Amsterdam

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I’m not really even sure what to say about Amsterdam, which is odd because I loved it so much.  We didn’t do anything particularly amazing or adventurous.  There’s nothing that stands high above the rest of our experiences beyond the comfort of being there.  It kind of felt like home – and reminded us quite a lot of Portland – which made being in the city easy and (mostly) relaxing.  We walked the canals, ate delicious food, drank good beer and wine, and took our days relatively slow.  The rain came and went pushing us inside on more occasions than we’d usually like, but looking back on it now the rain made us slow down a bit.  It gave us pause and permission to be inside and allowed us to just “be” and not constantly “do.”

Our days usually revolved around what we were going to eat and when (naturally), and we even were able to cook breakfast at our place a few times!  We stayed further out of the main center of Amsterdam and we loved it.  We were close enough to walk everywhere but away from the crowds.  Our street was lined with shops, restaurants, and a couple of grocery stores, and our small room had a balcony that we got to use when the sun peaked it’s head out.

I became obsessed  with the canals and the buildings, taking way too many pictures, which you’ll see below.  And I thought Portland had a lot of bike commuters but Amsterdam showed me otherwise.  Everyone bikes there and you better stay out of their way or they’ll run you over and curse you with cancer.  We stuck mostly to walking with the exception of the peddle boat that we took through the canals one afternoon (and loved). It was so fun to see the city from the water.

Good food was pretty easy to find in Amsterdam.  We went to Foodhallen, an indoor food hall converted from the old train station, a couple of times because the options were plenty and the food was delicious.  We couldn’t pass up fries (who can?) so we enjoyed a paper cone filled with fried taters on a couple occasions.  We also tried come local craft beer in Amsterdam and Haarlem, and went to the loveliest natural wine bar one afternoon just before the rain started coming down.  Our bellies were full and happy, our tastebuds satisfied, and I can’t wait to go back someday.

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Stephanie and I grew up together and hadn’t seen one another since high school. She’s living in Amsterdam for the year working as an Au Pair so we got to catch up over beers and get the lowdown on Amsterdam from her.

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Caught in the rain during our walking tour.

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Flowers at the Albert Cuypmarkt, a street market in the De Pijp neighborhood.

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All smiles after we got off the peddle bikes.

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Tiny houses, Amsterdam style.

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Those yellow doors!

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Views of the canal from the peddle bike.

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The World Press Photo Exhibition was fantastic.

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The Rijksmuseum and a people filled I Amsterdam sign.

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Our day trip to Haarlem was kind of blah, but we got to see this windmill have local craft beer at Jopen

Amsterdam Eats

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Left: Afternoon snack from Vlaams Friteshuis Vleminckx.  Best fries we had in Amsterdam.

Right: Picked up some fries as we strolled to our apartment right after arriving at central station.

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A beautiful place to spend a rainy afternoon sipping on natural wines.

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Gamay Noir + Castelvetrano Olives

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Cappuccino from Scandinavian Embassy.

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Cinnamon bun from Scandinavian Embassy.  I don’t usually like cinnamon buns but this was delicious.

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Breakfast toasts with miso, avocado, eggs, olives, and feta from Coffee and Coconuts, a former cinema in the 20’s converted to a multi-level restaurant/coffee shop.

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FEBO, a fast food/vending machine mash up.

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The Meets – I loved the decor, and the food was simple and healthy.  We ate here for dinner and breakfast.

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My main man.

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Breakfast at The Meets!  Kale fritata, toast, and salad.

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Craft beer from Jopen, an old church converted into a brewery.

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Fresh stroopwafel! Hot molasses-y syrup sandwiched between waffel-like wafers.

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WTF?

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Sweet potato fries topped with truffle mayo, arugula, and sunflower seeds.  Perfectly salty, full of flavor, and the only sweet potato fries I want to eat for the rest of my life.  These were an appetizer to burgers and more fries (#allthefriedfood).

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The second time we went to Foodhallen we picked up this mezze plate. Those falafel were solid.

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Chocolate coffee, chocolate hazelnut, and raspberry pistachio tarts from Delicious Tarts at Foodhallen.

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IPA and bitterballen (basically fried gravy) at Tapzuid.

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One more canal photo for good measure!

