Our last evening in Amsterdam was really quite enjoyable, and sent Tom home with aspirations of returning in the not too distant future. We started at “The Heineken Experience”, a self-guided tour in the original Heineken brewery, and only a 10 minute walk from our hotel. Due to us buying our tickets in advance, we skipped the queues and entered straight away; the experience is quite fun to walk around and acted as a decent way to get out of the rain for a bit, which wasn’t showing any signs of slowing any time soon.
In the first room, a smiling guide was explaining how Heineken went from Amsterdam to America as a result of their prohibition laws; the USA didn’t have breweries, so relied on foreign companies to fill that vacuum. Upstairs, a few rooms offer a brief history of the product and another explains the process behind the perfect pint. We were able to taste ‘Wort’, which is heated and filtered barley water, and wasn’t as gag-reflex engaging as I’d feared. You get two free pints with your ticket, yet as soon as we reached the bar area, the queue was so bad it would have taken at least an hour to claim ours. I was extremely hungry, and we eventually decided to abandon our quest for free beverages and satiate our desire for food instead, walking five minutes to nearby “Da Portare Via”.
Pizza. Some, like myself, believe that it is God’s true gift to the world. Others, like my mother, are Devil spawn and don’t regard it with enough holy respect that it deserves; regardless, if you like pizza and you’re in Amsterdam, go here. It wasn’t busy when we arrived, and I really enjoyed the layout of the room, which offered a full, unadulterated view of the wood fire oven crisping our dinner to perfection. The smell was incredible, and the menu titillating. They serve ‘White Pizzas’ without tomato sauce, which I’ve never seen, but would try if we ever went back. An example of one of these would be the “Vegetariana” with goats cheese, asparagus, bell pepper, tomatoes, garlic, and red balsamic onion (EUR. 13 for a large). We all went for “Red Pizzas”, with Jacob and I getting a “Salame”, and Tom getting a “Funghi”. They were beautiful: hand stretched dough, fresh mozzarella, and stunning sauce all made to order; I would say Tom’s was the best, with Parma ham, mushrooms, and parsley. You should be aware, it is a non-alcoholic restaurant, and also accepts card only – NO CASH!
After this, we went to visit some coffee shops before returning to pack, as Jacob and I were keen to see what was on offer. We ended up going to “Katsu” first, as it’s only two blocks from where we ate; Katsu has a really cool vibe with a decent collection of very strong weed/hash. It was full, so we left to find “SuperSkunk”, a two-minute walk away. SuperSkunk is so relaxing, with cheap drinks, good music, bar stool seating areas, and more importantly, a wide menu to choose from and enjoy.
After half an hour, we headed back to the hotel, packed, slept, and awoke to Tom leaving for his flight. Jacob and I checked out, got a taxi to Amsterdam Centraal, then sat on a train for six hours as we travelled towards Berlin.
Stepping out of the train station, we got a taxi to our hotel, where we did our usual routine: dump bags, change clothes, hit the street. I found a little treasure in the form of “Soda” bookstore, which stocks an amazing selection of curious publications from across the world, with a special focus on art, architecture, and graphic design. Anyone who likes interesting reads would love it here. We were both starving, and on the lookout for a hearty meal, finding just the spot with “FamDang”, which serves home-made Vietnamese delicacies. We easily got a table, and immediately found ourselves impressed with the rustic interior, complete with hanging lights and a wooden, central bar. Even though I’m not a big fan of beer, since we’re in Germany I’ve decided to partake, so we ordered a couple of Warsteiners and browsed the menu (which has English translations).
The problem was, everything sounded so nice. After much deliberation, we decided upon some summer rolls and spring rolls to start, Jacob chose fried chicken with Vietnamese sweet & sour sauce for his main, whilst I ordered the crispy duck and peanut sauce. Everything arrived in minutes; the summer rolls were fragrant and light, packed with rice noodles, coriander, and moist chunks of chicken, and the spring rolls were the best I’ve ever eaten. They were unbelievably crunchy and the mince meat held some real flavour, leaving us eagerly anticipating the mains.
My duck was outstanding; served with fragrant rice, crunchy salad, and a wonderfully light peanut sauce, the crispy duck stood out as one of the nicest meals I’ve had so far on my travels, and I would therefore urge you to go here if you’re into Asian cuisine. For the two beers, two starters, and two mains it came to EUR. 31. Worth every penny.
With a full stomach, we waddled onwards, finding “Schee”, an eye-catching store stocking fine art prints from an international pool of artists, alongside an interesting homeware selection. The best thing about this place, is for EUR. 20 they will ship to anywhere in Europe, so I might send something back for my girlfriend or mother, instead of having to lug it all around. Next, we went to the “Carhartt” store, which is one of my favourite clothing brands. They happened to have a 50% sale, so I got myself a light jacket – the shop assistant advised us to head to Moritzplatz to see what was happening and go to some bars, so we jumped on the metro.
As we got off, echoes of pounding music were coming from above, and sure enough we had managed to exit right upon an impromptu street rave – 4 vans with different DJs were parked in the central circle of Moritzplatz, blaring their sets out to a group of drinking, dancing Germans, and the numerous police watching from close by. We had no idea what was happening, but it was absolutely hilarious. Those guys could really dance, and they had a giant banner with “MAKE BERLIN HORNY AGAIN” all over it. What a great cause.
Moving onwards, we found “Cafe Luzia” and decided to drink there. It was entirely candlelit inside, and provided a cool, casual atmosphere with full tables of chatting friends enjoying their Saturday night. We had a few beers, realised we’re both horribly tired, and got the metro back to where we started. We couldn’t resist a final cocktail at “Commonground”, which was a really cool experience; they blend speciality coffee, cocktails, and tapas style food in the unique setting of the Circus Hotel. They have a no laptop policy at weekends, so find somewhere else to write your blog post *coughs*.
We’re heading to sleep now, as we want to spend tomorrow taking in as much as possible in this wonderful city – if you’ve got recommendations for Berlin, please comment them below – the last time we followed the advice of other bloggers, we had one of the best days to date.
AMSTERDAM SUMMARY – HERE
AMSTERDAM PHOTOS – HERE