I decided upon return that I wanted to write a post about my trip to Amsterdam- the travel-guide angle. Yet as I sat down to write this, something hit me. All I did outside of the studio was sleep, eat enormously, and frantically shop for a wedding dress. So these are, I suppose, the premises of my stories. No museums, no sightseeing in particular, just a lot of walking, eating, shopping, sleeping.
Where I stayed
In a hostel. I may only be in my early 20s, but let me tell you I already feel too old for that scene. I stayed in the Stayokay Vondelpark which was tucked away beautifully in one of the largest parks in the city center. It was centrally located, clean, good breakfast buffet and secure, so overall I really can’t complain, but next time I will definitely get a head-start on my housing search and find a cute Airbnb or something instead. I’ve gotten to the point in my life where I just like my own space. The hostel simply functioned as a place to put my broken body at the end of each day and pass out for 7 or 8 hours.
Where do I begin? I was in foodie heaven in Amsterdam. What with dancing 7 hours straight I worked up quite an appetite on a daily basis and I was incredibly lucky to be connected with a friend of a friend from Amsterdam who is also a huge food-lover. Immediately after dropping off my luggage on the day of my arrival, we somehow stuffed in the following:
-Some trendy café food for lunch (something seriously lacking in Tangier) from De Balie Café, consisting of an open-face beet, goat-cheese and arugula sandwich and lovely lavender iced tea. A healthy start to the day, which in my mind obviously makes up for what comes after…
-The best French fries of my life (move aside, Belgium) from Manneken Pis. Steaming hot, crunchy on the outside and fluffy on the inside, these fries were heavenly, especially when drenched in rather unconventional peanut satay and curry sauces. Apparently a lot of tourists in Amsterdam are mislead to the popular Vlaams Friteshuis Vleminckx for some fried bits of goodness, but I was lucky to be with a local who knew where the real gems were.
-Ice cream from Banketbakkerij Van der Linde. One of my dearest friends in Morocco is originally from Amsterdam and is a very conscious healthy eater having studied nutrition and all that, but apparently every time she passes this place by she just has to get a scoop. I now completely understand her. Half vanilla ice cream and half cold whipped cream, this stuff will just melt in your mouth and take you up to the clouds in a dreamy vanilla-filled haze. Trust me.
-A vegetarian croquette from one of the many FEBO’s in Amsterdam- fast food places where hot snacks are dispensed like jazzed-up vending machines. A bit salty, but worth it if you want a solid fried snack. I had already eaten so much at this point that I could only manage a couple bites before passing it on to friends to help me out.
-We finished out the day with incredible thai food from Bird Thai. Local tip: don't go to the larger sit-down restaurant. Apparently they give out smaller portions for much more money; essentially you pay for seating space. Instead it is well worth it to squeeze into the tiny hole-in-the-wall location across the street where the food is authentic and served generously. We had a huge bowl of red curry and a platter of garlic chicken.
All of the above I would strongly recommend to anyone going to Amsterdam, however I would not recommend it all in one day. I woke up with a bit of a food-hangover.
Throughout the week I spent almost every morning before the first dance class at De Koffie Salon on Bilderdijkstraat, sipping delicious iced soy lattes and swapping between reading my favorite blogs on my phone and A Passage To India by EM Forster- two very different worlds. I loved the art deco vibe of this café, plus watching trendy moms and young entrepreneurs on their bikes stopping by on the way to work. Whenever I’m in a new city, driven by the desire to feel a little bit more like a local, I always like to combine a lot of new sights and places with establishing at least one comforting routine. De Koffie Salon, in this case, became my daily dependable coffee spot.
For lunches, as mentioned in my previous post, we had only a 30 minute break in between workshops which was only enough time to down a grocery-store bought salad and some trail mix before getting back on our feet. Which meant, incidentally, that by the time dinner rolled around I was starving.
The first night that I was on my own for dinner was after the second day and all I could think about was eating a giant chunk of meat (sorry vegans), so I went searching for a decent burger place. I ended up at Ellis Gourmet Burger, a lovely canal-side restaurant with a single-person table right next to the water, squeezed in between large groups of families and tourists seemingly saved just for me. I settled in with my journal, got a giant strawberry lemonade and ordered a burger with bacon and large fries. The funniest part of the evening was that there was another slightly larger man sitting alone a couple tables behind me and at first one of the waiters, making a misled assumption, attempted to bring my huge meal over to him and was a bit shocked when he was redirected to me, the smaller blond lady in a little flowery dress demurely writing in her notebook.
Among other things during the intensive week, I was taken out for fabulous indonesian food at Warung Spang Makandra, had a delicious sandwich followed by the famous red velvet cake at the American Bakery, a fresh and caramel-slathered stroopwafel at the Albert Cuyp Markt and all-you-can-eat sushi at Sumo Sushi in Leidseplein. All in all I was a well fed happy dancer.
Oh yeah, did I say that I went shopping for a wedding dress?
I haven’t mentioned this yet, but I am in the process of final preparations for my big fat Moroccan wedding happening in just one week. My husband and I were already officially married back in my hometown, but for our families, friends and for the sake of fun & celebration we have decided to do it again here in Tangier, Moroccan-style. I had already found a traditional caftan, but it is also popular to wear a kisswa or more “western” dress at the wedding during the cake-cutting and all that. I had trouble finding one in Tangier, so I decided to continue my search in Amsterdam and on the very last day I was blissfully successful thanks to the help of my husband's lovely cousin who lives in Amsterdam and is a fashion expert. More on wedding stuff once the madness comes to a close.
For now, to briefly sum everything up, my second time in this beautiful city was a filling experience in every way possible. Physically and mentally, I returned to Morocco completely saturated with inspiration, information, sights, places and lots and lots of food.