One of the tw reasons we travel is to experience food culture around the world. Amsterdam was no different.
After the 10 hours of flying and layovers to get to Amsterdam from Atlanta, I checked into the hotel- the Renaissance- a ten minute walk from the Amsterdam Centraal, I dove right into exploration. My first goal was to get lost in the canals before my friend arrived from Brussels.
Amsterdam is very organized, and it is apparently difficult to get lost. Once you’ve seen a map, you can always tell what general direction you are heading in from the curve of the canals. Because of that, I ended up accidentally running into the Anne Frank house, where we were supposed to be the next morning. Across the street from the museum, however, was the cheese museum. If you are lactose intolerant, I would not suggest going, because I swear the very walls were made of cheese, and they let you taste EVERYTHING! One of my favorite of their magnificent creations was the Heineken Cheese. It doesn’t taste like beer, but it has a certain sweetness to it. You just have to taste it for yourself.
Next was dinner- night 1. I was still traveling solo at this point in time, so I decided to Google hidden local food shops in town. I came upon this place called Sklak- where apparently they had awesome burgers. The other seriously cool thing about Sklak, is it is student run, and student friendly, meaning all students get 30% off everything, even beer! They also keep their menu up to date in the latest food trends, so much so that I accidently ordered a beetroot burger, instead of a real burger! (So now you know the place is vegetarian friendly…) It was not bad, at all. The place was full of life and locals, and I even got to strike up an interesting conversation with a friendly local who goes there to hang out and read. Sklak is definitely on my highly suggested places to visit list.
The next day, my friend and I went exploring when we stumbled into the Private Tea Room, a tea house that was also apparently The Smallest House in Amsterdam! The first floor was the size of a small room, maybe thirty feet deep and nine feet wide, (a complete guess, by the way.) We saw a small metal staircase swirling up to the second floor, and decided to see this private room. It was absolutely adorable!
Our host told us the story of the house, and how it has been in his family for only a couple generations. They’ve found paintings of the house that date back much farther, though.
Our host also bakes! He served us the tea of our choice with a slice of dutch apple pie, which might have been one of the best pies I’ve had, and I am a pie fanatic. I highly recommend a visit to The Smallest House, located at Oude Hoogstraat 22, 1012 CE Amsterdam, close to the Anne Frank House.
Beer lovers, this one is for you!
Visit the Browerij’t Ij brewery, which is also one of the few remaining windmills in Amsterdam, for a few tasty beers at a price great for the budget traveler! We couldn’t go into the windmill, but it was still pretty awesome to drink in the shadow of the mill.
Our second beer stop was what ended up being a rather American bar called the Beer Temple, but with an impressive array of local beer. It was a friendly place, but was a bit touristy for my taste.
Speaking of tourist traps, Amsterdam is home to a really trappy one- the Ice Bar. While it was… heh… cool, it lacked authenticity, especially since the welcome video and the bartender was a mockery of Pirates of the Caribbean… Though, if you need to waste some time, $12 for three drinks and an ice cup was not a bad deal.
The grand finale was my favorite meal in Amsterdam, period. Especially if you are going to Amsterdam when it is warm, go to Roest, which takes a bit of time to get to, but worth it 100 times over and 100 times again. Roest is an old warehouse, and kept the feeling of the old rustic atmosphere, with antique-feeling lights and decor. Every Sunday they have a roast outside, where you can sit and watch the pig get roasted. The outside area is right on a canal, and is an excellent place to just relax. This is not a normal restaurant, though, and I had to ask a few people before I figured out that you ordered your food at the bar and picked it up at the marked station.
Just go. That’s all.