It Was Me Amsterdam, Not You (+3 Awesome Spots To Check Out).
It’s been over 48 hours since we arrived in Amsterdam, and I have to say my first impressions of the city were wrong.
We came with lofty expectations during our first trip. They said “it was the Venice of the North,” which to us is a bit like saying Chipotle is the Roberto’s (a famous chain of taco shops in San Diego) of New England. It’s not that I disliked Amsterdam the first go around, it just didn’t (much like a Chipotle burrito) blow me away. There a few highlights,, though, that still come to mind from that trip. We were walking through one of the city’s idyllic neighborhoods (possibly Jordaan), the sun was throwing shadows on to the muted canal, as people sat picnicking on their stoops and the air was warm and calm. I saw a different side of Amsterdam in that brief moment, enough that I wanted to give the city a second shot.
Beth and I are in Amsterdam for the PITCH Festival, an electronic music festival. We’re covering the two-day concert for Must Love Festivals. I’m excited about this assignment, not because I’m a huge electronic music fan, but because I don’t know much about it. Plus, I’m curious to attend a musical festival outside of the United States. It has been a dream of mine for a while now, and I could have never imagined my first out-of-country concert would be in Amsterdam, where things, let’s just say are a little freer. Aside from Massive Attack, who is headlining the festival I don’t know anyone else on the bill, so if you have any recommendations, definitely let us know. You can see all the artists at pitchfestival.nl/line-up/.
At the moment, we’re in our room at the MEININGER hotel. I’m typing this up on the couch and Beth’s behind me catching up on work too. The jet lag from our red eye flight has hit us pretty hard this trip. Ironically, I just wrote a story about ways to curb jet lag for Flight Network, so I thought I’d be golden this time, but I was wrong.
We landed in Schipol International–roughly 15 minutes or so from the city center–around 6 a.m., checked-in about an hour later, and then had a decision to make: stay awake until 10 p.m. or take a nap now. After discovering sunset wouldn’t happen until 10:30 p.m., we decided to catch up on our sleep and hit the city later in the day.
Of course, we slept later than planned, so by the time we were on the train to the city (the hotel is roughly five minutes away) it was after 6:30 p.m. Our plan was to get a pair of multi-day metro passes and a sim card from Vodafone. Unfortunately, we were about 30 minutes too late. With Plan A nixed, we went to Plan B–find the Siberie Coffeshop, which I had read about in Rick Steve’s 2013 Amsterdam guide that I burrowed from the library. After getting our orientation on the map, we started off to the coffee shop, holding hands and smiling. We felt good. Amsterdam felt different this time around. We’re open to the city and everything it has to offer us.
Highlights Thus Far
I’ve been to a few coffeeshops now and this is my favorite. (If you couldn’t already tell from giddy smile above.) Awesome vibe, well lit, comfortable place to chill and great staff. Rick was spot on in his recommendation. Rick’s information, however, about being able to BYOW to the coffeeshop if you just buy a coffee seems to be outdated. We tried at couple of places, and each time we were told we couldn’t stay unless we purchased our pot from them. I’m not sure if this is the rule at all coffeeshops, as we didn’t ask at Siberie, but I have a feeling it is (Brouwersgracht 11, Sun-Thur 11 am-11:30 pm and Fri-Sat 11 am-midnight, www.coffeeshopsiberie.nl/).
The Original California Burrito Company
It takes a pretty big set to use California Burrito in your name and not even offer it on the menu, especially when you tack on “The Original.” But you know what, this place was actually pretty good. It’s more Chiptolte than San Diego taco shop, but it hit the spot. Beth and I split a spicy veggie burrito (€6.75), and it was hot. When they ask if you want it spicy, just know they aren’t messing around (Oude Leliestraat 5, Mon-Thur & Sun 11:30am-9pm, Fri 11:30am-10pm, Sat 11:30am-11pm, californiaburrito.nl).
We found this cafe after reading about it in the Guardian: 10 of the best cafes and budget restaurants in Amsterdam. It’s now a craveable favorite. To get things started at Singel 404, we ordered two iced coffees (€3.75 each) to help wake us up, but what we got was a deliciously, sweet surprise. We learned later from one of our readers that iced coffee in Amsterdam is a thick, coffee milkshake. Four our meal, we choose two broodje (sandwiches, made with your choice of bread)– a goat cheese with honey, pine nuts and thyme on farmers brown bread (€6.75), and then an old cheese with honey mustard sauce, sun-dried tomatoes, avocado, walnuts and garden cress (€6.75). Both were fresh and tasty and nicely-sized. (Singel 404, +31 20 428 0154, Open daily 10.30am-6pm).
If this was the first you heard about Must Love Festivals, then be sure to check out our announcement post: It’s Official We’re Festival Hopping Through Europe This Summer. We are working with a lot great partners, such as MEININGER Hotels, Expedia and Eurail, who are just as passionate about the project as we are, which is really awesome.
Following The PITCH Festival, we’ll be catching a flight to Puglia on Aug. 6 to rendezvous with Victoria Watts and Steve Kennedy of Bridges and Balloons for Notte Delle Luci in Scorrano. After that, we’ll have a month break, in which we’re going to try to meet up with Beth’s family in Lacedonia, before heading to the Greek Islands for a few weeks to unwind. We’ll be finishing up our Summer Europe Tour in Finland with the Mänttä Art Festival and Mänttä Music Festival and possibly the Flow Festival in Helsinki before returning stateside.