What Should I Do In Amsterdam And San Sebastian?!

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Lately, the days have me filled with giddy excitement as the time draws near for me to leave the country for the first time in two and a half years.

Just one week, but 7 full days of no plan whatsoever. Nothing is expected of me. No one to answer to other than myself and my two awesome travel companions. No objective other than to just be. To experience. To live and breathe a culture that is entirely foreign to us. To look. To taste. To smell. To feel. An entire week of newness and wonder. Of being a guest in someone else’s city, yet carrying on as it if were our own.

passport vines

First Amsterdam; then San Sebastian, Spain. And now I must ask you beautiful people. To anyone with expert experience in either of these cities: Is there anywhere we must go, anything we must do, anything we must eat while there? And I mean must in the most secret-treasure senses of the word. We’d love to know the hidden gems. The things we’d probably only know if we actually did live there. The places we’ll find the local-est of locals. Of course, we’re so down to wander and explore every corner of every street until we happen to stumble upon these places on our own, but it’d be incredibly awesome to hear your recommendations, as well.

to do

My favorite beauty products are ready to be poured into little 2-ounce containers for their very first trip overseas. The necessities. Rosewater, tea tree oil, castile soap, and jojoba oil, just to name a few…

travel beauty kit

And a little taste of the clothes I’m packing…

san sebastian outfit

For San Sebastian, something flowy and flirty. I just got my hands on the 100 Degree Dress and I am absolutely obsessed.

amsterdam outfit

For Amsterdam, I’ll keep it pretty but a little on the cooler side. I’m thinking the Dream Come True Blouse with some black skinnies I ripped at the knee, and a pair of black vintage lace-up boots.

floral romper

Europe, I can’t wait to see you again.

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Comments

feline -August 11, 2014, 8:13AM

I’ve been to Amsterdam once. Be sure to pack some jumpers as it’s possible of colder days even in summer. As expected there are lots of little shops you can buy weed legally in – but I thought it was overprized. Maybe I just didn’t look enough though haha. There’s the famous Red Light District if you wanna see half naked hookers standing in windows watched by a massive amount of people. Be careful of pickpoketting here due to that. I personally don’t get what the fuzz is about but I guess it’s worth a look if you’re there. (or if you wanna buy vibrators lmao). Also there is the Anne Frank Museum showing the real place she lived and her diaries – I didn’t make it in because of a lack of time. If you wanna visit make sure you book tickets online as there are VERY long queues always. A boat tour through the city always proofs to be nice and soothing and it’s good for taking pictures. Because you love nature I wanna mention Vondelpark – it’s the most popular park in Amsterdam. Most of these things are not far from the inner city (I was surprised of it’s small size) and reachable through walking but obviously there’s also busses and trams. Never been to Spain though, that’s so cool. Have fun and a great inspring time! :-)

Elisa -August 11, 2014, 8:23AM

Hi! My name is Elisa de Vries, and I’m from Holland!
I can recommend you some things in Amsterdam! Of course you have to try a Dutch snackbar. This is a place where you can buy fries, and certain Dutch ‘snacks’. This is one of the things you have to try!!!!
Then there’s ‘Rijksmuseum’. With all of our famous painters and famous paintings! If you love art, this is a place you should go.
I would say, ‘de negen straatjes’ is very cool. It’s got these cute little hippie shops.
Personally I think the Museum of Anne Frank isn’t that cool.(if you are interested in that) Of course you will have a idea of how she lived and everything. But really, It’s just a empty house, and you are out in no time.

And you should go to either het Leidseplein or Rembrandtplein. It’s got some good restaurants, and a Irish pub :D

Elisa -August 11, 2014, 8:24AM

Oh and if you’re into these things, you can buy weed everywhere!

