever had in my life! The portions are massive and once again it was pretty cheap. One sandwich could easily feed two normal people but my appetite is pretty much that of two people! Haha!
This is the cafe I spent writing in. I ordered the Apple Pie and had some of the best moments of my trip here. It was a beautiful little cafe and I can only attest to the cappuccinos and pie but the rest of the food looked amazing as well!
If you have any other Amsterdam Favorites, add them in the comments below!!!
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