We can’t travel – yet, but to make do I’ve been doing one of those cliché things where I travel in my mind by going through photos of my old trips. And this inspired me to put together the next instalment of Evenings In …,this time covering the Amsterdam Light Festival I visited a few editions ago.
The Too Good To Go app lets restaurants, bakeries and hotels offer their daily leftovers to you for a very friendly price. Instead of having to throw away their products because they are out of date, they offer you the chance to ‘save’ a meal by buying a Magic Box that you can then pick up at the location in a certain time frame (usually around closing time). What you get will be a surprise – so if that’s not for you, then you might want to leave it. As a big fan of travelling greener, the whole concept is right up my street and I hope it can be for you too.
I got my first taste of the app in London where I’ve used them for cakes at Konditor & Cook and at two of my favourite coffee shops. But what I really really reeeeeallly wanted to try was a hotel breakfast. Sadly, I don’t live or work near a hotel that offers it so I’ve been waiting til the opportunity arose. Thankfully, a while ago I was stayed in a central place in Amsterdam and saw my chance to finally try some nearby Amsterdam hotel breakfasts.
Breakfast buffets are great, and probably everyone’s favourite part of staying at a hotel, but it’s often the case there’s too much food prepared and a chance for lots of food waste. At the moment there are over 1,261 European hotels who have joined Too Good To Go to fight food waste and give us non-guests the chance to enjoy it too.
Too Good To Go Hotel Breakfast in Amsterdam
Here are three Too Good To Go Hotel Breakfasts I picked up in Amsterdam
This offering was a bit of everything – I don’t think there is a better combination! Bonus point for the cutlery in case you want to have it on the go. I recommend getting a coffee from Stock (bring your own cup of course!) and devouring it on a canal side bench.
In addition to pastries, muffins and other rolls there are chances you’ll get fresh fruit, fancy cheese and this delicious quinoa and aubergine salad – perfect for lunch. If you bring your own bottle you’ll get juice as well. This is probably the most boujee hotel in Amsterdam so even if you never get to stay at the hotel itself, you’ll be able to say you had breakfast at this 5-star landmark spot.
At the DoubleTree by Hilton you get a box and bag to fill it up yourself! Everything you can image on a breakfast buffet is there from waffles to eggs and fruit. It can almost be too hard to decide how and what you are going to fit in. If you bring a bottle you can top it with one of their juices too. As you can see, you can fit a lot in the boxes and bag, and depending on with how many mouths you have to feed it can last you for up to two whole days!
Would I do a Magic Bo again? Yes! I’m practically looking forward to my next trip where I can try all the breakfasts along the way.
Are you familiar with Too Good To Go or a similar concept?
Happen to be in Amsterdam this weekend? Here are four awesome things to cross off your list this weekend.
This weekend? You can walk around and enjoy a tourist free city centre, grab coffee or food to go or go to the local market.
But when this all passes …
Things to do in Amsterdam this weekend
Check out Our Lord in the Attic Museum
Our Lord in the Attic Museum is located in the Red Light District and it’s where you can find a secret Catholic church, known as Ons’ Lieve Heer op Solder. It was built in the 17th Century, when Catholic worship was banned. It’s also the house of a former merchant, so you get to nose around and see how rich merchants used to live back then as well.
Get Your Culture On At FOAM
It’s always worth checking out what’s on at FOAM (Photography Museum Amsterdam) as they always have interesting temporary exhibitions to entertain, educate and inform. They’re upcoming Shigeru Onishi exhibition in June 2021 is definitely worth a visit, especially if you’re into in Japanese subjective photography.
Where to eat in Amsterdam this weekend
The Food Department
The relatively new food hall on the top floor of Magna Plaza is the perfect spot for a quick bite or a drink in the city centre. Feel like Mexican? Tacos & Tequila has you sorted. Up for something more sweet? You’ll have more than enough choice at Petit Gateux. And who doesn’t love a burger whatever day it is – if so, The Butcher is ready to take your order.
Have A Pancake At Dwaze Zaken
Dwaze Zaken has an extensive menu, but it’s the big, round crêpe-like pancakes you really need to be ordering. They’re traditionally topped with stroop (the Dutch answer to syrup) and powdered sugar then rolled and cut into pieces. It’s like a cosy hug from your Dutch auntie.
Other Things To Do in Amsterdam This Weekend
Explore a neighbourhood
From Pijp to Noord or Jordaan, all are perfect for a little stroll. Walk through one of the typical streets markets, gaze up at the slanted houses and find a place for a well-deserved break and tuck into some almighty good food. Whichever area you choose, you’ll gain a little insight into what it’s like living in the Netherland’s biggest city.