Out to Eat in Barcelona

We really hopped on the brunch train in Barcelona and loved every minute of it.  Late morning meals to fuel our long days of walking (or beach sitting) were a great start to our day.  We also had a few good dinners out and tasty treats to appease our (mostly my) sweet tooth. Here are some of the places and things that we ate!

Federal Cafe

We went to Federal Cafe on our first morning in Barcelona after Josiah did some extensive brunch research.  The place was super cute (I wish I had more pictures of it!) with big windows, lots of light, and a cozy modern vibe. We sat at the community table and ordered cappuccinos to start. I made the better decision between the two of us because I ordered the bacon breakfast burger (egg, bacon, caramelized onions, and tomato jam… woot!) and Josiah ordered avocado toast with a poached egg on top.  The toast was okay – hey you can’t go wrong with fat and carbs, right? – but my sandwich clearly superior and one of the better breakfast sandwiches I’ve partaken in over my 28 years of life.

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Creamy egg yolk, meaty savory flavors from the bacon, sweetness from the caramelized onion, and a touch of tartness from the tomato jam all brought together by a soft easy-to-bite-through bun — perfection.

Brunch and Cake

The wait outside of Brunch and Cake was reminiscent of our Portland brunch experiences so we hunkered down and expected to be staring longingly at other peoples food for an hour or so before we got our names called.  Thankfully the wait time was pretty short and we were seated at another community table within 20 minutes.  We sat with a younger couple from the east coast and a trio from Canada.  All of the plates were beautifully laid out, portion sizes were huge, and most options were relatively healthy.

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We had cappuccinos to start again as well as a fruit/veggie smoothie.

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Josiah’s pick was scrambled eggs with mushrooms and a bagel with spinach and cream cheese.

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Mine was a sweet/savory combo – Salad with poached eggs, avocado, and strawberries plus a bagel with house-made hazelnut butter, mango and maple syrup.

OMA Bistro

Our favorite brunch spot in Barcelona was OMA Bistro.  We went back a second time (and got the same thing) because we enjoyed it so much.  It was all simple but really delicious, and having straightforward fried eggs and bacon was just what we wanted.  The big windows let in so much beautiful sunshine and I could’ve sat there for hours drinking espresso and watching Barcelona go by.

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Taranna Bar and Cafe

We went to Taranna for dinner one night and shared a few plates.  Most notably was the burrata with arugula, tomato, and pine nuts.  After our burrata experience in London we were kind of on a burrata kick so we were so happy to see it as a special on their menu that night.

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Tropico

I wish I had better photos from Tropico, but the table we were sitting at didn’t have the best lighting and most of my photos turned out worse than the arepas you’ll see down below.  As with the other places we went, the decor and ambiance was great — tropical (duh), lots of deep green colors, and a huge world map mural in the back section.  We ordered hummus with pita and veggies, an acai bowl, and arepas stuffed with scrambled eggs.  The arepas came with avocado and grilled plantains, which ended up being our favorite part of the meal.  The plantains were kind of caramelized with a nice crunch on the outside and topped with a bit salt – so delicious!

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Chok

I can’t walk by a window filled with beautifully enticing chocolates and decorated doughnuts without taking notice and making a mental note to come back.  Which is exactly what I did the first time we passed by Chok.  At Chok, they love chocolate (who doesn’t?) and their two locations are filled with their unique creations.  Their signature dessert, the chok, is a lighter doughnut glazed and topped with various flavors.  It was hard to pick but when the woman helping me said gianduja (chocolate hazelnut) I knew I’d met my match.

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Churreria San Roman

Now, I went to Disneyland quite often as a kid so I’ve had my fair share of Churros, but Disneyland ain’t got nothing on these (surprise, surprise right?) We walked by this place several time without giving it much thought, but on our last night in Barcelona there was a line out the door so we stopped.  I peeked in the window at all the filled churros, deliberated for .02 seconds and got in line.  The guy that owns the shop was super friendly and joking around with Josiah.  After a few mandatory photos we each took one and had our first bite.  A few chuckles and a lot of “omg these are so good,” occurred as we passed bites back and forth. Chocolate was the uncontested winner (duh).

Once we get back to Portland I’ll be hitting up 180 Xurros to get my fried dough fix. IMG_1170IMG_1168