Our cruise finished where it began, back in Amsterdam. We had one extra day in Amsterdam before we head to Belgium for our friends' wedding. The Amsterdam flag is the triple X which is part of it's coat of arms, I had originally thought the triple X marked the red light district. I was further mistaken to think the locals were really proud of the red light district as I started seeing the triple X everywhere but was able to get a clarification from a tour guide. Well now that is out of the way....
Something I highly recommend if you take the cruise we were on is to take the Anne Frank House tour. Unfortunately no pictures allowed, so I got one of a statue of Anne Frank outside the house. The tour lets you bypass buying tickets a month ahead online and standing in a crazy 4 hour line. We basically shuffled in before the museum opened and got to see the whole thing.
You can't go to Amsterdam without taking a picture of a windmill. I was only able to snap this picture of the back of a windmill as we were driving around. There's a lot more to these windmills than I figured. Yes a lot of the original windmills were a local place for people to bring grains to be milled but others used the wind power for other functions such as powering pumps to keep the city (which is below sea level) from flooding. A lot of the old wind mills have been decommissioned and the remaining are now protected historical sites (that still function). People are trained to operate and maintain the windmills and are commissioned to live there. When not in operation the wind mills are locked in the "X" or "+" configuration. In the old days mills that were in need of repair were locked in the "X" configuration so that repair people could easily see who needed help.
The other must see from my wife was the Van Gogh museum. Again no pictures allowed but it was neat to see some of the classic paintings I've read about and seen as photos in person. I'm not usually one for museums but this was pretty spectacular. The museum was laid out chronologically to his body of work so the audio tour was really neat to fill in the historical gaps between paintings or what was going on in his life to influence the works.
To finish our we wandered into the sister hotel of the one we were staying. "Art'otel". It was a very modern hotel we actually randomly walked into the restaurant not realizing it was a hotel. It wasn't until after dinner that one of the hotel staff happily took us on a quick tour.
The hotel has a basement for art gallery installation as well as performances. There were large windows to allow passerby's to see and hear performances or rehearsals. Upstairs featured an interactive video display cameras watch for motion to affect the light display. The rooms were very modern and beautiful, if we come back we'll be staying here.
The restaurant "5 and 33" is the main restaurant for the hotel it features italian tapas and all of the ingredients are locally sourced. The host was super friendly and gave us the run down on the place and it's inspiration. It's only been open a month or so but from our dining experience I'm expecting it to be here a while.
Just like the rest of the hotel the decor was very modern and beautiful. We ordered a bunch of small plates, the food was so awesome I decided to show each dish.
Burrata, heritage tomatoes and basil - their take on a caprese salad. The Burrata cheese was delicious and generous and the tomatoes were sweet and juicy. An impressive first start.
Asparagus, quail eggs, pecornio and Truffles
Green pea soup. The soup had a very "vibrant taste". We loved this dish, there was clearly some cream in the soup however the soup was light and airy so they probably put this thru a blendtec or vitamix to give it that clean and smooth texture.
Grilled Octopus, olives, and artichoke
Seabass ravioli, olives and thyme. Our opinion was that the fish was too dry alone to be in a ravioli might want a little fat to go with it.
Braised ox cheeks, mashed potatoes and wild mushrooms. Wow.
We were barely able to finish this last dish, Pork belly with peperonata.
This was an amazing meal. The hospitality an service was great. Definitely go visit this place, it's right across from the Amsterdam Central station right on the square.