June 06, 2019

Amsterdam reminded me of Copenhagen’s frat-boy little brother. It has a lot of the same street appeal: Venice-like waterways, lots of bikers, and steep-staired houses. But, overall we were distracted by the trash-strewn streets, rude bikers, and (likely a huge contributor) the intense heat wave while we were there.

That said, there were several parts we enjoyed.

Zaans Schanse

We hadn’t seen much about this place before arriving. I looked in a brochure in our Airbnb and luckily saw a photo of impressive windmills and wooden shoes. We made plans to get there on our own (bypassing the $70/person tour company) which worked out great.

We were thrilled with what we found there. Holland has relocated several iconic windmills and other buildings to the area to preserve the structures and the culture. We enjoyed a nice stroll around the waterway and windmills while Stella slept. We also got samples of every cheese they had in their cheese shop. After Stella woke up, she led the way to go pet the sheep and feed the goats. We finished by visiting the traditional wooden clog workshop. They have a demonstration of the lathe work that renders the shoes. They start with a mold of the shoe on one spindle and the raw wood on the other. The mold pushes an arm up and down that is applying the router blade to the raw wood. After that, they employ a similar technique with a drill to hollow out the toe. I’d always wondered how they made the wooden clogs. It was fun to watch.

Zaans Schanse ended up being the highlight of Amsterdam for us!


We rejoice whenever we can find a reliably delicious place to eat. Foodhallen was perfect. The vibe is hip and modern and nearly any cuisine is represented in one of the many food stalls. We went here 3 times and loved everything we got.

Anne Frank House

We walked to the museum one day only to find a sign saying all tickets were sold out. With a little more digging I found that they release the presale tickets a couple months in advance (they are scooped up quickly). They reserve some number of tickets for release day-of at 9am on their website. There is a virtual queue which said don’t bother to stick around if the line length is more than 200. When I logged on, it read 845. I decided to wait it out since I was quite sure many of them were bots. Luckily, the numbers continues to count down until we got our chance. After a few failed attempts to select the last few remaining tickets, one request went through. We were happy to be able to visit.

The museum itself is not much, but the audio tour helped give background and refresh my memory of the facts. Mainly, it was inspiring (and very, very sad) to see the secret annex. Such a small place for so many people to live for multiple years. I can’t imagine how they did it. The worst part for me is that someone sold them out mere months before they would have been liberated, securing their deaths.