A weekend in Amsterdam
For my birthday, my boyfriend brought me for a surprise weekend in Amsterdam. I had been there but a long time ago and I didn't remember much except the fact that it was a cute place to walk around.
Because it was a surprise for my 30th birthday, my boyfriend had done all the research and all I had to do was to let him bring me from one place to another, not knowing at all what the program was. We arrived on Friday afternoon and left late on the Sunday evening so we had about two and a half days to discover the city, which allowed us to do a lot. Unlike the locals (and lots of tourists) we didn't cycle at all but walked everywhere. Not that it isn't easy to rent bikes on Amsterdam, to be honest, we just didn't feel like it.
My boyfriend's program was actually so good that I can recommend basically everything we did. He managed to fit a lot in a tight schedule so our days were quite busy yet felt relaxing. He was the best tour guide ever!
Because he knows food is my passion (and also he became quite a foodie himself of late), he booked most restaurants in advance. On the Friday, we had dinner in Little Collins, a casual eatery run by Australian people that is mostly famous for its brunch.
For dinner, they offer small (or so they call them) plates to share. We got four plates between us and absolutely loved them all. Between the crispy duckleg salad, the spiced beef flatbread, the kimchi waffle and the ricotta bruschetta (yes, that is a lot of food), we were very impressed and really loved the Asian-Eastern vibes of the menu. Important to mention: their Bloody Mary was bloody good.
The place was really cool, away from the crowd and not too busy. We got a Caesar salad and the DIY tacos, coupled with a stunning... Bloody Mary. In case you didn't know, it is my favourite cocktail and the Dutch seem to be very good at it so that was kind of a theme during our trip.
My Caesar salad was quite light but it was for the best as for dinner, he brought me to Vermeer, a Michelin-star restaurant near the Central Station. I was so surprised but also glad I wasn't dressed too casually. Yet, even if I had been, this elegant place isn't in any way pretentious. I loved the early evening light filling the room with a beautiful warmth and the fact that the tables were nicely spread apart which gave us a lot of intimacy.
In Vermeer, you can choose between four, five or six courses tailored by the Chef Christopher Naylor according to the seasons.
Before the show started, we were shown with a list of ingredients so we could point out if we didn't like one or several of them. We were happy with the list except for the melon and went for the five-course option.
Among the many amazing plates we were served, we particularly loved the mackerel, the ravioli served in a broth and the scallop.
The broths and sauces served during this beautiful dinner particularly triggered our attention. To produce such richness and depth in flavour is incredibly skilful.
As you would expect from a restaurant of this standard, the service was flawless, all the dishes were explained to us in perfect English and they made us this delicious birthday cake that we had to bring home.
Before we left on Sunday evening, we stopped at the Foodhallen market right beside our apartment. We had a drink in the outdoor area before getting food from the market. I am a heavenly poke bowl and my boyfriend has a bao burger and a really cute bubble waffle. It was such a nice place to finish our foodie trip on a high.
Alcohol is pretty cheap in Amsterdam, and we stopped several times to get a beer (or two) as we were visiting the city. Between our apartment and the city centre, Waterkant was a fantastic outdoor bar
The next day, the weather was so nice and hot we went to Pllek, a beach located only about 10 minutes in a boat from the Central Station. The feeling of being on a summer break under the sun while in the middle of a European capital couldn't make us happier.
We definitely weren't the only ones with the same idea and this place is understandably popular; we enjoyed our light lunch and a perfectly cold beer in front of the beach, only regretting not bringing our bathing suits.
For a delicious cocktail in the busy centre, Tales and Spirit is the place to go, especially if you can get a table outside as the sun is setting...
We skipped the Rijksmuseum but spent a couple of hours visiting the Van Gogh museum, right beside it. Dedicated to the life of the famous Dutch painter, it gathers some of his most famous work as well as some personal artefact and pieces that influenced him. We loved learning so much about Van Gogh's personality yet we would have enjoyed it even more had it been slightly less crowded.
We also visited Foam, where an exhibition of the work of the legendary American photographer Gordon Parks particularly left us mind-blown.
My boyfriend got us an amazing AirBnB near the Foodhallen, 20 minutes walk to the very centre of the city. We loved the area, which reminded us a lot of our neighbourhood in Dublin, really cool with loads of nice restaurants and cafes but certainly less touristy than the centre. The price of accommodations in Amsterdam is quite high and I remember spending 50 euros a night for an eight person dorm the first time I came. It is hard to find a well-located plate for less than 200 euros a night. Our apartment was around that price mark and we absolutely loved it.
Our hosts left us a lovely bottle of wine and a nice guide for the city. Overall, we were delighted to see how nice and chilled out the Amsterdammers were. I must admit I was heartbroken to leave this city where I had the most amazing 30th birthday weekend I could dream of.