Sunday, August 23
We started our day by visiting the most amazing pancake house I have ever had the privilege of dining in. The choices were simply overwhelming! We had heard that the Dutch enjoy pancakes, I believe the direct quote was, "You name it, stick it in a pancake, and they'll eat it", but we had no idea that the choices would be so exotic. The menu at Pancakes! Amsterdam contains no fewer than 33 different pancake options, not including extra options to create your own pancake. One pancake choice was an Indian spiced pancake made with chickpea flour, chicken curry and mango chutney. Why wouldn't that be good?
The Husband chose the Dutch special, an apple pancake with strawberries and ice cream on top, while I had an apple pancake baked with mixed nuts, calvados and cinnamon. They were both divine. The pancakes were also gigantic. As big as our plate, but more similar to a crepe than the kind of pancake one might get at IHOP. I will be searching for Dutch pancake recipes to make at home. I believe the secret is that they are cooked in the oven.
After our huge breakfast, we visited the Amsterdam Tulip Museum. Since we weren't able to visit the famous Keukenhof gardens (they are only open during the spring tulip season), we opted to learn about Holland's tulip industry at the museum. At the peak of Tulip Mania in the 1600s, a single tulip bulb could be sold for as much as 4500 florins. The average yearly salary at the same time was about 300 florins. The Dutch like their tulips! We weren't able to see any live tulips, but the frenzy surrounding the flower market and sheer number of bulbs available, enticed us into learning what we could.
We visited a few shops, including a shop selling only Holland's famous Delftware, and we stopped to take more pictures of gorgeous canals and canal houses. Truly, every new street revealed another tranquil view of this beautiful city. I had to restrain myself from stopping every 5 steps to snap another picture. Even still, we can't remember the names of most of the canals we chose to capture. I'll just call them all "lovely".
While walking the streets of Amsterdam, we happened upon a floating concert. Out in the middle of a canal, a stage had been set up for an outdoor performance. People lined both sides of the canal, and some boaters had docked along side the stage to listen. It was so cute on a Sunday afternoon.
Also on the streets, we saw the Amsterdam version of throwing a beer can into the bed of your pickup truck. The Dutch and us Texans have more in common than we originally thought.
Our last stop of the day was at the Anne Frank House. To walk through the spaces where eight people hid in fear for two years was very emotional. The space that Anne shared with Fritz Pfeffer was about the size of our master bathroom, which helps me put the size into perspective. It was less than 17 feet long and 7 feet wide, and still, the Franks felt lucky to have a place to hide. Many of the items displayed in the house showed how the families tried to make the best of their situation; they celebrated birthdays and anniversaries by pulling together parties with their meager means, the children continued their lessons, and Anne pasted pictures from note cards and magazines on the walls of her room to make it more "cheerful". Pictures were not allowed in the museum, but I don't think it is something we will soon forget. It was an incredibly moving experience, and we left with tears in our eyes.
We were emotionally and physically exhausted at the end of the day, so we opted to take a meal back to our hotel for dinner. If only we had such delicious take-out at home. We also enjoyed some fabulous European cheese. The only thing better than European bread is European cheese. What I wouldn't give to have a bread and cheese shop in my house.
Tomorrow: The Van Gogh Museum, The Rijksmuseum and The Heineken Experience