Marijn -August 11, 2014, 9:09AM

So lovely that you are visiting Amsterdam! I could probably fill an entire notebook with scribbles of everything you must visit, but I’ll try to narrow it down:

In case you are here in the near future, you absolutely must check out ‘de Parade’ (theatre and music festival. Most of the theatre shows are in Dutch i’m afraid, but the atmosphere is amazing — here until August 24) and ‘Pluk de Nacht’ (an open air film festival showing up & coming cult films, free if you don’t mind sitting on the grass and most of the main movies are either in English or with English subtitles — only here until August 16.

Besides those two, check out the Vondelpark, lounge in the grass and have lunch or get a drink at ‘t Blauwe Theehuis (located in the middle of the park).

If you wish to leave the touristy lunchrooms and bars behind and the weather is nice enough, be sure to visit Hanneke’s Boom (located next to the water, a 10 min walk from the central station) and Roest (a bit further away in the east, but probably my favourite place in the city: an industrial building next to the water turned into a cafe. There is a large outside area, part of which is turned into a city beach. They often serve organic burgers for dinner, play music at night, and if you smile and ask for a hula-hoop the staff are usually happy to give you one).

For shopping be sure to visit the ’9 straatjes’ [9 streets], for lunch or breakfast visit ‘De Bakkerswinkel’ and if you like soft serve ice cream visit Van Der Linde (a small and hideous store tucked away between trashy shops at the Nieuwendijk. Don’t be discouraged if there’s a queue outside, you’ll be inside within a minute).

Lastly, if you’re into yoga consider taking a class at any of the Delight Yoga studios. The teachers are good, the studios beautiful and classes are taught in English!

Kristy -August 11, 2014, 9:12AM

First of all I’d like to say that I love the fact that you come visit our tiny country! I personally would recommend to you to just start wandering trough the streets of Amsterdam. It makes you discover a lot of different places that way.

I found a page of local hotspots here: http://www.modernehippies.nl/category/hotspots/, they are really about the “green” kind of living, so that might be cool!

Also, if you really like to look into the standard touristy hings perhaps you can check out this site:
http://www.iamsterdam.com/en-GB/Experience/What%20to%20do (it’s a site by the local tourist offices)

By the way: can you scan the areas for an actual Free People store space yet? We NEED one in The Netherlands so so badly! :) Have a lovely trip!

Marijn -August 11, 2014, 9:19AM

(btw, feel free to hit me up if you have any other questions!)

Maite Nadine -August 11, 2014, 10:35AM

I’m from Amsterdam YAY! I’ve lived here my whole life (: I would like to say that Red Light District and coffeeshops, and also Vondelpark, are definitely NOT the hidden gems or local spots. The fuss about the RLD and the coffeeshops are not the locals’, it’s all for the tourists and the tourists are why they’re still here. I never actually go there and just happen to pass by sometimes on my bike. Which brings me to a nice idea: cycling through Amsterdam is such a lovely, easy and certainly LOCAL way to see the city! Try to avoid the busy places around Central Station and Dam Square, and just cycle passed all the tiny little canals and you’ll see beautiful architecture, boats and pass by nice little cafe’s and bars! You can rent bikes anywhere.

Vondelpark is a nice park, but it’s insanely crowded and just packed with tourists on a sunny day. Another nice park is Westerpark, which also has a ‘culture park’ with bars and terraces and clubs (: Great place to have a picnic.

Then also if you’re looking for some time away from the crowd, go to Het Spui, next to the American Book Centre, on the right side, there’s a door which leads to a small court, which is one of the oldest in Amsterdam (Middle Ages). It’s actually below the level of the rest of the city. I love going there because you are in the MIDDLE of the city centre, but it’s so nice and quiet there. It’s great to just sit there and enjoy the sun or read a book and just forget about everything else for a while :)

Have fun!

faith -August 11, 2014, 10:59AM

Ugh, every single one of you’re photo shoots have such beatiful forestry and flowers!!! Especially this one! I can’t find anything in biking distance where I live): I can only dream..

