The best thing about Europe is that once you’re there, you’re just a short train ride away from another bucket-list destination. We took a trip out to Paris and while we were there, we caught a two hour train ride to Amsterdam. We stayed for four nights. Here are the things we did.
#1) The Albert Cuyp Market
This market started trade in 1904, it is now one of the largest open air markets in Europe and is open Monday through Saturday. With over 300 stalls along the street, it sells everything from traditional herring fish, to cosmetics, to flowers. Rain or shine, this market is in business. As you can see in the photos below, it was a cloudy, sprinkling day, and there was a sizable crowd to wade through.
#2) Rent Bicycles
Amsterdam is the bicycle capital of the world. It’s no joke, you really have to watch where you step otherwise you will get hit by the zooming cyclists. As a bunch of tourists riding around, I will say, the people of Amsterdam were very polite and nice to us; even when we cut people off by accident or caused traffic jams… in any other city, I feel like we would have been cussed out.
There are so many places and options for renting a bike. We walked into a shop the day of, without any reservations and went through a quick introduction and we were off! I was so impressed by all the outfits the women of Amsterdam were sporting while riding on their bikes – dresses, heels, clogs… it inspired me to wear some of my more feminine articles of clothing on my commute to work in San Francisco when I got back home.
#3) Walk through the Rijksmuseum Bicycle Passage
Biking through this passage is of course what it was intended for, but then you would miss all the action. The Rijksmuseum Bicycle Passage is more like a tube that runs through a museum. Classical music is blasting and street buskers add to the mix. The architecture that surrounds you as you walk through is amazing, and it makes you feel that Amsterdam just knows what they’re doing, from combining the new with the old, that’s what makes Amsterdam such a trippy city – I kept describing it as Disneyland without the kids.
#4) Visit the Avocado Show
For all you avocado enthusiasts out there, you will want to check this place out. Everything on the menu has avocados in it. Just around the corner is The Avocado Show Boutique where you can find all sorts of Avocado souvenirs. They pride themselves on their transparent supply chain of avocados, supporting family owned businesses in Chile, Mexico, Peru and South America. The food was beyond picture worthy, but I was too hungry to snap a photo. Be aware, the wait is long, and there are no reservations.
#5) Venture into Amsterdam’s Famous Coffee Shops
As a California kid, I was eager to check out what Amsterdam had to offer in their marijuana scene. THIS is what we are missing out here on the west coast, a place to socialize while enjoying a spliff. Take some to go, sit down inside and order some delicious food, this coffee shop scene was a lot of fun to experience. It definitely leveled out the crowds as people in the Red Light District would come out of the bars smashed and mix with the super stoned crowd while walking down the tiny streets, Amsterdam, again, you have got it ALL👏FIGURED👏 OUT👏.
#6) Hang out in Vondel Park
Vondelpark is the largest, and most famous park in Amsterdam. People can horseback ride along the paths, stroll, read, do yoga, picnic… they even have hidden play structures and mazes that made us question – is this for the adults or the children? …Given the amount of legal psychedelics in this town.
Long days of lazing on the grass is what this atmosphere is all about.
#7) Get on the Hop-on-hop-off Canal Boat
We booked tickets the morning of when we decided to get in the canal and experience it from a boat. We looked at a few private tour options but didn’t want to break the bank.
After poking around the web, we found Stromma Hop on Hop Off Boat. It only cost twenty five euro for a day pass and we were able to take it all over, all day long. It was great. You can even bring food and drinks onto the boat, we brought a bottle of champagne, why not.
#8) Visit the Anne Frank House
This was one of the more sobering moments of our trip. I don’t think I need to justify much of why you should go visit this museum. It was a very chilling experience to physically be in this space of which I heard and learned so much about as a student. You can actually look into the attic and annex of where her family was hiding all those years. It’s such a juxtaposition as well with the vibrant city life going on outside, which goes to say that, anything can happen — just like it did to Anne Frank and her family, and many other victims of the Nazis.
