first stops in amsterdam

Earlier this year, WOW Air started offering flights out of Pittsburgh. If you haven’t heard of the airline, they are a low cost, Icelandic carrier offering transatlantic flights and have been expanding in the US. After searching through all the European cities they service, we settled on flying into Amsterdam and out of London. We’d sort out the in between cities as our trip got closer.

I’ve never been to Amsterdam, so I was excited to explore a new city. As newbies, we filled our first day with somewhat touristy stops.IMG_3943Our first stop was the Rijksmuseum, to get fully acquainted with Dutch art and history. You could dedicate at least a full day to this museum, popping in and out of the many exhibits. We decided to glance over a museum map and beeline to exhibits that were of interest to us to maximize our time.

We wandered through rooms of ceramics and pottery, intricate woodcarvings, painting after painting, estate collections, and model ships and armory.

One of most popular items in the collection is The Night Watch by Rembrandt. There is a whole museum dedicated to Rembrandt’s life and works in another part of the city, but it was not in our plans for this trip.IMG_4001One of my favorite parts of the museum was the library. I love the rows upon rows of books, the three story spiral stair case in the corner, and a few people flipping through pages and scribbling notes at the tables below.

After spending a few hours inside, we were ready for some fresh air and a bite to eat. The Albert Cuyp Market was just the ticket. Not too far from the museum area, the Albert Cuyp street market has started to cater towards tourists more so than other street markets that scatter Amsterdam’s neighborhoods, but it has plenty of vendors that offer great midday treats (stroopwafel anyone?) and fresh flowers.

Once we got a little bit of energy back, we strolled over to Vondelpark.IMG_4180I’ve been lucky enough to live in cities with massive public parks in the middle of everything. They allow an escape from the hustle and bustle of the city around them, and are perfect for people watching. Vondelpark looked to be a popular place to meet with friends for a small picnic, as well as a spot for students to bring their books to study in the sun. We enjoyed watching all the dogs running around, and were shocked at how well behaved they all were – we definitely could work on our own dogs’ obedience…

We completely lucked out and were joined by the sun for our afternoon stroll as we explored each corner of the park.

As the sun started to go down, we headed to dinner.

Not far from Vondelpark, tucked away from central sights along a neighborhood street, is one of the coziest restaurants I’ve been to, Dikke Graaf.

We tucked into a glass a wine while we read through the menu.

I would recommend selecting several of the antipasti – there are plenty of options! – to share. There is a small list of main dishes, but I felt that the starters were really the star of the show and I would have happily traded my main dish to split a few more of the small dishes.

We started with olives, burrata, and carpaccio. E doesn’t like olives, so I had those to myself, but we were fighting over the last bites of the other two dishes! I followed with the chef’s fish – a shrimp pasta, and E had the chef’s beef with a beet risotto.IMG_4078IMG_4080IMG_4084It was a perfect day to kick off our trip. We went to bed happy, full, and looking forward to the next few days in Amsterdam.

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