2 days in Amsterdam, Netherlands

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Stroopwafel. One of my cherished family memories is enjoying these Dutch cookies with the family back home. I bought them once while transiting through Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport few years back. This time I had the opportunity to spend a weekend in the city.

Arrival & Stay

I departed from Paris by Eurostar 9357, 3:21pm service (formerly Thalys, recently acquired by Eurostar) and reached rainy Amsterdam Centraal station at 7:15pm, 30mins later than scheduled. Upon exit from the platform, I was pretty much lost to find the right exit to the station. After some back and forth, I exited from the back and walked to the front to get my direction probes back on track. ibis Styles hotel was a 3 min walk. Check-in was straight-forward, room was tiny as expected & coffee/fruit was free at the reception. After check-out they are happy to hold the baggage. Nothing more to be said about the hotel.

Day 0


My Amsterdam experience started with a walk past the beautiful facade of the central station to one of the many canal roads. Main roads in Amsterdam have a foot path/side walk for pedestrians, biking lane of cyclists, tram tracks & whatever remains is for the cars. Besides the big streets which are easily visible in the maps, there are many hidden streets that twist and turn connecting the main streets lined with eateries, bars, souvenir shops & specialty stores like duck figurines! I walked among these small streets to the red light district. It lives up to the hype, is unique & historic- 800 years old.

Day 1

Zaanse Schans

I stepped out of the hotel into a chill breeze of 10°c. Got the day going with a hot coffee at the cafe next door. The plan is to visit Zaanse Schans, a heritage windmill town 25 kms from Amsterdam. I walked to the bus stand at the back of the station and took bus # 391. Multiple attempts to buy tickets in the vending machine failed the previous day. So, I did something I rarely otherwise do- buy tickets on-board the bus. The 50 min ride went through the city, countryside and smaller towns. The drop off point was near the Zaanse Schans museum. A short walk leads to the first picturesque views of the town- Zaan river, open fields, wooden houses and the famous Dutch windmills. While the setting is designed to depict a Dutch town in the 1700s it is not a museum. People live. Shop and windmills are functional. As the rain got heavy, I walked into a random store and it turned to be Zaans Done CacaoLab for a warm D.I.Y chocolate milk, gingerbread and butter cake. I guess to justify the ‘lab’ in the name, customers get to make their own cocoa milk drink concentrate in 4 step process and pass the cup to the cashier to add the milk. The next rain stop was a cheese shop with free tasting of primarily flavored Gouda cheese with women in traditional costumes. Of course it is designed for tourists but hey, its free cheese in many flavours!

Dutch Cheese

Gouda cheese originated in the city of Gouda in Netherlands. While the international popularity of Gouda is widespread, the most popular cheese locally is Edam easily recognizable with blood red exterior in spherical shape. Maasdam is a Dutch cheese variety with holes. If you grew up watching Tom & Jerry shows like me, cheese with large irregular holes is nostalgia.

Generative AI on Tom & Jerry cheese chronicle:

Just the sight of those gaping holes evokes memories of childhood laughter and the endless chase between the cunning cat and the clever mouse

An highlight at the exit of the town towards the Zaandijk train station is the ‘first’ Albert Heijn store. Albert Heijn is today the largest retail supermarket chain in the Netherlands. It is one those great founding stories that became successful. (Whenever I come across such fascinating successful stories I always wonder the many untold ones with similar story lines but did not get recorded or passed across generations)

On the way to the train station, I discovered a souvenir store called To the Mills. While I like to collect souvenirs, I am watchful against buying junk. Fueled by travel euphoria & persuasive sales tactics, we are at risky end of the susceptibility scale! To the Mills felt different & the hunch turned out to be true. The store is owned by one Max and a message at the billing counter reads “I opened this store just recently after 20 years of high school teaching (geography). Sometimes it’s about time for a change right!?”. Sales tactic? No. I say based on a few days with the products I bought, the ‘feeling’ in the store & the 2 teens at the counter who are students of the same school Max used to teach.

All the best to Max. I look forward to re-visiting the store if I have a chance to go to Zaanshe Schans again. If the Albert Heijn store was telling a story from the past, here is one that is a story in the making.


Back to Amsterdam by noon, I walked to the beautiful canal streets of Jordaan.

  • A late lunch, again to escape a bout of heavy shower, of Dutch brown bread open sandwich at At Letting.
  • Few local stores like Property Of a sustainable travel goods store, Architectura & Natura, a book store dedicated to building architectures and nature
  • A beer break at Cafe Brandon– a shiny glass of Hertog Jan. I guess it was a pilsner.
  • Added more calories with french fries at Heertje Friet.

Fries are serious business in this city with exclusive stores, long queues & wide variety of toppings! Frietkoten simple means fry shop.

Ended the day with a visit to the Dam square, a large open public square. Multiple anti-war quiet protests were ongoing.

Day 2

The day was supposed to start with a big breakfast at Pancakes Amsterdam. However the long queue was the deterrence. I choose to go to The Avocado Show with a ride on tram route #2 (the route’s claim to fame is one in the top 10 list of trolley rides by National Geographic). Energized with the eggs and avocade, for the next couple of hours walked around Vondelpark and Rijkmuseum & Van Gogh museum areas. By noon, I was at the central station for a intercity train to Eindhoven.

Day X: Saved for the next trip

  • Biking
  • Heineken beer tour
  • Amsterdam coffeeshop
  • RLD shows
  • Suriname culture & cuisine


Amsterdam is the 7th city I have experienced in Europe after Paris, Zurich, Stockholm, Oslo, Copenhagen, Barcelona. It is the most walkable among them. The charm of the canals & the cycling culture is special. The food is fresh with multiple options for vegetarians.

Small facts:

  1. Notice the station is called Centraal. It is a naunce in Dutch. Central is a generic term while centraal is the physical center of something. The CEO is central figure of the company while centraal station is the main station.
  2. Cycle lanes are as broad as car lanes
  3. Breakfast and lunch do differ a lot
  4. Roggebrood is Dutch dark rye bread. It is spiced and sweeter than roggebrood in the Nordics.
  5. je’ is used on the the end of a word to make it mean little. Bottlje as in little bottle.
  6. Spekooek is a layered cake, same as Kueh Lapis in Indonesia. A reminder that the Dutch colonized Indonesia for 350 years! This is also why Satay is a common menu item in Dutch restaurants
  7. Microcars are so tiny they can drive on bike lanes
  8. The ‘Unie’ in Unilever is of Dutch origin before its merger with British Lever Brothers, forming Unilever.
  9. Amsterdam Stock Exchange is the first stock exchange in the world & the Dutch established the first publicly traded company.

Useful links

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