A Travellerspoint blog

Anne Frank Museum and Rijksmuseum

Amazing experiences all around

We started the day at The Anne Frank Museum. It's not a particularly large museum but it is very powerful. We went early at 915 and it was still cramped at times inside the museum. But better than later times. We walked through the secret annex and I just cannot imagine the fear and confinement they must have felt. Watching Otto Frank talk about his daughter was heartbreaking. Overall, I left with a sense of confusement, awe, and sadness.

We then headed to Pancakes Amsterdam for brunch and some lightheartedness. I had a bacon and cheese Dutch pancake and Michelle had bacon, banana, chili pepper Dutch pancake. Super delicious and savory. The pancakes here are way thinner and lighter like almost a crepe. I definitely recommend getting Dutch pancakes at some point if you visit.

We the. Went to the Rijksmuseum which is an amazing collection of art and a beautiful museum in its own right. The library however is amazing and is a definite must see! We also got to appreciate the Rembrandt, Vermeer, Van Goghs. Cool museum but definitely get the museum app on your phone and bring headphones for a cool audio tour.

We then left and headed to the Canal Cruise. Ours was mainly a tour via headset so not super interesting but it was amazing to see all the different neighborhoods and bridges and different canals. We did try to brace the cold and sat where it was not indoor and our popsicle bodies regretted it.

We left and headed for the warmth of Foodhallen which is a good hall made of different restaurant stalls and bars. Kind of like a cooler version of the Public Market. We got 3 different foods here. We had delicious bitterballens from De ballenbar. Yum. My favorite was the bouillabaisse which was slightly seafoody. We got "hot pig" from Rough Kitchen, which is pork belly and pulled pork (pulled pork was like a sweeter home version without the smiley bbq flavor). We got a truffle hot dog from Bulls and Dogs. I recommend the first 2 but the dogs I would leave. I also tried a gin and tonic with grapefruit and ginger, which was good but nothing amazing. And we also had tap beer from the bar which was pretty delicious. It was a great way to unwind and relax after a walking day and week of touristy vacation. (They also were spinning some 11990/2000 jams so I really couldn't complain)

Pics to come. Too lazy right now to upload!

Posted by E.M.N 15:40 Archived in Netherlands Tagged amsterdam rijksmuseum Comments (0)

Keukenhof Gardens and Van Gogh

Tulipppppsssss - literally the majority of my photos will be flowers

Today was way windy in Amsterdam! It was a wee bit colder than yesterday so it was not as enticing to walk and wander. We started with a croissant breakfast in the lobby of the hotel.

We then headed to Lindbergh tours at central station to hop onto our tour bus to Keukenhof Gardens. Make sure you are 30 min exactly on time because they already started heading to the bus then. It was nice not to have to think about transportation and because it was the very first tour group of the season, the Keukenhof employees were celebratory and took a group photo of our whole bus. They also sent us home with a bouquet of daffodils. Luckily, the sun was out, so the gardens warmed up while we walked around the expansive grounds. We tried to fit all the exhibitions in our 3 hour time window and really only missed 1 section so this is an easy half day trip. I wish more flowers and tulips were in bloom though, but even still there were a lot of flowers on display. The garden itself is cute and great for kids because there is a petting zoo, a boat tour with a tiny canal running around, playgrounds, and a windmill! We climbed up the windmill and could imagine the amazing view you would get if the tulips were in full bloom. I highly recommend coming in mid-April to see it in all its glory and likely doable as a trip without a tour guide. We admired the beauties and colors of the flowers in bloom and the fragrant and pleasant smell of spring in the air. We also had a warm stroopwafel by the windmill. Yummy caramel smacked in between 2 very crunchy waffle thins.
Mondrian tulip pattern
Taste the tulip rainbow
Beachin' around -- super comfy hammocks
It's a me, Mario!
Croquette sandwich -- not bad, still not sure what was in it

We hopped onto the bus with new daffodils and headed to the Van Gogh Museum. Since Van Gogh was born here but spent most of his days in Paris, the collection can seem lacking. I love Van Gogh anyways so I loved looking at all his paintings and trying to feel the emotions in every brush stroke. We learned about the story and history behind the 2 recently found paintings that were stolen in 2002! The "Seascape at Scheveningen" was one of his first artworks using heavy brush strokes and i really liked it in comparison to the one I really liked which was "Seascape near Les Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer". The museum also has Irises, The Potato Eaters, Sunflowers, and many self portraits. You really feel like it would have been amazing to be an artist or in the presence of an artist in Paris at that time. (no photos since they don't really allow many)

We then headed back to the hotel to rest our feet and relax before meeting up with Virginia. We headed to the rooftop bar where there are views for days. The booze and beer and atmosphere at the lobby bar is way more chill and relaxing though. We got a drink and enjoyed the sunset until we started getting hungry and interested in dinner.

We headed to Kartika, an Indonesian restaurant that Virginia had researched. Apparently, Indonesian food is pretty good in Amsterdam. We ordered the preset menu which was about 18 euros a person and it was worth it. We had our gado gado, shrimp chips, sate, and goreng. It was all really delicious and spicy. We left with our stomachs' very happy and very full and called it a night.

