Back to Where it all Began

For those of you who don’t know me, it’s important to know that my parents used to live in Amsterdam, and that the city is actually the place of my conception. True story. My parents hadn’t been back there since 1991, when they moved back to Chicago to raise me in the states… until now.

I thought it would be fun for my parents to visit me in Copenhagen, and then travel with me for the first part of my travel break. We decided to go to Amsterdam, because I’ve never been there, and my parents were interested in returning.

Before we could go to the Netherlands, though, we spent a few days here in Copes as I wrapped up my classes for the week. It was a little busy, because I had a lot of work before the vacation, so my parents had to spend a bit of time on their own, but we worked in some good quality time.

My parents arrived on Tuesday afternoon/night, and I met them at their hotel to take them on a walk around the city. I showed them the area around Vestergade and Stroget, where DIS is located, before stopping to get some sushi. Sushi in Copenhagen is surprisingly mediocre for a city located on the water… I’m telling you, Copenhagen ethnic food… usually not great. Although the new Nordic cuisine is apparently to die for–I’m looking at you, Noma.

The next day, I had class, but I still managed to bring my parents to the palace and, of course, to Nyhavn! Nyhavn is the picture that always comes up when you Google Image search Copenhagen. It’s the rows of colorful buildings along the harbor (havn in Danish… and new is ny. So, Nyhavn = new harbor! A little dansk lesson for you). We had lunch there, and we all acted really Danish while ordering, because my dad and I got Tuborg (which actually is one of the best beers in the world, true story) and I made my mom order the herring butter bread open-faced sandwiches. Such a Danish meal.

I had some classwork to do after lunch, so I didn’t meet up with my parents again until dinner… one of the best restaurants I have ever eaten at, called Fiskebaren. It was a seafood place, and while the portions were teeny, the food was so good. I can’t even think about it without getting hungry again–it was incredible!!

While that meal was definitely tasty, the best meal by far was the next night, when my parents came over to meet my host parents. I was a little worried about the two worlds colliding, but they all got along great! My host parents made one of my favorite meals, duck and potatoes, served with plenty of wine and followed by strawberry cake. We couldn’t linger too much, though, because I had to pack my things to go to Amsterdam the next day! Our flight was right after my last class of the day, so we had to rush to the airport. Unfortunately, our flight was delayed, so we didn’t get in until late. By that time, we were all so hungry and cranky, so we walked around arguing about where to eat until we finally stopped at an Italian place that was not too satisfying. But, hey, it was food!

On Saturday morning, we woke up and headed to the Anne Frank House. The line was long, but I convinced my parents to wait, because it was the place I most wanted to see in Amsterdam. While we waited for an hour and half, I had the chance to take a little time to walk around with my mom and then with my dad, so it was nice to talk to them.

Finally, we got into the Anne Frank House. It was so interesting and so, so sad. I felt especially overwhelmed when walking through Anne’s family’s old living quarters and seeing the pictures she had pasted on the wall to make her room more cheerful. It was so heartbreaking.

After finishing the tour of the house, we stopped for lunch and walked around the city for a while. We eventually made our way over to where my parents used to live. It was cool to see their old apartment and hear how their old neighborhood has changed since they lived there. Apparently, their street is now very expensive, and Dutch celebrities have homes there… David Beckham even owns a house nearby!

We had dinner at a restaurant in the little area near their apartment. We all shared a bottle of wine (and a little grappa) and had a very pleasant evening just talking and enjoying each others’ company.

The next day, we went to the Rijks Museum. It had just reopened on Saturday after a 10-year period of being closed, so we lucked out by being able to visit! We saw the famous “The Night Watch” painting as well as a lot of other paintings and some other stuff. Honestly, I’m not the biggest museum person sometimes. I just don’t always have the patience for it.

After our museum trip, we were all hungry, and my parents wanted me to try pannekoeken, which is basically a crepe served flat with other delicious foods over it/baked into it. It was so delicious!! We went to this place called Pannekoeken Upstairs, which advertised itself as being the smallest restaurant in Europe. I’m not sure if this is true, but it was pretty small, with only three tables!

We spent the rest of the day walking around and going on a canal tour before heading over to a fondue place I had found for dinner. Unfortunately, the oil provided to cook the meat in was peanut oil, so I had to resort to holding my meat over the little flames beneath the pots. It was not an ideal way to cook my meal, and I probably ended up ingesting more than a little undercooked meat, but it was so delicious! I hadn’t eaten fondue in a long time, and wanted to try something different.

On our way back to the hotel, we stopped for some drinks at a bar. My dad and I tried some of the bar’s own beers, which were very good, while my mom played it safe with her usual wine.

On our last day, Monday, we kicked off the day by taking in Van Gogh’s artwork at the museum. It was so interesting to see his progression… he started by sketching the hands of the peasants to master the human form, and his art evolved as he found his style and also started to succumb to his mental health issues.

After the Van Gogh museum, we went to get some lunch and then walked around to do some shopping for souvenirs. My dad found a really nice restaurant for dinner where the waiters talked us through their short list of menu options… it was so delicious! One of the best dinners I had eaten in a while for sure.

I left on Tuesday morning to fly back to Copes and spend the day there before flying off to Nice on Wednesday!! It was so nice to spend time with my parents and see the city where they used to live 🙂 More on my France trip to come soon…

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