Creative, Charming City – Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Many thanks to I Amsterdam who invited me to see, feel and taste what their amazing city offers.
Most tourists rarely wander beyond the arched bridges, watery passageways and crooked canal houses of the enchanting city center. But equally fascinating is the development boom around the harbor and in the once gritty areas that lie between the historic center and the surrounding ring road (A10). These pockets of innovation — pioneered Brooklyn-style by young designers and entrepreneurs who cannot afford the rents on the Keizersgracht — are worth a detour and what we focused on this trip.
We had a delicious lunch at De Vergulden Eenhoorn. The restaurant is a former farmhouse converted to a vibrant restaurant, a cozy café with a large outdoor garden. They cook with local products, set in a cozy setting. Our set lunch of a bowl of spicy tomato soup (perfect for the cool, damp, early spring weather). Mackerel with green curry mayo and salad was smart with the twang of curry, and chocolate cake with liquor and fresh whipped cream was a touch of decadence without going overboard.
We learned about Tony’s Chocolonely‘s humanitarian mission. Started by a Dutch TV journalist, Teun van de Keuken (Teun’s English name equivalent is Tony), who started the crusade against (child) slavery within the chocolate industry. When discovered that (child) slaves were being used on cocoa plantations in West Africa he tried to discuss the problem with large chocolate makers they completely ignored him. He created a 100% slave-free chocolate brand to prove that it could be done. And because he felt like he was the only guy in the chocolate industry that cared about eradicating slavery from the industry, he named his chocolate “Chocolonely”. Besides their great mission, they do make delicious chocolate bars that range from the off-kilter but great (like their limited edition popcorn dark chocolate bar), sea salt caramel in dark chocolate, to very good pure, plain chocolate bars of dark and milk. They can be found in most supermarkets in Amsterdam (they aim toward the middle-high end tier of the chocolate market) and recently expanded to Portland, Oregon.
Moving on to our non-stop tour of Amsterdam, we had a relaxing private canal tour ride on Salonboot Welmoed. We were welcomed with drinks (water, beer to sparkling wine), fresh strawberries and cheeses while we’re about to settle in our seats. Off down the canals and we saw the varied beautiful buildings and neighborhoods ranging from the classically charming (and very expensive) canal houses to the fashionably coolly designed homes near IJ.
We met and chatted with the passionate co-founder of Vanmoof, Taco. Since Amsterdam is the home to bicycles, he and his brother Ties thought of creating smarter, lighter but stronger bikes for the masses. They have a large range of moderately affordable bikes to the luxe bikes that has all of the bells and whistles of a smart bike (e.g. GPS to find the missing bike and built-in lock system).
We briefly stopped by a very industrial-cool hotel Jaz Hotel Amsterdam that’s literally next door to the Amsterdam Arena. The hotel understand that there is a need for both locals and tourists to find a place to stay when there is a huge concert or sport game that does not require a long trek back home. I liked the rock star theme of the hotel and the industrial design. The coolest thing I’ve seen that’s food related is their espresso machine that is operated from an iPad and the beverage of choice is coming out from a stainless steel pipe/faucet.
We stopped by to soak in some high culture at Amsterdam Museum having a guided tour with the museum’s curator of the “Made in Amsterdam” exhibition. When you walk through the halls of this exhibition, it’s intriguing of the colorful history of this city. (My personal favorites were the street art and the traditional Dutch paintings.)
A snack break at the museum’s cafe consisting of traditional Dutch fare – sandwiches of roast beef and cheese and pickle and trays of cheesecake, dense buttery cookies and cubes of buttery cake.
On our way to City Centre, we walked on the street where the vibrantly colored -(in)famous De Slang (translation: The Snake House) is located. This abandoned squat house is having its days numbered.
When we stopped by X Bank, I had to resist giving my credit card a work out. If I had to give you a boutique in NYC to compare to, it’s the all-Dutch version of Opening Ceremony. It’s a visual feast of Dutch designed (and some is Dutch made too) objet d’arts, clothing and furniture. If you are a style fiend or shopping for one, this place is the place to shop.
To see the entire photo set of this trip, please CLICK HERE or see some of the photos below:
De Vergulden Eenhoorn
Ringdijk 58, 1091 AH Amsterdam
Salonboot Welmoed (private canal boat)
Jaz Hotel Amsterdam
De Passage 90
1101 AX Amsterdam, Netherlands
Phone:+31 20 210 5800
1012 PH Amsterdam, Nederland