8 Things to do in Amsterdam

8 Things to do in Amsterdam

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 ALLπŸ‘FIGUREDπŸ‘ OUTπŸ‘.

#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:

5 Hidden Gems in San Francisco’s Tenderloin

5 Hidden Gems in San Francisco’s Tenderloin

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.

Photo by Me

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.

Photo my Me πŸ™‚

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

Photo Source: Yelp.com/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

Photo Source: Hoodline.com
Photo Source: Goldstar Events

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

Photo Source: SF Chronicle, Carlos Avila Gonzalez

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

Photo Source: Brand New

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

Photo Source: MakemyTrip
Photo Source: Chambers SF

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.


Photo by Me πŸ™‚

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:

How to Spend a Day on the Bay: Boatsetter + Snacks

How to Spend a Day on the Bay: Boatsetter + Snacks

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. πŸ˜‰


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.

Sweets:

  • Nutella Sread with Strawberries
  • Chocolate covered pretzels

Savory:

  • Lentils and Bruschetta Dip with water crackers
  • Hummus and Carrots
  • Lemon Basil Pasta Salad

Drinks

  • 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.

A Practical Gift Guide for the Urban Commuter

A Practical Gift Guide for the Urban Commuter

Living in San Francisco, and working in the Peninsula, I commute by bike and train and carry my whole day on my back. I bring everything from my breakfast, to my rock climbing gear to ensure that I have a seamless, productive day. Here are my top 8 commuter essentials that would make a great, practical gift for the Urbanite in your life.  

#1. Packable, Weather-Proof Jacket 

Having a jacket that I can have in my bag at ALL TIMES that will protect me from the elements, makes this item #1 on my list. 

Brands like The Northface, Cotopaxi, and Patagonia make some of the best (and ethical) gear out there and would be sure to get your money’s worth of usage. 

#2. Phone Case Wallet 

As a commuter, I try to have my hands free, and try to make my transition from bike, to bus, to train as seamless as possible without having to open my backpack. I almost always have my phone in my hand or pocket, as I use it to check bus times and directions; so having my phone with my Clipper Card attached makes commuter life a breeze. 

Giving this as a gift, you could even go above and beyond and get a personalized case from Etsy

#3. A Small Lunch Cooler 

I use this Fiesta PackIt Personal Cooler to pack my smoothie and snacks in the morning. One Magic Bullet cup fits perfectly in this foldable pack, and it stays cold with the insulated walls. Just keep this bad boy in the freezer over night and your smoothie is guaranteed to stay fresh and icy cold. I love how small and compact it is. 

I’ll admit, I received this cooler one Christmas from my mom, and my initial reaction was thinking how lame and unoriginal this gift was;  but I have used this so much and quickly grew to love it! 

Central Park or Dolores Park, this pack will make all your friends jealous when your the only one left with ice cold beers πŸ˜‰ A six pack fits nicely inside.

Combine this gift with some fun Bento Boxes or Sistema containers, and this would make a great practical gift for anyone! 

#4 Contigo Coffee Mug & Tea Strainer

I know a coffee mug is a staple household item for most people. But I am here to really boast this mug’s ability to keep things piping hot, and spill proof through out my commute. I switch between coffee and loose leaf tea, so I especially love this tea strainer accessory that snaps into the cap of the mug. This would make a great gift for the tea enthusiasts in your life. πŸ™‚ 

#5 Compression Packing Cubes

I love these things. It’s better than regular packing cubes because you can really maximize the space in your bag with the compression zipper. I use this on the daily, packing my gym clothes into my backpack.

Before, I used to have my clothes loosely taking up the bulk of my bag, but now they are compressed and my bag is more organized.

For that person on the go, they will love this. It’s one of those things that people don’t think they need until they get it. They come in all sorts of sizes, some small enough for a purse; Pack a cardigan and a scarf into the smallest size and you can still have room in your tote for all the other essentials.

Pair this with other organizational pouches, and your Type A friends will LOVE YOU. 

#6 A Quality Messenger Bag or Backpack

Get your commuter a true city bag by brands who really know what the urban commuter needs. My favorite brand is Timbuk2 – a San Francisco based company. I sport their Jetpack backpack, and have purchased their sling bags and messenger bags for days when I want to pack light. They are gender neutral, which I love, and have a very minimalist style. Other great brands I like are Chrome Industries, and Topo Designs

Timbuk2 always has some sort of sale, if you sign up for their email list, it’s like Black Friday never ended. I HIGHLY recommend this as a gift for someone you love. They are lifetime guaranteed, and my first Timbuk2 bag is 8 years old and in great, vibrant condition. 

#7 Portable Phone Charger 

Everyone needs one of these. Am I right? Or am I right?

This makes a great stocking stuffer. There are so many fun ones out there too. I have one that looks like R2D2. Check out this avocado portable charger … so hip, so cool, so on trend. 

#8 Blue Tooth Headphones

Lastly, a pair of wireless or bluetooth headphones is another one of those items I never thought I needed until I got it. I’ve always preferred these over the earbuds because they are more comfortable and make the music experience so much better. 

Similar to my phone case testimonial, walking around and jumping on trains tangle free of chords makes this item a must while commuting.

If your commuter is a cyclist, I suggest a bluetooth portable speaker.

I do not support cycling with headphones on. Ride safe people!

I love listening to music or listening to the news when I ride my bike. This also comes in handy when I am biking to a new place and need to plug in Google Maps. Be sure to get one with a clip so that it can latch onto the rider, and not fall out of any pockets, causing freakish accidents – trust me, I’ve seen it happen! 


I love all these items dearly because they make cruising on my bike and hopping around the city a breeze. 

Are you a city slicker, train-jumper, cyclist commuter?

What’s in your bag? 

Film through North Beach, SF

Film through North Beach, SF

It was another beautiful day in San Francisco. In fact, I think it actually broke 65Β° in the city.

I met up with my old housemate Maggie to practice some more photography. I was so late that morning, I remember. North Beach is located at the top of some annoying hills, and I live at the bottom of them. I had two choices – ride my bike or walk with ample time, but I was too lazy to ride my bike. So I started on foot, quickly realizing I was running very, very late. I tried to hop onto the cable car at the Powell St. turnaround and that took forever- it was Saturday, too many tourists, what was I thinking.

I hadn’t seen Maggie in a while, we had some conflict more or less in the past. It was nice to see her and tell her that I was over whatever it was I was mad about, and that at the end of the day, she has always been a good friend and listener. It’s hard to come by meaningful friendships as an adult, especially when you are in a serious relationship, so this day for me was growth. I’ve found that I’ve perfected (well, have gotten used to) the art of solving conflicts with a lover and dealing with the emotions around that. But navigating and defining friendships as a women in my late 20’s is new territory for me. To Alex Trebek I say: What is friendships?

Camera: Minnoltax700

Film: Kodak Gold

Location: North Beach, SF

#sanfrancisco #filmphotography #35mm #travel #thecity