Posted by E.M.N 15:14 Archived in Netherlands Tagged amsterdam tulips keukenhof Comments (0)


Liking this city already

We had a quick brunch at House of Small Wonders and had "taco rice" and a soboro don. The soboro don was the better of the 2 dishes and super tasty and now I want to see the one in NYC. The cool thing about this place was the quaintness of the restaurant and decor. You walk up a spiral staircase to a place that almost feels like a greenhouse. Pretty cool.
Green Tea Matcha Latte
Soboro don (chicken)
Taco rice (pork)

We then headed to Schoenfeld Airport, which if you can avoid Berlin's airport, I would highly recommend it. Passengers don't see to know how to fly and will take forever to figure out that water was banned many years ago. Then you get past security and stand in a very narrow hallway waiting for your gate to be assigned. And if you need the bathroom, there may be only one stall. Wow they need to remodel. So I was super excited just to land at Amsterdam's airport. Immediately, you notice that Amsterdam has more people of different ethnicities and it was definitely cleaner and happier than Berlin.

We headed to Volkshotel, where we are staying. I have to say this is the coolest hotel I have ever been to. Like I don't think I'm cool enough even to stay here. It has a very cool and hipster but not arrogant vibe with a huge area for studying, working, and a huge bar. Great choice so far. We even got some bar snacks: Bitterballen (delicious little veal fried potato balls), Rendang Croquette (which was rendang fried potato balls), and hot flames (meat filled egg rolls). All snacks were super tasty and satisfying.

Hot flames and rendang croquette

We then preceded to wander the city with a friend who had spent the previous day figuring this city out. It was nice to wander and enjoy the cute houses and amazing canals. The only thing was remembering to not walk on the bike paths. We then ate dinner at Cua (which is an Argentinian restaurant). We had the medallions, rib eye, and a beet salad. It was all delicious and the perfect amount of food to cap the night. We then wandered back to the hotel after picking up some fries while enjoying the city at night.


Posted by E.M.N 15:37 Archived in Netherlands Tagged canals amsterdam Comments (0)

Museum Island and East Side Gallery

And lots of eating!

This morning we slept in a bit and headed to the Orange Cafe across the street for a light breakfast. I really needed fruit so I got yogurt with fruit and Michelle had a croissant and we both had tea. It was a really nice breakfast and the yogurt was really good but really tart. They also use fruits you don't expect.
We then walked over to Museum Island which is literally a 10 minute walk from our hotel. With our pass, we get all 5 museums but we made realistic goals to see the most famous, Pergamon, museum and the Neues Museum (houses mostly Egyptian and prehistoric artifacts). I really think these museums are worth visiting. The Pergamon museum has the most largest reconstructions of ancient places. The history, replicas, and artifacts were interesting and the audio guide was very helpful. They are renovating though so we missed some of the wings of the museum. We then ate at Gran Cafe which is right on the other side of the River Spree. We had a delicious pesto and mozzarella and tomato sandwich with goulash soup on the side. Both were simple and delicious.
Babylon gate (only replicated the SMALLER of the 2 gates -- I wish I could have seen the real thing!)
market Gate of Miletus (Stunning and shocking because 60% of this is real!)

Fueled, we headed to the Neues Museum is interestingly enough a museum of a museum as well as the Egyptian and prehistoric history. The museum was bombed in WWII and most of what was built for the museum in the early 1900s has been destroyed, but when you walk around you can notice the incredible paintings (granted not 100%) and beautiful archways that were originally intended to serve as a backdrop to the collected works. The coolest thing in the Neues museum is the bust of Nefertiti which is remarkable and super intricate, but you are not allowed to take pictures of it.

We also visited the Humboldt box which is a tourist attraction for donations for restoration of the palace on museum island. It is completely free and the views on top are amazing.

We then headed to the East Side Gallery to view the longest preserved part of the Berlin Wall. It was saved so that artists from around the world could display paintings and murals on it as a reminder of what happened. The gallery is awe inspiring and powerful. The only irony is that to preserve the paintings they put a fence around a previous fence. I really enjoyed looking at the interpretations artists had on their piece of artwork and even the graffiti that overlay some of it was clearly an expression of current and past times.

We then headed to Fassbender and Rausch because we were told it was the Willy Wonka of Germany. The chocolate is delicious here and they have really awesome chocolate carvings you can check out. I picked up some chocolate for me and for home. We then continued shopping by heading back to Alexander platz and exploring Alexa shopping center again (which apparently has 180 shops). It's a really big mall, but mainly I desperately wanted to buy a new Naketano (German brand) hoodie because I love the current one I own and they don't sell many in the states. We finished shopping and headed straight to dinner.

