By: Jim Bamboulis
The last time I was in Amsterdam, it was only for eight hours. I did the typical first time visitor stuff. Went to Anne Frank House, checked out the canals and was told to have a hot chocolate at the Bull Dog, a legendary cafe in the Red Light district. I had a beer instead. And while sitting at the bar enjoying it, met an American GI who asked me if I smoked weed. No hellos or how’s it goings. Right to the point. I like that.
Before I could answer him, he pulled out two pretty big bags of grass. Told me he was heading back to the base and couldn’t take them with him. What happened next? Stand by. First this.
On this most recent trip to old Amsterdam, I had more time to work with and wanted to experience the city a bit more like a local.
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To do that right, I had to get a bike. In this town, not only is the bicycle truly the best way to get around and see the city, it’s also king of the road. There are over 880,000 bikes in Amsterdam (more than 4 times the amount of cars!) and with more than 500km of bike lanes, Amsterdam is one of the most bike-friendly cities in the world.
So I called up Mike’s Bike Tours. These guys are super friendly and do amazing (and popular) bike tours around the city. They set me up with a bicycle and trusted me with their property for the day. Bold move guys.
After stumbling out of the gate, almost falling off a couple of times and having a real local actually stop cycling and ask “you OK dude”?, I was on my way.
My mission – to eat as much Dutch Street food possible.
My first stop was the Albert Cuyp Market. This outdoor pedestrian market sells everything from meats and veggies to clothing and jewellery. It also has a couple of street food stalls that I had visit. Poffertjes are small, light and fluffy pancakes, served with powdered sugar and butter. If you follow me on Instagram, you would remember this little gem of a video.
Also known as a ‘syrup waffle’, this delicious guy is made up of two thin layers of baked dough with a caramel-like syrup filling in the middle. If that wasn’t delicious looking enough, I added chocolate on top.
Funky Fresh Dog
Ok, I don’t know if I’d call this authentic Dutch street food but when the man who makes you a Stroopwafel gives you a tip for your next meal, you take it and say thank you. Head to Bulls and Dogs in Foodhallen, he said. So I headed across town to Foodhallen and got in line to try what I was told is one of the hottest items in the city. The Funky Fresh Dog is made up of a pork sausage topped with tzatziki and spring onion – served in a pretzel bun. Messy. Delicious. Perfect!
There are several amazing spots to get this classic Dutch treat. But I wanted to combine a classic venue with a great meal and a pint. So I headed to Checkpoint Charlie in west Amsterdam. And it didn’t disappoint. Filled with minced beef, veal, flour for thickening and seasoned with salt, pepper and even nutmeg, Bitterballen is a delicious Dutch meatball. Served with dijon mustard on the side with a pint of Heineken, it’ll fill you up.
Anything at Stubbe’s Haring
Down the street from Amsterdam’s central train station, you find Stubbe’s Haring. A family run food stand, it’s a must-stop if you want to enjoy must-eat Dutch seafood. Stubbe’s serves up salmon, halibut, mackerel as well as raw herring with pickles and onions. It’s not for everyone, but it’s an experience you should consider when visiting Amsterdam.
Here’s a handy map of all the spots I hit. Enjoy, happy travels and enjoy that digestion process!
Oh, so you’re wondering what happened to all weed at the bar? C’mon guys. What y’all think happened? We sat there for an hour, ordered a few more beers each, talked baseball, a little golf and wondered what to do with it all before finally :
Jim spent 15 years in the broadcast media world before all the jobs dried up. That’s when he started Travel Mammal, a site dedicated to travel, food and cultural experiences.
Travel Mammal isn’t about the selfie or checking things off a list. It’s about experiencing both the journey and the destination. To breathe, learn and really absorb what’s around you, in the moment and experiencing in a way that is both memorable and meaningful.
Cheers and happy travels!