amsterdam recap & recs.

I can’t believe how fast these past 3 months flew by. My journey abroad came to an end faster than I could’ve ever imagined. For my last weekend trip in Europe, my friend Micah and I decided to head over to Amsterdam.

We flew from Sevilla into Eindhoven, then hopped on a train into Amsterdam to stay for 3 nights. This ended up being under $200, which is pretty good for a super last-minute trip. I have to say, as much as I am not ready to go home, I will NOT miss the hell that is low-budget European airlines. I’m about you, RyanAir.

We stayed at the coziest Airbnb in a perfect location - the neighborhood was quiet but central and walkable to all of Amsterdam’s top spots. The apartment was clean and simple, and we had the authentic experience of having a dutch staircase - which, if you didn’t know - are impossibly steep, winding, and nearly impossible to navigate after a drink or two (or a space cake…) I shared most of my Amsterdam finds on my Instagram stories and received some great feedback and responses about the cafes, shops, and sights. I always think about going back someday.

 

What to Do

Art Canal Light Tour - we found this on Airbnb experiences and totally recommend for a nighttime activity! You'll get onto a comfy houseboat, equipped with blankets, mulled wine, Dutch snacks, and guides that navigate you comfortably through the canals. While cruising through the canals you'll see light art installations of the Light Festival.

De Pindakaaswinkel (the Peanut Butter Bar) - stumbled upon this gem! They make fresh peanut butter and it comes in so many flavors including coconut, coffee, stroopwaffel, even spicy chili. You can make your own if you're feeling up for it, but I just got 3 mini jars. Downstairs is a candy store where you can sample delicious chocolate too. You really can't go wrong with pb & chocolate.

Wake Me Up When I'm Famous Bench - this bench located in De Pijp makes for a fun photo-op. No one was there when we went, and the neighborhood is quiet and hip. Definitely head to Rainbowls after (keep reading).

Anne Frank House - unfortunately we couldn't get tickets to the Anne Frank house. We tried and tried, but it was sold out and we couldn't even get the reserve tickets released every morning. If you are planning on going to Amsterdam, buy tickets to the Anne Frank house as far in advance as possible.

Bloemenmarkt - prepare to have your mind blown by the floating flower shops of Bloemenmarkt. It's so colorful, and you can find an incredible variety of flowers and gardening goods. Of course, the Netherlands are known for their tulips! Here you can buy bulbs, seeds, and gifts. Even if you aren't planning on buying any flowers, it's an awesome tourist experience.

Boerejongens Coffeeshop - It's not a cafe. It's a coffeeshop... Listen, we all know it's legal in Amsterdam. Not SAYING I did it, but if you ARE going to do it, this is the spot. Clean, upscale, simple. Not that I know or anything...

Rocycle - one of the nicest cycling studios I've been to! The class was taught in English, and the staff were all welcoming. They had a nice smoothie/juice bar inside too.

Where to Eat

Rainbowls -  the most instagram-worthy smoothie bowl of your life. I promise. They have plenty of vegan-friendly fare, really good coffees and homemade tea too. I loved that everything was served in coconut bowls or with bamboo straws. This spot attracts tourists and locals alike, but it was in De Pijp, which is a bit outside of the busiest sections. I got a bowl and a tea - we came back twice because it was the perfect spot to recharge halfway through a busy day!

Pluk - if you are looking for a cozy breakfast spot, Pluk will surely satisfy. It's decked out with white, pink, avocados, and everything millennial. There are two locations, we preferred the one on Berenstraat. They have baked goods along with a menu full of healthy bowls, sandwiches, and typical breakfast foods. I got the Double Paradise Bowl, and Micah got the Eggs Benedict. They also sell pretty kitchenware and goodies of all sorts.

Polaberry - a teeeny tiny compact shop with gorgeous Belgian chocolate covered strawberries, cake pops, sweets & espresso drinks. I loved how carefully crafted the chocolate treats were, they were little works of art! Not to mention, sooo delicious. We split a box of 4 strawberries which was perfect for the two of us. I liked the dark chocolate crunch one.

O Mai - between the rainy and chilly weather and the lack of decent Asian food in Spain, we were elated to find this Vietnamese restaurant and enjoy some pho. The restaurant was reasonably priced, the staff were friendly, and they had a lotttt of options. Definitely not your traditional Dutch experience, but it hit the spot.

Van Wonderen - stroopwafel time. I read online somewhere that Van Wonderen was a tourist spot, so it may be a little pricier than your average stroopwafel, but they were made fresh and were absolutely delicious. We got regular sized stroopwafels with toppings, and a bag of minis to snack on. I also got my mom a tin to bring home to the U.S., and she loved them, along with the beautiful tin. While there are probably more authentic stroopwafel shops around Amsterdam, we had a great experience at Van Wonderen.

 

Where to Shop

The three shops I've listed were on The Nine Streets - De 9 Straatjes. This part of the Centrum has the best shopping, all in 9 little streets in Amsterdam canal belt. There are so many beautiful shops there, and you can spend the entire afternoon exploring, but the ones I chose to highlight stood out to me.

Ko - this concept store has so many fun odds and ends that make for great souvenirs. The items sold are carefully selected and range from clothes to home decor, from toys to books. Everything is color coordinated, creative, and original. I found really cool music themed tarot cards!

l'Étoile Luxury Vintage - such an awesome shop full of pre-loved designer bags and accessories. They have Louis Vuitton, Prada, Dior, Fendi, and more. Some come with original boxes too - and from what I saw, items are reasonably priced. If you aren't planning on going to Amsterdam anytime soon, you should check out their website.

