Last month, we spent six days exploring some of the first cities we went to as a pair. We met in Amsterdam for three days of museums, tours, food and exploring, then took the train south to Maastricht, where we met on exchange almost three years ago. We’ll have plenty of details about navigating the Netherlands in future posts, but for now, enjoy these highlights of our trip:
Canals in Amsterdam aren’t just for transportation and tourist boat tours – many people live on houseboats, which are just as diverse and interesting as the canal houses just a few feet away.
The Bloemenmarkt is the world’s only floating flower market, and is a must-visit in Amsterdam. Unfortunately it’s pretty difficult to bring tulip bulbs back to the U.S., but just looking at the hundreds of varieties here is plenty! This is a great spot to pick up other (non-living) Amsterdam souvenirs.
Amsterdam challenge: Find two buildings that look alike! Every street is filled with an eclectic mix of 17th-century canal houses and other old buildings that make this city one of the most beautiful in the world.
Before you even enter the world-renowned collections of the Rijksmuseum, you are welcomed into an impressive, light-filled space in the museum’s atrium. This part of the museum is accessible without a ticket, but the whole museum is worth seeing at least once.
Posing at one of the most Instagrammable spots in Amsterdam, the “iamsterdam” sign.
The Hortus Botanicus, Amsterdam’s botanical garden, is one of the oldest in the world. The glass houses, including the hothouse with three different climates, are a relaxing refuge on a freezing cold day.
Bicycles are everywhere in Amsterdam, and they can have as much personality as cars. These sleek rides with canal house detailing belong to a local hotel.
You can walk down the medieval streets of Maastricht for hours and never experience the same twists and turns twice.
Some colorful reading material at our adorable Maastricht digs, Townhouse Hotel Maastricht.
The Boekhandel Dominicanen in Maastricht makes frequent appearances on “The World’s Most Beautiful Bookstores” lists, and it’s easy to see why. The picture doesn’t fully do it justice, you have to see this 13th century Gothic monastery church-turned-bookstore for yourself.
A quiet street near the Helpoort in Maastricht, the oldest city gate in the Netherlands (Built 1229).
The “Take One” bar in Maastricht has a menu, but it’s no use trying to order from it. Instead, the owner/bartender chooses something for you after asking your “taste” for the evening – something sweet for Mark (left) and sour for me (right).
Avery can’t resist snapping a photo of colorful house detailing like this bright blue door (oh, and Mark too).
You never know what stunning scenes you’ll find in Maastricht.
Just literal steps away from the Belgian border, Maastricht prides itself on being a gateway to the rest of the region.