Because the airline my company uses to get to Africa usually routes through AMS, I decided to stopover in Amsterdam for a few days on my way back from Nairobi. It was a welcome change of pace. I was able to walk around at night without worrying for my safety. I took it pretty easy. I didn't go to any museums or historic sites. I basically just went from restaurant to bar to restaurant to bar.
One place I went back to a few times was a small sandwich shop and cafe near my hostel called Singel 404. It was the first meal I had after Africa and it was delicious. Smoked chicken, bacon, oregano, and a generous serving of melted Dutch cheese. I hadn't had a sandwich in over two weeks and it was magnificent. also stopped by the Albert Cuyp flea market and got frites (with mayo, but I've always hated mayo) and some Dutch mini-pancakes (poffertjes). These mini-pancakes were amazing. Just little circles of buttery dough covered in powdered and sugar and plated over a pat of butter that melts from their heat. Then there was Pannenkoekenhuis Upstairs, a tiny little pancake shop with all kinds of toppings and flavors. I'd read rave reviews of it beforehand, but I'd say it was just pretty good.
ollowing that, I went through a few bars, including some so called "brown cafes." They're so named because of how old they are and that years of accumulated smoke have resulted in a earthy patina. I also visited Wynand Fockink, a Dutch gin distillery where you can sample upwards of 100 flavors. The tradition there is to fill the small glass to the very brim and to bend over and sip before picking it up.
Much of the rest of the time was just spent walking along the canals and taking a few photos. Amsterdam is pretty, but small and I think I'd gotten my fill. At that point, I was pretty ready to get back to America. My first night there, after a decent amount to drink, I was very vocal about how much I loved America and couldn't wait to go back. I was the obnoxious American.
My last night, however, I took a short train ride out to the Hague to meet my friend, J. We did nothing except have a refreshingly pleasant dinner and catch up. It wasn't particularly eventful, but it was a sorely needed respite after the preceding few weeks. The next morning, I took the train back to AMS and flew home. Now it's a month later and I need to start planning my next trip.