Amsterdam is a very famous tourist destination in Europe with millions of tourists coming into the city every year. A lot of its popularity comes from activities that would not go down well in my line of work if I was to participate. So that leaves the question what do you do on a last-minute business trip to Amsterdam?
Just like many of you I love travelling; and with travelling comes the opportunity to experience new gastronomical delights. I’m usually in a city just for a day or two, but if you have more time on hand, look at my friend Kelly’s Amsterdam 3 day itinerary.
A quick search on the internet usually brings up an abundance of recommendations and so begins the journey to select the best place. I usually love going off the beaten track with my selections but these place sounded too good to not try out. Hopefully, you will agree with me about the things to do in Amsterdam in just one or two days?
1. Amsterdam Centraal and Amstel River
I know so many people who love taking City Breaks in Amsterdam, Europe. I’m one of them. Thankfully I didn’t have to think about where to stay in Amsterdam, as I was put up at a hotel just north of the airport. My preference is always to walk around a city as any other mode of transport is too fast and you tend to miss a lot. As the walk to the city centre was a bit ambitious I got a shuttle back to the airport and got on the train to the Amsterdam Centraal, a bustling station built in 1889 that is the heart of the city.
Upon arrival at the train station, I had no idea which side to exit. With only a little map I got from the hotel I head to the right. So, with a 50/50 chance of choosing the right side to exit, you guessed it, I got it wrong. I exit the building to the north and end up facing the Amstel River. At this point I am slightly confused. From previous experience, I know that at a walking pace I can’t go too wrong and turn left to walk alongside the river bank.
2. Divine Chocolate
I had a few hours to kill before the restaurant I chose opened up so decided that I will head down to Anne Frank’s House. It’s one thing reading her diary, but to actually see where it was written would just make it even more real.
After following the river bank for a bit, I take a road off to the left which should take me into the city. Here is where I hope a fellow reader will be able to help me. As I was walking around it started raining and not being well prepared I start getting a bit chilly. Looking for a place to get something warm to drink I stumble across a little café with a melted ice cream in a cone on it doorstep. You’ll be happy to know it wasn’t real (even though it looked pretty real). Once you enter, you are welcomed by a whole wall on the left covered with chocolate! Yes, on the wall they have shelves filled with spoons with a cube of chocolate on the bottom. In every flavour you can ever imagine.
Hot Chocolate has to be the best drink you can wish for on a cold rainy day, but a shop devoted to taking it to the next level is just amazing. Then to accidentally stumble across it just at the time it was needed is beyond magical. After taking nearly a lifetime to go through all the options I finally make a selection. I am told to take a seat whilst they prepare my drink. A few minutes later (felt a lot longer) I am presented with a tall glass of hot milk. I am left to do the rest myself. I unwrap my milk chocolate cube with raspberries on a spoon and dunk it in the milk. After a few minutes, I take the spoon out and suck the melted chocolate of the spoon. D-I-VINE!!!
So the question is does anyone know where this place is? And what the name of the place is?
3. Anne Frank’s House
I buy a few extras to take back home. Then I ask the cashier to point out where I was on the map and it so happens that I’ve walked off the map and he was unable to point it out. Whoops! He explains how to get to Anne Frank’s house and just before I thank him and leave, he mentions that the queue to enter will be long. How long can it possibly be, I think to myself? I still had a couple of hours to kill before heading to the restaurant in any case.
After getting back onto the map I head to Anne Frank’s House. From a distance, I notice the queue of people waiting to enter, but nothing prepared me for what I saw next! The queue was long from where I came from but it extended around the back of the building to a place I could not see from the start of the alleyway. I couldn’t believe the length of the queue and the fact that so many people were waiting in the rain to be able to see the small room where Anne spend over two years in hiding.
As much as I wanted to see the Museum, I didn’t have the time to wait in the queue to get in. So I visit the Westerkerk, a Protestant Reformed Church nearby, and then wander around the city a bit longer walking over the bridges and looking at all the lights and sights.
4. Pesca – Theatre of Fish
At the designated time I head over to the chosen restaurant for dinner. Which one did I choose you ask? Non-other than Pesca – Theatre of Fish in Amsterdam. What a name, right?
When you enter the restaurant you get to the fish market on the right. Yes, you read that right an actual fish market in the restaurant. All the fish they have for the night is kept on ice (like in a fish market) and you then choose your fish or other seafood and the portion size you would like. Whilst going through the options the staff love to find out about you. I mention that I am from South Africa and that I speak Afrikaans. The ‘fishmonger’ then starts talking to me in Dutch and I in Afrikaans. It last for a bit after which he tells me that I sound like I’m speaking old Dutch.
My selected fish then got wrapped up and sent off to the kitchen to get prepared. You then choose a selection of side dishes before entering the drinks area. You choose your poison, grab a bucket of ice and head off to find a table.
You are given a buzzer, and as soon as your food is ready it goes off and you head over to the kitchen and pick up your freshly cooked fish and sides. I had a selection of three different fish and sides. I would have loved to share pictures with you but they were forever lost when my phone was stolen while on holiday, along with the pictures of the divine cafe I went to.
The whole experience at Pesca is completely new to anything I have done before. It is really nice to be able choose your own food fresh and see it cooked and presented ready to be devoured. Don’t you agree?
If you have more time than one day for a last-minute trip to Amsterdam, here are some recommendations.
Amsterdam City Center
Try Some Dutch Pancakes on the Pannenkoekenboot Watch the sunset from a trendy beach bar in Zandvoort aan Zee
Author, The Soz of Abby’s Hearth
South-African-born and British-bred, The Soz often takes to the skies. However the majority of the time these gravity-defying feats are for business and not pleasure.
The Soz also loves spending time in the kitchen cooking traditional South African dishes and English food! Find her recipes here on Abby’s Plate and her travel stories on Abby’s Hearth.
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2 thoughts on “Last-minute Amsterdam trip? What to visit?”
Looks like you had a lovely business trip and still got to see a decent amount of things even though you could not get into the Ann Frank house. The theater of fish sounds awesome!
Thanks for reading! Was a great time and the fish was amazing. Don’t forget to stumble across the hot chocolate when you go there.