i amsterdam

Almost exactly 20 years ago my husband returned home from a 2 year mission for our church.  He served in the Netherlands and fell in love with the country while he was there.  Ever since we have been married we have talked about going back, but something always came up.   This year as a Christmas gift for him, (after finding a killer deal on plane tickets) I decided it was about time he went back.  
We’re headed to Amsterdam in the next few weeks, and I can’t wait to have him show me around his old stomping grounds.

instagram photo: username missiemort

Half the fun of the trip is in the planning and I’ve already started to put together a travel journal…  I plan on using the same method as previous trips to document our trip “as we go”. I’ll be sure to share the finished project with you all.

Why am I telling you this??? Well other than to prepare you for a barrage of travel photos and stories, I need some advice, and this little old blog is a great place to find it.

1-  The Weather-  highs are forecast in the 50-60 degree range. This seems warm,  but I’m debating about bringing the “big” coat-  anyone know if 50 degrees in the Netherlands is pleasant or FREEZING??? (in Paris it was freezing, my gut’s telling me it will be the same).

2- Which Museum Pass? I’m confused, there’s the Holland Pass, the Amsterdam Card and the Netherlands Museum pass… I’m leaning towards the Holland pass- any opinions will be welcomed (we already have tickets to the Anne Frank house).

3- We plan on visiting Keukenhof, the Hague & Delft  for sure. We are staying in Amsterdam if we want another day out of the city, what do you recommend?

4- Shopping- of course shopping… any tips for places to shop for great home decor items, fabric, trims, ribbons or unique gifts?  (all that can be carried home in a suitcase)

5- Any other “must sees”???  Or other advice? Obviously we’re not interested in the “coffee” houses or the red light district…

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Melissa Mortenson is the author of the Polka Dot Chair blog which is in its 7th year of sharing fresh and creative ideas with readers. She is the author of “Project Teen, Handmade Gifts your Teen will Actually Love”. Her first fabric line “Derby Style” debuted in January 2015 through Riley Blake Designs. A mom of 3, she considers herself lucky to be living in Kentucky.

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  1. says

    1 – “freezing” is a relative thing. What I find comfortable on the East Coast and what my BFF finds comfortable in Phoenix are two very different temperatures! It can be cool, damp and overcast; layers are good, I think.

    2 – glad you already have tickets to the Anne Frank house. It is such a moving experience.

    3 – when I was in Holland I stayed with family friends in Arnhem. It is about an hour southeast of Amsterdam and is home to the Netherlands Open Air Museum and Burgers’ Zoo. Utrecht is about halfway in between if you take the train, and has a wonderful cultural scene.

    I was there before I really became involved in sewing and quilting, so I can’t give you shopping tips. But there are lots of lovely places to eat and nearly everyone speaks English. A good concierge can help you fill in the blanks if better-informed blog readers don’t. Have fun!

  2. says

    How exciting!!! My brother has lived in Amsterdam for almost 15 years. I have visted him for wedding and the birth of his first child. On my last trip, I got the I Amsterdam Card (red)available at most museum shops. It includes admission to the bigger museum and many smaller ones I might have missed. It includes a tram pass, which makes it a great deal, and I think a riverboat tour (highly recommended.) I would have missed the TassenMuseum – an entire 5 story canal house museum devoted to purses – if not for seeing it on the card!! it was fabulous! It can get quite cool – so make sure you have layers. Of course, I also had to visit the two quilt shops in the city, both easily accessed via tram. have fun!!!

  3. says

    Oh boy, so many questions and I’m sure you’ll have lots of answers. Here’s just a few “sense” from me … We’re in Belgium and I’ve out my heavy winter coat away. Temps are comfortable during the day … I worked in a sunny garden today in jeans and a long sleeved tshirt. By 4 it had clouded over and a plar fleece was necessary. The nights are still quite cool. That said my hubby (a prodessional guide) always suggests dressing in layers that you can peel off like an onion. If you’re in and out of shops, museums and the such you’re much better off with a lighter jacket over a sweater over a T than lugging the big coat around.

    As for shops, there are some goodies … The most obvious are the Petra Prins shops. Den Haan & Wagenmaakers and Petra Prins Patchwork.

