Amsterdam, Netherlands – June 2016
We’re back in the states after our month in Europe, and just now catching up on emails, the business and things like updating this blog. It was a fun trip and we are very grateful to have been able to take it, but it’s also good to get back into the swing of things here in the states. We didn’t work much while abroad so it was kinda like a “vacation” in the context of our new lives living on the road.
Our stay in Amsterdam was a relaxing six nights. All our hotel nights were free since we had a number of free night stay coupons with various hotel brands – earned from credit card signups, annual renewals and promotions – all set to expire in mid-2016. The downside however was that the free nights were with 3 different hotel chains, and we had to switch hotels twice during our visit. We stayed 2 nights each at the Crowne Plaza, the Hyatt Andaz, and the Radisson Blu. Amsterdam is a very expensive city for accommodation (these hotels ranged from $200-$500 per night) so it was a good use of the free nights. All the hotels were great but our favorite was probably the Andaz – it was probably the completely free mini-bar in the room that swayed us..
We took advantage of the small size of the Netherlands to take some daytrips from Amsterdam. Our first stop was Delft, which we found to be a more quaint version of the capital. Unfortunately, one of our most anticipated daytrip destinations – the Keukenhof gardens – had just closed for the season.
We also hopped on bikes for a couple of day trips from the capital. While Amsterdam is fascinating and completely unique, the canal-laced countryside of the Netherlands is what really drew us in. We loved how easy it was to navigate our bikes all around Waterland and the parks west of the city, as well as the novelty of biking down a smooth country path through bucolic fields of dairy cows and wild flowers while simultaneously passing boats in their highways of water. The Dutch, it seems are just as at home in the saddle or on the water as we in the states are in our cars.
Another bike ride we took was out to the city of Muiden, about 5 miles or so east of Amsterdam. We took a tandem bike this time which was a first for both of us. The perks of tandem we discovered were many: we could talk to each other while biking, we had great downhill momentum, one of us could be navigator while the other steered, and Mayne could get free back scratches in the front seat! Unfortunately, we popped the back tire towards the end of the day and found out just how heavy and cumbersome a non-functioning tandem bike can be…
The canals of Amsterdam have our vote for the best free attraction in the city. We walked and biked many miles and each canal had something slightly different than the last to offer for the viewer. Here are some of our favorite views from our stay:
And now here are some random photos of our favorite memories from Amsterdam:
Overall the Netherlands is still Mayne’s pick for best country in Europe to live in, and probably the second pick for Elisa after Belgium. It has a similar feel to Portland, Oregon (another fantastic city and on our short-list for next year) what with the temperate weather perfect for flower cultivation, ease of access to nature, loads of bikers, good beer and high quality of living. Nearly all the Dutch we met were friendly and getting around was a breeze. We really hope to return for a longer stay in the future.