My job makes it tough to take the frequent extended vacations I had gotten used to as a student. But I refuse to let something like a “job” get in the way of my globetrotting. As a result, I decided to celebrate my 23rd birthday in style–a quick weekend getaway to Amsterdam. I snuck out of work a little early Thursday to meet Nick for our 5:30PM flight; a short 7 hours later, we woke up in Europe.
Amsterdam is world-renowned for being one of the most progressive cities in the world; that was evident as soon as we strolled up to the cab stand where the only taxis in sight were Teslas. We cabbed to our Airbnb to get oriented but headed on foot to De Pijp for a bite to eat before we were able to check-in. Our walk towards the city followed 1 of Amsterdam’s many gorgeous canals lined by the city’s infamous houseboats. Once we had entered De Pijp, one of Amsterdam’s up-and-coming yuppie neighbourhoods, it wasn’t long until we stumbled upon one of the cafes Elai’s friend had recommended to me–Coconuts & Coffee. It was just what the doctor ordered after a long (semi-sleepless) night of travelling–a stunning 3 story open-concept loft with delicious food and coffee.
With full stomachs, we headed to the nearest bike rental shop so that we could fit in with the locals. Amsterdam is rated the 2nd most bike-friendly city in the world next to Copenhagen, with bike lanes as the bare minimum and bike highways, stop lights, and multi-storey bike parking lots as the norm. One tour guide stated that their are 1.3M bikes in Amsterdam, with only 800,000 people living in the city.
Our first stop of the day was the eclectic Albert Cuyp Market in De Pijp; it seemed that their were lots of markets all around the city, but apparently this one is renowned as the largest daytime market in Europe. Some stalls were simply an extension of the store behind them, which was a little strange for something like pharmacies. The row houses that lined the street of the market are especially beautiful.
Next, we headed to the area where all of Amsterdam’s most well-known museums are situated around the iconinc Iamsterdam sign–which was being absolutely mauled by the masses I may add. I am certain that anyone with a photo in front of that sign with no other people in the frame either had an AK47 or were there at 5:15AM. Based on crowds and lineups, we opted to go for the modern art Museum–the Stedelijk. As with most modern art, some is downright strange (to the untrained eye) and some is pretty cool.
My favourite part about Amsterdam had to be simply biking across the countless bridges and around the winding streets that line the canals. Around every corner, there is another beautiful view.
To my dismay, my aging body called for an afternoon nap if I was going to last til all hours of the morning so we headed back to check into our Airbnb–a super cute little apartment in a quiet residential area. Not only is airbnb the cheapest option going for anything more than a hostel, it was a great way to get a more local feel for the city!
We headed back into the city on bike for our 8PM dinner reservation at Supper Club. For once in my life, I lowered my 4 star Yelp rating standards to see what all the hype was about; the reviews online were extremely polarized–people either said it was amazing or the weirdest thing they had ever been a part of. My personal opinion–it was both, but well worth checking out. The weird factor was evident from the moment we walked in the door and were greeted by a drag queen wearing a wig with a baby’s head on top. We enjoyed a cocktail in the lounge downstairs before heading to our bed at 8.
Yes I said bed, you can choose to reserve a bed along the walls or a table in the middle of the room. We enjoyed a delicious 5-course meal as we sat back on our beds and enjoyed the infamous entertainment. I could easily see how the quasi-cabaret show sparked controversial reviews; it was certainly up there on the strangest things I’ve ever seen, but the entire experience was so cool, we loved it.
After the show finished, they took away the tables and folded up the beds to convert the room into a night club. Nicks sister Josie flew in from London to meet us for the weekend, so she joined us right at the bar to dance the night away. I must say, biking home from the bar at the end of the night was the perfect cool-down.
Despite the late light out, we didn’t want to waste the day away in bed so we were on our bikes by 930 AM headed towards central station to meet Josie. We headed into Jordaan for brunch–another up and coming yuppie neighbourhood. After a delicious breaky, we decided to enjoy the beautiful weather on a cruise of the Amsterdam’s beautiful canals. There are a ton of cruise companies but I had read about one specifically online that I wanted to try–Friendship Cruises–and it did not disappoint.
The vessel was a retired Holland America Cruiseship lifeboat, complete with a bar on-board (very important). Touring the maze-like canals of Amsterdam is simply a must-do if you’re in the city. Around every corner there is a post-card perfect view… or a very low bridge that you must duck your head under to avoid concussion.
Post-cruise, it was time for a snack and we had been dying to try some of the Dutch cheese shops on every corner. We wasted no time grabbing a couple blocks of cheese, some crackers, and heading for Vondelpark–Amsterdam’s largest and most popular park–to enjoy the beautiful weather some more.
For our last night in the city, we attempted to go to a spot I had read about online that turned out to be a stone’s throw from the airbnb. The restaurant is in a greenhouse in a park and all the produce used is grown in-house. Unfortunately, it is a popular spot and we were unable to get in, but even seeing it was cool!
We headed to another spot closer to the airbnb and out of the city centre, filled with mostly locals, and enjoyed a lovely final dinner. Afterwards, we headed into De Pijp to a low-key bar to try out some local beers before calling it a night.
Morning came too soon and before we knew, we had to part with our beloved bikes and soak in every last second of the city on a long walk to central station to head to the airport. All in all, it was an amazing quick getaway which I plan to do more of–life is too short to let being time-poor get in the way of seeing the world.