Amsterdam was such a great city to visit as it provided a modern contrast to ancient, romantic Paris. We were only there for a few days, so we couldn’t fit everything in. Below are some more places we visited, and others we didn’t have time for. The Heineken Museum requires reservations ahead of time, which we didn’t make so we had to skip that. At the Van Gough Museum, we were able to buy tickets the day of, but it was kind of hectic with the crowds so I recommend purchasing those ahead of time as well.
Other Honorable Mentions:
Author: Kelly Dessaint aka Piltdownlad
I found this intriguing little zine-like booklet at Thrillhouse Records in the Outer Mission district.
This narrative zine is one of three personal accounts of a columnist who drove for both Uber and Lyft, documented over 3,000 rides; and now drives a cab – and for good reasons! Which you will find reading his blog and zines.
The author of idrivesf.com, who goes by the name of Piltdownlad, writes for the S.F. Examiner appearing every Thursday. You can read more about him here.
Back Cover Summary:
The third installment in the Behind the Wheel series is a ribald journey into the reality of driving a bonafide San Francisco taxicab. Gritty and raw, the view from a cab is not for the faint-hearted. From facilitating drug deals to abetting prostitution to just getting people home safely from clubs, the job of a night cabbie isn’t over until the sun comes up.
Where I read it and how long did it take:
In bed over Christmas break, taking a very relaxed approach – about 3.5 days.
Stand Out Passages:
Still… the most troubling part of driving for Uber and Lyft, though, was the realization I was subsidizing multi-million-or, in Uber’s case, multi-billion-dollar companies. And for what? Empy promises and a sense of community?
What bullshit. I never felt like anything but an underpaid, untrained, and unregulated taxi driver.
From the beginning, I was appalled by the self-entitled culture that spawned the phenomenon of “ridesharing” and the consequences on the livelihoods of cab drivers.
It wasn’t easy participating in the destruction of the blue-collar industry. After all, I’m a descendant of coal miners, janitors, store clerks, and army grunts. Being an Uber/Lyft driver was not in my nature. To be successful at it requires personality traits I’ll never possess: the ability to cheat and scam. And a complete lack of conscience.
Since the only time you make decent money is during surge pricing, you have to take pride in ripping people off. The rest of the time, you’re barely making minimum wage, so you must be somewhat stupid as well…
You’re basically running your personal car into the ground and hoping to luck out with a ride that’s more than five bucks.
Some Drivers have figured out how to game the system and earn more money by referring drivers than actually driving themselves… but isn’t that just a bizarro take on the pyramid scheme?
Despite Uber’s political spin or Lyft’s cheerful advertising campaign, using your personal car as a taxi is not sustainable. Each time I got behind the wheel of my Jetta and turned on the apps, I had to overlook the absurdity of what I was doing. It never ceased to amaze me that people would be so willing to ride in some random dude’s car. But since my passengers acted as if the activity were perfectly normal, I went along with it…
Sometimes, it seems the history of San Francisco’s taxi industry is the history of San Francisco itself.
Slowly, as the fire dwindles, people disappear into the darkness and those who remain huddle to stay warm, until the sky brightness and the hardliners begin to arrange rides home, and easy task in a cab yard.
If no one is heading to the East Bay, I get dropped off downtown.
Waiting for the first Pittsburgh/Bay Point train at 8:15 am, I roam Market Street, empty but for the few remaining street people who call out from the shadows, “Good morning,” knowing I’m a working stiff, not some mark.
That’s when the madness of driving a cab dissipates. And for a few moments, before I descend into the BART station, The City feels like… home, maybe.
First of all, Kelly Dessaint is a great writer. He has a casual way of prose that makes you feel like you’re shooting the shit over a beer, or a cup of coffee… or that you’re in some indie film and his voice is the narrative. It’s the kind of writing I strive to achieve, a casual coolness, with an effortless touch of the keys…
After reading this zine, it moved something in me, especially after the first passage above, and many other rants like it that followed. Dessaint really puts into perspective the absurdity behind the lack of training Uber and Lyft drivers have. Further into the story(ies) he talks about his cab training from an actual driving school, and it really made me think more critically about who we are trusting ourselves with, and the effects corporations have on the livelihood of The City. In his training, he explained that it covered a lot of ground including SFMTA taxi regulations and traffic laws, ADA requirements, and how to navigate The City’s unique streets efficiently. There was even sensitivity training and instructions on safety and protecting their clients and themselves as workers. Lastly, after taking an exam, the final step was to get fingerprinted at the DMV.
