Amsterdam was the first stop of a longer adventure my husband and I were taking towards the end of summer. The plan was to start in a place where neither of us had been and travel south through Belgium, ending in France at our cousins wedding. Amsterdam was a wonderful way to kick things off- with some notable meals and an adventure involving Elliott captaining a boat.
Cafe Spek: We arrived to our AirBnB a little early and stumbled across this hidden gem across the road while we looked for somewhere to wait for our host and grab a beer and some late lunchtime nibbles. Cafe Spek is right along on the canal with outdoor seating – it was perfect. We parked it outside even though it was raining and promptly ordered ourselves a few Heinekin. Later one evening on our trip we took the tram by Cafe Spek- it was PACKED (as was the whole street it’s on) so it looks to be a pretty nice dinner spot, too.
De Kas: Holy GOD you have to go here, however you MUST plan ahead. Reservations are opened up months in advance so if you have a trip planned to visit Amsterdam, start checking the website like…..right now. They serve lunch and dinner- we went at lunch so we could enjoy the glass walls- you are eating your meal in the middle of a greenhouse in Amsterdam. Most of the ingredients are grown in the greenhouse you enter next to- if they aren’t, they are sourced locally. If you are lucky enough, you might see a gentlemen tending to his greens wearing wooden clogs like we did! Every dish we received was unique and utterly delicious. One of the most memorable meals we had had in awhile.
Bar Mash: Tiny restaurant and bar – plywood everywhere. Super hip, great Thai food and awesome ambiance.
Wagamama: A delightful chain that my husband and I fell in love with when we were in England that we stumbled into after a long afternoon at a local music festival.
Brouwerij Het IJ: A wonderful spot to grab a beer with indoor tables and outdoor picnic/shared tables. We did the beer tasting and loved every one. You can’t miss it as it’s located INSIDE an old windmill, positioned near the water.
Hannkes Boom: A MUST visit bar in the Eastern Docklands. My husband and I felt like walking and went on a bit of an adventure- through some rather industrial looking spots, by some pretty cool/rundown houseboats, by some outdoor urinals. This place is pretty far outta the town but SO worth the trip- an insane interior with fireplaces, rooftop deck and then a dock front patio with tall communal bar tables, insane decor (a wheelchair was dangling off the side of the second story deck?). We watched locals pull up on their own boats for drinks and then leave after tossing a couple back. Super cool vibe, great music and wonderful people.
Buongiorno Esspressobar: A coffee chain with fantastic coffees- we went every morning and enjoyed them to stay.
Amsterdam Boat Rental: There are LOADS of tour boats you can get on to show you the famous Amsterdam canals, but after talking with our AirBnB host, we found out what locals do and knew it was much more our vibe. We were given a general area we could go to get our own boat to drive around with snacks and beers- Elliott did some googling, we reached some random dud on his cellphone and sure enough, we were on our own 16 person boat, wandering the canals (just the two of us), in no time. All you need is cash and to be prepared to leave your ID behind with a kid that looks like a teenager. You pay by the hour, get a sketchy map, a VERY abbreviated boat/captaining tutorial, and you’re off! It was so fun to have Elliott drive a boat while I kicked my feet back. We just meandered down small canals that tour boats either can’t or don’t go down- at our own speed. We couldn’t recommend doing this enough. Brining your own baguettes, beer and cheese really sealed the deal. After your boat ride, grab an apres boat drink at the Harbor Club. I’s probably totally douchey at night but during the day it was a nice spot to get a drink and relax after a stressful boat ride.
Look up what music festivals are going on- it felt like every weekend there was something going on. We were there during Appelsap which was a RIDICULOUS hop hop festival, 20 Euros, and so much fun.
AirBnB: Seriously there are some of the most wonderful places to stay on AirBnB. We found a lovely little spot right on the tram line and waterfront and our friend who visited afterwards were able to rent a house boat for an inexpensive price. Highly recommend you just peruse AirBnB and choose what feels right to you.
Go to the Heineken Factory unless you are really into Heineken. The factory itself was cool to see but it’s a CRAZY tourist frenzy with limited beer drinking. The best part is that you end on a rooftop bar with some cool views of the city, but otherwise it’s loaded with lines.