We decided to have our last German dinner be, well, German, so we walked over to Zer Letzen Instanz. This place apparently served Napoleon Bonaparte and was started in 1621, making it the oldest restaurant in Berlin. We ordered the 2 most recommended dishes: the pork knuckle with red cabbage (the pork was way more tender than Hofbrauhaus and the cabbage, although salty, was the perfect pairing with the pork meat -- and of course the skin was crispy and delicious) and the meatballs on mashed potatoes (mashed potatoes were my favorite of the meal but the meatball was just ok for me). We washed it all down with beer and chased it with apple pie a la mode (to cap off German adventures).

We then convinced ourselves that we needed a proper kebap and headed back to Mustafa's Gemuse Kebaps and ordered one doner kebap to share. WE DID NOT REGRET THIS DECISION at all despite our already full bellies and swollen and tired feet. YOU NEED to try this kebap. The meat is cut straight of the firepit like taco trucks in LA. They put lots of meat and the veggies are plentiful and the combination is really flavorful!!! It was also only 3,50 Euro!

Posted by E.M.N 15:16 Archived in Germany Tagged museum island berlin kebap pergamonmuseum Comments (0)


Drowning in history and gloomy weather

We flew to Berlin today. Berlin is way different from Munich. Munich is every much so the European mountain city you envision with pristine streets and beautiful buildings. Berlin is very much the city that has burned down so many times and had to build up with numerous influences. Berlin is not quite as clean or nice as Munich but it is rife with history and interesting stories. I learned so much about the history of this city that I was pretty oblivious and ignorant to.

The weather could not decide today if it was just going to be cloudy or cloudy and rainy. Thank goodness that I brought my LL bean boots.

We started the day with buying a Berlin Welcome card and museum island pass for 72h for 46 Euros. Then we headed to our hotel to abandon our luggage. We first actually explored the Alexa mall and I had MrcDonald's since I wasn't particularly hungry. I really wanted to try the rosti fries which are like soggy fried hash browns with a hint of onion ring flavor. It wasn't my favorite but kind of grew on me. I also ate chicken wings which actually were decent considering the source.
We then embarked on a 4.5 hour walking tour with Original Berlin tours. Aaron, our tour guide, was from England and no one else in our group was from the USA. So diverse here. We went to Alexanderplatz first and really the stark comparison you notice of here and Munich is the huge Soviet Union influence on East Berlin. The gloomy weather and dilapidated old school architecture left me feeling pretty meh. We continued on through Mitte and saw numerous buildings with a mix of Soviet Union and neo classical influences. We finally walked to Checkpoint Charlie which is this huge tourist trap. You can pay some people dressed up as US Army soldiers to take a picture at the replica of what the checkpoint looked like. Granted everywhere you look there is construction but on those walls is a ton of facts about the history of the Berlin Wall. Most of the wall has been destroyed but the city has placed a 2 brick pattern to represent where the wall used to be. It's pretty staggering and crazy to imagine living one night in one part of Berlin and not being able to go to your work on the other side the next night.
Neue Wache Memorial (powerful statue of a mother and her dead son by K├Ąthe Kollwitz who did lose her son to war - the top opens so that the statue endures all weather)
bricks indicating where the wall was
Checkpoint Charlie
Piece of the wall

We then continued on towards the Memorial of the European Jews, which was designed by a New Yorker. Our tour guide recommended walking diagonally through the artwork and you get submersed into these huge concrete walls. It gives you an overwhelming sense of envelopment and peacefulness while you get lost in the immensity of the concrete. I was very taken aback by the feeling the memorial leaves you with and Aaron talked about how the artist very much left this artwork up to interpretation to each individual person. I could see a person walking numerous times through this and feeling different each time. We then headed to the Brandenburg gate. It was GORGEOUS AND ORNATE. And very much so more awesome at night. Left me feeling very small and wishing California had more of this rich history. We headed back to the hotel to check in and then came back to the gate to head towards Reichstag Dome.
Brandenburg Gate (even prettier at night)

The Reichstag building has been reconstructed several times but this last construction included this awesome clear glass dome at the top of the ceiling meant to indicate a transparent government. I highly recommend visiting this because the views are amazing of the whole city and because the dome is really cool with a really helpful and informative audio tour. It was nice to admire the old and new architecture in the city from the encasing of a glass dome. It is however extremely crowded.
View of the Museum of cultures and the bell tower
The dome
overlooking the government
Us in the mirror

We then headed towards Mustafa's Kebap but the line was entirely too long and not mobile so we instead at another random Yorcke's kebap shop. The kebaps were cheap but just okay without a lot of meat. More importantly we invested in some bottled beers which were delicious. Thank you, German breweries for not disappointing. I was still hungry for some reason and since I binge eat in other countries, we headed straight to Curry 36. This was AMAZING AND DELICIOUS currywurst and even the pomme frites were delicious. Germans surprisingly make the most delicious ketchup and mayo. Possibly more delicious than Heinz. I devoured the snack. And we headed to a random Berlin bar near by for drinks to end the night. Bars in berling are nothing like the biergartens in Munich. It was very dark and very smokey with a romanticism to it. I think I actually prefer the rowdy gardens, but that may be the American in me.

Posted by E.M.N 16:25 Archived in Germany Tagged walking berlin tour reichstag original currywurst Comments (0)

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