My Jewellry - this boutique sells sooo much jewelry, in every trendy design you can imagine. I got a pair of earrings and a cuff, but I wish I bought more. They also had cute clothes - mesh tops, funky handbags, dresses, you name it! The girls working were really sweet and helpful. I wish they shipped to the U.S. because I would totally order more.

 

I will most certainly be back someday. Hopefully soon. XO & HAPPY NEW YEARS!

 

 

study abroad q&a

Hello, hola, bonjour, good day!

A few days ago I asked on my Instagram stories for any questions about my experience studying abroad. If you are new, welcome! I am just finishing up my first semester of my senior year of college. I spent a wonderful semester at La Universidad de Sevilla in Sevilla, Spain.  I took classes taught in English and Spanish, mainly focused on culture and arts.

LET’S JUMP INTO THE QUESTIONS

Top 3 styles/trends abroad?

I love this question. The style in Spain, and in Europe in general, is just so fun. My balcony was directly across from a boutique – they were constantly changing the displays. Spanish fashion is constantly changing. I was quick to jump on board with some of the fashion trends I saw girls wearing here… seriously.  During my first week here I bought one of these bags – they sell them at a ton of boutiques in Los Remedios.

Another trend I’m a huge fan of is platform converse. I noticed a lot of girls wearing them here! Black, white, high top, low top… I ordered a pair to my American address. They’re way more expensive in the stores here.  And my third favorite fashion trend that I’ve totally fallen in love with is cropped flare jeans. I bought way more than I’m proud to admit, from Mango and Zara. 

Any customs/lifestyles you want to bring back to the U.S.?

I love how relaxed the Spanish lifestyle is. The work-life balance is incredible and something I would really appreciate. The shops in my neighborhood, and many throughout the city, close for a few hours daily for siesta. Sundays, everything is closed besides a select few shops and pharmacies. I wish we placed greater importance on relaxation and family time in the United States.  The neighborhood I lived in had a lot of families. I’d often see kids of all ages, even young adults, holding hands with a parent or grandparent when walking. Every time I saw this, I felt my heart grow a little bit, I swear. I wish we would see it more in the US. 

things you missed (besides Logan Porter)?

Logan Porter! Oh wait… okay.  Ah, this is hard, I didn’t really miss much. I missed eating dinner early – 8:30-10PM is the norm here. I was pretty quick to adapt to this though.  Another thing I missed was going to a department store to get all my errands run at once. Here, I would go to a market for groceries, a pharmacy for health products, and a special store for school supplies. I didn’t necessarily mind this, but it’s surely less convenient.

Did you ever get lost?

In Sevilla, no. It took me about five days to understand the layout of the city. It’s a really comfortable size, and you can do everything by foot. Besides going to and from the airport. 

Favorite Spanish food?

I have eaten some damn good bread here in Spain. My favorite dish to get out is a tapa, espinacas con garbanzo. It’s a traditional spanish tapa of cooked spinach with chickpeas, sometimes served with an egg on top. I can’t wait to make this for my family at home… I also really enjoyed gazpacho during the beginning of the semester when it was more seasonal. 

Favorite city you visited?

My favorite city besides Sevilla would have to be Lisbon. I loved it so much and can see myself spending part of my life out there. I loved the size of the city, the culture/diversity, the hills, the tiles, and the art. 

I also really loved Rome, I wish I got to see more of Italy. It felt like home, the food was amazing, and I just love the Italian language and culture. This is a great segway to the next question…

Best food you ate abroad?

So easy. This gelato from Giolitti in Rome.

We ended up going twice.  My friends and I ran in the rain from our Airbnb, and it was worth getting soaked. We walked up to the counter in the dark, romantic gelateria, and each got a ticket for a small gelato.  “Piccolo, per favore”. With the ticket, we headed to the back where the gelato is served. There were easily over thirty different flavors, with a good amount of dairy free options. They also had boozy gelatos, a full bakery, and a bar.

The first night I got a scoop of dairy free dark chocolate and a scoop of dairy free pomegranate. I had every intention of respecting my stomach but then the man behind the counter asked if I wanted the fresh cream on top. I remembered my professor telling me to try the fresh cream, and I knew I had to. It was so worth it. This picture speaks for itself, I think. 

We went back the next day and I got a scoop of lemon and a scoop of blueberry. No dairy this day… one night of an upset stomach was enough. I wish my mom was there because she would have LOVED it. Especially the lemon. 

Advice for picking a city to study in?

It’s funny because I don’t really know how I stumbled upon Sevilla. I was originally thinking Madrid, but I knew I needed a smaller Spanish city. I didn’t really consider any others, I just saw Sevilla on the list and thought “This sounds good!” I recommend doing research about things that are important to you and your study abroad program. For instance, check out the climate, the cost of living, the classes offered, the safety, and the accessibility. 

Did you get homesick?

Shockingly, not really. I was too busy to really think about home. I expected to be terribly homesick the whole time. I adapted well, but I did feel homesick here and there. I spent my first weekend abroad in Madrid, and the culture shock made me want to go home. A few days later, I adjusted, but it was overwhelming for sure. I’d say that I felt more “ready to be back” than homesick. I felt this way after Rob visited and when the holiday season began. I still wish I could be here longer though… 3 months was NOT enough. 

Hardest cultural difference?

Personal space, or lack thereof. OMG. Personal space does not exist at all in Spain. AT ALL!!!

Best city to shop in?

I did most of my shopping in Sevilla, mainly because I was taking weekend trips with low-cost airlines that didn’t permit additional luggage. However, I would have to say Paris. So many good luxury high end stores, and cool boutiques. Also – there were some really good vintage shops here too. 

I answered the main questions that I thought would be beneficial for anyone planning on traveling abroad to know! I’m always a comment or email away if you have any burning questions about my experience abroad, haha. I love answering questions so this was fun! All the best, 

Juliette XO