Stay At the VolksHotel
The VolksHotel in Amsterdam East reminded me a lot of Hotel Michelberger in Berlin and it’s the perfect accommodation if you’re into quirky boutique hotels for a reasonable price. Even if you don’t book a room, you can hop in for a quick drink or bite to eat in their bar area, or, in summer, enjoy drinks and the view from their rooftop terrace. If you strip it down to the essentials: bed (hard, but that’s the way I like it), shower (great pressure and it has one of those big shower heads, though not everyone might like the idea the shower is divided from the sleeping area by only a glass wall) and wi-fi (worked perfect for me) it gets two thumbs up from me. It’s a bit outside the tourist centre, but still only 5 minutes by metro to the centre, plus if you can also just enjoy the bar and/or terrace and crawl to your bed after cocktails.
Amsterdam is perfect for a quick Friday to Sunday city trip. While the city has a lot to offer, if you’ve only got 36 or 48 hours then I have the ultimate guide for you on where to stay, where to eat and what to see that won’t leave you too over- or underwhelmed. Here’s a custom-made itinerary I devised for a friend which went down brilliantly with her party of four.
PICKING YOUR AMSTERDAM ACCOMMODATION
I wish everyone could experience a stay at boutique hotel The Exchange, where the rooms are ‘dressed’ by fashion designer students, giving each room a character of its own. But if your budget doesn’t allow it, the Volkshotel is a great alternative. And the best thing? It features a cocktail bar and a rooftop terrace so you never have to leave. Chains like Citizen M, Hoxton and Generator Hostel are also present in Amsterdam, so if you like familiarity, they’re your best bet.
GETTING AROUND IN AMSTERDAM
Amsterdam is easily doable on foot, but you’ll probably end up on the tram when it starts to rain. Tram tickets costs €7.50 for 24 hours – you purchase them on board and only cards payments are accepted. If you think you’re a cat and have 9 lives, you can try cycling in Amsterdam. Download the Citymapper app to get around with getting lost, though losing yourself can be a fun diversion.
AMSTERDAM QUICK TIP I
Amsterdam has some top-tier museums and like in most cities I recommend booking ahead. As there’s a lot of choice, here’s a few of my faves in order of importance: Anne Frank House (doesn’t need explaining), van Gogh (obviously!), Stedelijk Museum (modern and contemporary art classics), FOAM (snaptastic photos) and Rijksmuseum (art and history, plus the famous I AMsterdam sign)
AMSTERDAM QUICK TIP II
Eating out three times a day can add up. A budget breakfast & lunch tip for your stay: find the nearest Albert Heijn to Go and get a selection of bread rolls, a jar of peanut butter (I recommend Calve extra crunchy) and a pack of cheese (Beemster jong belegen is a favourite) and you’re all set for a very cheap Dutch breakfast and lunch during your weekend. Fingers crossed for picnic weather!
How to spend 36 hours in Amsterdam?
FRIDAY IN AMSTERDAM
AMSTERDAM QUICK TIP III
Chances are you’re on a late afternoon flight/train, meaning there’ll have been some delay and you’re likely to arrive later than expected. If you’re running late when arriving at the Central Station, grab some food at Wagamama, Salsa Shop or Burgerij.
What’s a good Friday night in Amsterdam? If you feel like going out for a quick walk I’d recommend The Red Light District – famous for the windows and ladies of the night, or 9 Straatjes – known for its canals and cute houses.
Happen to be in Amsterdam on the last Friday of the month? Make sure to spend it at Vincent on Friday at the van Gogh museum. I know you’re like … ”Tea, why would I spend my Friday night in a museum?” Well…aside from the paintings, there’s jazz bands, silent discos, and ear painting workshops…not bad eh?
Alternatively, there’s Boom Chicago, an English comedy troupe performing topical sketches, improvisations and songs. Alumni include Seth Meyers, Amber Ruffin and Jason Sudeikis so it’s not too shabby. Check out their programme here.
Want to dance the night away? I don’t know where the cool kids go, but my favourites are Melkweg or Paradiso, both have club nights and themed music evenings where you’ll definitely look good on the dance floor until the lights come on at 4 AM.
SPENDING A SATURDAY IN AMSTERDAM
Kick-start your day with the 10.00 AM Free Sandeman Tour. The Amsterdam edition one of my favourite tour companies. During the 2.5 hours long walk you’ll be given a concise but attention grabbing overview of city’s history and culture.
