Bits and Pieces of Amsterdam

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During my visit in Amsterdam, I also snacked on some food that I think are worth mentioning. After the Burger Bar, we walked a few steps and smelt some freshly baked goods! It was coming out of the Metropolitan, which offers a variety of pastries and sweets, including waffles, ice cream, and chocolate.

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For myself, I chose this Chocolate Crispy Ball. It wasn’t something I had seen before, so I decided to give it a try. It’s sort of like corn flakes but coated with chocolate and all stuck together. Not bad, but it got a little too sweet after a while!

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Then, another night we were wandering the streets and ended up in Chinatown. We were starving and M suddenly disappeared into Nam Kee. Nam Kee specializes in Chinese BBQ meats, and the ironic thing is that I usually hate it when my mom buys this back in Vancouver.

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However, a few of us girls decided to share a box of mixed meat and the weirdest thing was I thought it was so delicious! I guess when you don’t eat something for 3 months, it tastes really good to you. I used to eat this pretty much every week when my mom was lazy to cook and I just got sick of it… And never had I thought soy sauce on rice could be so delicious… The meats were lean and you got a lot for the price you paid for. Nam Kee also has 2 other restaurants in Amsterdam, one of which we visited on a different night. However, I didn’t’ think the other restaurant was as good as this one. Or perhaps I was just really hungry and standing on the street eating this take out box was so satisfying…

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Duvel beer is a Belgian beer owned by a Flemish family. It’s a strong golden pale ale, which M said was really good. Although it is supposed to be a little bitter, I found it quite easy to drink. I enjoy my beers to be light and easy to drink.

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Our hostel had a bunch of coupons for activities in Amsterdam, and one that caught our eyes was the XtraCold Ice Bar. Honestly, we were all quite disappointed in this. It cost around 16 euros and to make things worse, S and I had split up from the group. We also got a bit lost trying to find the bar, and by the time we got there, we were told that we only had 15 minutes left of the “experience”. When we bought our tickets, we had “reserved” a time for the experience… Apparently, the whole experience only lasts around 50 minutes. We asked if we should still go in, and the guy at the till said it was up to us, but that we wouldn’t be getting the full experience. Since we didn’t want to split up from the group, we quickly got put into these parka jackets and gloves that were supposed to keep us warm. They also gave us some 3D glasses. When we got in, all our friends were freezing. Apparently the experience was watching some penguin cartoon show… which I definitely did not understand for the last 15 minutes. The ice room was extremely small with “fake glass”. I’m pretty sure it’s not real but more like clear plastic since I took off my gloves and touched it. They also did not have enough seats, so many people ended up having to stand in the back for the entire show. They have a mini bar in there with one bartender and you receive 2 complimentary shots in these ice shot glasses. Honestly, I did not think it was worth our money and our friends were freezing for the whole hour and said we hadn’t missed out much and would’ve rather came in late so they didn’t have to suffer the cold. They also didn’t allow photography inside, but only with their camera which of course, you needed to pay for the photos after. Outside of the room, there is an actual bar with more normal temperatures, and I thought the setting seemed pretty nice. I’m pretty sure the drinks were really expensive though, and it seemed more like a tourist attraction since the bar was pretty much empty.

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On a different morning, we got up early and went to look for some breakfast. And…we ended up at a Donair shop and ordered some chicken nuggets and fries. The chicken nuggets actually reminded me of Mcnuggets and they were extremely crispy on the outside. The fries were also quite different from American and Spanish fries. They were very crisp, and my friends said they were Belgian fries. Belgian fries are fried twice, hence they are much crispier.

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During our sightseeing, we found the famous I am Amsterdam sign!

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Another cool attraction we discovered was the Amsterdam Cheese Museum. It’s not exactly a museum because it’s more like a cheese shop. Inside, they have literally all types of cheese. Cheese with flavours such as truffles, pesto, sun-dried tomatoes, sausage and much more. My favourite was the pesto cheese and the hickory cheese which literally tasted like sausage! The shop is quite small, but it’s filled with such a large variety of cheese, and almost every type of cheese has samples for you to try. The staff are also really friendly and don’t really force you to buy anything. I wish I took some cheese back, but my backpack traveling really limited how much space I had… Downstairs, there is an extremely mini museum. They have a few boards with some cheese history, and then they have outfits and props like traditional Dutch wear and clogs for you to dress up in to take pictures. Other than that, it’s really more of a cheese shop than a museum. Worth checking out if you’re a cheese lover and won’t take up too much of your time!

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The Pancake Bakery – Amsterdam

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Early morning, a few of us went out to explore the city while the rest continued to rest up at the hostel. We were able to walk around to most tourist points with just a map and even discovered a casino where my friend won some money! We then met up at The Pancake Bakery which our friend said was supposed to be very good. We got there a little late and saw a huge line up. Luckily, our other friends had gotten there earlier and lined up for a bit and got us some seats!

