Vacation ‘23, Day 8: Ghent -> Leige -> Maastricht


We started off our day with a quick hotel breakfast followed by a tour of the Gravensteen. The castle was really impressive and worth seeing, especially before the peak heat! The audio tour is helpful for a general overview, but it is led by a comedian who is not, in my opinion, the funniest. So, it was worth shortening some of the tracks.

Before leaving, we had a snack and a drink at our favorite chocolate shop, Tailored Flavours. We still had a few chocolates from yesterday so we didn’t buy more, but we did enjoy a tea and hot chocolate, accompanied by their delicious almond cookies. It was very tasty and gave us the needed endorphins for the slightly unpleasant task of dragging rolleraboard bags along the cobblestone streets made of “Belgian Blocks,” a term used in the auto industry for a specific suspension test done over similar blocks to ensure a smooth ride in rough conditions! Our poor little suitcases barely stood a chance!

Lamb, street art edition, surrounded by Belgian blocks

Then it was off to Maastricht! Yes, there was a late change in plans. I had planned on going to Durbuy, which inspires a lot of ambivalence on the internet. Some people love it, others think it is the tourist trap of all tourist traps. Since we had just spent time in Ghent which felt very touristy, I decided that maybe it wasn’t the best place for us. Two other key factors are 1. It is remote and we are taking public transport on a Sunday, which is even more infrequent and 2. The hotel we reserved does not have AC and it is going to be 90F today. That would result in a rough night of sleep, for sure!

So, I used Marriott points to book a hotel in Maastricht. It’s a fancy one, located in a former monastery. It was absolutely beautiful and totally worth it! They also are firmly in camp pro-AC!

On the way to Maastricht, SMS caused a minor train drama! The bathroom had been locked for the first hour. When the conductor came by, SMS asked if the bathroom was available on the train and the conductor said that one should be. When SMS and I told him it had been occupée for a long time, the conductor burst into action. Knocking on the door, Êtes-vous malade, and then sternly warning that he would be opening the door in one minute. This caused a fuss, with most people laughing when a drunk train fare dodger emerged. Then, I couldn’t believe it. SMS used the bathroom. I would have 100% used a different car- who knows what would be in there?! But SMS said it was just normal.

Our journey took us through Liège, where I was hoping to stop for a waffle. But between Sunday transportation schedules and wanting to dump our suitcases/check into our nice hotel, we decided just to pass through.

We arrive in Maastricht, which is another super cute Dutch university town. There’s a central river and no canals, but we really liked it from the start.

We took the bus to the hotel, finishing the last bit of distance rattling our suitcases over Belgian blocks. We went out to get something to eat. We had meant to go to a downtown cafe, but quickly found Friedt Maastricht, the best fries in Maastricht. They were delicious. I was in a sulk though, because SMS wanted to go back to the hotel for our deferred welcome drink and decompress in the AC while I wanted to press on. As SMS said, “How can anyone be sad eating a French fry?”

We headed back to the hotel and SMS was right, the welcome bubbles were delicious and the AC was enjoyable. Afterwards, we headed out to the shopping streets. There was a small craft fair going on in a central square, that included a DJ with a “Linger” remix that was interesting. Not a song that I ever thought to set to a beat drop.

We went to a cafe that the hotel reception had recommended, de Gouverneur. There were several beers on tap as well as many, many bottles. SMS and I got beers on tap, a Pilsner and Blonde respectively.

I had my sights set on going to Boekhandel Dominican, a bookstore in an old church from the 1200s. It was amazing! A church of books! I’m so happy we went. I was determined to buy a book from there. It was hard to pick. Ultimately, I chose Remains of the Day since it’s been on my TBR list for awhile and I wanted something that would age well. I wasn’t sure if The Guest by Emma Cline would be similarly rarified and worthy of being purchased in Book Church.

I had another place I wanted to go- the statue of the Beeld Bronzen Haan. I had found the online reviews for a rooster statue that were so funny. I wanted to see for myself and maybe add to it. I highly recommend the experience, if it isn’t too far out of your way.

