Making the most out of 48 short hours in Amsterdam

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Allison Fong/Staff

After taking the final for the first session of the physics program I was enrolled in last summer, I grabbed my bags and headed to London’s Gatwick Airport to catch a flight to none other than Amsterdam, a common destination amongst other students in my program. Who would’ve known that in a short hour I’d be in a whole other country? I guess that’s just the magic of being in Europe where everything is so close. Seeing that my study abroad program was in the U.K., I was very excited for the opportunity to explore other parts of Europe. Here’s a look at what I did during my 48-hour stay in Amsterdam!

Thursday

6:00 p.m. — Hopped off the plane at AMS

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Arriving at the Amsterdam Schiphol Airport, we were ready to explore Amsterdam! The first thing I realized once we stepped foot in Amsterdam was the large number of bikers there were — they even had their own lane. And no, it wasn’t a small bike lane like we have in the States. I’m talking about an actual lane. So not only did you need to worry about cars when crossing the street, but you also needed to watch out for bikers! If you’ve ever visited UCSB, you can think of Amsterdam the same way — if UCSB was a city.

After settling in, we decided to dine at our Uber driver’s recommendation, The Seafood Bar. Taking recommendations can be a little iffy sometimes, but The Seafood Bar really hit the spot! (Shoutout to our Uber driver!) We enjoyed a lovely meal with fresh seafood over great conversation and shared excitement about this trip.

After dinner, we asked our waitress about her favorite place to grab a drink — I mean, when in Amsterdam right? She recommended a place down the street, de Tulp. This spot was super packed when we got there, and there were lots of locals mingling on the patio seating (not to mention all the hanging plants everywhere!). Now, that was my type of place: booze and plants. After enjoying our drinks amongst the chatter of locals, we headed back to our hotel for a good night’s rest in order to prepare for our jam-packed day.

Friday

8:00 a.m. — Pluk it

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We started our day early, as we were out the door by 8:00 a.m. The first order of business was to figure out how public transportation worked. After doing a lot of research the night before, we realized that we could buy a two-day pass on the tram. We purchased our pass from an employee sitting in a booth inside of the tram. Now that we had the main logistical issue figured out, we could focus on exploring Amsterdam!

Our first stop of the day was Pluk, a healthy cafe located in the nine streets of Amsterdam. I got a unicorn bowl, which was a smoothie bowl topped with granola, banana, chia seeds, coconut flakes and a mini ice cream cone. Not only was this bowl super Insta-worthy, but it was also super delicious! After enjoying our breakfast in this ever-so aesthetic café, we made our way to Cold Pressed Juicery to grab a juice for later.

10:00 a.m. — Oat milk latte at Bocca

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If any of you know me, you’d know that my day doesn’t officially start until I’ve had coffee. And I can’t just have any coffee to satisfy my coffee addiction folks — I need the best. That’s why I did my research and made sure to choose wisely. I only had 48 hours in Amsterdam, so you better believe I wasn’t about to waste my time drinking shit coffee. After reading many reviews of Bocca Coffee Roasters, I knew I had to make a stop at this place before I left. Although it had a minimalist decor, Bocca doesn’t hold back with its brew. With an oat milk latte in my hand and caffeine coursing through my veins, we were ready to hit up the famous “I Amsterdam” sign. Let me just say one thing: good luck trying to get a clear photo with the sign in the background, given the tourists crawling all over the sign.

12:00 p.m. — Living our best lives as art hos

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I’m a sucker for art museums, and I was lucky that Amsterdam had a lot to offer in that department. From the Rijksmuseum to the Van Gogh Museum, there were so many great options to choose from. We ultimately chose to visit the Moco Museum for the Banksy exhibition. Located in a townhouse, this museum was filled with many of the beautiful works by Banksy, Roy Lichtenstein and Icy and Sot. We spent a couple hours floating from room to room as we enjoyed each piece. What was really nice about this experience was that we talked to each other about the political influence behind each piece of art. The pieces were not only visually pleasing, but each also carried a strong message, which added even more to the beauty of the art itself.

