europe, Travel

Amsterdam– the Must-Do’s and All About the Coffee Shops ;)

AmsterDAM! My first time to Europe and it did not disappoint! Amsterdam was a beautiful city and I see why it’s so popular with so many travelers. The canals throughout the city were gorgeous, bikers outnumbered drivers and there was tons of things to see and do.

The canals are spread throughout the entire city.

Getting There

This trip was extremely unique. This was our second nonrev international trip that we took at the end of September, once I realized I had extra vacation days with no current trips to use them, so it was kind of spontaneous. We originally planned on going to Paris, but at the same time, our overall goal was to get Delta One. Delta One is Delta’s business class, and features lie-flat seats, chef-curated meals, an extra-wide entertainment screen, bedding, a tumi kit with toiletries and astounding service. We knew a few people from Myles’ job who have had the privilege of flying Delta One and we couldn’t wait to try it out. I knew we would be heading to Europe, and looked up all different routes that would be our best bet. We decided Detroit would be the city we would catch the flight from. We went from PSC > SEA > DTW. We missed the first flight to DTW due to a delay in disembarking from our PSC > SEA flight, which caused us to miss the DTW > CDG flight. We then tried several flights hoping for Delta One before catching the last DTW > AMS flight of the night, leaving around 7 p.m. and arriving in Amsterdam at 10 a.m. the next day.

The Delta One Experience

Delta One was incredible. From the minute you step on the plane, you’re treated like royalty. Myles and I were greeted with glasses of champagne and brought a menu. The service includes the following: a hot towel to wash your face and hands, an appetizer, your entree, which you pick from four different options like chicken, steak, pasta, etc., dessert from a dessert table featuring several different options and you’re also given unlimited drinks throughout all this. Then, in the morning before you land, you also get breakfast.

I was drinking gin and tonics, snacking on everything they handed me. For dinner, I ordered the steak, which came with mashed potatoes and spinach. After eating dessert, drunk and full, I reclined my seat all the way back and went to sleep in what felt like a twin sized bed while on a plane! It’s definitely something you never forget. These seats can go for as much as $10k-$20k depending on how far in advance you book and which route you’re taking. We felt very blessed to get to experience that as nonrevs.

Day 1

Upon arriving in Amsterdam, the airport was extremely easy to navigate, which was so nice. All the signs are in English and almost everyone speaks English. It’s actually a great first international trip for anyone who doesn’t have a lot of experience travelling, so you can get your feet wet. We ended up walking to the wrong area at first, but the nice airport staff told us where customs was and we were in and out!

Since this trip was not at all planned for, I decided to take a chill approach. I wasn’t going to overwhelm myself by spending too much time researching on the flight or when we landed. The only thing I really needed to do was pick a hotel, and I went with the Hotel Atlas Vondelpark. The park was located right outside of Amsterdam’s main area, being only about a 15-20 minute walk to the main attractions. The hotel cost us $230 for two nights, and that included a hot breakfast, which Myles took full advantage of lol.

After booking the hotel, I just decided to take an Uber, because I was honestly scared of the bus and metro. The ride was about 15-20 minutes and only cost about $25. When we arrived at the hotel, check-in was very smooth and we went into our rooms. It’s funny because the room setup was a little crazy. It was probably one of the smallest rooms I’ve stayed in, and I’m thinking it must be a Europe thing, but it wasn’t bad at all.

We set our stuff down and changed and were ready to explore. It was already 2 p.m., so we needed to get a move on. The first order of business was to find a jacket for Myles. Even though Myles is an extremely seasoned traveler, he’s a horrible packer. Every single trip, he messes up his packing somehow. For example, he’s packed all chill clothes with no going out outfits on one trip, has packed all going out clothes with no chill outfits on another trip, and has completely forgot socks on another. In conclusion, he’s a mess lol. This trip, even though it was October, he didn’t think to pack a jacket. While it wasn’t freezing, it was chilly. We walked around looking for a store to buy something from, and finally stumbled upon a thrift store that was having a sale. We found a jacket that fit him, and the owner actually gave it to us cheaper because we told him we voted for Obama back when he was president! Apparently, the dutch aren’t Trump’s biggest fans either, lol.

Myles had been to Amsterdam once already, so he already had an idea of things we needed to do, like where to eat and all that. He was raving about a place called Wok to Walk, a popular Chinese restaurant chain. I’d say it’s similar to Chipotle where you build a bowl, except in Wok to Walk, you pick your type of noodles or rice, your type of meat and veggies, and the sauces you’d like. It was absolutely delicious and I definitely recommend you check out this place if you’re ever in Amsterdam!

Now the part you’ve all been waiting for: the coffee shops. I’ll let the expert take over this part.

