Jacob Friedmann

The Low Countries: Day 02 – Art and Beer

This post is part of a series on my travels to the “Low Countries”: the Netherlands and Belgium. Start at the beginning.

Learning from the day before, Saturday we slept in. The house we were staying in was right in the center of the city, but the street itself was surprisingly quiet and serene. As we slowly got ready, we watched the weather report, deciding what to do. Amsterdam famously gets copious amounts of rain. The weather report had called for rain every day of our visit, but up until this point we had yet to see a drop. After much ado, we headed to the Van Gogh Museum back in Museumplein. The chaos that is Amsterdam traffic is always an abrupt adjustment first thing in the morning.

Walk to Museumplein

Walk to Museumplein

The Van Gogh museum was equally enormous as the previous two museums even though the subject matter was much narrower. Not only does it have the largest collection of Van Gogh art in the world, but it also has many works by his friends and contemporaries. The good news is he didn’t start painting seriously until 27, so I still have two years to get myself together. Strangely, the museum also housed a special exhibit on prostitution in art, or prostitution’s role in art, or something like that… apparently it’s something that has been painted about a lot. Can’t imagine why.

Next stop was lunch at a sandwich shop frequented by locals as well as museum goers: Renzo’s. It was a small deli that was packed to the brim the entire time we were there. The reason was apparent; the sandwiches were damned good.

We then made our way to the Jordaan area to hop in line for the Anne Frank house. This is probably the thing to do in Amsterdam. As such, time slotted tickets sold out weeks in advance and we didn’t have any. However, after 3:30pm, it’s first come, first served, so we got there at 2:45 bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. So did 100s of others and the line wrapped around the block. Waiting in line for 2+ hours just didn’t seem like the best use of our time, so we decided to try another time.

With our plans for the afternoon messed up, there was only one clear choice: find some beer. We hopped on a tram and took it to the Eastern Docklands (Oostelijke Eilanden) neighborhood – the farthest we’d ventured yet – in search of brewpub situated in an old Dutch windmill. After 11 stops and a bit of walking, we saw Brouwerij ‘t IJ in the distance.

Brouwerij 't IJ, Oostelijke Eilanden, Amsterdam

Brouwerij ‘t IJ, Oostelijke Eilanden, Amsterdam

The beers were delicious, albeit hard to order with names like “Zatte” and “Ijwit”. Luckily, the bartenders seemed totally used to foreigners butchering them. Perhaps even more exciting than the beer was my first experience with fresh made Dutch fries. When I ordered, the guy cut the potatoes, threw them in the fryer and then minutes later handed them to me. Eating them underneath the windmill was by far the most Dutch experience of the trip thus far.

Bier & Frieten

Bier & Frieten

After a couple beers and rounds of Gin Rummy (recurring theme?), we headed a few blocks down the street to a beer garden (another theme?) called de Biertuin. It was a wonderful place to end up because while the weather was beautiful, it was a bit hot under the sun. Here we got to sit inside, but with the whole wall opened up to the fresh air.

de Biertuin, Oosterpark, Amsterdam

de Biertuin, Oosterpark, Amsterdam

Here I tried my second Trappist beer, this time by Westmalle. I wish I could take all the of the glasses.

Westmalle Tripel

Westmalle Tripel

We were enjoying this place so much that we decided to just stay put for dinner and try their – apparently famous – roasted chicken. Oh and more fries.

Half chicken, de Biertuin

Half chicken, de Biertuin

Slowly, we made our way home. On the way, we stopped in another Albert Heijn grocery store. This time Matt tried to pay with his card and that is when we discovered grocery stores only accept cash or Maestro cards (a EU thing?). Whoops.

Once we got home, I started work on my blogging and about 10 minutes later we were both passed out. When we woke up, the sun was going down at 10pm. The night was young, so instead of calling it a day, we headed to a cocktail bar called Vesper that is loosely James Bond themed. The drinks here were seriously good. Maybe the best cocktails I’ve ever had.

Cocktails at Vesper, Centrum, Amsterdam

Cocktails at Vesper, Centrum, Amsterdam

Great drinks come at a price, so we only stayed for the one cocktail before heading back. On the way, we stopped in a less crowded bar with a great draft list called Proeflokaal Arendsnest. The bartender was friendly and gave us some recommendations that were well received.

Now thoroughly exhausted, we meandered back to our apartment, fell into bed and slept.

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