Dispatch From: Amsterdam – Canal Life, Craft Beer, Cafes, Gezellig, Van Gogh, Ganja and on the 7th Day god made Gouda!

I was in Amsterdam in December for a week to soak up holiday fun, find blissful food, explore the city and seek out the typical and not so typical sites!  Amsterdam quickly grabbed my heart and didn’t let it go – the walks, the bikes, the sites, the food and people were quite frankly surprising! I went without any expectation or hours of planning that I normally put into a trip. THE Brooks of Lauren Brooks Life (my beloved) was with me and we were ready for a chill, relaxing time with no alarm clocks or major commitments on the agenda.  Here’s a day by day look at our perfect week in the Venice of the North.  Take my advice – while a trip there in summer must be amazing, the crowds are epic too.  To be there and literally have the place to ourselves was a real dream.  We walked into the museums, sites and restaurants without waits … it was glorious.  In fact, we usually plan a trip in Nov, Dec and Jan for just this reason plus you get a bonus of cheaper stay and air rates too. My heart is melting just looking at the photos again – I’ll be back when my stash of Gouda cheese is gone!

Arrival Day One

Save yourself money and take the train from the airport to Amsterdam-Centrum. It is one of the easiest airport to train to city center experiences I’ve had in Europe.  We paid only 5€ each – a taxi or uber would have been 30-40€.  And look at the beautiful train station you pull into … then you walk out and say Hello Amsterdam!!

I’m and Airbnb addict for many reasons, but the main reason it is the best way to immediately feel like a local by living in a real neighborhood.  Our place was in the Leliegracht district and overlooked the canal! The view from the window was a dream, our place was owned by an artist filled with modern art, a cozy bedroom tucked away from the canal with a comfy mattress made it difficult to get up in the morning and a gigantic modern bathroom with a glass walk in shower and two sinks! Since we were there in December the sun would rise around 9:30 and so would we to sip coffee and tea to the peaceful church bells then off for our day around 11:00 am to return by 10:00 pm.

Go Here:

  • Albert Heijn grocery store is a great place to load up on provisions. Filled our carts with coffee, tea, wine, crusty bread, yogurt, fruit, meats, cheese and chocolate. Another advantage to an Airbnb stay is the owner gave us her frequent shopper card, so we saved a lot of €!


  • Main Dam Square to see the beautiful Christmas tree, get our bearings, stroll the city center and jump with the kids to pop the thousands of bubbles being pumped out by a lady with a wand.

Eat Here:

  • The Pancake Bakery (next to Anne Frank Museum) - You need to know two things hot mint tea and poffertjes. I left Amsterdam with many addictions and this is one of them. Fresh sprigs of mint and balls of fried dough with powdered sugar and butter. Make reservations!

Do This:

  • Beer will be a recurring theme here as the Viking’s goal was to consume as much local craft beer as possible on this trip ---- so first stop the Café de Dam – one of the smallest pubs in Amsterdam (Damstraat 1E). It was cozy with hundreds of soccer scarves hanging from the ceiling and a good first place to stop. With his Slainte hat on Brooks downed his first beer poured from an Amstel ceramic tap and the angels sang.

Leslie Honaker