Midway through the zine, I started to take cabs instead of using my ride-share apps. What I found was that I could catch a ride much faster than waiting for an Uber or Lyft — they always seem to fake you out with how many minutes you have to wait; as soon as you commit to a ride, they tack on about 5 – 10 more minutes!… that always peeved me. I also found that the prices were about the same, if not cheaper, and I didn’t even have to share the ride.
I hardly ever carry cash on me, and paying with plastic never seemed to be an issue. Not to mention each cab driver lived up to the mystic characters as described in Dessaint’s stories… long time residents of San Francisco, with interesting views on The City’s current changes and impressive navigating skills through alleyways; the best part was watching them interact with other cabbies and random people on the street, making you feel as if you were suddenly a part of The City’s subculture. They could tell you the dish on that one business owner who bought out that one hotel on the corner, and that one piece of scum from LA who thinks he can buy the whole dam block… the stories and attitudes were priceless.
A must read, especially for San Francisco residents. It brought back the San Francisco edge in my mind’s eye, the edge that has been disappearing slowly as gentrification has been taking over. It will encourage you to join the resistance.
The Tenderloin is a great place. Some people may not agree; you have to really understand it’s troubles to appreciate the problems that are being shoved in your face. The Tenderloin is home to the LGBTQ movement, which is commonly mistaken as having it’s start in the Castro District; it has a “legacy of artists and activists” and is home to the most dense population of school aged children in San Francisco, among many other things.
The Tenderloin has fought it’s way during the sweeping age of gentrification as the nonprofits and unions that have built up this part of town fight for their space and rights in the richest city. In this part of town, you have some of the richest people walking next to and stepping over some of the poorest, and most distressed individuals. The Tenderloin is also covered in some of the coolest murals next to those in the Mission district, and is the forefront of political marches as crowds of passionate people march from Civic Center to the Embarcaderro; in the Tenderloin, you see it all.
Having lived in the Tenderloin for two years, I loved that I was in the hub of all the weekend festivities: it was just a short walk or bike ride away from meeting up with my friends. On a Friday night, my place was always the pre-game or after party spot as we stumbled from the bars to keep the party going. Not only did living in the Tenderloin allow me to have a more vibrant nightlife, but it’s also introduced me to some of the best cuisines. Here are 5 of my favorite places to eat and spend a Friday (or Saturday) night in the Tenderloin.
#1. Yemen Kitchen
This is the ultimate hole-in-the-wall you will ever find. When people ask what it’s all about, I say that it’s a mix of Indian and Mexican food. Their fava beans hit the spot like refried beans with flavors as bold as Indian food, but without the commitment. What I mean by that is, you’re either in the mood for Indian food, or you’re not… there is no in between, it’s a commitment to the flavor of curry or masala.
Their bread is a cross between a freshly made flour tortilla and a nice hot doughy naan. According to Yelp, they have some of the best-roasted lamb in town. I love that the owner has old and new soccer team photos of himself and what looks like family members. From what I’ve gathered by the news articles posted on the wall, they started out in Brooklyn, then came out to SF, which is why they keep the Brooklyn soccer sign out front, so look out for that, otherwise, you would totally miss this gem.
#2. The Beer Basement
This is the best kind of spot to have around the corner from your house. Great beer on tap, and a speak-easy- like- basement that hosts comedy nights Thursday through Saturday every week. When I lived around the corner, this made it easy on nights where I wanted to be social but didn’t want to go far. I would just plop down in the Beer Basement, drink one of their delicious ciders, and laugh to some of San Francisco’s up and coming comedians.
