The Netherlands: Amsterdam

June 27th, 2015. Europe, Netherlands
Amsterdam Entry #9

Amsterdam Entry

Our first stop in The Netherlands was its most populous city, Amsterdam. We stayed in an apartment just outside of old town for five nights, and made the most of every moment. As soon as we arrived, we had dinner at a local bar/cafe and wandered around the neighborhood before getting groceries. Then on our first full day, we walked downtown and explored the nine streets area where I fell in love with the canal houses. Each one had its own character with subtle differences. We also admired all of the houseboats that lined each canal and were covered with potted plants and deck furniture.

While we were out, we stopped by the central train station and purchased 48-hour Amsterdam city cards (€59 each). We did the city card thing in Dubrovnik, and it easily paid for itself. I thought about it in Copenhagen, but decided against it and kind of regret it. So when we looked into the Amsterdam version and saw it covered admission to a few different museums we wanted to go to anyways, all public transportation, and a canal tour, we decided to go for it. Of course, as soon as we made the investment, I looked at every single “free” admission item and charted our route for the 48-hour window taking into account opening hours, distance from home, access to transportation, and proximity to restaurants. It turned out to be a great way to see the city, and we only saw about half of the buildings/museums/exhibits I had marked.

Day 1
Amsterdam Zoo – the butterfly house was by far our favorite
Micropia – By far the best exhibit I have ever been to. Props to Kossman.Dejong & Art+Com Studios
The Hermitage – The portrait gallery is amazing, and because we went pretty quickly through the Alexander, Napolean, and Josephine exhibit, I left a little more informed but also confused by their relationships to one another and the early 19th century history of France and Russia. I think that’s okay because now I want to research it more so that I actually understand it.
The Botanical Gardens – Again, the butterflies! Also, the beautiful green houses were a highlight.
Canal Tour – pretty gimmicky and the view from the water isn’t any better than from the street. I definitely wouldn’t pay for this on its own.

Day 2
Stedelijk Museum – I went for the architecture. While the exterior of the new addition looks like a bathtub, it’s still intriguing. However, the interior galleries are beautifully lit, flow seamlessly between the old and new, and highlight the original details including the grand staircase. Unfortunately, the new super escalator tube was closed when we were there. Also, there happened to be a Matisse exhibit that was great.
FOAM – A photography gallery in an old canal house. Kind of quirky and confusing.
Museum Geelvinck – An old canal house with a beautiful garden. The house wasn’t much, the garden was.
Museum Van Loon – Another canal house with an even more beautiful garden! The interior was just as amazing as the exterior.
NEMO – Again, I wanted to visit this one for the architecture and I actually thought it was the maritime museum because the building looks like the hull of a ship. But it’s a science museum full of little kids and germs! Even so, Nik and I walked in expecting to walk back out in five minutes and ended up staying an hour.
EYE Film Museum – There are several reasons to go to the EYE…1) The building 2) Free ferry ride 3) Dinner or drinks overlooking Amsterdam 4) cool exhibits (The William Kentridge exhibit there now is fantastic) 5) fantastic movies – we saw Blade Runner – Final Cut and I finally understand what all the hype is about.

On our final full day in the city, the public transportation portion of our card was still active, so we rode one of the street cars all the way to the end near the IJmeer Lake. It was nice to see the mid-density residential neighborhoods and we had fantastic ice cream.

Next year's tulips

Next year’s tulips

Amsterdam Entry #1-2

Amsterdam Entry #2-3

Amsterdam Entry #3-8

Amsterdam Entry #4-9

Zip ties

Zip ties

Bridge Names

Bridge Names

Bicycle Lot

Bicycle Lot

Amsterdam Entry #10-11

Amsterdam Entry #10-11

Amsterdam Entry #12-13

Amsterdam Entry #12-13

Amsterdam Entry #14-15

Amsterdam Entry #14-15

Canal lined with boat houses

Canal lined with boat houses

Boat Houes

Boat Houes

Red boat & nest

Red boat & nest

Nest & Baby

Nest & Baby

Boat House Garden

Boat House Garden

Amsterdam Entry #16

Amsterdam Entry #16

Gunters

Gunters

Script

Script

Closing Time

Closing Time

Butterfly with large yellow & blacks pot

Butterfly with large yellow & blacks pot

Butterfly with zebra markings

Butterfly with zebra markings

Butterfly with leaf green markings

Butterfly with leaf green markings

Micropia...you should go!

