Hey there!! I’m finally back from my European vacation and after about a week or two, its safe to say I’m finally back in the swing of things. That vacation was much needed but there’s a certain joy that comes with being back at home in your own bed. I wanted to get this travel guide out a bit earlier but I had to hunker down for the past 10 or so days and go into ultimate review mode for my CPA exam. But now that that is out of the way, its time to share with you what an amazing experience Amsterdam was. I loved Amsterdam because it reminded me of being back home (the San Francisco Bay Area), the city was gorgeous and had so many hidden gems and the people were genuinely very nice.
We arrived on Thursday early morning and checked into our hotel. We stayed at the Hotel Exchange which was actually pretty dope because each room is decorated by an art student, so the rooms were so cute and eclectic. There was this super cute coffee shop attached to the hotel which was ALWAYS playing the best of the best when it came to R&B and Soul playlists, the vibes were definitely there. We arrived super early, so the staff was very nice in letting us peek into a room to shower and change and hold our bags while we explored the city. We spent most of the day walking around and taking in the culture and people of the city. It was rainy but that didn’t stop us one bit. We wondered around the city on foot, and tried to take in as much as we could, running on a plane ride of about 5 hours of sleep.
That night we ended up heading over to Leidseplein which is a part of town in central Amesterdam that is basically a nightlife hub. Its full of hookah bars, bars, clubs, and restaurants, and you can eat and drink in the middle of the square outside. It was honestly the cutest little set up. We decided to stop and have a few drinks at Bar Kooper, and from there we went around the corner to Club Jimmy Woo. This club was a two story Asian themed night club that played hip-hop and reggae bangers all night. Well not really all night, maybe until around 2 or 3 a.m., but the DJ was honestly fire. We danced and drank most of the entire night. After that, since we basically had been going non-stop since we got off of the plane at 7 am that morning, we decided to call it a night.
The next day we woke up and made it a point to go to the infamous Amsterdam sign. We knew it would be packed, but we didn’t know that it would be as packed as it was. It was a huge marvelous sign but it was riddled with people. Granted, it was the middle of the afternoon so we couldn’t get any good pics. We decided to come back a different day but much earlier in the morning so we could get all of our great photo opps. Right in front of the Amsterdam sign near the Van Gogh Museum was this huge greenery where there was just scores of people laid out on the grass (which was pleasantly green by the way) just relaxing and talking. So we did the same. It was something about just taking a break in the middle of the day on the grass with dozens of other young people just taking in life and having good conversation.
After lounging in the grass, we decided to walk around that part of town and we stumbled across the Tommy Hilfiger Global Head Office! (What are the odds?). It seemed that one of the teams that worked there were having some sort of Happy Hour at this chic bar/lounge/performance spot called “The People’s Place”. This bar/lounge was super super chic and trendy and we found out that some of our favorite American artists have even performed there to the likes of Janelle Monae and KING, which was pretty dope. What’s even doper is the guy at the door was from Georgia! When he found out that we were from America he gave us free drink tickets and had free appetizer platters bought to us. We basically crashed a Tommy Hilfiger HQ happy hour and got free drinks and food. The place was so trendy and cute – if I’m ever in Amsterdam again, I will definitely be coming back here.
Saturday morning we got our behinds up at 7 am to go to the Amsterdam sign early enough to get some good pics and we also went to the Van Gogh Museum (we were really trying to be cultured on this trip – if you know us, we’re good for a turn up Island trip). The Van Gogh Museum was nothing short of amazing and we learned so much about him as an artist, his art and even about his family. After this stopped at Cobra Cafe, which is right on the green between the Rijksmuseum and the Van Gogh museum and had lunch and the local Dutch liquor (Jenever).
After our trip to the Van Gogh Museum and we were feeling all cultured, we bussed it back over to Central Station and ended up taking a peek into De Bijenkorf, which is basically one of the most expensive malls that I’ve ever been in. We definitely didn’t belong, but it was nice to see how the rich do their shopping in Amsterdam. After this we stopped by the grocery store and picked up some liquor to pre-game because it was going DOWN that night.
Okay, so we were actually in Amsterdam during one of the largest music festivals around called Encore Music Festival. Who other to be headlining than Migos?! Being that me and Ashley were straight out of Atlanta (okay, we’re from Cali but we live in Atlanta so fight us), we were so hype. This music festival had multiple stages, multiple performers and THOUSANDS of people! Basically I had never experienced anything like it in my life! We decided to try to get to the front so we could see Migos up close and personal. Long story short, BAD IDEA! Bitches almost got mobbed to death! True story! Migos has never been that serious. Luckily, we made it out alive, but we did see people being taken out by the paramedics, so thank God for these thighs and girth we were blessed with that allowed us to hold our own because there were a few times where we might didn’t make it.
The next morning, we decided to rent bikes which was amazing! Amsterdam is such a biker friendly city with more bicycles there than there are cars. We biked all the way from our hotel in Central Station to the Rijksmuseum. For those who don’t know, the Rijksmuseum is a Dutch national museum dedicated to arts and history. It has a vast collection of art from the 16th century all the way to the 21st century. Simply amazing pieces including “The Milkmaid” by Johannes Vermeer and “The Night Watch” by Rembrandt. Floors upon floors of remarkable art. We were there for well over 3 hours taking in all of the artwork.
After this we explored more of the city as this was our last night before we headed to France for a few days. We ended up going to the Magna Plaza Mall where we had an early dinner at the Ovidius Bar where I had the best goat cheese and honey walnuts on bread. It sounds basic, but it was AMAZING. After this, more eating was done. We wondered back over to our hotel and found this cute little restaurant called Cote Oueste (West Coast – how fitting) and this place had the best crepes ever. We ended our night packing for France ( I will be blogging about that experience in a separate travel guide).
Fast forward to our last night in Amsterdam (we were flying out of Amsterdam so we flew back from France for our last night) and we stayed at the Andaz Asmterdam, Prisengracht. Since it was our last night we basically wanted to do it in style and in style is definitely how we did it! This hotel was 5 stars but it should have been more. We were greeted with our own personal concierge lady and got drinks upon checking in. Once we told her casually in conversation about our crazy Encore Festival experience, the bar made us specially curated drinks and had them delivered to our room! We ended up exploring the garden on the grounds which was beyond gorgeous. If you know us then you know that the garden and the hotel lobby were perfect for an impromptu photo shoot. From there we are at the Hotel Restaurant called “Blue Spoon”. The chefs cooked out in the open and there was a person that was specifically dedicated to just plating. The food was indescribably good.
After this we had plans to hit the town but ended up at the Hotel Bar. Believe me when I say I have never been to a bar like this in my life. The lead bartender’s name was Martin and he curated every single cocktail on the menu himself. They were not the typical kind of cocktails either, they were full of flavor and passion and of course liquor. He had a story behind each one and each one took anywhere from 7 to 15 minutes to make but each sip was an experience. Honestly, these were the best cocktails that I’ve ever tasted in my life. Needless to say, we did not make it out that night. If you’re ever in Amsterdam, PLEASE make it a point to get to this place.
We headed out the next morning but Amsterdam was honestly a remarkable experience. Being there with two of my closest friends made the experience that much more memorable. If you’re ever in Amsterdam, visit some of the places I mentioned above and definitely try them out. I’d love to hear about your experience!