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Maple Walnut Ice Cream Pancake

The pancakes here are definitely not the typical American pancakes we find at IHop. They’re not fluffy and thick, but instead quite thin. They remind me of something in between a crepe and an American pancake. The edges are crisp, but it’s still not as thin as a crepe. They have both savory and sweet pancakes. K went for a sweet one and chose one filled with Maple Walnut Ice Cream and some nuts. It was also dusted with icing sugar. It was really good! Lots of whipped cream and the hot and cold feeling was good!

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Mushroom and Cheese Pancake

For myself, I wanted something savory. I went for the Mushroom and Cheese. These pancakes are huge by the way! They literally cover the whole plate, and these are large plates! There was an abundance of mushrooms and the cheese made me really full! I have to say, these were way better than those De Dutch pancakes that they claim are traditional Dutch pancakes… I espescially loved the crispy edges and the cheesiness of my pancake. I had a hard time finishing this and should’ve totally shared one with another girl.

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Bacon and Cheese Pancake

U got the Bacon and Cheese Pancake. Also very cheesy and filled with bacon. She said it was very good as well!

All in all, amazing pancakes at an appropriate price. I would suggest sharing these so you get to taste a bit of everything. There’s also huge line ups here so it’s not a place to go if you’re in a hurry. I think the reason is because they have very limited staff. They have an open kitchen concept, and there’s honestly only around 2 people making these pancakes. Even waiting for our food took a long time.

Heineken Experience – Amsterdam

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After meeting up with the whole crew, including the friends from Manchester, we set off to go to the Heineken Experience, which is a tour of the Heineken brewery. If you’re living at a hotel or hostel, a tip would be to check if they have any discount vouchers since you’re likely to get a few dollars off. I believe we got it for around 16 euros. When you arrive, you receive complimentary coat check. Then you proceed to turn in your ticket and you get a wristband in return with 2 beer tokens and a free gift token.

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It’s a self guided tour and they estimate it takes around 1.5 hours to get through the whole tour. The beginning includes a lot of history of how the company came together and the different branding and marketing strategies they used throughout time.

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Honestly, I didn’t think the history section was too interesting. It was sort of like going to a museum and we had to read everything off the plaques, so we skimmed through it quite quickly.

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Then we got to some things that were a little more interesting. They had a worker explain to us the process of how beer is made.

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You got to try some of the hops and barley. Hops definitely did not taste that great…

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Then you arrive at the Brew Room. You can’t really see what’s going on, so it’s more like getting a big picture of how it would be produced.

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You can get a mandatory picture of yourself brewing in that brown leather apron too!

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Then, you’ll find yourself in the stable walk with tons of horses. These horses were huge! Apparently, the horses were used to transport beer to the bars. I didn’t get a picture of the next room, but it’s pretty fun! It was a 4D ride called Brew Your Ride, and you essentially stand in this platform with other visitors and watch a film where you are basically Heineken beer. You go through the whole process including how you would be bottled up if you were the beer. It was pretty neat since the platform would move and water would squirt out to give effects.

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Finally, we got to sample some beer! I think most of us were just looking for beer. They should’ve totally given us a beer to begin with so we could sip on it while going through the tour. The worker told us how to truly taste a beer and how to smell and see if it’s good beer. He also taught us the differences between Heineken and other beers. Some cold beer was perfect!

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Next, we saw how the beer was bottled up with labels applied. This was really cool since you were able to customize your own label and you could see your customized bottle go down the production line.

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They also had a final inspection! Some of our friends purchased this, but had to drink theย  beer in the end, since we were taking budget airlines with no checked luggage. So be warned that if you’re taking a budget airline, it’s probably not worth your money to purchase this, unless you don’t mind the bottle being uncapped.

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Another section became tons of interactive games and such. They had plenty of screens where you could take pictures or videos with their branding and you could send it to your email. There was also a room with the advertisements they had used in the past and just tons of beer bottles decorating the ceilings and walls. Another interactive game was challenging yourself to pour beer from the tap perfectly. They also had a real life draught challenge and you could get a certificate to say that you had perfected pouring beer. However, that required two of your tokens from the wristband.

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Instead, we used the tokens to trade ourselves some cold beer! Finally, we were able to just relax and enjoy ourselves in their Heineken World Bar. The Heineken Experience ends with the gift shop, which has some pretty cool gifts. You can also customize your beer glasses or mugs with etched names.

Overall, I thought it was a decent activity with friends. I’d suggest it if you were here for more than a day and have spare time. I’m not a huge beer fan, although Heineken is one of the beers I prefer more. I do find the admission price to be a little pricey for what we got. Learning-wise, I didn’t think I learned that much. It might’ve been better if someone was taking us around on the tour so we could just hear the explanations in person. Didn’t really enjoy the reading part of the tour..but that’s just me. Apparently you’re also able to get a water taxi to go to the Heineken Gift Shop across town to get the free gift, but we missed the last taxi, so we never got the gift.