Tickets run about 15$ but you can get a discount code on funcheapsf.com.
#3. The Black Cat
Speaking of speak-easies, this is a legit one. The signage out front is super discreet and only ones in the know, know. When you walk in, it’s super classy, and trails of live jazz linger up to the front door from the downstairs basement, making it all the more intriguing. There is a cover to dine and sit downstairs so check out their calendar and ticket prices online before you go in, sometimes it fills up fast. This would be the ultimate date night if you need any tricks up your sleeve. I’ll just go ahead and say this now… you’re welcome.
#4. The Tenderloin Museum
If you absolutely detest walking through the Tenderloin, please do me a favor and just visit the museum one time. Take a Lyft if you really must, I get it, wading through people loitering and getting slapped in the face with the sensory overload isn’t for the faint of heart… This museum puts in perspective the shine behind the grime. It will help you see San Francisco and the Tenderloin in a new light, and you will learn a lot! You will learn about the famous people who stayed and worked in the tenderloin – Mohammed Ali, The Grateful Dead, to name a few; and the famous movements and riots that took place here such as the Compton Cafeteria Riot that was a pivotal moment in time for the LGBTQ community.
#5) The Phoenix Hotel
Last, but not the least, is the Phoenix Hotel and Chambers Restaurant. The outside is super sketchy, which makes the contrast of walking into this rock and roll-themed restaurant all the more surprising. Once inside, you feel like your in LA with views of the hotel pool lined with palm trees and brightly colored decor. The inside of the restaurant is dark and mysterious with erotic photos and nostalgic records covering the walls.
The Phoenix hosts summer parties with DJ’s, drinks and the whole bit definitely worth checking out as the Tenderloin is probably the only place in San Francisco that actually has a “summer”.
You can check out their pool party schedule here.
The Tenderloin is a special place. It’s not too far off from Union Square, allowing visitors an experience that has more grit, and quite frankly, more interesting options. Don’t let San Francisco’s problems scare you away, most people just want to be acknowledged, a gesture to remind them that they aren’t invisible.
If you live in San Francisco, I hope this gave you some good recommendations, and if you visit the city, I hope you stop by at one of these places. Other honorable mentions include:
Spring is coming! Rain, it was nice to see you, we really needed you, but now it’s time to play and frolic in the beautiful Bay weather again. January is practically over, which means with Valentine’s Day decor already hitting the shelves at Target; Easter and spring will be in our faces faster than you can say “Bon Weekend!” .
Here is a fun, unique way to spend a day in the Bay. I’m giving you a head start so you can be the first of your friends this spring to have the dopest #sundayfunday.
Airbnb for boats
Yes, there is an Airbnb for boats. Of course.
As a blogger, I usually turn to blogs when I want to try something, go somewhere, or need inspo. For my fiance’s birthday, I wanted to put something special together, so I turned to some of my favorite blogs: http://www.funcheapsf.com, http://www.upout.com , and http://www.bloglovin.com , just to name a few.
Along my research, I came across the idea of having a party on a boat (duh). That led to another rabbit hole of finding a dinner cruise, and then then there she was: http://www.boatsetter.com .
In short, Boatsetter provides an easy boat rental experience where you can pay by the hour to drive a boat if you already have a boating license, or you can add the captain to your rental as well. There are no monthly membership fees, it’s free to join, and get this… they are almost completely international!
You can filter based on your budget. I filtered on the cheapest hourly rate and was able to find a boat that fit 6 people. I split the cost with friends who were down & promised them beer and snacks (of course).
How we spent the day:
We met our captain at the Berkeley Marina and sailed under the Bay Bridge and back, which was a good 4 hours. Our boat was named Blue Haven and it was equipped with a small cabin that housed a cooler, small kitchen sink, some built in benches and a small restroom.
I jumped down into the cabin and served my friends plates of munchies and handed out beer and wine that we kept down in the cooler. We couldn’t exactly walk around, and had to basically just chill out in our chosen seats — no biggie, we were on a boat!
