5 Random Things I Did This Weekend…in Amsterdam

Here’s what I’ve been up to the last few days…

1) Started the weekend on an early train to Amsterdam

In a clear violation of my rules for being up in the 5AM hour multiple times a week, I once again found myself at Gare du Nord early on Friday morning.  This time catching our 6:20AM train from Paris to Amsterdam.  The high-speed train takes about 3 hours and stops briefly in Brussels about an hour after leaving Paris.


Once we arrived I had a few conference calls to attend to before we could get on with our day.  But after that, we got onto the business of being Amsterdam tourists.


Ultimately, this is exactly one of the reasons why we selected Paris when deciding which city to relocate to as part of my job (we basically could select anywhere in Europe/Middle East/Africa).  The ability to jump on a high speed train and enjoy the weekend in so many entirely different places is something I wouldn’t have been able to get in many of the other locales we were considering.

2) Going for a bike tour around the city, and then rented bikes

After a few hours of aimless wandering looking at shops we headed over to do a bike tour of Amsterdam.  Bike tours are very popular in Europe, usually lasting 2-4 hours.  We’ve done one in Paris with Fat Tire Bikes, and here in Amsterdam we did this one with Mike’s Bike Tours, which actually originally founded Fat Tire Bikes in Paris before they amicably separated (they refer to each other).  In any case…

We selected the mini-tour simply because we figured we’d rent bikes ourselves over the weekend and just wanted a bit of a primer to the city.  While I’ve been here numerous times for work trips, I haven’t done much in terms of playing tourist, so this would be perfect.


The tour was relatively short (we selected the short one on purpose), but we got to cover a fair bit of ground in the city.


And we were lucky in that our group was fairly easy going as well.


On Sunday we went ahead and rented bikes.  There are approximately 1 million places to rent bikes from in Amsterdam, spaced approximately every 30 meters apart.  It’s cheap and easy.


While we had walked a crap-ton on Friday and Saturday, we used the bikes to speed some of our shopping on Sunday.  But, we also went out and checked out one of the windmills in the city.


Of course, from a cyclist’s perspective I still feel like there’s almost nothing as impressive in Amsterdam as the sheer volume of bikes.  I don’t know of any city that rivals it, anywhere on the planet.  And the proof is most easily seen in the train station bike parking garage.  Yes, that’s all bikes.  And yes, that’s only a fraction of the bikes parked around the train station.


3) We enjoyed lots of food in the city


We loved how easily walk-able the city is in the summer, and as part of that how many smaller cafes and restaurants there are with tables out on the street and serving awesome food.  For breakfast we went to Bakers and Roasters, and had this pulled pork creation that was incredible.


Then there were a waffle or two consumed.  This one was with Nutella on top, and then a caramel-waffle ice cream scoop…because there is never enough waffle in one’s life:


Amsterdam is full of cheese shops.  Sorta like pubs in Dublin.  But unlike Dublin these shops all offer free samples.  Which means much cheese was consumed (and bought).



And that’s totally separate from the cheese consumed at canal-side café’s:


We took this trip to Amsterdam partly as a wedding anniversary trip, and the dinner below was our gift to each other as a “nice dinner out”. Since you might remember that The Girl has been wanting a bunny for a while?  Well, I got one for her:


And, in case you’re curious – not bunny below, but rather pigeon.


Yes…lots of food, and all of it quite good.  Very impressed on the Amsterdam food front.

4) We rented a paddle boat…and peddled our way around the canals

Not content with just staying on land, we decided to try our hand at cycling on the water.  Given Amsterdam is a never-ending series of canals, this seemed quite appropriate.


We rented it for about 90 minutes, though I unfortunately forgot to bring a GPS watch with me on the boat to save the track file.  But, we made quite good time (in our opinion).


Plus, it offers an entirely different view from down on the water.


Though, just after we returned the boats we got to watch an absolutely epic $h!t-show go down at an immensely busy portion of the river as a traffic jam occurred with non-talented paddle-boaters combined with huge tour boats, random pleasure craft and the odd bachelor & bachelorette drinking boat.  It took a good solid 10+ minutes for this mess to sort itself out, as it extended well beyond the frame to the right and left at least a few hundred meters of backed up boats.


5) We headed back home, and went for a late night run

After a busy Sunday we caught the 5PM train back to Paris.  This was just about the perfect time as we didn’t get back home too late.  Below, cruising along past cow fields at a few hundred kilometers an hour.


By time we made the connecting trains/etc we got home around 9PM, and within about 5 minutes I was back out the door for an 80 minute or so run.  The Girl would follow a few minutes later on her run as well.


(Oh, and I actually saw a DCR reader along the run.  Or rather, he saw me and we chatted for a minute or so before parting ways.)

