Sonal’s Visit: Highlights

Two posts in two days, what is this! I’d rather get my thoughts down before school picks up a bit more. My next post will most likely be after King’s Day (next weekend) or after Lyon (going there with Nat at the start of May). Like I mentioned in my Barcelona post, Sonal flew back to Amsterdam with me and we spent a few days exploring. Luckily she’ll be returning with her parents in May so we skipped out on the touristy things. Since it’s getting difficult to show my visitors the same things over and over again, we went to some places I’ve been wanting to see, but still visited some old favorites. I should first make it clear that Sonal likes a few key things: plants/nature, high tea, libraries, and high tea at libraries that have gardens attached to them. I used this as a guide. We also went to Hartje Oost, but you can look in the Amsterdam Cafe Bucket List for that.

Singel 404: It’s no joke that I love this place, but I just need to share the sandwich I had with Sonal. She got salmon and cream cheese on white bread. I got grilled chicken with goats cheese, an herb spread, and peppers. Just look at the sandwich. There are no more words that can be said.

Singel 404, perfect view from the front table.

Singel 404, perfect view from the front table.

No regrets.

No regrets.

De Bakkerswinkel: I knew of this shop as a bakery and lunch spot, but I was pleased to find out it serves an adorable high tea. For 15 euro you get a pot of tea (of your choice), a slice of chocolate cake, a slice of cheesecake, 2 almond bars, 2 pieces of fudge, and a scone with clotted cream. Let me add that they advertise this for ONE PERSON. If you want to split, you buy and extra scone. This was more than enough tea time food, so we brought most of it home. I liked the scone a lot, and the cheesecake was divine. We went with earl grey tea. They give you a strawberry smoothie to start. I want to go back here with my English Rose, Nattie.

High tea!

High tea!

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Pretty Sonal just having some tea!

Tassenmuseum (Museum of Bags and Purses): I kept seeing this pop up on various Amsterdam websites, so I decided to take Sonal. There were so many bags and accessories to see, and also a temporary Barbie exhibit. Who doesn’t love Barbie? The Barbie exhibit even had a Barbie handbag exhibit. In the regular handbag showcase, I saw a bag and shoes made out of toad skin. They also had a few handbags from previous kings and queens of the Netherlands. It was a cute afternoon.

The toad purse and shoes.

The toad purse and shoes.

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Barbie style!

Begijnhof: This is a hidden garden (known as an inner court) around Spui that’s partially open to the public. Historically, it was the housing area for single women in Amsterdam that weren’t nuns but were still due to a priest and took vows of obedience. I believe mainly single women still live there today, but I can’t find anything for sure about that. The way the sun was hitting the garden when we were there was really incredible.

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Secret garden, beautiful.

Hortus Botanicus: The botanical garden of Amsterdam is one of the oldest in all of Europe. It started as a medicine garden and has grown to have a few greenhouses. There was a redwood, palms, a butterfly greenhouse, and even a coffee plant. We were wandering around and saw a family of ducklings hiding in some lily pads. I love that the zoo and the botanical gardens are in the middle of the city. So easy to access, and a great little escape.

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Ducklings made our day.

Openbar Bibliotheek Amsterdam: If you know anything about me, you know that I really dislike libraries. However, I’ll make an exception for this one. Anna had read that the Amsterdam public library was one of the best in the world and now I believe it. There are seven floors, and the library is right along the water. From the top floor, you can see all of the city while enjoying a lunch from the in-house La Place (a Dutch Eatzies is the best way to describe it). I will definitely spend more time here before I leave. The downside? No free wifi, but this could also be a blessing.

The view from the 7th floor

The view from the 7th floor

Young Label Atelier: This is where I took the girls last weekend to buy matching bracelets. Sonal got one while she was here, and I’ve had other visitors buy from this shop as well. It houses independent artists’ goods from around Amsterdam. Riverstones, the company that makes the delicate bracelets, sells their jewelry here as well as the sunday Westerpark market (where I first learned about them). Such cute things in a little simplistic shop!

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Excuse our shadows!

‘Skek: I fell in love with this bar in the Red Light District. The best part was that Sonal and I just stumbled upon it. The location is really unexpected, but inside felt so comforting and exactly like how I believe a bar should feel like. First of all, ‘Skek is run by students as part of an initiative to teach students about business; it’s part of the Kriterion project that seems to be a global movement towards enriching students. There is no boss, they do everything themselves, and they treat the space as a creative venue/living room. Bonus, they have really great beer. This initiative has a few more places around Amsterdam that I need to check out.

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It was so nice to have a few days to see parts of the city that I had been neglecting. Given that I only have a little over a month left here, I’m really feeling the pressure to cram more in. It’s doable though, and I will keep exploring and enjoying the little things that our city has to offer. I can’t wait to take some of these ideas and concepts of life back to the United States, or at least keep them in mind for when I come back here in the future!



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