Upon entering the Netherlands, I was connected with the lovely Mieka of Salt and Stone Knits through a global knitting brand that I had previously worked for. Mieka is absolutely effervescent and extremely welcoming. It wasn’t until I was here for over a month that I realized just how cultivated, comprehensive, and completely amazing this list was. She even put in details like where to find Target and Walmart-esque stores or her favorite local plant shops. So, I figured I would share some of my favorites that she sent my way and hopefully inspire someone to try something new the same way that she inspired me! (Or, for those that aren't studying in the Netherlands—to inspire you to take up your friend of a friend on their recommendations for the city you'll be studying in :))
Best to get a secondhand bike at any of the shops around because bikes often get stolen. The default bike style is with a reverse pedal brake. I only had that on my kid bike and could never get used to it and feel safe so I had to find hand brakes. I’ve gotten great secondhand bikes (with hand brakes and speeds) for €150-€200 but if you’re comfortable with pedal brakes you can find one for cheaper.
020 Fietsen Amsterdam: this is where I’ve gotten both my secondhand bikes in west!
Bikes are everywhere as you’ll see as soon as you arrive. Crossing the street is like Frogger with 6 lanes - bikes, cars, trams in both directions. Please be very careful, especially with turning trams and scooters! The bike lanes are marked on the ground in a deep red.
Trams - you can purchase tickets (hourly or daily) on the trams themselves at the stand in the middle of the tram and at some places, at the stops. There are blue refillable tram cards at the ticket desks I think.
Dutch Food to Eat:
The Dutch aren't too well known for their food but there are a few things that are unique and you must try:
Stroopwafels - Delicious thin pressed waffles with a syrup in between, can be found packaged or fresh. My favorite packaged ones are at any Stach in the city. They make really good gifts too - warm up by resting them over a cup of coffee/tea. Fresh ones can be found at street markets such as Albert Cuyp Market (a street market open Mon-Sat 9am-5pm).
Haring (Raw Herring) - Don’t know if you’re a fish person but a common snack or meal is fresh herring. There are fish stands all around the city. It’s 2-3 euros and you get fresh haring, pickles, and onions.
Poffertjes - Tiny, little pancakes covered in powdered sugar. Addicting.
Bitterballen - These fried balls of gooey meat dipped in mustard are a traditional Dutch snack and really good with a beer. You can get different kinds but the beef ones are the standard and always a snack at Dutch weddings. Bitterballen can be found in a lot of bars and the Foodhallen that I mention below.
Hagelslag - A common Dutch lunch for adults is chocolate sprinkles on bread with butter! They come in different sizes and textures.
Foodhallen - Inside an old tram station, the food fallen is filled with different stalls of a mix of different cuisines and live music in the middle. You can grab a little bit of everything!
Cafe Cook - great spot in west tucked behind a main road with excellent food and a lot of outdoor seating
Van 't Spit - Amazing chicken and if you go, definitely get the cheesecake! Unique and ight and fluffy with a thin passionfruit top layer. Two locations - one in de Pijp and one in West. Both delicious but the one in De Pijp is bigger and both have outdoor seating.
Pazzi - pizza and tiramisu (across from Van ’t Spit)
PUCK - Play arcade games (air hockey, guitar hero, Japanese games, etc) and have dinner! They have a location in Westerpark called TonTon Club West
2 Klaveren - board game bar. You can just go in and play any of the games they have - game night in NL is no joke!
Salmuera - great Argentinean restaurant with incredible ceviche and steak
Cannibale Royale - a solid steak with three locations throughout the city
Other Favorites in West:
Kinkerstraat - a street full of shops you might find handy settling in
Hema (similar feel to target but smaller scale)
Action (cheaper home necessities you may need)
Grocery stores (Albert Heijn, Jumbo)
T-Mobile or KPN (phone providers)
Ten Katestraat Markt (street market with fresh produce and food stands)
Nara Wellness - incredible massages for a reasonable price!
Jan Evertsenstraat (turns into De Clerqstraat) - a street with great restaurants
Fort Negen Bakery - great fresh-baked bread
Faam Tratoria - great snacks and lunch sandwiches - porchetta is my favorite sandwich there
Caseus - incredible fancy cheeses
Plant stores - Cuki, Wildernis, De Balkonie
Some popular tourist activities in the city:
Negenstraatjes - nice area with beautiful canals running through it known for little shops and cafes
Hollandsche Manege - One of the coolest places I’ve been to in Amsterdam. It’s a full blown equestrian school from 1744 and it is absolutely stunning.
Amsterdam Centraal - the main train station of Amsterdam. Make sure to look to the left when facing the station to see the insane bicycle parking.
Anne Frank House
Westerpark - cool retaurants and bars in this park!”
And if you feel so inclined, definitely check out Mieka’s brand Salt and Stone Knits on Instagram :)
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<p>Hey everyone! I'm Mallory, a 20 year old originally from Tulsa, Oklahoma. I'm currently a junior at UNC Chapel Hill majoring in Business and minoring in Social and Economic Justice as well as studio art. I'm a people person who loves all things travel so I'm beyond ecstatic to be studying abroad in Amsterdam this spring!</p>