It would turn out to be one of the weirdest/quietest nights I’ve ever run in the city.  Actually, let alone nights – just quietest times ever.  Not quite sure why.  Though, perhaps the World Cup game had something to do with it.  I got home with just a few minutes left before overtime, and then got to finish up watching Germany win it all.


With that – hope everyone had a great weekend!

Of course, tomorrow is Bastille Day here in France (well, it’s not really called that in France or in French, but that’s the closest you’ll get in English).  Perhaps if people are interested I’ll do a 5 Random Things From My Bastille Day post…


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  1. 5 random things from Bastille Day it is then. A good view of Amsterdam.

  2. Hi Ray,

    Cool you went to visit Amsterdam! Maybe you would consider racing a half or full triathlon distance really close to Amsterdam as well?

    link to challenge-almere.com

  3. HArry

    ” for this mess to unsort itself out,…” I think you mean “sort it self out.” It looked pretty unsorted, as it was. Sorry, no more copy-edit comments.

    Looks like you had fun and enjoyed better weather than the riders on the TdF. Probably better food, too.

    Happy anniversary!

  4. Aubrey

    My wife and I are big fans of the Fat Tire Bike Tours in Paris. What a great group of folks and a great way to learn a little about the layout of a new city. A bike tour has become a requirement when we adventure out to a new locale.

  5. Renee McKinney

    Nice photos, & happy anniversary! I’d love to see a Bastille post if you find the time!

  6. LVbob

    I love these posts. A Bastille Day post would be very fun.

  7. Steve McCubbin

    If you didn’t stop in at the Brouwerij ‘t Ij (shown in your windmill picture) for a beer then you missed out! They’ve got a few nice beers.

  8. Definitely post about Bastille Day please! Also, how was pigeon???

  9. Al Miller

    Nice post about Amsterdam. Looking forward to the Bastille Day post!!

  10. Jeff K

    I also only caught 15 minutes of the world cup in overtime and watched the lone goal of the game. I thought done and done. Felt sorry for those suckers that wasted 115 minutes waiting for the only action of the game… umm, somehow I have a feeling that I don’t understand the real pleasure of watching football/soccer.

  11. Robert

    Great post, that waffle looks delicious!

  12. Chris

    Consider me interested!

  13. Joshua McLaughlin

    Thanks for making me spray iced tea on my monitor at the headline “We enjoyed lots of food in the city”
    with edible underwear in the foreground of the very next picture. Happy Anniversary!

  14. Captain Chris

    “I unfortunately forgot to bring a GPS watch with me on the boat” Wow… just Wow.

    Colonial Beach Tri for me this weekend… not a bad little town.

  15. Alice

    Happy Anniversary!

  16. Remco Verdoold

    Two surprises for me (as a Dutch), first about generous sampling of cheese in Amsterdam. I did not expect it but well, lets treat our tourists properly with the proper hard cheeses (No worries, I like the soft cheeses too, try a Mont d’or for instance). But the pigeon!!! That is nowhere near a national dish, I have never seen it on a menu in Holland before. I know belgiums are fond of it. So how does it taste? I can imagine like something like quail.
    I must say you were very lucky with the weather, down south in the far corner of Holland it was only rain.
    Looking forward to see 14-7 dinner fest photos!

    • It was good, and yup, kinda like quail. It was prepared such that we didn’t have to pick through bones or anything – which was nice.

      As for cheese, so many cheese varieties! We bought a bunch, all hard-cheeses. Obviously we get lots of good cheese here in France, but much of it is soft cheese.

  17. Turn The Damn Cranks

    @Captain Chris has it right. I cannot wrap my ahead around the thought that you had fewer than two GPS watches, much less that you actually had none.

  18. Stewart Ellis

    Hi Ray – that was me that you met on your run! Thanks for stopping to say hello!

  19. I really like the positivity about Amsterdam. I live here myself and I’m happy that you enjoyed your stay.
    Love the pictures you took. Thinking about coming back?

  20. Jeff

    I agree about the volume of bikes in Amsterdam. I was amazed at how casual these riders seemed when riding in front of trains and across the tracks.

    I was also amazed at how well dressed everyone was, all the time.

  21. Chris Furner

    Did you get to go in Brouwerij’t IJ for a tour and tasting? It is a very cool brewery and the english-speaking tour guide is really funny. Good beer too!

  22. Hiya, planning a trip to Hook of Holland and beyond making use of Stichting Vrienden op de Fiets, Any thoughts? Somewhat more tech related should I upload openfietsmap to my 1040 that already came with european maps – would it offer better granularity for a tour of Holland or just mess with existing map set. If you ever think of heading to Colombia happy to trade some info on my many cycling visits, good wishes