Nearby, there was a large bird cage with finches and yellow birds that almost looked like C bird.

Speaking of C bird, we got a proof of life picture from our friend who stopped by to feed her yesterday. It warmed our hearts.

As we walked along the old city walls, we turned in towards the university and back to our hotel. We came across a Spanish tapas place that we decided to eat at, after a small amount of overthinking on my part. We had several tapas and I had a glass of sangria. Our bill was 42 Euros. OMG. Why do we live in Silicon Valley where the prices are so much more, not even inclusive of tax and tip? SMS points out that eating out prices have really gone up since the pandemic, which is true.


We walked back to our hotel and turned in for the night in the lovely, lovely AC. My gosh, we are so soft. Just like our delightful, comfy bed!

Plantin-Moretus Museum visit

Hanging in the courtyard of the Plantin-Moretus

On our way from Rotterdam to Ghent, we stopped in Antwerp. I had come across the description of the Plantis-Moretus museum and decided I really wanted to go. I love museums that are a mix of a rich person’s home and a certain niche collection. My favorite example is the Isabella Gardiner museum in Boston. But in Antwerp, the Plantis-Moretus museum is the home and office location of a family-owned printer that published many of the books during that time which was key for academics, botanists, doctors, clerics, and intellectuals.

Spectacular courtyard

The audio tour is included in the entrance and is quite good. There are also books on loan, which contain the transcript of the audio tour and a few extra tidbits.

Printing presses

Initially, we started the wrong way and went into the printing press room. Two of the presses are very old and date back to the 1600s. Amazing!

The oldest presses

We toured through the house, to include the office spaces, the copy-editor room, the libraries, and Mr. Plantin’s bedroom, complete with his deathbed portrait. That seems a little grim.

The second floor contained a lot of books and some plates, copper and woodblock. The collection has some incredible works, including a Gutenberg bible. Um, it wasn’t displayed. Boo hoo, I’m not sure what I was expecting- that it would be laying out, ready for me to rifle through to find my favorite Bible verse?!? But many of the works are digitized so I’m going to explore the website when I get home!

Here are the letters for Garamond font! The amount of fonts that Mr. Plantin owned were very impressive- quite a monopoly!

Finally, a lot of the walls were lined with embellished leather panels, which were quite luxe and very status symbol-y. Just as an FYI to any ethical vegans touring the museum- you may become very sad!

Alberte, Ghent Dinner

Another evening, another wonderful multi-course surprise menu. But what happens when you don’t like a few of the courses? Well, that happened to us at Alberte, a well-regarded and innovative restaurant that we enjoyed but didn’t totally jive with that night’s menu. But I fully recommend the place- I’m sure we would be completely wowed on another night.

I started with an orange wine, a Grinton VB from Northern Italy. It was quite acidic and refreshing, like a slightly underripe nectarine. The amousé bouche was a watermelon gazpacho and cracker with creamed Roquefort cheese. These were quite tasty.

The next course was a mackerel with a melon-jalapeño granita. This was excellent. I’ve been a big fan of the mackerel this trip. All of it has been fresh, not pickled and the flavor a little more mellow than most mackerel dishes I’ve had.

Then we had a pasta dish, with a perfectly cooked lasagna noodle folded over itself with tomato, butter bean, and a delicious sauce that I soaked up with the delicious crusty bread that had been offered earlier.

Seafood was next in the form of mussels in a miso broth. These were good.

We had ordered a supplement of “trout salmon,” which was a lightly smoked trout dish in really nice olive oil. It was plain, but I thought it was great. SMS was a little more leery of raw-ish fish on a hot day which led us to the dish of trepidation…

The main meat course was sliced pork that had been cooked for “a long time” on the barbecue. Yet, it was really pink and soft but tough at the same time. It came with chard and a plum compote that were amazing, but both of us would have been more comfortable if the meat was more well done. But hey, if we want to be chefs, we should open our own restaurant!

Finally, we had our dessert course which was spectacular- sheets of merengue over ice cream, mascarpone, and blackberries.

