Amsterdam · The Netherlands

Ring in the New Year: Amsterdam!

Dear K,

Lisbon definitely means a lot for both of us. I could relate to every word you wrote in the last letter about holidays and family. Now we have several months far from our hometown so it’s time to embrace some new adventures.

This NYE I went to Amsterdam with some friends. My best friend is currently living there so it was perfect to explore the city outside of a tourist’s perspective. We stayed in a house boat in one of the canals so we could have the ultimate Amsterdam experience. The place was so cozy and modern that it felt like home.

The city has so much to offer that I wish we could have stayed longer than 4 days! Amsterdam is really small and cute. You can walk pretty much everywhere or just ride a bike. It’s incredible how there are three times more bikes than inhabitants. The city has been building parking lots just for bikes and they’re not nearly enough. I almost got run over a trillion times so you can imagine the craziness!

The streets, the canals, the markets, and the hundreds of tiny bars bring so much life to the city, that it’s impossible not to fall in love. We walked for hours to explore as much as we could. The free walking tour was also really nice to know a little bit more about the origins of Amsterdam.

Obviously, the cold weather obliged us to make several stops along the way. We walked in some bars to rest, drink something and warm up a little bit. I was trying to remember the names of these places to tell you but in the end it doesn’t really matter. There are hundreds spread out in every street and they all have strong personalities. Most of them I felt like they are family-owned businesses so you can pretty much just walk in anywhere and you will enjoy a cozy atmosphere for sure.

One bar that I have to highlight is the Sky Lounge, on the rooftop of the DoubleTree by Hilton. It is quite sophisticated and pricey but the drinks are amazing and the view is totally worth it! You would love this place for sure.

In terms of food, the dutch cuisine is pretty much based on deep fried whatever you can think of. Fried food is definitely not my favorite but I decided to try the famous Bitterballen (dutch beef croquettes) at Cafe Lennep. It was actually pretty good especially if you dip it in the traditional mustard.

We also went to Winkel, which is famous for having the best traditional apple pie in town. I couldn’t possibly tell you if it’s the best one or not, but it’s pretty delicious.

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On the second day, we stopped by this amazing place called La Place to have lunch. It has all kinds of food, snacks, and juices and everything is super fresh and delicious. I wish I had some place like that here in the US. You can eat so healthy, that I’d go there for lunch everyday.

Last but not the least in regards to food, we went to a cool place called Hannekes Boom, by the Eastern Dockland. The food is nice, and the atmosphere is super chilled with a view to the Amstel river.

For NYE we bought tickets for a club beforehand. If you go there this time of the year empty-handed, your night will be spent on the streets because every single party is sold out. So, after the midnight fireworks and celebrations, we went to RADION, where we could choose between two dance floors until the sunrise. The clubs there have a different atmospherebut that didn’t stop us from having fun!

Most people know about the coffee shops where you cannot buy coffee or any kind of alcohol, and about the Red Light District with prostitutes on the windows, but the way I imagined it was completely different. The prostitutes I’ve seen on the windows are in the group of the most beautiful women I’ve ever seen. Definitely not what I’m used to see on the streets in other places!

Amsterdam is certainly a unique place. Beautiful city and a happy place! Not because certain drugs and prostitution are allowed, but because of TOLERANCE. I guess this is the best word I can use to describe it. I’ve told this to some people that have been there and they all agreed. It’s hard to put in words in order to explain to someone who hasn’t been there, but I’m sure once you go there, you’ll feel the same way : )

Can’t wait to read all about your NYE in Miami!

– C

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