Well I’ve now left home in Colorado for another 3 months of traveling. A bit reluctantly, to be honest. The Christmas trip home went by so fricking quickly and was busy with all the family being home and then a few days in California for NYE (by the way, happy 2016!) and before you know it bam, I’m packing my backpack again. I still feel like I’m trying to catch up with myself, like I haven’t fully recovered from the past 2 months in South America and got my mind to slow down. But here I am making a 180 shift again and taking off to the totally other side of the world: China. Damn. Yes, I realize I have absolutely no reason to complain. But it’s for sure a learning experience of how ambitious my plan was for these 6 months. Like I HAVE to see EVERY country in the world like right now. Calm down Roisin. Calm down.
Anyway before I get to the China business, we stopped in Amsterdam for a few days on the way to see my sister and her fiancé, who just moved there. I’d been before but this trip was different because A) I’m not 21 anymore and was much less drunk this time and ate way less French fries B) my future brother-in-law is Dutch, so we had the native’s perspective. And it was Ryan’s first time in Europe! Starting our conversion of making him into a true Euro. Hehe.
Man, I missed Europe though. Always nice to go back there. And Amsterdam is such a lovely city. Especially with all the Christmas lights still up, it looks like a postcard. And the food was surprisingly veggie-friendly! Everywhere I went there was some option. We did eat in a lot to save money – groceries are SO cheap compared to eating out, and I made a huge pot of pumpkin chili that lasted us like 3 days – but there were a couple exceptional places I want to turn the spotlight on real quick.
BOCCA COFFEE SHOP: If you’re into coffee, this place rules. It’s on a small street, good ambience and music, and the guy was really helpful and friendly and had good hair. Oh and the pour-over coffee was excellent! There are about 4 types you can choose from. The one I had was lighter roast and quite sweet. Recommended for a really good cup of joe. Which, you know, we all need. Especially when you’re jet lag, right?
MANA MANA ISRAELI RESTAURANT: A little pricier than my normal spots but oh god, so good. Best meal I’ve eaten out in a long time. It is tapas style and although it’s not a vegetarian restaurant, they have lots of vegetable plates to choose from. Get the psychedelic cauliflower, it was the most delicious cauliflower I’ve ever had. Solid falafel and an Israeli salad too, both vegan. And polenta fries. We also had a lovely sweet potato carpaccio with beetroot cream (not vegan, there’s cheese in it) and my personal favorite was the gaminados – eggplant, potato and an egg on some sort of delicious sauce. Yeah obviously we ate a lot. And it all comes with fresh warm pita. Lots of vegetarian choice- not all vegan, but they were very accomodating and they offered to alter dishes if needed, so vegan dishes wouldn’t have a problem I think. For a glass of wine each plus more than enough food for 4 we paid about 26 euro each. If you want to splash out a bit I highly recommend this place! Good enough to get everyone in a vegetarian state of mind 😉
FOODHALLEN: I think this joint is relatively new, and is sort of like the Amsterdam answer to Borough Market in London or the Chelsea market in New York. It’s basically a big market of food stalls, all making a different type of cuisine, in a big hall filled with long tables to sit in. Plus a bar! There are so many options here for all your friendies, whether the are meat-eaters, vegetarian or vegan. You can all get different stuff and still sit together. Really nice if you’re the token “weird eater” among your family/friends like me. This place had a cool vibe and was busy. I was a big fan. We got a couple things to split. First a vegan seaweed burger (called the ‘Dutch weed burger’, haha) that came on a green bun with vegan mayo. It was good! Wanted more seaweed flavor for a seaweed burger, but still nice. Then we got a sweet potato, pumpkin and paprika pot pie. This was my fave, exactly what I want my pies to be – hot and flakey. Finished with a couple mini donuts because we deserve it. Prices vary but quality is really high and it’s a fun place to hang out, especially for a mixed group of eaters.
I’m getting hungry just thinking about it, sigh. Anyway it was a lovely time, walking and tea and food. Plus we had our own huge room in Tara and Paul’s apartment, which is a bit of a luxury for Ryan and I when we are traveling! In fact I’m sitting in a hostel in Shanghai right now in a dorm room with some sleeping strangers….