Even though I’d been to Amsterdam twice before, there were still a lot of sites I hadn’t seen. This was partially due to a lack of time, but also due to a reluctance to use public transportation, which I definitely shed during my five-weeks-of-non-car-driving trip.
First, I did a lot of research about where to get nachos in every town I visited in Europe. I love nachos, but Europeans suck at making them. The only place on my itinerary that got decent reviews on their nachos was Cafe Harlem in Amsterdam. And they weren’t too bad! A little skimpy on the cheese, probably due to being cooked/served in a bowl instead of a plate, which was kinda weird. I also have no idea why they thought sprouts on top was a good idea. But otherwise they were perfectly acceptable nachos, which is more than I can say for other nachos I tried on my trip.
Next, I went to the Brouwerij’t IJ brewpub, which is located inside an old windmill! Excellent beer with a fun atmosphere – I actually ended up going twice.
A few locals suggested I check out Roest, which is an outdoor beach bar that also hosts various events and live music. Although it looked really hip, it was pretty much closed when we went there (there was some weird Olympic team-building exercise going on), and I didn’t have a chance to make it back when it was open. Next time!
Locals were also always surprised to hear that I’d never set foot in Vondelpark, their gorgeous city park, which has a rose garden, an Epcot-esque fountain show, a few cafes, and miles of walking/bike paths. I also hadn’t been to the famous Bloemenmarkt, which is the world’s only floating flower market. It was worth a visit just to see what all the fuss is about, but I don’t see any reason to make a return trip.
The last unseen destination was Hannekes Boom, a waterside bar that is built from recycled materials. Great beer selection, and a super-chill atmosphere.
Finally, although I’d been to my favorite genevers bar, In De Olofspoort, dozens of times, I’d never seen opera there! It was an invitation-only event, and featured local opera singers getting together to perform their favorite pieces for each other. Such a cool and uniquely European event – it made me feel all cultured and stuff.
Leonard Kinsey is the owner of Bamboo Forest Publishing, and the bestselling author of “The Dark Side of Disney”, the Anarchist Cookbook of Disney travel guides. He has lived in Baltimore for over 15 years, and enjoys drinking craft beer in unique places, eating nachos and pizza, listening to 80s hair metal, and arguing about Star Trek minutia, often all at the same time. Watch out ladies!