WHERE: Amsterdam, The Netherlands
WHY: Amsterdam. Pretty much the most delightful city ever. With its lopsided buildings and endless canals, these charming streets will enchant you.
The country’s capital is also known for some wilder types of freedom and giants. Actually, giants. The Netherlands has the tallest population in the world.
Also biking. Cyclists were omnipresent and I narrowly avoided death a handful of times. Even at the end of my sojourn, I was still thrown off-guard by their speed and widespread existence.
There are loads of street markets selling treats and treasures, from medieval texts to krokets, and basically everybody speaks English for those without “groot” Dutch skills.
Hop on a flight to Schiphol, one of Europe’s busiest and nicest airports, and get down to this dreamy pedestrian friendly city with a plethora of canals and bicycles that you may find yourself dodging more than a handful of times.
FOOD: Bar Spek
Located outside of the city centre, towards Erasmus Park and the neighborhood Bos en Lommer, Bar Spek is a hip restaurant with subway tiles, pretty pendants, and fresh food.
Bar Spek’s menu includes crafty cocktails, pizza, meat platters, and vegetarian sandwiches.
I went with the Breakfast of Champs, which consisted of a well-balanced portion of huevos rancheros, yogurt topped with granola and fruit, and a thick green smoothie.
Bar Spek makes for brunch perfection: it is bright and spacious, yet cozy. The service is as wonderful as the food. Although Bar Spek is outside of the main canal rings, it is well worth the wander out here.
They also do dinner and have a takeaway available. For warmer days, there is outdoor seating perfect for people watching and vitamin D intake.
Brunch hard at Bar Spek with a menu to satisfy all five of your basic tastes for an affordable price.
ARTS: Van Gogh Museum
You have likely head of Vincent Van Gogh, the deeply passionate 19th century painter who had an incident with an ear and a knife.
The Van Gogh Museum is dedicated to this Dutch genius and features his and many other artists’ spectacular works.
Now unfortunately you can not take photos in the museum, but there is always some awesome art being curated outside.
I found that one of the most interesting aspects of the museum were the audio features: narrations of letters between Van Gogh and his family and friends. Hearing profound perspectives shared between close friends through a now ancient mean of communication was super refreshing in this tech driven world.
Definitely book your tickets in advance as you have to choose a time and they generally sellout quickly.
The paintings are phenomenal, particularly the ones depicting rural farm life, which was Van Gogh’s favorite theme to focus on.
In addition to Van Gogh’s many iconic works, the museum was also showcasing an incredible exhibition called “Easy Virtue” featuring the theme of French women through the roles of courtesans, etc. across various mediums in 19th century art and writing.
The fascinating works included a beautiful bed installation, controversial magazine excerpts, photographs, and film footage.
Entrance to the Van Gogh Museum is a pricey €17, but you’ll end up spending a solid three hours immersed in legendary art.
Asides from Copenhagen, Amsterdam is the most bike friendly city in the world. Explore the city on wheels as locals do.
Cycling here is done leisurely and you can obviously cover a lot of ground this way.
There are quite a few options for rentals you can pick from. Not only will you take in all the pleasant sights, but you’ll be working your muscles for a good calorie burn.
Cycling is very much a way of life in Amsterdam. At all hours, there are bikes whipping around corners, many a times with multiple people on one apparatus with limbs flying everywhere.
Head over to Vondelpark for some additional tranquility, Amsterdam’s most highly regarded green space.
Rentals are go as low as €8.50 for 24 hours. Cycle your way through culture!
CoX is a club right near the tourist hub of Leidseplein.
The night I went featured a DJ spinning 90s hip-hop and R&B vinyls which was so prime. CoX was the ideal dimly lit environment to shimmy around to some throwbacks. I may or may have not requested “Bossy” by Kelis and Too $hort.
Interestingly enough my friends and I got in when it seemed highly unlikely as everybody on the significant line was speaking Dutch.
Be casual yet confident, and maybe talk at a low-level so the bouncers do not realize you are not a local and you will be sure to get in!
There are two levels of fun at CoX and their drinks are not overpriced like many of the bars and clubs in this area of Leidseplein.
Club the right way: blend in with the residents of Amsterdam and sip on a vodka soda (with lime) at CoX.