Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Amsterdam!

Oh Amsterdam! I have fallen in love. First with my Jaapie and now with you! Where do I begin? Jaap and I just spent Pasen (Easter) in this incredible city. I feel like I keep repeating myself whenever I write about a new place we visit, but this city is different. There is a different vibe here that makes you feel relaxed and put at ease. It's something that I haven't experienced in other cities. Maybe it's all the pot smoking? Or all of the young travelers and backpackers. Whatever it is, Amsterdam is definitely a city you can come to unwind in.
I feel so lucky that we can hop on a train and 2.5 hours later arrive in beautiful European destinations. After researching hotels in Amsterdam for the weekend we actually decided to stay at a hotel at the airport, Citizen M. My Dutch teacher recommended it and I read about it online. Hotels for Pasen weekend were so expensive and we thought we would get more for our money. I'm glad we stayed here because the hotel was excellent. I highly recommend it! Very modern, beautiful design, and super friendly staff. 
I had to take some pictures because I thought it was so unique and interesting looking. I felt like we were living with the Jetsons for the weekend, minus the robotic flying machines. The fancy lighting and pod-like showers and bathrooms make this place feel futuristic. There is a Phillips touch screen remote in each room that controls the T.V., lighting, and temperature. Very cool!
After we stopped playing with all the lights in our hotel room, we decided to start exploring Amsterdam! Our first stop was at the Rijskmuseum. This beautiful museum houses many works by Vermeer and Rembrandt and their pupils, among other artists. We saw Rembrandt's Night Watch and Vermeer's Milkmaid which I also saw while it was on special exhibition in New York at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I think the museum is still under construction, but I'm happy we were able to visit. It's a must-see in Amsterdam.
So in anticipation of visiting a big city with more culinary options, I did some research on restaurants before we arrived. One of my biggest gripes about living in Maastricht is the lack of diversity and it's small size. Even though Maastricht is a university town with a large expat community that makes the city 'international', there are many aspects of big city life that I miss. I love where we live, but living in such a small place makes culinary adventures  limited when you are looking for something different. Maastricht is known as the 'culinary city' of the Netherlands, but many of the good restaurants come with a big price tag. I was so excited to see what Amsterdam had to offer. I have been craving Mexican food and thought that this would be a good opportunity to satisfy the craving. 
I read about Los Pilones in some online reviews and thought we had to get a taste. Jaap made a reservation for us for Friday night and I was looking forward to it all day. Holy margarita!!! I haven't had a margarita since we left NY (that's about 9 months ago). It was the highlight for me. The food was different than the Mexican-American food I'm used to, but it was definitely yummy. 
Saturday morning we went to the Albert Cuyp Market. Jaap had fun exploring the comic books at a book stand and I enjoyed visiting a large spice market. With the hundreds of spices to choose from I ended up buying baking powder and baking soda! Hahahaha! The things you come to value when living abroad. 
Afterwards, we met up with Jaap's friends from high school. Two of his friends organized a little reunion and we all met up for a picnic. Spring is here! In fact, it really felt like summer. We totally lucked out with great weather the entire weekend.
The afternoon was spent hanging out with Jaap's friends and then the evening was spent hanging out with my friends. My friend Erika from NYC was in town with her boyfriend Kars (another Dutchie). We enjoyed a fun evening of dinner and drinks outside on a canal. A perfect ending to a great day. More about Amsterdam next time!

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