Guest Section by My Man

The coffee shops in Amsterdam are like nothing you have ever seen before. If you didn’t already know, marijuana is legal in the Netherlands and very plentiful. Of course, that means you can purchase weed at the shops and take it home or anywhere you’d like for personal consumption. But what Amsterdam has that no one else in the world has is the ability to get high in the comfort of a coffee shop setting with people all around you there for the same reason. It really is something. Sure, we’ve been to legal dispensaries (in Washington, California, Nevada and more) but those are nothing like the Amsterdam coffee shops. I’ve been to Amsterdam once already without Crystina, so I already had a list of the best ones I wanted to take her to. I was dying to show her this one shop in particular called Abraxas.

You can be sure you are there when you see a sign with a Raven on it with neon green lights.

We head to the Abraxas shop and when we walk in we instantly smell that LOUD. We show our ID’s to the employee and then we are shown their inventory. This shop had a list of everything they had on a menu listed by Sativas, Indicas or Hybrids. They offer both pre-roll joints and roll your own. The prices varied but they mostly went for about $7-$10 for a gram joint depending on which strain you wanted.

I bought a couple of joints and we walked around the shop looking for a place to sit. We made our way upstairs to this tiny table with tiny chairs, in front of another group of people enjoying the Amsterdam smoke. As I’m sure all of you guys know, Crystina is not a smoker but they did have a very cool bar that served hot and cold beverages along with some snacks like cookies, coffee, cakes, and what I think is the best hot chocolate ever. It’s not like the typical American hot chocolate at all. It came as a hot cup of milk with a stick that had chocolate on it and you stirred it in order to make the hot chocolate. I ordered it for her to try and it was nothing short of delicious. The drink also comes with a strudel waffle which is like a wafer with caramel inside (staple in Amsterdam). If you leave the wafer over the hot chocolate it gets nice and warm and tastes even better.

All in all the shop was great. It was lively and a great spot to kick back and enjoy some smoke with your friends. We walked down the spiral staircase and headed outside on to the next one.

The next shop we went to was not too far away. Actually, they are all relatively in the same area. It was called the Green House, which had a very cool vibe that I enjoyed a little more than Abraxas. We went in and the lights were dim and the smoke was heavy.

This set up was a little different. They had a display case of the weed they offered and even had some edibles and concentrates. The cool part was they had a swing and a nice Bob Marley mural on the wall while also playing his music in the background. A complete vibe. I got some weed for the road and we just chilled a while and enjoyed the music. They were even burning incense so it was a delightful smell even for Crys.

I’m a fan of the coffee shops because I feel like it is definitely a good way to promote safe places to smoke. I feel like if recreational marijuana becomes completely legal in the U.S. one day, we should follow suit and open coffee shops where people can smoke in peace.

Day 1 Continued

Crystina back writing now 🙂 After the coffee shop, we wandered to Amsterdam’s main area. The entire city is the cutest thing I’ve ever seen. It gave me extreme Harry Potter vibes. We passed the alluring canals, the Rijksmuseum, tons of restaurants and bars, shops, everything! We really spent the rest of the day exploring everything in the main area. We even stumbled upon an H&M, and Myles got another jacket and I bought boots and a shirt lol.

When the sun was setting, we decided to head back to our hotel. We were 10 hours ahead of our regular time so the time difference was starting to take its toll on us. We decided to nap for a few hours before checking out the nightlife.

We woke up got dressed and headed out. It’s funny, because before the sun set, Myles swore our hotel was practically next door to the Red Light District, and we would see that once it was night. Flash forward to night and we were nowhere near the Red Light District! His ass was tripping lol.

We weren’t sure exactly where to go, so we decided to just walk back to the main area and decide from there! We ended up stumbling upon the real red light district, which was a crazy experience!

Apologies for the terrible quality, this is a screenshot from the video I took!

Women are literally in display windows like dolls in the toy aisle in a store. They’re wearing lingerie, smiling, flirting and talking with you to try to get you to come in. I can’t even tell you how many girls kept telling both Myles and I to come in for a threesome lol. One major thing to note about the red light district: recording and/or taking pictures of the women is highly discouraged. I didn’t record any women directly, just took a quick video from far away of all the red lights once we were in the area. Myles dumbass’ walked right next to the women in the windows and took a video, causing one woman to come out and yell “Put you phone away fatass!” Rude of her, but he should have known better lol. So keep that in mind if you’re ever there!

In the same area, we stopped in a bar to have a drink. It was just a quick stop as we were still trying to figure out where we should go and if there would even be any lit clubs on a Monday night. We wandered around until eventually finding two clubs, right next to each other, that were PACKED and playing good ass music! We stayed in this club for hours, drinking and dancing. The shots at all the bars and clubs in Amsterdam are extremely tiny, so I had to order quite a few to feel something lol.

Either way, we had a blast and left really early in the morning, walking back to our hotel. Once in the room, Myles was cross faded and threw up a lot. It’s one of my favorite videos of him actually lol.

