I have to admit, I’m fairly proud of myself for coming up with that one. It couldn’t be more fitting! Our three pals from Moscow (all of whom are originally from Chicago) escaped the Russian tundra and came for a visit this past weekend. It. Was. Great. We had only met them upon our visit to Moscow a few weeks ago, but we bonded instantly over our expat commonalities (and Chicago roots). Sam, Cristina and Liz quickly became dear friends.
They arrived late on Thursday, so we didn’t get going on the tour de Amsterdam until Friday. As you will see, this trip largely revolved around something very important: FOOD. After stopping in our corner bakery for some seriously fresh pastries, we hustled over to the Anne Frank Huis, since the girls planned ahead and bought time slot tickets online. No, I still haven’t been because we are waiting for our permanent residency cards to get the Amsterdam museum membership. It takes forever to get those dam cards! Pun intended. 🙂 Anyway, our Moscow-teers said it was a completely emotional and moving experience. I just finished reading Anne Frank’s Diary for about the hundredth time, so I can’t wait to get in there.
I met back up with them afterward and we strolled through the Jordaan neighborhood, which is a maze of canal-lined streets filled with boutiques and cafes. Did I mention the weather was perfect? Well, it was. We then treated ourselves to lunch at my favorite spot, De Duvel. It was a true “ladies who lunch” complete with wine and mayo fries. I know, what a combination. After a quick reprieve at our apartment, we got back out there and wandered down one of my favorite streets, Utretchsestraat. It’s another one that, yes, is filled with boutiques, cafes and pubs. Jaro came to meet us for a drink and then we squeezed into a place I’ve been wanting to try for awhile: Pata Negra. It has a Michelin star and now I know why! Delicious tapas and sangria. Followed that with the obligatory quick sprint through the Red Light District and ended the night at a bar in the Old South area.
Saturday rolled around and after a lazy morning, we walked through the Albert Cuyp Market (er’eyday I’m shufflin’):
Then, we went to the museum district to take such tourist photos:
Cristina and I followed that up with a quick bite o’ herring! This place was actually pretty good, so I’ll happily take future guests here to give it a try:
Everyone else withheld since we were heading to another food venue anyway. We took a canal cruise around the city (complete with local beverages) and hopped off at the Jordaan, where we went to the Noordermarkt, a farmer’s market that we knew our visitors would adore. We all stocked up on tons of treats. Birthday boy scarfed down this fresh-off-the-bone ham sandwich:
Was it Jaro that ate it or his mustache? We may never know.
After more strolling around streets that look like this:
we headed back to our place to get ready for Jaro’s birthday dinner at one of our favorite
Indian African Middle Eastern restaurants, Bazar! It’s right in the hood. We all gorged and basically had to come home and just… sit. And groan. Happy birthday?
Sunday! Jaro’s real birthday! The Moscow-teers had tickets to Van Gough (again, we are waiting), so we met up with them after. With our food barely digested from the night before, we headed to Spang Makandra, an Indonesian restaurant, for birthday lunch and launched into food coma #2 for the weekend. Ginger beer and 4 sampler meals will do that to you.
What a great weekend. It was so nice to have people here to help celebrate Jaro’s birthday. It was also validating for me to show people around and watch them fall in love with this beautiful city. Life is good.