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Amsterdam I love you but it is time we part. May your canals be forever lined with twinkling light and dinging bikes and your rows be forever cute and filled with the ‘normal’ dutch.

On a sunny Sunday an Amsterdam, Evan and I set out on foot to find the famed Brouwerij t’ IJ. As far as we know, there aren’t many other microbreweries in Amsterdam. Being from the microbrewery capital of the world, it was imperative that we seek out and sample their wares.

We did our research online and found out that the brewery opened at 3pm. So, we decided to make a day of it and stroll around the city to see what we could find. First to the train station, where Evan became the proud owner of a very official-looking rail pass for his month of 40-minute train commutes into Hilversum now that we’re living in the city. First, obtain pass photos in small photo booth, then to the service desk where the pass is dutifully assembled – rubber stamps, signatures, more rubber stamps, photos cut to exact size, then sealed permanently behind a window of clear plastic: the official monthly rail pass. But it’s more than a rail pass; it’s a souvenir of the highly organized and punctual Dutch rail system.

We took a different bearing from the train station than we’d gone before and headed in the general direction of our much-anticipated windmill. Botanical gardens, canal-side brick factories converted into chic apartment lofts, old boats moored to canal walls – some sinking, others with smoking chimneys, yet others teeming with photosynthetic life. On and on we walked, over bridges, past cafes, through parks, into neighborhoods that were distinctly different from the inner canals of Amsterdam. More peaceful, we thought. Fewer tourists, more hidden attractions, lots of families and noticeably different architecture.

Along one of the main streets, I noticed a sign indicating free entry. We weren’t aware of any museums in this area, but being Amsterdam, surely there were more museums to be happened upon. We had indeed found the old Jewish Theater in de Pijp neighborhood. Beckoned by the welcome of a free entry (something very unusual in Amsterdam where one cannot even get a free map from Tourist Information), we entered and began our self-guided tour through the museum.
Holocaust Memorial - Hollandsche Schouwburg
The museum used to be a theater. For nearly 100 years it served as any normal theater; prior to WWII transformed into a Jewish theater, Hollandsche Schouwburg; during WWII repurposed yet again to gather the Dutch Jews in one place as they were sorted and separated for expulsion to eight concentration camps spanning the European landscape. Most of the signs were in Dutch, but the messages were universal – remembrance, sorrow, hastily left-behind items, official badges, exclusion, expulsion and senseless murder. Amsterdam also houses the Anne Frank house, which we plan to visit during our time here. Contrary to the long lines, tourists and multi-language tours of Anne Frank’s home, the Jewish Theater was a place of solitude and quiet reflection. We felt honored and fortunate to have happened upon it and learn more about Amsterdam’s Jewish history.

Not even a block from the theater is an enormous zoo. On the map, we were sure we could walk through the adjoining park and more quickly reach our windmill destination. Upon closer inspection, amidst the cacophony of excited little shrieks and sugar-high thrills, we were proven wrong and amended our course. We crossed a canal lined with old boats and converted factories. Above each door was a placard with the names of Dutch cities in alphabetical order.

To the other side of the zoo we walked, across a courtyard and there it was: the stunningly curved blades of a giant thatched windmill. The brewery sits on the river IJ (pronounced eye), its logo an ostrich standing above its egg. We walked around the windmill, took photos of the windmill, and waited patiently outside the windmill doors with other eager microbrew fans. We were 5 minutes early. We peered in the windows, greeted by visions of beer bottles lining the walls and a homey, casual interior.

Windmill and Brewery
Then, the windmill doors opened. People rushed in to claim their seats among the long tables that line the beer bottle decorated walls. No doubt we found some Oregon beer representation: a collection of Rogue Ale bottles almost directly across from our table. We contemplated the draft selection in front of us. Not a single beer under 6%, most closer to 9% – equivalent to a barley wine. We settled on our choices and ordered a bowl of salty pindas (peanuts) to accompany our frothy brews. Sip, swirl, taste, repeat. Verdict: delicious. Within minutes our table for eight was filled with old and young alike, similarly enjoying an afternoon beer with pindas and kaas. Children, strollers, dogs, tourists, locals, regulars and us: all enjoying beer inside a windmill on a river in Amsterdam. Sundays don’t get much better than this.

Brouwerij 't IJ

Looks like everything is all set to move into our place in Amsterdam. I am am super excited  to moving in. It is great location right in one of the inner canal rings, just a few minutes; walk from the train station. Sweet!




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