Micropia…you should go!

Glass Wing Butterfly

Glass Wing Butterfly

Cacoons

Cacoons

Draw Bridge

Draw Bridge

Canal Cruise

Canal Cruise

Bridges

Bridges

The Amsterdam Neck Gables

The Amsterdam Neck Gables

Chillin in the window

Chillin in the window

Dwars...our dinner destination

Dwars…our dinner destination

My worn out dinner companion

My worn out dinner companion

Stediljk Museum - Benthem Crouwel Architects

Stediljk Museum – Benthem Crouwel Architects

Stediljk  Interior - old meets new

Stediljk Interior – old meets new

Museum Van Loon

Museum Van Loon

Van Loon Garden

Van Loon Garden

Van Loon Garden

Van Loon Garden

Nemo Science Museum - by Renzo Piano

Nemo Science Museum – by Renzo Piano

EYE Film Institute - Delugan Meissl Associated Architects

EYE Film Institute – Delugan Meissl Associated Architects

The IJmeer Lake

The IJmeer Lake

Leaving Amsterdam

Leaving Amsterdam

Useful Info:
Our Amsterdam AirBnB Wishlist
Amsterdam City Card Info

Nik’s Blog: 5 Days in Amsterdam, 2 Days in Dordrecht

Copenhagen, Denmark: Where Wanderlust Began

June 21st, 2015. Denmark, Europe
Nyhavn

Nyhavn

Like many Americans of my generation, I studied abroad for a semester in college. I stayed with a host family in downtown Copenhagen, went to school with about 50 other Americans, rode a bike every day, didn’t mix with the locals, discovered that urban living was great, and once the semester was done I packed up to backpack around the continent.

It has been 12 years since that semester, and when we began planning this trip, Copenhagen was at the top of my list. I wanted to show Nik the first city I ever saw outside of the United States. I wanted to retrace my steps and bike through my old neighborhood. I wanted to eat Danish rugbrød, “snails” (cinnamon rolls), bagel sandwiches, Fransk hotdogs, and shawarma. I wanted to browse through the Danish furniture and homewares stores for days. All of my memories of this place are precious, and I wanted them to all hold up.

Well, some held up, but many didn’t.

First, I wanted to find all the buildings and plazas I remembered from my daily life. Before we arrived, I starred everything on my phone to jog my memory, but I didn’t think I would need it once we were there. Wrong. The problem was that we came into the city from the west, and I used to come into the city from the east. Because of this, nothing was where it was supposed to be. We even found the Carlsberg brewery on our first bike ride, which I could have sworn wasn’t even in the city of Copenhagen. This made me realize that I missed a lot of the city even though I was there for 3 full months, so I was glad we decided to stay in two neighborhoods I had never heard of because it was a completely new-to-me city.

My second set of memories to recreate were food based, and I mostly failed at this. The rugbrød was exactly as I remembered and I ate a ton of it. I never found the “snails” shop I remembered, and the cinnamon rolls we tried did not live up. I never found the bagel sandwich shop, but I also didn’t look very hard because of my geographic confusion. I couldn’t bring myself to try the Fransk hotdog (a hot dog shoved inside a french baguette with mayo) or the shawarma, but the Døp classic organic hotdog was delicious. Luckily, all was not lost because Copenhagen has become a foodie town in the last decade. They now have local and international food trucks, great coffee shops, top-notch bakeries, several farmers markets, and beautifully designed restaurants with menus to match. We had our first Asian meals since we left the US, we had great coffee and pastries, and we had one amazing dinner at Sankt Annæ 8. I wish we could have taken more advantage of the food, but the one thing that has stayed the same about the food is that it was all very expensive. I’d say everything was at least 25-50% more expensive than San Francisco, so we weren’t willing to pay that.

The third memory I wanted to recreate was my adoration for Danish design. For this one, it was a complete success. Just as I remembered and better. Their homes are simple and well thought out. Their restaurants are clean with no fluff. Their parks are comfortable and well used. Their bike lanes are wide and safe. Their bikes are beautiful with all the kid seats and hauling capacity. Their fashion is sharp. They are just a notch above the world in so many ways. Of course, they know this and are proud and sometimes pompous about it. But they have a successful and creative country, so why not?

