Amsterdam - Day 1 (Arrival, Dutch Pancakes and Exploring)

After a very quick breakfast in the hotel, we took a taxi to the Gare de Nord train station in Paris, where I enjoyed one of my favorite little things in Europe: standing at a busy coffee counter to have a coffee and croissant.

We boarded the Thalys high speed train to Amsterdam, covered Rachel with a Children's Hospital blanket and she was asleep in 5 minutes. I spent the time going though some photos, checking some sites and going to the dining car for a coffee.

On arrival in Amsterdam we took a taxi to our hotel, the Canal House, which is fantastic. It's small, very modern, and very comfortable. It's owned by a couple that also has hotels in Paris and London. Every detail seems to have been designed with care and we are really enjoying it. The rooms are small but there are so many nice little details.

Our room wasn't ready yet so we dropped off our bags and went out to explore. We found a little restaurant for lunch (burger and salad, just OK) and then walked through a part of town called the Nine Streets, which is full of interesting little shops, cafes and restaurants.

Amsterdam is really fascinating... there are canals everywhere, with boats parked all along both sides of every canal. There are way many more bikes than cars... bikes are the primary form of transportation for locals and there are bikes locked and chained in front of every house, every building, every storefront, every canal, every bridge, every corner, everywhere.

The streets seem to be cute cobblestone walkways but they really are streets, mostly for locals whizzing by on bikes, and I've had at least one biker yell out "Hallo! Hallo!" when I was standing in the street, in her way, taking a photo. (The photo was worth it.)

I got reamed out for standing in the middle of the bike lane to take this photo.

There are also Vespas everywhere, which I love!

We headed back to the hotel and checked in. The room is actually kind of small but designed so well that it doesn't feel small or cramped at all. Every detail is Four Seasons quality. It's in two old buildings with a small house in the middle - so since our room is on the other side of the house, to get there we have to walk through the "great room", through a corner of the hotel kitchen, around a corner, up an elevator, and down a few stairs.

After resting for a couple hours we went out for dinner to the Pancake Bakery where they have traditional Dutch pancakes with every type of filling and topping possible. (Menu here.)

Rachel had bananas and powdered sugar and I had ham, cheese and pineapple. They have a thick syrup that looks like molasses (plain or caramel).After dinner we walked around to explore a bit and headed back to the hotel. We were very tired and looking forward to exploring the city more tomorrow.

Dutch pancakes