Five Hours in Amsterdam

It turns out that the French don’t like turkey that much.

In fact, while we were in Paris over Thanksgiving, we ate pig intestine, duck, and fish instead. (The intestine was a result of not speaking French). And because of how tickets and timing worked out, I was able to explore Amsterdam a little too.

Y’all, Amsterdam is one of the most well-designed places I’ve ever visited. Sans serif everywhere, with bright and modern colors. Kind of like an Ikea. And the pedestrian-heavy streets are covered with bike riders. So many bike riders. I arrived early Monday morning, so people were just starting their week and peddling through town. It was amazing to just wander about, taking it all in.



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Designer Maaike Evers does a good job explaining how the city felt:

Amsterdam is a hub where industry, craft, and commerce come together in a very experimental and provocative way, especially when it comes to design.

I had a few goals for my short stint there — buy a few souvenirs, see the Anne Frank museum, wander around the streets, and try as many foods as possible from the list of 10 Dutch Foods You Should Try at Least Once. (The Anne Frank museum was very moving by the way. It’s the actual home where she stayed while hiding.)

Here’s what I found:

koffie verkeerd (similar to a caffè latte or café au lait). I laugh a little at the meaning of this drink, because it reminds me how different Europeans are with their coffee rituals. Koffie verkeerd means ‘wrong coffee,’ because normal coffee contains just a dash of milk. Similarly, the French typically have a large cup of coffee with milk in the morning and only espresso throughout the day. “Big coffees” are often associated with Americans, who drink big venti-sized cups with lots of milk and lots of sugar.

A traditional Gul Boregi with Spinach. Turns out this was a Turkish Pastry. Oops, but it was equally good — flaky and stuffed with gooey spinach and cheese.

stroopwafel. These chewy sandwiches are filled with syrup and all over Amsterdam. I bought mine in a blue tin, so I could hold on to that later for the new house. According to my list, these guys were first made during the 18th century. And it wasn’t until 1870 that stroopwafels were made somewhere other than a city called Gouda — which had nearly 100 bakeries selling them.

A stamppot. Since my gul goregi did not pass as a traditional Dutch meal, I needed at least one more thing before heading into the airport. While at the super elaborate train / airport terminal (lined with shops and restaurants), I had a stamppot, a traditional meal made of mashed potatoes and vegetables — in this case, carrots. It was also topped with a huge meatball and gravy. Because, why not?

Amsterdam is beautiful. The people are friendly, the buildings are historic, and the waterways are dreamy. Did you know that nearly 50% of all trips taken in Central Amsterdam are by bike? That’s incredible.

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From the Netherlands to America: Translating the World’s Best Bikeway Designs from STREETFILMS on Vimeo.


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