We brought our portable speakers and blasted Nirvana, we were feeling nostalgic ;). After, feeling completely toasty and high on life (because that’s what partying on a boat does for you) we stumbled in a Lyft to Casa Latina Bakery.
After lunch, we made it back to the city just in time to crash face first into our pillows and take a siesta. Day drinking always knocks me out.
It was a great time and all the friends I invited had a blast and couldn’t believe how easy it was to coordinate all of this. Not only that, but everyone thought I had the best snack spread. 😉
The Best Snack Spread: Using items from Trader Joe’s
Being Filipina and Mexican, I am always 1) hungry and 2) feeding people. Raise your hand if you know the type… Needless to say, when I entertain people, I am always afraid of running out of food. My friends love this about me; my wallet, sometimes not so much… Since I was shifting the bulk of this birthday bash budget towards the boat experience, I wanted to still make sure I had a substantial amount of food without breaking the bank.
With that said, I wanted to share my picnic spread for 6 people.
The key to making a party spread is that you have to have a balance of substantial food and sweets, especially if people are drinking.
- Nutella Sread with Strawberries
- Chocolate covered pretzels
- Lentils and Bruschetta Dip with water crackers
- Hummus and Carrots
- Lemon Basil Pasta Salad
- Wine, red and white
- IPA beer
- Water – Never forget!
This picnic brought to you by Trader Joe’s:
The day before, I went to trader joes and purchased items that required the least amount of preparation. Everything was already pre-packed or made, like this bowtie pasta. I just threw about 3 of these packages into a Tupperware to serve 6 of us.
Of course, who doesn’t love the samples at Trader Joe’s? A while back I tasted this sample below with their steamed lentils and bruschetta sauce.
This recipe is delicious and so easy to make. It’s filling, and when garnished with some fresh basil, everyone is asking what it is, like you’re some kind of culinary god or something. Seriously.
Simply mix the two together, with proportions to your liking, and serve with crackers. Read more about this “more filling appetizer” from the Conscientious Eater Blog
If there is one thing the bay area loves to do, is brunch. I get invites to bonnet brunches, wig brunches, costume brunches, and murder mystery brunches… we love to brunch.
So the next time you are looking for something to do with your crew, get on boatsetter, pack a picnic and sail away.
I wrote a post 3 weeks after I quit both my instagram channels listing 5 positive changes. It’s now been 7 weeks without instagram, here are 5 more positive changes:
- I quit my facebook. Now I’m even MORE productive at work. Funny thing is, I still have the urge to type in facebook.com everytime I open a web browser…but then I remember I don’t have it, and so I just go to work. How many times have you opened up google chrome to research or get something done and you get sucked into a facebook rabbit hole before you remember what you actually went online to do?
- I’ve discovered more internet. Funny to say, I know, but it’s true – there is so much more world wide web out there to be discovered, why spend all your time in one place? It’s like moving out of your parents house for the first time and realizing that there is so much more world beyond your hometown.
- I don’t live through my phone screen anymore.
- I’m more engaged in conversations, I have more things to say, more opinions to try out.
- I can create with less anxiety, I feel more confident in what I make; there is less fear of being judged.
My favorite quote this week:
“The key to being happy is knowing you have the power to choose what to accept and what to let go.”Dodinsky
The More You Know
This post is a difficult one for me to write. Mostly because I can’t exactly recall the moment when my perspective changed and became definite. It’s all been a slow awakening and I’m still navigating my way through the facts.
I’d taken an environmental science class during my time at Pasadena City College with a very passionate teacher who didn’t teach one thing out of the textbook. She showed documentary after documentary on the agriculture industry and how it was polluting our water systems. She took us on field trips to the Salton Sea, a once thriving lake resort now an apocalyptic wasteland due to pesticide pollution; and she encouraged us to eat raw vegan, which I attempted but failed many times over.
I then moved up to the Bay Area, and continued to ignore the facts while increasing my carbon footprint. Then I met my fiancé in August of 2015. At the time, he was vegetarian thinking of switching over to veganism. Having a baseline knowledge of the benefits of this lifestyle, but a lack of self discipline, I was interested in trying it again — it’s much easier with a partner. And from there the knowledge just kept pouring in and everything else from then until now is a blur.
