I finally made it to Amsterdam and it's safe to say that after only one visit, there will be many more trips to Amsterdam in my future. One thing that really struck me about Amsterdam is that the entire city is adorable and exactly as you'd expect it to look, like you could walk anywhere in the city and take a postcard-worthy photo.
Besides that, the people are all ridiculously kind, helpful and friendly (and totally genuinely so). Oh, and the food, well, I could go on about the food for days. I spent a long weekend in Amsterdam and it was the perfect amount of time to feel like I did a lot, yet still have plenty of reasons to come back soon.
Here's a run-down of the best things I did (but mostly ate and drank) in Amsterdam:
Kantjil & de Tiger: One of my new travel must-dos is to eat the cuisine of a large ethnic minority in the country I'm traveling to. In the Netherlands case, that ended up being Indonesian food and it was life changing. Rijsttafel, which literally translates to "rice table," consists of enough tasty little dishes of Indonesian food to fill your table plus a big bowl of rice. At Kantjil, you choose whether you want vegetarian, fish or meat as your main and the remainder of your dishes will consist of this selection. I went for fish and it was magnificent. Now, to find the closest Indonesian restaurant to me...
Finch: Located in the Jordaan district, I stumbled upon Finch while heading to the Anne Frank House. Instead of researching a place to eat, I decided to walk from my Airbnb to the museum and find something along the way. Finch was perfect: jam-packed with locals and no English menu. Luckily, believe it or not, you actually can decipher Dutch as an English speaker with no knowledge whatsoever of Dutch. Buttery croissants, smoked salmon, fluffy eggs and a cappuccino topped with a mini muffin were the makings of a great start to the day.
Bakers & Roasters: This New Zealand/Brazil-inspired breakfast spot is always packed and came highly recommended by multiple locals. We waited for about an hour for brunch, but luckily, they have a nice texting system so you can watch where you are in line with live updates while heading down the street for a drink to pass the time.
Foodhallen: This was another random find while out and about exploring Amsterdam. I ended up going here twice because the first visit was on Saturday night, so there was nowhere to sit and because, um, I couldn't eat everything I wanted to in one visit. De Ballenbar is a must for a chef's take on bitterballen, the classic Dutch bar snack, Beer Bar for tasty craft beer and Le Big Fish for oysters and soft-shell crab. Oh, how I've missed seafood.
Café Westerdok: This friendly neighborhood bar was my first stop in Amsterdam, while waiting to check into my Airbnb. The owners are some of the nicest people I've ever met with a fantastic beer selection. I was even able to try an oak-aged La Trappe Quadrupel.
'T Blauwe Theehuis: After a stroll through Vondelpark, this is a great spot to stop for a beer. It didn't feel touristy - though I visited in February, so I'm guessing park crowds were mostly limited to locals at this time - and they had a nice beer selection, plenty of outdoor seating and a cozy interior.
'Cause Beer Loves Food: Another random find while wandering the streets, 'Cause Beer Loves Food is a great little beer bar. I had Elvis Juice, a grapefruit IPA from Brew Dog.
Oedipus: This was not a random find. It would be nearly impossible to just stumble upon this brewery, but it's the perfect excuse to take the free ferry across the IJ River. I found my new favorite beer here (actually, I first had it at Beer Bar at Foodhallen): Polyamorie, a sour pale ale. Not only is their beer spectacular, I really love their label art. Oh, and while we were at the brewery, they were having a vinyl auction - fun!
Anne Frank House: This was one of my must-visits while in Amsterdam, so I was sure to buy tickets ahead of time. Be sure to do the same if you plan to visit. The Anne Frank Museum is an all-around well done museum - highly recommended. The combination of video clips and exhibit pieces really brought the Frank family's heart-wrenching story to life.
Foam Museum: This is my idea of the perfect museum. Foam is a relatively small photography museum with unique, contemporary exhibits. I was thrilled to see an overview of Hiroshi Sugimoto's work while I was there. The small size meant I hadn't met my maximum museum fatigue and was able to visit the Rijksmuseum in the same day.
Rijksmuseum: This museum is in a stunner of a building and houses some very famous works, like The Night Watch by Rembrandt and a self-portrait by Van Gogh. My favorite finds, however, were of the unexpected variety: plaster casts of the faces of Nias islanders and a collection of old Dutch drinking games.