Overall, I really liked the restaurant but didn’t favor the menu as much as our other special meals. But since this changes all the time, I wouldn’t let this stop me or anyone else from going in the future!

Vacation ‘23, Day 7: Ghent

Our day in Ghent was a little on the mellow side as the heat continues to slow our pace. It’s been quite nice to see a sight or two each day, although I still have hard charging days left in me!

After breakfast at the hotel, it was time to head to St. Bavo’s for the famed Alter of the Lamb. I love a good triptych and this one is amazing.

The front half of the cathedral is free to enter. The ceilings are amazingly high. This was the first cathedral we’ve been in this trip and they really are remarkable structures.

The crypt

The first part of the Lamb experience is to take an AR tour through the crypt. It was nice and cool in the crypt and it was nice to learn about the church and the art. I wouldn’t want to go that in depth in every cathedral but for this one, it was perfect.

The restoration of the alterpiece has really revived the work in terms of color brightness and detail. There is a more in-depth exhibit at a local museum which we did not attend, but I’m sure it’s exceptional. The panels above are some of my favorites. One, contained St. Livinus, holding his tongue that was torn out while he was preaching :[. Two, the angels in one of the smaller panels are very into their singing…or maybe someone is singing off-key? In all seriousness, the main panel was my favorite with the groupings of people, the central lamb, and the trees and plants in the background. I strongly recommend seeing this in Ghent!

It was interesting to me how modern I found the stained glass in this church and others. There are square blocks that seem somewhat abstract, and others that have figures that seem almost comic-like. Above, there’s a guy who looks like a comic figure and a groovy skeleton to his right.

These paintings in the knave were so cool. From a distance, they look like 3D marble reliefs, but they are actually monochromatic paintings. So talented!

The Rococo-style pulpit is very famous.

We had a nice coffee and treat break. We also bought some chocolates and nut mix for later.

Then we did laundry at a cafe/launderette. Yes, it was that time on the trip. Especially since it’s been quite warm- shirts are a one and done!

We had dinner at Alberte, which I’ll write about separately. This was another surprise menu that, for our tastes, didn’t work out quite as well as others on this trip but I would recommend the restaurant!

Our walk home was partly along the river Lexie, which is quite beautiful. All in all, it was a nice day in Ghent.

Dinner at De Matroos en het Meisje

Feeling hungry!

While planning for the trip, a common theme seemed to be that reservations at restaurants were highly recommended. And honestly, it’s so easy to do in the age of the internet and excellent translation, that why not?

In Rotterdam, I read about De Matroos en het Meisje and thought it sounded absolutely delicious. It also seemed to be reasonable in its portion-sizes and since we could pick 4 or 5 courses, it sounded perfect since appetites can be unpredictable while traveling!

SMS and I picked the four course option. I picked the wine pairing, which is available by full and half glasses. I picked the full glass pairing since I am a lush planned on sharing with SMS.

Our first taste was an amusé bouche, which was a tomato tartlet with a special oil. Afterwards, the server came and poured the first wine. I was afraid I had ate the food before the pairing. Never fear! They were very focused on pouring the wine before the pairing.

The actual first course was a grilled corn on Jerusalem artichoke purée with corn ice cream. Delicious! The waiter said how he and the staff thought that savory ice cream was the new culinary trend. In his words, what yuzu was a few years ago.

The second course was a fennel, sea leaf, crunchy zest, and flavored thin dressing that was wonderful. The pairing was with a young Spanish wine from a winery outside Madrid that is owned by a young couple. When I asked if the wines were from places where the chef knew people, the waitress shrugged and said, “No, it’s what the distributor tells us.”

The main course was absolutely delicious: morel mushrooms, delicate mackerel, turnips, artichoke purée, and “gravy from young cow.” It was paired with Sabia and overall, I think this was my favorite course! The corn may be tied.

The dessert was a smooth, liquid-y marangue on top of more ice cream and some crunchy crumbles. It wasn’t the most beautiful looking thing on the plate, but it was tasty.

