Amsterdam

Out of all the cities I’ve visited in Europe, Amsterdam is probably the friendliest. Having done only a little research (relying mostly on my friend to show me around), I had almost no knowledge of the place…besides that it’s famous for Gouda cheese and stroopwafels.

Amsterdam turned out to be the friendliest city I’ve visited in Europe. Everyone is incredibly nice and happy. Speaking English is also not a problem, compared to France, where in some places you can expect no English at all.  The city has so many beautiful canals, and countless hipster cafés and boutiques.

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On my first day, we visited a huge open-air market. Visiting a farmers market is always on the top of my list when I visit a city. It’s such a great way to know what the local specialties are. This market was a combination of flea market/food market. They sell anything from home deco and electronics, to food stands and fresh produce. We made several stops throughout the market to taste some of their local specialties.

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Stroopwafels are everywhere! But the ones you will see are probably packaged cookies. It’s best to get them fresh at the market, where you can get them freshly made and hot!

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Don’t forget to try the Dutch pancakes! These tiny pancakes are made fresh, served with butter, then powdered sugar. They taste like little pieces of heaven.

For a more formal lunch meal, we went to a café near the market called Trust. The place has a really cool concept. Nothing is priced. You “pay as you please.” For this kind of place, I would be highly suspicious about the food, but it turned out to be pretty great 🙂 The service was also super friendly and the waiters super patient.

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The interior deco is pretty hipster with an open kitchen. I especially love the tiled walls. Lighting could be better throughout the entire café, but it was a pretty gloomy day.

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We ordered three different things, but the highlight was definitely “Something Old & Something New.” It was toasted bread, dutch cheese and truffle mayo. What made it was the truffle mayo, for sure. But It was amazing. I love truffle.

Which brings me to my next topic….the truffle Gouda cheese. It’s rampant. It’s everywhere. You better not miss it and get yourself a block or two. I got two.

The famous Gouda can be kept without refrigeration from 4-6 weeks! I love my cheese, so I couldn’t help but select a few for myself. The most well known producer, with shops dotted throughout the city, is Henri Willing. Step into any store, and you will get a huge selection of cheeses. But my favorite is, without a doubt, the truffle Gouda. Some other interesting flavors worth a try are paprika, chili, and cumin. The smoked goat cheese is also amazing, but I know it’s not everyone’s cup of tea.

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You should also never leave Amsterdam without venturing to Cafe Winkel. It’s a lively bar serving simple European food, but its super star is the apple pie. Oh my goodness…I am still dreaming about it. It has ruined all apple pies for me. Some people come just for the apple pie. When we walked in and told the waitress we wanted to have dinner,  her response was “Wait, and not apple pie?”

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I’m not sure how to explain this. Most apple pies I’ve had had either too crusty of a crust, overcooked and over-sugared apples, too much cinnamon, or too much butter. But this one right here had the perfect balance. The crust was perfect, the perfect level of crustiness. The crust is thicker than your usual apple pie, but it balances out the generous amount of apples. The apples were cooked perfectly, with just the right amount of cinnamon and brown sugar. It was a large piece. We got two pieces to share between three,which was definitely a good amount. But if someone put another one in front of us, I’m sure we would’ve finished it anyway.

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I had, for the longest time, debated whether or not Amsterdam was worth the visit. Visiting this city was a “thing” that exchange students did, so naturally, I thought it was pretty overrated. But it’s not.  I love how hipster the city is! Not to mention that coffee isn’t a problem here, like in France.

Amsterdam is a city small enough for you to go around on foot. Or if you’d like, on a bike, like the locals. We were blessed with an incredibly nice weather on my second day in the city, so I was able to take some better photos. I love the places away from the tourist crowd that are more calm and tranquil, where you can really enjoy the views of the canal.

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The Red Light District is a very interesting place to visit, and as told by my friend, actually one of the safest places in the city. Definitely turned out to be a more touristy place than I had expected, but it’s cool to see.

Anne Frank House is definitely worth the visit. Thank goodness I didn’t have to line up. My friend was able to get a ticket online (which also happens to be the only day in May that actually had tickets. Well, there was only one ticket left haha). So if you are not so lucky like me, I guess you’ll have to go an hour before opening time, which is 8am.

NB: The “coffee shops” you see on the streets are not actually coffee shops. They’re for something else, if you know what I mean.

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Trust Cafe :Albert Cuypstraat 210

Winkel Cafe:  Noordermarkt 43

Singel 404: Singel 404

Great sandwich cafe and great location by the canal. You can opt to dine next to the canal when the weather is nice.

Thai Snackbar Bird: Zeedijk 77

This place offers authentic thai food. We loved it! We had two other tourists sitting next two us, one of whom visits Thailand often. He said the food was pretty on par with actual Thai food. There is a more formal restaurant across from this smaller joint as well, but the ‘snackbar’ seems to be where it’s at.

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