Thursday, January 02, 2020

Playing Tourist in Amsterdam

Amsterdam (North Holland), Netherlands
January 2019

About the same time last year (1st week of January 2019), I went to Amsterdam to see an old colleague. We were colleagues at a research slash consulting firm 13 years ago. Goodness, I feel old having to mention ex-colleagues from double-digit years. She moved back to Sweden when her contract ended and I was even at her apartment during her going away party.

She messaged me on where else, Linkedin, that she would fancy a catch up in Amsterdam as she is visiting for a work-related trip. I then took the opportunity to stay longer in the city and played tourist. Of course, as part of the package, I took pictures along the way.

[To read the rest of the post and see more pictures, click the READ MORE link below]

I met with the ex-colleague from Sweden at this cafe restaurant called Benji's. She's vegan so I had to scour through the list of places. Luckily, Amsterdam is one of those vegan-friendly cities. Amazingly, there's a lot of choices for picky and special eaters. You have a gluten allergy, celiac, or what have you... no problem in Amsterdam, there will always be a restaurant catering to a specific need.

The interior at Benji's was like an indoor garden with lots of foliage hanging. It was a happy, light and a very green place. One of the reasons why I shortlisted the place for her to choose.

This is what we ate for our lunch:

This is mine with some oriental dressing and topped with smoked chicken bits.

After the lunch catch-up, we parted ways. She's meeting another old colleague while I have a plan for the rest of the day. I took out my phone and checked how far I was from the Waterlooplein market, the oldest vintage market in the city. Then I started the walking directions.

Don't you just love how technology makes our lives easier?

Scenes during the walk.

At theWaterlooplein Market, I browsed through a couple of stalls. I wasn't really looking for anything, just curious until I checked this vendor selling fashion silver jewelry. The prices were so cheap so I lingered a bit, skimming through the sets of rings and found something I like that I can bring home.

Markets like these are those places where you don't really plan on buying anything but if you managed to stay a bit longer than expected, the probability of purchasing something skyrockets, especially if you are in a tourist mode.

Market stalls at the Waterlooplein Market in Amsterdam.

Then I just walked around and continued taking a few pictures here and there. I am really feeling and taking this being a tourist thing with the right stride, haha.

Strolling and enjoying the city on a cold January winter afternoon. Truthfully, I rarely have days like this so this was a good change from my usual routine. It's like a slowing down weekend therapy. Like having a 1-day holiday in your own country.

A glimpse of the Royal Palace on the Dam Square.

Then it's time for a snack. Some "kibbeling" which is typically Dutch. Kibbeling is codfish in small pieces deep-fried in oil. They are usually eaten with a Dutch-mayo based sauce but I prefer to eat them as is or with lemons. Always a favourite of mine, I try to eat this every once in a while when visiting the city.

Oddly, I felt like a real tourist in Amsterdam. For real.

I decided to check out some shops. Time for some window shopping.

I went inside this furniture shop called MADE. They have trendy and classical designs and are not that expensive. In Amsterdam Schiphol, the company has sponsored several seating areas so I recognised them quickly. I thought it was a very good marketing exposure for people to get to know the brand and test the product.

So far, with the new house et all, I haven't bought anything from them. I might visit the showroom again.

Amsterdam has truly become so touristy because stroopwafels were never this pretty 10-20 years ago. Entrepreneurs are doing everything for the glory of capitalism.

The window shopping activity continues and I checked out Perry Sport. Dutchman and I were going to the Alps for winter sports in 2 weeks so I needed some inspiration, however, I got distracted with this vertical garden. 

I am planning to have a similar vertical garden in my kitchen wall, and the difference will be is that mine won't be real plants. Can you imagine watering and maintaining live plants vertically at home? For sure, all my hair will all turn white in 6 months.

It was getting dark outside and I needed to go home pretty soon.

While walking in Rokin looking for another thing to snack on, I saw these cannabis goodies. Brownies and space cakes. Cannabis chocolate, cookies, and lollipops? How very inventive.

The catch here is that these are only good to consume while staying in Amsterdam, or the Netherlands for that matter. If you cross the border and get caught by police having any of these in your bag, you'd be fined or even go to jail. No joke at all.

Like I said, I was due for another snack. You know, when you are a tourist, you tend to eat all your way through the city, munching and licking on anything you see offered on the streets. This time, I was eyeing on some churros. I couldn't say no.

The lady at the churros shop rolled the pastry in too much sugar. I had to whisk all the sugar away before dipping/eating them with the chocolate.

This underground metro station in Rokin (near the Dam) took 10 years to construct due to technicalities. I remembered this area as a construction site in the middle of the city. It is now lovely!

So before going home, I need to have some drinks. I badly needed it anyway after having eaten those too sweet churros. It was too cold to be drinking wine so I ordered coffee.

After this, I walked slowly to the direction of the Amsterdam Central Station.

Passed by this heavenly pastry shop selling all sorts of yummilicious tarts, cakes, quiches and pieces of bread. How can you not stop and drool and take a picture?

The very well lighted and decorated Royal Palace and the Dam Square.

I came to Amsterdam with the car so I am taking the metro to the P&R Zeeburg. It's cheap parking at the designated P&R because parking your car in the core city center of Amsterdam will set you back 7.50 euros an hour. Insane prices!

Anyway, before getting on the metro to my parking place, I checked out the Amsterdam Central Station. I love visiting the lobby where there is, almost always, someone playing the piano (all central stations in the Netherlands has a piano). On lucky days, someone very good would be playing some popular songs. It was the case this time.

Not bad for a day to play tourist in good old Amsterdam =)

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Happy Travels! Enjoy Life =)

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