Dinner was on the sidewalk next to a large square where people were walking, kids were playing games, and other restaurants had tables set up. It felt so neighborly that it was a lovely feeling to carry through a meal. The four course option was also nice to have a meal that was large, but manageable. I definitely recommend this restaurant in Rotterdam!

Vacation ‘23, Day 6: Rotterdam —> Antwerp —> Ghent

The Maastunnel for cyclists! Escalator down

No couple selfies today, we were too busy! I woke up a bit before SMS and headed out for a coffee.

I took pictures of the restaurant from the night before, as well as the coffee cafe I went to- both recommended!


We decided to rent bicycles and take a small tour of Rotterdam. It seemed manageable and I wanted to cycle in the Netherlands at least once.

We did a loop through Kop van Zuid, Katendrecht, the periphery of Charlois, through the Maastunnel (amazing), Delfhaven, Het Park, and across the Erasmusbrug back to the hotel. We stopped along the way for cheese sandwich fixings at the grocery store Jumbo, which did the trick.

Heading towards Delfhaven

The loop was great. It was earlier in the day, so not too hot plus we generated a breeze by biking. I enjoyed a lot about the ride, but the coolest thing may have been the Maastunnel for bikers and pedestrians. There is a whole separate tunnel that you take an escalator down for either one or two levels depending if you have a bike or not. Then, we cycled down a beautifully lit, very clean tunnel underneath the water. Amazing! That is dedication to multi-mode transport. The car tunnel was very narrow and really wouldn’t accommodate anything but cars. I wonder how often tourists make the mistake and try to do it. I imagine not many, but who knows?

We cycled through Delfhaven which, honestly, we gave short shrift too. We needed to get back for check out so it was a quick cycle through. But we did see the pilgrim church! It was quaint and picturesque- definitely worth another visit.

We cycled through Het Park and across Erasmusburg bridge (I’m guessing this is redundant b/c I think burg is bridge. But whatever, it helps with clarity in English 🙂

Naughty statue or cute Santa? Near Birkenstock.

I took a quick shower and then we checked out. I bought a pair of Birkenstocks, which I’m very happy about because in this heat, sandals are much more comfortable! There is also a bit of a costs savings to buying them in Europe.

Then we rode the Thalys for one super speedy stop to Antwerp. We had a small layover because I had read about the Plantin-Moretus museum and really wanted to go. Another place that deserves its own post!

But in short, it’s a wealthy printer family’s business and home from the 1500s-1800s. It reminded me a lot of the Gardiner museum in Boston. A wealthy person’s mansion that is cool by itself, but also contains collections worthy of a museum. In this case, it was a huge collection of printer presses, font shelves, books, furnishings, and many portraits of family and friends by Reubens.

This is the view from the metro escalator into the central square! Amazing!

After an audioguide tour, we headed back to the train station for our destination of the day- Ghent. By the way, how do you think Ghent is pronounced? If you think there is a hard G anywhere, you are wrong. Like me. Instead, it’s pronounced with a hissing h sound that leads into -ent, like Heeee-ent.

We checked into our hotel, which has AC (yay), but is back to a smaller size (eh). Then it was off to de Strokeji for dinner, where we ate outside on a square that felt a little less touristy than the huge squares around the three towers of the central cathedrals.

Dame Blanche

We also tried the Dame Blanche for dessert. Yum!

We walked along the river and through the streets, which are very beautiful. It feels a little like Disneyland, but it’s also very real. It does feel very touristy, which of course is fine since we’re tourists too. But there were several posts/guides that said this place felt “real” as opposed to Bruges, which feels very touristy. I went to Bruges many years ago and loved it, but if it feels more touristy than this, that would be a lot!

Vacation ‘23, Day 5: Rotterdam

Loving the water taxi!

Ok, ok, technically day 5 started in Leiden (which we love!), but the star was our brief stay in Rotterdam!

Salmon Benedict- yum!

We started with another delicious breakfast. I got the salmon eggs Benedict, since I spied some else’s delicious choice the day prior. SMS stayed with his tried and true oatmeal. We also helped ourselves to the buffet.