2:00 p.m. — Flower market

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After our art museum adventure, we made our way to Bloemenmarkt, the world’s only floating flower market. Amsterdam is known for its tulips, so this flower market was filled with lots of tulip bulbs, in addition to souvenirs and other flowers.

After roaming through the shops, we made our way to Confectionery Lanskroon for the first stroopwafel of our trip. We each got a stroopwafel and enjoyed them outside as we watched the beautiful scenery of the canals and locals riding by on their bikes.

4:00 p.m. — Nine streets

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The nine streets are an iconic neighborhood in Amsterdam, filled with many shops, cafes and restaurants. We spent the next couple of hours roaming around and popping into any shops that peeked our interest. The most enjoyable part of walking through the nine streets was seeing the canal at the end of every other block. The canals, lined with trees and boats, were such an iconic sight to see. As we passed across the canal, we would occasionally see people enjoying a picnic on their boats as they floated through the canal — that is living, my friends.

6:00 p.m. — When in doubt, wine it out!

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We decided to try out Fou Fow, a ramen shop. We enjoyed a yummy bowl of ramen, as well as some homemade gyoza. After running around all day, nothing was more satisfying than a nice bowl of vegan ramen.

When we finished our ramen, we made our way to Bubbles and Wines, a wine bar that my best friend recommended to us. We got seated outside at a table that overlooked the narrow street. The menu had a long list of wines that you could order by the glass (or by the bottle if you’re ballin’). The wine was super delicious (so good that your girl had to get a second glass). Nothing beats enjoying a glass of wine outside on a beautiful night in Amsterdam. The staff was super knowledgeable and friendly, so we didn’t feel too intimidated that we didn’t know much about wine!

Saturday

9:00 a.m. — Breakfast is the most important meal of the day!

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Saturday was our last day in Amsterdam, so we had to make the most out of it, starting with a great breakfast! Located not too far from our hotel was CT Coffee and Coconuts, a healthy cafe that used to be a movie theater. Spanning several stories with an open air concept, you had the option of sitting in various balconies, each with comfy couches and lots of plants. Let’s just say that if I lived in Amsterdam, this would definitely be my type of place! After enjoying our yummy breakfast (and my oat milk latte of course), we were ready to take on the rest of Amsterdam in the little time that we had left!

11:00 a.m. — Stroop, there it is!

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Although we had already tried stroopwafel in Amsterdam, I was on a mission to find a fresh one at the famous Albert Cuyp Market, a street market that’s full of vendors and stalls. Although I was very full from breakfast, I still had room for a fresh stroopwafel. After walking through the different stalls and comparing the multiple stroopwafel vendors, I finally decided upon one stall and ordered one, not knowing that my body was literally about to explode after one bite. To be honest, I still think about it to this day — you might be laughing, but you won’t know what I mean until you try it yourself. I’m talking about crisp layers of wafers, stuffed with a warm serving of honey. This stroopwafel was as big as my head — and I’ve got a big head, folks.

1:00 p.m. — Exploring Jordaan

Our last stop was Jordaan, a trendy little neighborhood with lots of cute boutiques and restaurants. We were lucky enough to be there when several street markets were happening, so we got had the opportunity to roam through them and see what locals were up to. After popping into different shops, we stopped by SLA, an organic salad bar in the neighborhood. Although we were saving our last meal in Amsterdam at a different spot, we picked up some delicious cold-pressed juice!

3:00 p.m. — Foodhallen

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Our last meal in Amsterdam was at Foodhallen, an indoor food market located inside of an old train maintenance hall. Filled with many different types of cuisine, you’re bound to find something that suits your liking! I opted for the vegan stall, Fento, which served an amazing raw vegan salad. After enjoying our last meal in Amsterdam, we headed across the hall to The Maker Store, a shop that features some great local goods!

5:00 p.m. — Amsterdam → Paris

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We headed back to our hotel to pick up our luggage and made our way to Amsterdam Centraal to catch our train to Paris. Although it was a sad goodbye, we thoroughly enjoyed our time in Amsterdam, and I can’t wait to go back again! 

Contact Allison Fong at [email protected].