I lightly knew the facts about the fashion industry — as they parallel those of the meat industry; and just as I started to avoid certain food corporations on my vegan-ish journey, I also started to avoid certain brands such as Forever 21 knowing that ultimately, they were just bad for my health and my planet.
The connection for me was this:
If it takes 2,400 gallons of water to produce one pound of meat (PETA), and your supermarket has 20 pounds of meat stocked on their shelves for Brand X , times 100 supermarket branches across America then that equals to 4,800,000 pounds of fresh water used to produce this week’s shipments worth of meat. Keep in mind, Brand X’s 20 pounds of meat is sitting next to Brand Y & Z who also have 20 pounds of meat stocked at all times, in all 100 supermarket branches across America. Not to mention the gross amounts of pesticides draining into our water systems, and the amounts of chemicals that are injected into the meat we eat (but that’s a whole different story, and blog post).
THEN, according to the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations, roughly one third of the food produced in the world for human consumption every year — approximately 1.3 billion tonnes — gets lost or wasted.
That’s a whole lot of resources, pollution, and animal torture for nothing.
Now take that same equation and translate it to clothing. Did you know that it takes 2,720 liters of water to produce one cotton T shirt (Remake.world) and about 40,000 tons of dye gets discharged into the water systems of these poor countries producing these shirts? Think about how many T shirts are stocked at your favorite store, and how quickly they cycle out with the different micro-seasons — 52 micro-seasons to be exact (Huffington Post).
THEN the average American throws away about 81 pounds of clothes equaling to about 26 billion tons of textile waste in our landfills. Most of which is made from synthetic material that isn’t biodegradable.
The people that make our clothes make less than $3/day and have to work insane amount of hours while enduring mental, emotional, and sometimes physical abuse from factory managers.
That’s a whole lot of resources, pollution, and human enslavement for nothing.
Knowing these facts and thinking through these consequences, has made me cringe a little bit every time I think I want to step inside of H & M or Urban Outfitters. Because believe me, I LOVE fashion and I love changing my looks! I now feel trapped in what I know, and this world I live in where every move I make is hurting everyone else down the line. It’s insane.
But just like my approach to veganism, you have to take it one step at a time, and slowly. You can’t expect to make a complete change and be perfect 100% of the time. But we can choose to be aware and make an effort to make the right decision. Which is why I decided to throw a clothes swap party.
Here is How I did it:
- I sent out a facebook invite two months in advance because I was planning it during prime summer vacation time and I wanted to get it on everyone’s radar.
- Then I had to lock down a location which was the hardest part. I looked at places on Peerspace and consulted with my network to find the most affordable location.
- Two weeks leading up to the event, I started to post articles and videos on the event page to give a little reminder to those attending, and spark some interest.
- Did you know there are rules to a clothes swap party? I didn’t. But apparently there are many ways to frame a clothes swap party and here are a few that I liked from Pinterest:
- You can only hold 5 articles of clothing within the first 15 minutes, then everything after that is a free-for-all.
- Separate items by value and swap items based on the value you contributed to.
- Everyone draws a number out of a hat and takes turns in the order of which they drew. They get a certain amount of time to shop, where they place a tag on the items they like. Each item has a max amount of tags it can receive and shoppers will have to rock, paper, scissor battle to win that item.
- I liked this one (although it sounded a bit messy and drawn out) because it reminded me of that Christmas game White Elephant, and could be a bit competitive and fun.
- I created a short Powerpoint presentation to share a few facts and video campaigns that really spoke to me (see them below).
- *Most importantly* Provide adult beverages and snacks.
Lastly, I made it clear that my hope was that they walked out of the event with a different perspective. Many of them were pumped once I gave them some context as to why it was important we were there. I am not an expert, merely a peer learning along with them. Most importantly, we had fun, and I hope to plan this again in the next six months.