Charlotte -August 11, 2014, 11:28AM

I know that you have quite a few Dutchies commenting, but I need to contribute aswel (cause i’m also Dutch :D). Anyway, i know that Amsterdam is a really unique city by itself. The canals, the bicycles and small houses are simply amazing. I can only recomend walks along the canals, visits to the rijksmuseum or other various museums (maybe the Anne Frank house?). Just remember that the weather is incredibly unpredictable so be prepared for sunshine, heavy storms and small drizzles because you most likely encounter all of them within the first hour :p

Chloe -August 11, 2014, 12:05PM

You have to go to Hutspot in Amsterdam! Either for casual drinks in the evening or for a fun shop accompanied by a killer cappuccino in the afternoon. It’s located in De Pijp and has a super cute pup greeting the door with simply stunning decor that makes you feel at home. Also if you find yourself in the red light district check out Skek a fun little bar with good tunes and friendly staff.

Dominique Perrine -August 11, 2014, 12:44PM

San Sebastian is one of the most magical places I have ever been. Try to see the Combs of the Wind, beautiful sculptures in the rocks near the sea. I would also recommend taking any opportunity to hike up the mountains because the views are absolutely spectacular. Definitely check out some Tapas Bars also!

Jessica -August 11, 2014, 1:53PM

I just came back from two amazing weeks exploring Amsterdam. Very little research beforehand which left room for spontaneity and many pleasant discoveries!

On a fashion related note, you must check out Gekaapt (translated as “hijacked”) – it’s a pop up shop on Kinkerstraat that allows for young designers and labels to showcase their work. They are only in that location until end of August and then they’ll find another space to “hijack”. It’s a gypsy’s paradise – the decor is rich and ethnic, a real feast for the eyes! And you can even enjoy a cup of coffee from their cafe while you shop.

I recently wrote a blog post about the trip, there’s lots of insight and tips!

Jessica -August 11, 2014, 1:54PM
Michelle -August 11, 2014, 2:34PM

Some friends and I visited Amsterdam last spring, and one day we rented bikes and drove all around the city. It was unexpectedly the best thing we did while we were there. Because we didn’t have to walk around all day, we got to see all the different streets and areas of Amsterdam. We also decided to track down some secret gardens. They are not commonly known by tourists (of what I know), but you can go there, even though they are hidden behind closed (but not locked) gates. Those we found were very small, but quite lovely. You can possibly find addresses in travel guides. You can also try this link: http://www.cntraveler.com/daily-traveler/2012/06/amsterdam-secret-gardens-landscapes . I haven’t been to any of these myself, but they look lovely. I believe you would love the hidden gardens. If you have trouble finding them, you can ask locals. Those we asked were excited to show us how to get there.
All in all, I highly recommend renting bikes, because you get to see the city in an other way. Also, take a canal tour in the evening. There are very few tourist, so you can possibly have a whole boat to yourselves, plus get a nice chat with the captain. The city is beautiful at night.
But anyway, Amsterdam is a wonderful city and no matter what you will absolutely love it :)

Mari -August 11, 2014, 2:52PM

Hey! I found your post completely by accident while I was looking for some travel inspiration. I lived in San Sebastiàn for 3 months last year and volunteered in a hostel so here come my travel suggestions:
Always bear in mind that San Seb is one of the most expensive cities in Spain, but I experienced it as a budget traveller, so it is possible :)
San Seb has definitely the best food in Spain (it is the food capital of Spain and has the most Michelin star restaurants per capita in the world). It’s really famous for it’s pintxos (tapas).
My recommendations for amazingly good budget food (since most of San Seb food is ridiculously expensive):
Borda Berri pintxo bar – definite MUST GO! Best pintxo place in whole city! Warm pintxos for 2.5-4 euros. Try beef cheek (really basque), octopus, pig ears. Super delicious. Also try txakoli (local white wine).
For quality pintxos Atari is also an amazing place to check out!
My favourite thing ever: Pintxo-pote – amazing way to try ALL the pintxos. Pintxo in basque is tapa (snack) and pote is a drink. And Pintxo-pote is something that takes part in the neigbourhood called Gros every Thursday. Basically it means that you get a pintxo and a drink (beer, cider, wine) for 2 euros. It starts around 8pm and lasts until 11pm, so make sure to get there in time, otherwise all the good pintxos are gone!
DEFINITELY, definitely go to a sidreria (cider house), they teach you all about the local cider culture and show the right way to drink basque cider (hint: you have to catch it with your glass when they open the barrel tap – super fun), I went to Petritegi sidreria, definitely recommend this one, 5-course meal (traditional basque food) and unlimited cider for 30-40 euros.
For lunch there is a great mussel place you should try called La Mejillonera. Plate of mussels is around 3 euros there.
And Boulevard ice crean place! Try lemon and strawberry together!! Best thing – it is open pretty much all the time. Midnight ice cream was a tradition when I lived there.