The tour ends in the Jordaan neighbourhood, which is nice to stroll around on your way to the Foodhallen! An indoor market with loads of food stalls covering every corner of the world, I usually opt for burgers at the Butcher, but next time I want to consume everything Taqueria Lima can throw at me.
Time to walk off your meal or take the tram to the Central Station – on the way you can check out the Bloemenmarkt, or Flowermarket. I don’t really see the fuss, but it’s always crowded, so it must have some hidden charms? I reckon the countless flower stands filled with tulips must have some hidden mind-control powers of tourists.
Once you make it to the Central Station take the free ferry to Buiksloterweg to A’DAM Tower to really get your swing on – yes we’re talking the highest swing in Europe, plus a viewing platform (both have to be paid for separately). And when you’ve finished with the adrenaline rush, why not spend the rest of the evening celebrating at its bar?
Late Night Local Snack: In the UK you might stop by McDonalds for your late night cravings. In Amsterdam why not try out one of the food vending machines at FEBO. You’ll be in heaven! Deep-fried snack heaven that is. Make sure you keep €2 change in your wallet to try beef croquette, cheese soufflé or deep-fried bami.
SUNDAY IN AMSTERDAM
On Sunday get your culture on and visit a museum or two you’ve already pre-booked. Depending on when your flight/train leaves you might want to spend the afternoon at:
Hortus Botanicus – the city’s botanical garden, filled with pretty plants and insta-worthy glasshouses.
Brouwerij IJ – a little brewery wtih tours and tastings all in the shadow of the giant De Gooyer windmill.
Willet Holthuysen – 19th century-style canal house with a tiny Versailles garden
Ons’ Lieve Heer op Solder – a pristine Catholic church in the attic of a canal house, where worshippers hid during the ban on their religion.
Now sloooowly make your way towards the station and walk via 9 Straatjes, even if you’ve seen it on your first evening it will look very different during day light. There’s more than enough small boutiques, vintage shops and coffee places to keep busy.
Before heading back to the station, treat yourself to a big and fancy lunch as no one has time for airport food. Head to the Insta famous MOOK Pancakes or Coffee & Coconuts if you have enough minutes to spare, go for Vinnies if you have less time and need to stay close to the station, or fries at Manneken Pis if you are really in a hurry.
Your journey back is the perfect time to plan your next visit, because Amsterdam is going to leave you wanting to go back over and over again.
Whenever I mention I’m from the Netherlands people always assume I’m from Amsterdam. Sadly I’m not, but from what I hear from my friends it’s like living in any big city: rent is way too high, smashed avocado sandwiches too expensive and public transport is shit.
But those big city flaws don’t stop me from visiting often, and as I wandered around the city one a sunny afternoon last week I realised I do have some Amsterdam rituals I keep coming back to.
Get My Culture On
During my teens, Amsterdam was where I went throw away my hard-earned money on shopping sprees, and when I got a bit older my go-to place for concerts – but then I’d only see what was between the train station and the venue. It wasn’t until later I learned to appreciate its many museums and historical activities, so now I try to cross off one museum per visit. From a quick exhibition at FOAM to a Friday Late at the van Gogh and checking out a new kid on the block, the city’s cultural hubs will never let you down.
Eat All The Fried Goods
When I’m at my parents I usually go for Bosnian dishes and Dutch cheese, so for me Amsterdam is where I can indulge in Dutch deep fried food. My favourites are fries at Manneke Pis, cheese croquettes at EYE and the delicious goodness that are bitterballen. If you see bitterballen in the menu, do yourself a favor and order a portion, they’re breadcrumb-covered little pieces of heaven.
Go All Touristy
While I have a a bit of love/hate relationship with tourist traps, I don’t turn my back on them all! I still haven’t seen everything so I always make cross something off my Amsterdam list whenever I go. Whether that’s going for pancakes at that place that’s all over IG, spotting the bench from the Fault in our Stars or facing my fears at the A’dam Lookout swing.
Do you have rituals for the places you visit often?
In the spirit of out-takes, I want to talk about a failed post I had hoped to publish a few months ago. Before I headed to Amsterdam last time this idea came to mind, a post on what to do/get for one to two Euros, so not a post on how do Amsterdam on the cheap or for free, but how to enjoy that last 1 or 2 coins you have left to the fullest. You know how you always have some change at the end of your trip? Some save it for a next trip or take it back to their Euroland and others give it to a street artists or someone in need, but does that really feel good? I embraced the experiment and went out to test in the field – because that’s what I do…but sadly I came back disappointed. read more
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