Creative, Charming City – Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Many thanks to I Amsterdam who invited me to see, feel and taste what their amazing city offers.

Set lunch - Spicy tomato soup, mackerel with green curry mayo, salad, and chocolate cake with liquor and fresh whipped cream

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.

Tony's Chocolonely chocolate bar, unwrapped

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.

Our canal boat
Colorful boathouses and canal houses in Oud-Zuid neighborhood
EYE Film Institute and A'dam Tower
Cool domed building

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.

Co-Founder of Vanmoof Vanmoof
Vanmoof Electric Bcycle

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).

A really cool, industrial restaurant A futuristic looking cappuccino maker with a control of an iPad
Macarons and iced orange latte
Amsterdam Arena next door to Jaz Hotel Amsterdam

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.

Made in Amsterdam - 100 Years in 100 Works of Art exhibition
Courtyard of Amsterdam Museum
Made in Amsterdam - 100 Years in 100 Works of Art exhibition
Made in Amsterdam - 100 Years in 100 Works of Art exhibition
Traditional Dutch sandwiches of roast beef, sauerkraut and pickles and cheese sandwich with a fruit chutney
Traditional Dutch pastries (made in-house at the Amsterdam Museum Cafe)

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.

Graffiti on a building in Centre Amsterdam
De Slang (The Snake House) in Amsterdam city centre

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.

Beautiful goods at X Bank
Beautiful goods at X Bank
Beautiful goods at X Bank

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:

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I Amsterdam

Official Website

De Vergulden Eenhoorn
Ringdijk 58, 1091 AH Amsterdam

Salonboot Welmoed (private canal boat)

Tony’s Chocolonely


Jaz Hotel Amsterdam
De Passage 90
1101 AX Amsterdam, Netherlands
Phone:+31 20 210 5800

Amsterdam Museum
Kalverstraat 92
1012 PH Amsterdam, Nederland

X Bank


I shoot, eat, and drink. My full time job is a hospital administrator. Moonlighting as a freelance photographer and food and travel writer.