    I’m afraid I could go on forever but will stop by again … I have a few fave haunts in AMS but I need to look up addresses, etc.

    Of course you’re always welcome to email me … Greetings from Kalken, Belgium :) Jovita

  4. says

    I’m not wearing my winter coat anymore now.

    I don’t have an answer for which pass to take,

    if you are in A’dam, this is the address of a quilting shop:
    Birdblocks, patchwork en quiltshop
    Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal 99
    1012 RE Amsterdam

    also Den Haan & Wagenmakers BV
    Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal 97
    1012 RE Amsterdam (10 min. walk from Centraal Station)

    In The Hague (where I was born way back) you find QuiltersPalet
    Weissenbruchstraat 13
    2596 GA Den Haag and The Stich Cottage, Vlierboomstraat 548
    2564 JN Den Haag

    check ou this site:

    have a great time!!

  5. says

    I was in Arnham last month and loved that city. The town center is a warren of alleys and shops and is so fun to explore. There is also an LDS ward there so if you are there on Sunday…..The yummy foods I wouldn’t miss are the waffle cookies sold on the street with a syrup filling, the chocolate sprinkles you put on bread and anything at the dutch pancakes houses. Have a great time! Diana from Closet Crafter

  6. says

    Den Haag and Wannamakers is a great store for chintz fabrics. There is a wonderful restaurant very near that store calledRestaurant Dorrier…we ate there three times in the week we were there. Check schedule because I think Keukenhof is only open for about 6 weeks in the spring.

  7. says

    I live near Eindhoven, and except for really early or really late night dog walks, I’ve switched from winter coat to heavy sweatshirt.

    When people come to visit me here, I take them to Madurodam (www.madurodam.nl/en) Holland in miniature, but they seem to be closed till april. It’s a bit cheesy, but a good place to get an overview of the sights, and alot of times, you see something that you want to see for real.
    I also really like Utrecht. You can climb the Dom, there’s a rather cool musicbox museum, and I like the atmosphere.
    In Amsterdam, we did the free tour(http://www.newamsterdamtours.com/) alot of walking, but well worth it. I totally recommend it.
    Oh, and make sure you’re somewhere on Market day and eat fresh stroopwafels!

  8. says

    I forgot to mention my favorite restaurant in that last comment!
    De Kas (http://www.restaurantdekas.nl/opening-times-and-bookings) in Amsterdam (easily reached by public transport) Yummy! Everythjng is fresh,and you get the menu the chef is serving that day! It’s a bit pricy, but you really get your money’s worth. (and you can always do lunch instead of dinner to save a bit) It’s a good thing I don’t live closer or we would be really poor.

  9. says

    Hello! My husband is dutch, and I’ve visited the Netherlands many times. We brought our boys there this past fall. Almost all of my husband’s relatives live in or around Amsterdam. Bring some scarves for layering — almost everyone wears one no matter what the weather. I agree that layers (cardigans, etc) are your best bet to staying comfy.

    Make sure you check out Kalverstraat, which is a good shopping street and has HEMA, my fave store. I always end up buying something from every section — home goods, clothes, toys, etc. It’s kind of like the dutch Target. LOVE IT! Also, the Haarlemmerstraat has great boutiques!

    Have fun — the city is gorgeous, the people friendly and open and the energy positive!!

  10. says

    Hi Melissa,

    My husband directed the BYUI FolK Dancers and we used to stay often at a quaint little fishing village, Volendam. Our memorable hotel, Spaander, was delightful. We really enjoyed it and so did all of his students. Maybe now it’s more commercial, but it’s worth checking out. Marken Island is near Volendam, traditional and quaint, people dress in traditional costumes. Zaanse Schans has fabulous windmills, clogs and a cheese factory. We brought wooden shoes home and filled them for Christmas instead of stockings one year. Now we leave a big one by the front door each Christmas Eve.

    Also, I think it’s more of a wet cold. I would pack layers, a sweater with a sport type jacket or even a raincoat. Have a great trip. I look forward to you memoirs!

  11. says

    We have gone there for the past two years…I served a mission from 88-89 under presidents Ward and Van Ry. Are you only stopping in Amsterdam? And when do you leave? We are away on Spring Break, but I could forward a word document to you if you want of a few things we did…I’d love to help!

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