But away from the food a bit, definitely go to Mount Urgull (the jesus mountain), take few hours to just walk around, it has amazing views over the city. St Clara island. Mount Igueldo – there’s an amazing amusement park there!
Explore Parte Vieja (old town), take a look at Plaza de Gipuzkoa. Go to beach!! La Concha beach is perfect for swimming, Zurriola is more for surfing since the waves get really huge there! Also walk to the end of la Concha, the Combs of the Wind are worth seeing! There is also the Basque museum that I didn’t really get. It’s also not in English. Check out the old churches. I would also suggest to take a day to see either Bilbao or Pamplona.

For going out: while eating in rather expensive in San Sebastian, drinking is rather cheap. I suggest plces like Iguana (2 euros for a beer, 4 for a bottle of cider), Parranda (good for starting a party and shots!), Ezpala club for some real spanish fun, Sin Numero, and Be Pop – jazz club that doesn’t play jazz but is still pretty fun.

So this should keep you busy for a while in Donostia :)

fpzoe -August 11, 2014, 6:03PM

you have to rent a black bike and go on a major bike ride through vondelpark! and if you still need a place to stay go to the flying pig hostel!

Katherine -August 11, 2014, 8:32PM

I have been lucky enough to visit Amsterdam. It is the most beautiful and calming city that I have been to. Taking a boat ride, although touristy, is worth it. You get a tour of the town and views of amazing scenery. Walking through Vondelpark was also one of the highlights of my visit. It’s like a place that you would imagine in a fairytale. Don’t leave without visiting the Rijks Museum. Get there early because the lines can be long! You will see Rembrandts, Vermeers, and Van Goghs, so they are definitely worth seeing.

Anouk -August 11, 2014, 9:39PM

Shopping in Amsterdam? Definately in the ’9 straatjes’ de9straatjes.nl…. Lots of local designers, vintage! Yey. Also I like the markets; “albert kuyp”, “waterlooplein”, “ten kate”. Walking around westerdok. And take a coffee/beer in the “jordaan”. Taking coffee? grab a slice of apple pie. Taking a beer? Try the bitterballen. I like shopping at Haarlemmerstraat a lot. Wine at grapedistrict. And there are a lot of great lunch/dinner places. Marqt is a nice grocerystore also Ekoplaza (organic, biological,glutenfree) but you cant beat buying flowers at the market.

A lot of great museums you should check out. Rijksmuseum, stedelijk museum…. Oh, I miss Amsterdam so much…. (Was a local, now living inNew York)…

Daniella -August 11, 2014, 10:02PM

I go to San Sebastián every summer because my grandparents live there. La parte vieja is the old part of town where there are lots of little bars! Order tortilla española and croquettas! San Sebastián is known for the beautiful fence that surrounds the beaches.
Starting On the 15th for one week, is a festival. Fireworks every night & you can sit on the beach and watch. Order churros con chocolate ! It’s like a carnival feel! So fun!