Then, it was time to leave Leiden. We plan to come back- we really loved it!

Our room- super cool, literally and figuratively!

We took the IC train to Rotterdam, followed by a tram to our hotel, Hotel New York. It’s a historic hotel and was a super cool place to stay! It’s a converted ship terminal and we could tell by how tall the ceilings were.

Water taxi. I feel the need, the need…for speed!

Then we headed out! We took the water taxi, which was It’s basically a motor boat and in the middle of the harbor, the captain really let it rip. It was especially fun on his super banked turns.


I had a few things on my mind to see in Amsterdam: the cube houses and the Markthal, an incredible food hall within a building that is multi-use. There are even apartment buildings. If I was a digital nomad, I would never leave.

First, we grabbed lunch in the Markthal. We went to Andalus fish, which had some incredible looking Andalusian seafood as well as some herring options. I wasn’t super hungry so I went with the herring. But I saw a few fried fish platters that looked just like the meralutha I had as a child. Sometimes, I wish I would just force it down. But the time change and the heat have really affected my appetite this trip.

I took some pictures of the Markthal. Many of the stalls contain 1-4 vendors and then there is seating on top. Some stalls have owners that are very protective of their space and don’t want you to go up just for pictures. How do I know this? Hmmmmmm….

Then! We went had stroopwafels, which were made on the spot! There were little disks of dough that the woman pressed out in the wafel maker. Then she laid the wafel out, cut in half which was very impressive, and then laid a big scoop of stroop in between to make the best wafel sandwich. They were delicious! It was such a treat to have a warm, freshly made stroopwafel!

Next, it was off to the cube houses designed by Piet Blom. They were super cool to look at and so disorienting, that we had to go inside to figure out the layout. One of the homes is open for a 3E price tag, which we thought was totally worth it.

Even once we were inside on normal horizontal floors, it was still slightly dizzying to look down the windows at an angular view. It is a really neat concept and I’m definitely glad we went inside, in addition to taking a lot of pictures outside!

Then, we took a water taxi back to the hotel. Wheeeeeeee! Then we rested for a bit. Our vacation has been a little mellow on the outdoor activities because honestly, it has been really hot. And even though we’re weather-delicate Californians, I think a lot of locals and visitors have found this September to be a little warm.

For dinner, I made a reservation at the Sailor and his Girl (De Matroos en het Meisje). It was another amazing dining experience that deserves its own post. So until later…

After dinner, we walked along the harbor on both sides of the bridge to our hotel. It was a gorgeous night and so many people were out. It was a delightful day and I’m a huge fan of Rotterdam now!

Even Rotterdam is a TS fan. IYKYK!

Lunchtime at De Kas

Towards the end of lunch

In the course of my Amsterdam research, I came across de Kas restaurant. It is a highly regarded restaurant within a greenhouse that serves lunch and dinner. Perfect! We prefer to have a larger lunch than dinner and it really sounded like a cool place with delicious food.

De Kas

Our reservation was at 1215 on our last day in Amsterdam. SMS was very concerned about being on time because he had picked up my phone when they called to confirm the reservation and he said they sounded very stern. Don’t worry, I wanted to be on time too! We took two trams across town to get there. It is outside the tourist center and took about half an hour, but it didn’t feel long at all. Our stop was just across the pedestrian bridge that led into the park and right in front of De Kas.

Selections for the cheese course

The hostess was quite nice and efficient. We were seated along the periphery of the room in a great location. I looked into the restaurant and SMS looked through the glass to the outside. He let me know of any and all cute dogs passing by. We also saw a heron grab a crab in the marshy pond outside the restaurant.

Flying away with a different lunch!

We were seated and met our waiter, who seemed like a nice young man (how to sound old lady without even trying). He had just come back from a seven week vacation and said he was a little rusty, but he seemed great to us!

We started off with “snacks,” which was a delicious bread course, olive oil (neutral, not v peppery), and a tapioca crisp served with a celeriac root emulsion.

