Finally my first time to Amsterdam! It was even better than I had predicted it would be. Sorry for all the canal pics.The city has such chill vibes and everyone is effortlessly cool and relaxed. It was a quick 2.5 days there but we packed a lot in and since the city is quite a bit more expensive than Madrid, it would have been painful to stay there too much longer. Because of the higher costs, I couldn’t explore too many different restaurants, we cooked in our Airbnb and ate cheap street food for the majority of our meals.
Weed is legal in Seattle, so the novelty of smoking in Amsterdam was a bit lost on me, but even still they are definitely next level relaxed about weed. You can smoke inside of tons of bars and on the street anywhere so that was more chill.
Like Copenhagen, the number of bikes/bikers is incredible. Just as in Copenhagen, I love that bikers are just wearing normal clothes and getting where they need to be, not putting on a bunch of spandex and assuming pretentious attitude to go for a ride. It definitely made me realize that the next city I live in needs to have a bike culture.
Spend the majority of your time in Amsterdam riding your rented bicycle, or if you are not bike-inclined, simply walking the canals will suffice. It is a cheap/free way to see the city and you will want to take a photo on every street corner.
Where to Stay
We stayed in the neighborhood called De Pjip mostly by accident as most of the Airbnbs were already booked, and it was the best choice we could have made. It seemed decently multi-cultural with your typical pubs mixed in with Moroccan and Syrian grocery stores and restaurants. It is also teeming with stylish cafes and restaurants and an outdoor market (with a fresh stroopwafel stand). I love to stay in neighborhoods where combined with Airbnb, make it seem like you are actually living in the city you’re visiting. We could go out and then return to our very neighborhoody vibe apartment and not seem like complete tourists.
Where to Eat/Drink
The three carnivorous guys I was with thought it odd that I of all people chose a burger place for our first meal in Amsterdam, but I had seen that they offered a veggie burger and I had a feeling it might be better than your average Spanish veggie patty. To say that would be an understatement. I had such an incredible veggie burger here! The patty was made up of beets, feta and black beans and layered with provolone cheese, lettuce, tomato and a coriander mayonnaise on a soft, brioche-like bun. The fries were also delicious, they had a couple of craft beers on the menu, outdoor seating and the service was excellent. As for the meat lovers, I heard tell that the patties were delicious and they are served fairly rare.
Madrid seriously lacks Vietnamese restaurants which I really miss, and on a cloudy, drizzly day in Amsterdam nothing sounded better than a warm bowl of Vietnamese pho (noodle soup). The place is small and narrow, but decorated in a cute and open way-be sure to check out the bathroom for the smallest sink you have ever seen. When I saw the pho price-tag though (12.50 Euros), it wasn’t quite as appealing so I decided on a dish with a bit more substance – a special dish of the day. It was a delicious coconut curry broth with rice noodles and chock full of delicious veggies including sweet potatoes.
A large craft brewery/brewpub in the center of Amsterdam. They offer three beers on tap: a pilsner, a red and a porter. I tried all three, they are all quite good (better than Heineken) and cheap for Amsterdam prices. We also ordered an amazing cheese platter with a selection of amazing Dutch cheese and we also ordered some bread and butter. Before this trip I didn’t realize how good Dutch cheese was!
The whiskey selection here is outstanding-likely the best I have seen. They have many impressive bourbons in their selection for sure, but since we’re in Europe the focus tends to be on Scotch. Logical of course, but still a bummer for those like me who prefer bourbon. Don’t worry though here you can get your fix. The atmosphere is really cozy and it feels almost like a secret club. Even though our too gone friend of a friend embarrassed us as soon as we arrived by ordering a “whiskey on the rocks”, yeah we are at a whiskey bar, we still had a nice time and had some really good laughs with the bartender who was a super friendly dude.
What to See
This lovely park is 47 hectares and in the Amsterdam-Zuid neighborhood, west of the Museumplein (where the Iamsterdam letters are that everyone is always posing in front of and the museums etc.) I always enjoy seeing how different cities setup their parks, and this one is especially nice. There is tons of grass and places for a picnic and trails for bikes or just strolling around. We walked around a bit and saw a wedding party and caught the last song of a free Passenger concert.
The museum is extremely easy to find as it’s right in the Museumplein and close to the Rijksmuseum. It is a bit pricey- (17 Euros for adults), but the multi-level collection of his works, personal items and glimpse into his fascinating life is well worth the steep price. Also, we had decided that we would visit just one of Amsterdam’s museums on this trip to cut back on costs. The museum is arranged really well and in a way that you can get a good feel of Van Gogh’s different periods, his skillful drawings (which I was unfamiliar with) and see how he was painting his last years right up until his death (these were my personal favorite paintings of his). Like the majority of Amsterdam’s museums, you won’t leave feeling overjoyed, I find Van Gogh’s life quite tragic, but I was thankful that his family-his grandson in particular-dedicated his life to showing the world his grandfather’s beautiful work and untold story.
Red Light District
The Red Light District (De Wallen) for me was off-putting. It is something huge to see in Amsterdam but besides the obvious, the streets are dirty and there are too many people to walk and there are basically just extremely rowdy bachelor parties everywhere. Of course it’s perfectly safe and I don’t regret seeing it, but I imagine if you lived there you would mostly avoid that part of the city. I saw it once, and if I visit Amsterdam again that’s definitely an area I can skip for next time. But to each her own.