Day 2

We woke up the next morning a little late, closer to 11 a.m. but we were still adjusting to the time. Our hotel was still serving breakfast, so we went down and I can honestly say it was one of the best hot breakfasts we ever had! The breakfast the hotels in America serve you are a complete joke compared to the breakfast the hotels in Europe serve you. Our hotel had a whole spread with eggs, bacon, sausage, croissants, just to name a few!

After breakfast, we got changed and were ready to start our day! This day consisted of more exploring. Similar to Greece, everywhere you turned was the perfect backdrop for pictures.

We then went to another coffee shop to chill for a little bit before deciding to do the Heineken Experience, easily one of the highlights of this trip! The Heineken Museum was close to where we were staying, a part of the Museum District. The two tickets for us cost $40 total.

The tour included a self-guided walk through the factory, information about the company’s history and tasting sessions! We literally learned how the beer is made, how to pour the perfect beer, and got to taste so many things throughout the entire tour. I think we had like four beers each somehow just because they keep giving you some the entire tour!

After the Heineken Experience, we went to the “I Amsterdam” sign in front of the Rijksmuseum. This is definitely one of the most photographed places in Amsterdam, and it’s so tricky to get a good picture! lol so we had a lot of fun playing around with angles to get a decent picture.

Sad thing to note: this sign is no longer there. The council voted to remove it because they felt like it was causing mass tourism and overcrowding in the square. In a statement, a councilwoman also said “The message of ‘I amsterdam’ is that we are all individuals in the city. We want to show something different: diversity, tolerance, solidarity.” I personally think it’s a dumb reason and it’s sad to see an icon go away. There’s another “I Amsterdam” sign at the airport, but it’s not the same.

After we took what felt like a zillion pictures at the sign, we stopped at an Italian restaurant for dinner, then went back to our room to relax a little bit before going out. We decided to do some hopping around for our last night, and went to check out the Holland casino first. We walked in with like $20, and didn’t win anything, but it was fun to play their slots and walk around and see what it was like gambling in Europe.

We then stopped at a bar and asked some people where the spot to be was for the night. We got numerous answers for Nova, so that’s where we decided to go! It was still early, but we just went to check it out beforehand. There was a small cover, I think like $10/each, but it was so worth it. This was one of the nicest international clubs I’ve been to. The setup was so nice, with VIP tables spread throughout, a nicely sized dance floor everything. They played good ass music. It felt like we were in the U.S.! We had so many shots and drinks, turning up with locals and other tourists. We didn’t get home until really late, and didn’t get much sleep at all as we had to be up early for our flight.

Getting Home

Like most flights leaving Europe to America, they all leave around mid-morning, getting you back to the states in the late afternoon due to the time difference. I’ve read some articles saying you should get to the Amsterdam airport three hours early to ensure you make your flight, but we ended up getting there 1.5 hours before our flight, and had a smooth process from start to finish. I would advise not pushing it any tighter than that though.

We really wanted to try to get Delta One again, so we decided on the flight to Detroit. We didn’t get lucky to get it, but we were assigned seats, and the flight itself felt very long compared to the one going to Amsterdam lol. We flew AMS > DTW > SLC > PSC, a very long commute. If I would have known we weren’t going to get Delta One, I would have just did the AMS > SEA flight, which would have put us home much earlier with way less travel time. Oh well though! We made all the flights and got home around 9 p.m. that night, both of us having to go to work the next day.

What I Would Have Done Differently

So much! I’m so disappointed with myself that I went into a trip so unprepared, but that’s the life of a nonrev! Before going on this trip, I had no idea Anne Frank’s house was even in Amsterdam. It is though, and tickets either have to be purchased well in advance, or you can go on the website at exactly midnight and try to buy the tickets then, or you can also stand in line as a walk in on the day you want to go, and depending on where you fall in line, you may or may not actually make it in. While buying the tickets in advance will never be possible for us since we need to make sure we make the flight first, I wish I could have tried to buy the tickets at midnight. I actually spoke with a flight attendant who said she was almost able to buy tickets that way, but the website ended up timing out on her. However, if you are planning a trip to go, definitely put that on your list.

I also would have loved to check out the Van Gogh museum. It was practically right next door to our hotel, so there’s really no excuse for this at all. The museum has his paintings and sunflowers surrounding the exterior. It looks so gorgeous, I’d definitely fit that into my plans for next time.

Another thing I wish we would have did is a canal tour. There’s a variety of different options, such as hop-on, hop-off, guided tours, dinner cruises. It would have been a lot of fun to see and learn about Amsterdam on the water.

Lastly, we did not go during the tulip season, but when I do go back I want to make sure it’s when the tulips are blooming. Tulips are my mom’s favorite flower, and I’m fond of them as well. I know a few people who have went and they all say it’s a completely different experience. Tulip season is in the spring, with the actual festival typically during March/April. The festival features all the gardens open for everyone to come see the colorful tulips in full bloom. Definitely a must for us hopefully next year!

2 thoughts on “Amsterdam– the Must-Do’s and All About the Coffee Shops ;)”

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