Next, we ordered oysters that were so good! Medium sized, meaty, and pretty neutral. Not overly briny and definitely not buttery like East Coast US oysters. We both went with the vinaigrette with shallots. There was an oyster/beef tartare option that is probably amazing. It was tempting to try that spin on surf & turf, but we stayed with a reliable basic.

After snacks, we had a few bites of different amuse boche. These included radishes in a poppy seed crumble, a gazpacho of green herbs, and tempura squash. All were wonderful.

We started with our first course, a sliced tomato, basil, fennel, and strawberry stack with olive oil and a gochugaru pepper oil. It was nice, but the tomatoes were on the good side, rather than super delicious. This is a super minor point since the flavors were really cool. I’m going to try and play up the sweet in tomatoes in a future dish since I so often focus on the savory. But the strawberries in this dish were super cool.

Next we had a lemongrass foam, pea, plum and fennel stack that was a wonderful mix of textures and taste.

Our main course was an amazing mackerel dish with more foam. Oh my gosh, it was like eating the freshest fish with a taste of the ocean. Not too salty, but so savory and so good! This was really an exceptional dish!

It is possible to order 3 or 4 courses at lunch. This translates into lunch +/- dessert. SMS and I decided to go for it. We were so into the place, plus the dishes hadn’t been too large. Dessert was a super indulgent blackberry, chocolate brownie/cake, and super rich chocolate gelato. It was so good.

But then it kept going! There were two complimentary desserts, which we definitely hadn’t realized. The first was a canelé with red berries, followed by a “flower” sorbet that was exquisite. SMS was a huge fan- we’re still talking about it!

After we finished, we ditched. Jk, we paid like civilized humans and then toured the greenhouse & gardens. Oh, and in case you’re wondering since it was a hot day, the restaurant part of the greenhouse is temperature-controlled and was delightful. The AC is kept a little higher than it would be in many American places, but it’s very comfortable.

Hanging in the garden

After our short walk, we headed back to our hotel to pick up our bags and head to Leiden. Lunch was really a delightful treat and a fun way to experience a culinary feast.

Good bye, de Kas! We’ll be back!

Vacation ‘23 Day 4: Leiden

In the Hortus

We woke up to our alarm at 9:15. Both of us were pretty groggy. SMS had been in “peak dream,” which involved planting native plants with his Dad.


I had added breakfast to our hotel stay. In addition to a delicious buffet, there was an à la carte menu which meant that I had my first Dutch pancake. Yum! It can either be described as a thinner American pancake or a slightly thicker crepe made with pancake batter. I think the latter is more accurate. Anyway, it was delicious and I’m glad I got to have one!

Marekirk, which we passed several times walking to and from our hotel

Then, we set out to explore Leiden, which is such a cute town! We want to rent an apartment here for a few months. When? Well, probably a retirement dream but still, it goes to show how much we love it!

First, we climbed up the ramparts of the Leiden castle, de Burcht. As “climbs” go, this was pretty minimal. It was billed as having a great view of the city, which was true-ish. It would definitely be true in the Winter when the leaves have fallen from the trees. But it was still cool to check out.

Next, we went to the street market that is on Wednesdays and Saturdays. It spans about five blocks and is super cool. It would be a great place to put together an A+ picnic. Our appetites have been a little off plus we just ate breakfast, so we just looked with our eyes. But it was a really nice market. And it is amazing how much cheaper food is here. In particular, the cheese prices are excellent.

Hanging with our main man, Clusius!

After the market, we headed over to the Hortus bontanicus. It is linked to Leiden University. Although the heat was already building, we spent almost an hour wandering through the gardens although we were very strategic about seeking shade.

We went into a renovated greenhouse that used to be heated with a coal furnace underneath the giant lily pond. The heating system worked so well that the lilies have been blooming for years. It was quite warm inside. It was worth it! There were also several large butterflies flitting around.

