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EUROAD Trip 2023: Arriving in Amsterdam

Submitted by Bethany on Thu, 06/22/2023 - 12:45

The whole reason we took this road trip was to meet up with my parents in Amsterdam. They were at the tail end of a 3-week river cruise through Europe, and we couldn't resist visiting when they would be so close! Originally, this trip was supposed to be a river cruise through China in March of 2020 - that didn't happen for obvious reasons. Then it became a European river cruise that was supposed to happen in the autumn of 2020 - we were going to meet up in Amsterdam for my birthday that year! Then it got postponed to 2023 and finally happened. 

Our getting to join them was very touch and go for a while as Joel and I were both up for renewal of our visas for living in the UK. We started the process in January with our solicitor, officially applied in February, went for our biometrics appointment (pics and fingerprints) in March, and then held our breath that they would get back to us in time for us to go on this trip. If you are in the middle of an application for visa renewal you are not allowed to leave the country - if you do, you forfeit your application (and hefty fees!) and they won't let you back in! We prayed and crossed all our fingers and toes and our approval and new resident permits showed up on April 6th - literally the last possible day they could have arrived for us to leave on the 10th. We were so happy it all worked out!

So by lunch time on the 12th of April we were rolling into Amsterdam and meeting up with my parents at the Movenpick Hotel. My parents were able to swing me a room as part of their already booked travel, and it was a much nicer hotel than we usually stay in! Joel and Steve came in for each day, but they spent the evenings at the cabin we had booked outside of the city - more on that later. I didn't quite catch the front of the hotel in this picture, but it is just to the left out of frame - it was right on the water (makes sense since my parents arrived by river boat!) and was an easy walk to the city centre. 

I somehow missed taking pictures inside the hotel, but it was clean and modern and contemporary. They also have a "chocolate happy hour" where between the hours of 4 and 6 someone walks around handing out delicious chocolate snacks to everyone. 

Mom and dad had spent the morning on a tour of the city centre and we had spent it in the car, so the first order of business was finding some lunch. That turned out to be a bit more difficult than we expected! First, we tried a nearby science museum that has a rooftop cafe with good food and stunning views. Unfortunately when we took the elevator up as far as it would go, we came out and realize there were still lots of stairs to the top where the cafe was! Since my mom gets around on really cool travel scooter, that was a no go. So down we went, on to the next place. 

The next place we tried was a Chinese restaurant that floats on one of the canals, called the Sea Palace. But apparently, this is a popular place because even after the peak of lunchtime (it was getting close to 2:00 by now) they were full and couldn't fit us in. 

Across the way I spotted a place called Mama Pancake - so I sent Joel over to see if we could get in there. He managed to score us some seats on the ground floor right by the door! Pancakes were on my list to try anyway so it turned out to be the perfect spot for a late lunch. 

We ordered some mini pancakes for the table as a starter, and they were so adorable! I ate a couple before I remembered to take a picture, whoops. They were covered in powdered sugar and so buttery and soft underneath. 

Mom and I both ordered the Chicken Shoarma pancake and in hindsight we should have shared one - these things were huge! The pancake is bigger than your head, almost bigger than the plate it is served on, and is thin yet fluffy. The chicken topping was cooked nicely with some good chargrill on it, and it came with a spicy garlic sauce. I did end up sharing some of mine with Joel in return for some of his!

Joel ordered the Goat Cheese pancake which came with goat's cheese, honey, apple and walnuts. I was unsure about this one because it sounded like it would be sweet and I don't have much of a sweet tooth. But somehow the goat cheese kept it from being too sweet and the texture of the pancake with the creamy goat cheese tucked inside and the crunch of the walnuts and apple was so good! This one was by far my favorite and I could have eaten the whole thing. Steve ordered the Salmon pancake which came with salmon, cream cheese, capers, and chopped onion. He and Joel split that one. 

In our passing around of different pancakes to try, Joel's hot chocolate drink was a casualty and ended up on the floor (and his shorts.) But it was worth it to get to try all of the different varieties. We ordered way too much at a pancake each, but Joel made sure none went to waste and we went away leaving clean plates behind!

After that we walked back to the hotel along the canals and over the bridges. This bridge moved out of the way to allow a tall boat to come through! It is called the Oosterdok swing bridge and is one of over 1500 bridges in Amsterdam. A similar bridge has been in this place since the early 19th century, though the current iteration of it was built in 2005. Unlike a drawbridge, which opens vertically to let boats pass, a swing bridge rotates 90 degrees on a support ring. It was really cool to watch in action! 

Then the boys went out of the city to find our accommodation for the next week, while I hung out with my parents at the hotel. We had a grand time just sitting around and catching up. I had not seen them in person in over a year! For dinner that night we ate at the hotel, and I ordered a mushroom and prosciutto pizza. It was delicious, but I was thrown by the fact that they brought me a pizza cutter and I had to cut it myself! 

Then it was time for more time together in my parent's hotel room, before turning in for the night. It had been a long day and we had an exciting day ahead of us as well - be ready for an overload of flower photos coming next! 

XOXO, Bethany