In hindsight, I put a lot of pressure on Copenhagen to be perfect, and when it wasn’t I struggled to not be disappointed. But the city has changed, and I have changed. I think both are for the better.

Where I slept on my very first night in Europe

Where I slept on my very first night in Europe

Danish Parliament

Danish Parliament

Spires

Spires

Parks

Parks

It's a biker's city

It’s a biker’s city

Up the ramp of the Round Tower

Up the ramp of the Round Tower

From the top of the Round Tower

From the top of the Round Tower

Places I missed the first time…

The Main House

The Main House

Our Garden

Our Garden

Our Cottage

Our Cottage

Stucco vs Raw

Stucco vs Raw

Jolly Cola

Jolly Cola

Louisiana Cafe

Louisiana Cafe

Bricks

Bricks

Louisiana Cafe

Louisiana Cafe

The Øresund Sound

The Øresund Sound

Mid Century Auditorium

Mid Century Auditorium

Basket weave seats & linen

Basket weave seats & linen

Louisiana garden

Louisiana garden

Tuborg

Tuborg

Through the Labyrinth

Through the Labyrinth

Aspects of the city that didn’t exist before…

New Construction

New Construction

Hip

Hip

Wholesale shopping carts

Wholesale shopping carts

We didn't go in, but we saw it

We didn’t go in, but we saw it

The gymnast

The gymnast

Dreamy canal apartments

Dreamy canal apartments

Useful Info:
Our AirBnB wish list for Copenhagen
Bycyklen: The Copenhagen version of City Bikes

Nik’s Blog: An Expensive Week in Copenhagen, Denmark

Croatia: Road Trip Leg 7 & Dubrovnik

June 14th, 2015. Croatia, Europe
Agriculture of the Neretva River Delta

Agriculture of the Neretva River Delta

Our final view of the Dinaric Alps meeting the Adriatic Sea

Our final view of the Dinaric Alps meeting the Adriatic Sea

The epic views of the Dalmatian coast continued on our seventh and final leg of the Croatian Road Trip. The Dinaric Alps kept crashing into the Adriatic, and a smattering of little islands were always to the west. A new element in this section was the introduction of agriculture to the delta of the Neretva River just after we passed through the small coastal section of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The river has been damned in multiple locations upstream to take advantage of its flow for hydroelectric power, and it has been distributed throughout the delta for irrigation resulting in a green and blue patchwork of farm land.

At the southern tip of the country, Dubrovnik is our final destination in the Mediterranean. Every day has been sunny and mostly dry with average daytime temperatures of 80-85˚F so we spent the first few days ducking into the shadows of the old town with frequent stops at mini markets for cold beverages and ice cream. Then we spent a couple days in the sea swimming and kayaking. Then we spent a day walking around the newer sections, and today we have stayed put in our air conditioned apartment.

The old town is better than I expected, but the city as a whole is geared to tourism much more than I expected. This made it easy to get around and comfortable to be in, but it certainly wasn’t a glimpse into the average Croatian life.

The city within walls

The city within walls

Dubrovnik & Lokrum Island

Dubrovnik & Lokrum Island

Old and new terra cotta roofs

Old and new terra cotta roofs

Hiding from the sun

Hiding from the sun

Construction

Construction

He brings his own shade

He brings his own shade

Fishing nets wrapped and ready

Fishing nets wrapped and ready

Beautiful door

Beautiful door

I love people

I love people

The Onofrio Fountain

The Onofrio Fountain

Photo bomb

Photo bomb

Walking on walls

Walking on walls

The Stradun of Dubrovnik at night

The Stradun of Dubrovnik at night

Dubrovnik Cathedral in the distance

Dubrovnik Cathedral in the distance

Inside Lovrijenac (St. Lawrence Fortress)

Inside Lovrijenac (St. Lawrence Fortress)

New Dubrovnik

New Dubrovnik

Swimming

Swimming

Kayaks for the open Sea

Kayaks for the open Sea

Before their arms ache

Before their arms ache

Cold Drinks...aka Buza Bar

Cold Drinks…aka Buza Bar

The cliff side of Buza Bar

The cliff side of Buza Bar

I have a feeling that this might have been the last time I will swim in a huge body of water this year. I’m going to miss it.

Alone

Alone