Loved by many, but not me

We decided to revive our decidedly not butterfly selves by going to the cafe. There, I had my first food fail of the trip. Bitterballen are on many menus as an appetizer/snack. They’re fried and considered by many to be a tasty treat. Well…not me. It was a texture issue. I was expecting a meatball/thicker croquette filling and instead, it was really slimy. This made me think of the pink slime from McDonald’s hamburger scandal days. We figured out that it is supposed to be fried stew, which does make sense but it was over for me. Guess I’m not a bitterballen babe.

We went back to our hotel for a rest. It has been hot on this trip which is overall a good thing (blue skies) but can be slightly draining in the early afternoon. So hanging out in the AC and resting a bit has been key.

Leiden jars, aka early batteries!

But then, it was time for science! We went to the Rijksmuseum Boorhaave, named after a 17th century physician/botanist/scientist who was The Man in his day.

Keep “working” honey!

There was a temporary exhibit on the Dutch microscopist van Leeuwenhoek, who used teeny, tiny single lens microscopes to examine water droplets and other cool micro-worlds. There was a portrait of him looking at something small while his wife watched beside him. His wife, who by the way, worked a full time job so he could look at things all day and tell people how to draw them. Sheesh.

Leiden jar charge control

The permanent museum went through about 4 centuries of science, with a particular, although not exclusive, focus on medicine. There was also a significant focus on Dutch scientific leaders. It was really well done. I was very happy that there was a small focus on electricity, which meant we saw a four jar Leiden jar battery. Hooray! I was worried it was only in Haarlem, where there are 25 jars placed together! For our battery, there was a small dial with numerical measurements as well as descriptors that said (translated) “Can move needle” or “Small animal kill.”

There was also an area of future discovery, which had a lot of cool things including a robot dog!

On the way out, there was a children’s area. I took advantage of the opportunity to create a new headshot.

We headed back towards our hotel, hoping to eat a nearby restaurant with a terrace on the canal. No luck. Fully booked! So, we ate a Persian restaurant that was quite delicious. We ordered baba ganoush, hummus, and half a chicken that came with the most delicious dill and bean rice.

Then we walked along the canals since the evening was absolutely beautiful. The temperature was perfect and so many people had set up outside tables to hang out during the sunset and afterwards. It was absolutely delightful.

Vacation ‘23 Day 3: Amsterdam —> Leiden

At De Kas

Today’s highlight was a 1215 reservation at De Kas, a restaurant that I had come across during my trip research. For some reason, I have it in my head that I heard someone say, “Obama ate here.” I’m sure he did, but why I would have talked to someone about that being the reason to eat somewhere…I think I may have dreamt it.

Anyway! We had breakfast and checked out right before 11. I had gone looking for an atm without my phone, which turned into a bit of a time suck. ATMs have terrible exchange rates in the area around the train station so I looked a little too long for a legitimate one. I didn’t find it, so I took out the bare minimum needed for a housekeeping tip. But then I got turned around and a little lost. But I figured it out!

Then we walked across town to try and get a delicious cookie from Van Stapele Koekmakerji, which has always been popular but now has insane lines thanks to Tik Tok. We were a little too short on time to join the line, so we headed two blocks over to the Begijnhof. That was way more tranquil!

Then we took the metro and tram across town to De Kas. The lunch was amazing. It was such a special meal. There were so many different dishes and the pacing was so mellow. I can definitely get used to leisurely, multi-course lunches. I took a lot of pictures, so I’m going to write a separate post on the meal.

After lunch, we went back to the hotel, picked up our luggage, and headed to Leiden. We are staying at an amazing hotel that is extra-amazing because it has air conditioning and it is in the mid-80s during the day.

We headed out for a walk along the green ring, a walking path that circles the old city. Even bikes aren’t allowed on it! We walked about a 1/4 of it and then decided to head to the other side of the town for dinner. I was feeling a little lazy, so we took the bus.

We walked along the canals and picked a beautiful dinner spot on the shady side. We watched a lot of boats go by, which seemed like a really fun and popular thing to do.

Then, we walked some more. This city is so beautiful. There were a lot of people who set up tables outside their home to enjoy the perfect evening. So nice!