Two meals and a week together in Italy, my friendship with Sam is near and dear to my heart. So this time, I decided to visit her in Amsterdam during the springtime! The best time to visit Holland is probably around late April to mid-May. The summertime is peak season due to it being the longest days of the year so flights and accommodations tend to get pretty expensive.
I actually planned this trip into three parts. I really wanted to see Amsterdam during Konigsdag (King’s Day) but since Sam’s (now) mother-in-law and her husband had the same idea, I didn’t want to overcrowd their apartment and decided to go on a mini-trip to Belgium after Konigsdag for four days. I then returned back to Amsterdam and spent a week with Sam before I headed back to New York.
• Wear as much orange as you can
• Eat some tompouce (cream-filled pastry) decorated specially in orange
• Balloons filled with laughing gas: €2
Konigsdag, otherwise known as “King’s Day”, is a national holiday in the Kingdom of Netherlands. It lies on the date April 27th, the King’s birthday, and the entire city is decked out in orange – orange pennants, orange beanies, orange desserts, all orange! What makes King’s Day so unique is that it is the one day that everyone can sell whatever and anything they want on the streets of Amsterdam, making it one of the largest flea markets in the world. There are mini stages all over the city center with live music and free-flowing beer where everyone is wearing orange. The fun traditionally begins on the eve of the big day (King’s Night) with the carnival atmosphere continuing throughout the city on King’s Day. DJs play parties on public squares and brightly decorated boats fill the canals. I arrived to Amsterdam (Schiphol Airport) in the morning and planned on meeting Sam at her apartment to drop my things off. Trains and buses are limited during King’s Day so please plan accordingly. I ended up taking the cab to the apartment since it was faster. Note: Taxis in Amsterdam do take credit cards (must have a chip). After I finally met up with Sam, we took the bus to the city center to meet up with her then-fiancé, Romain, and his mother and her husband, Dominique and Gilles. We walked around the city and I got to eat freshly-made stroopwafel!
It was my first time watching how they made it and it was so fascinating! They get a ball of dough, press it in the waffle iron, thinly slice through it with a serrated knife, spread whatever filling you choose, and then re-attach the two pieces! Just seeing how incredible thin the stroopwafel was and how they were able to slice through it was really mindblowing! I got the sea salt and caramel one and it was absolutely delicious and everything I dreamed of. I also got to eat kibbeling which is battered herring.
• Pack an umbrella because it rains randomly in Amsterdam
• Pack layers because it can get very chilly in Holland, even in the spring
As I mentioned earlier, King’s Day is a day for treasure-hunting and buying the most random of things. There were boys walking around with backpacks with laughing gas tanks and were filling up the balloons with laughing gas and selling them for €2! We bought a few and Dominique, Sam and I could not stop laughing – everything was so hilarious! I don’t think Gilles and Romain were amused… Afterwards, I had mentioned to Sam that Dutch apple pie was on my list of things to eat and she knew exactly where to take me! She took us to Winkel 43, which by most locals is considered the best apple pie place in Amsterdam. You have to order the pie with “slagroom” (whipped cream) and is only €5. And true to Amsterdam, there is outdoor seating so it’s great to sit and people-watch while you stuff your face with pie.
And you can’t spend King’s Day without smoking a little weed! One of Sam’s colleagues lived right by the Prinsengracht Canal so we went up to their flat and smoked a joint, hanging out by the window before heading to the market to shop for groceries. Sam and Romain cooked us dinner and dessert and we all hung out and played card games. It was my first time being in Europe right in the middle of spring and watching the sun set past 9pm was so surreal! It didn’t even feel like bedtime! But I did have to go to bed to catch the 7am train to Brussels where I would spend my next four days.