Kat -August 11, 2014, 10:34PM

San Sebastian is a dream – I ended up staying there way longer than expected because I was so inspired and in awe of its beauty. While the city is known for its food [could realize experience the pleasure because I'm a vegan], I know it as a place that begs to be explored at all hours. The night life is awesome, everyone I meet in San Seb was kind and had great stories and auras. A typical day includes lounging on the beach, a lil’ bit of surf and delicious food and drinks. When I visited I really enjoyed exploring the natural side of it. My three favorite experiences there that I 100% recommend are
1) Swimming from the beach to the island in the middle of San Seb. Beautiful, cleansing and you can collapse on the grassy field of the island after the long swim (bring a snorkeling mask!).
2) On the right side of Zuriola surf beach there is a huge mountain enveloped by a mass of deep green trees. Explore the hell out of it. Get lost and bring a sleeping bag and sleep on top of the ruins with friends so you can wake up in the sun in the middle of a jungle dream. Then take a morning skinny dip ;)
3) Wake up really stupidly early one day and hike as much of the El Camino Santiago Trail as you can – you can take a bus back to San Seb and its beautiful because hardly anyone is on the trail.

Also there’s a lot of shops that sell cheap art supplies – San Seb is beautiful and I loved water coloring it. Have fun!

Hypnotica Vintage -August 11, 2014, 11:00PM

flea markets in Amsterdam have stuff from all over the world
http://www.etsy.com/shop/HypnoticaVintage

Merel -August 12, 2014, 1:36AM

Hotspots in Amsterdam (also for good vegan food) : Cafe De Ceuvel, Cafe Noorderlicht, SLA (saladbar), Trust (“Pay as you feel” cafe), CousCousClub, Studio/K, FOAM (photography museum,) Marqt (nice supermarket) and Stach Food.
Have fun!

Marle -August 12, 2014, 4:45PM

This is such a coincidence! At this very moment that I’m reading your blog entry I’m on a holiday in San Sebastian! I don’t know when you parted for Spain (or when you’re going to) but technically I could have seen you walking around here without noticing haha. Anyway, this week is the Semana Grande, a week of festival, and I can tell you that it’s very crowded over here so most of the hotels are out of rooms. I hope you have booked one on forehand, but in caseyou haven’t you could try the pensionTximistarri which is located on the Igeldo hill. I am staying there because it was one of the few left that had rooms and I’m very happy that I had to because this hill has a very beautiful view on the ocean. So even if you won’t stay here, I recommend going up the hill for some nice peeks! And probably there are many gorgeous walks through the forests on the mountains going from there.. So, well, have a great time in San Sebastian and enjoy Amsterdam too! I’ m from hthe Netherlands by the way, but I’ve only been to our capital city once though so I can’t really advise you about it ;)

Marae -August 13, 2014, 12:57PM

I was sent to San Sebastian by many friends that all had the chance to stay at Olga’s Place, a very bare bones but special place. The experience there is more in the feeling than the accommodation itself, run by Raphael and Olga who make you feel at home. There is a warmth that is so contagious there, all the backpackers form an eclectic family. Bottomless pitchers of sangria and if you’re lucky sometimes Raphael will make a huge paella! Its a short walk to Playa de Zurriola and the old city.

Food wise, I spent every night pintxo hopping through the Parte Vieja, I can’t remember one all the names but La Mejillonera sticks out for endless mussels and a lively atmosphere filled with locals. The olga’s staff are also really great about taking people out to the best spots, when I was there one of the workers had gone to culinary school and took us to all legitimate pintxo bars!

During the day, surfing! Exploring the surrounding wilderness, and hike up Urgull for a beautiful view of the bay, laze on the beach. Enjoy! I fell in love:)

Milly -August 15, 2014, 8:44AM

So very excited for you – a long awaited adventure always feels that little bit more incredible.
I’ve only been to Amsterdam once but I absolutely adored it. Head out of the city centre (where the red light district etc is) and into Nine Streets and the Jordaan. I’ve actually just posted about my trip over on my blog – http://www.mlle-milly.blogspot.co.uk (well, the other week). You should definitely try La Perla pizza – we stumbled across it but were questioned as to how we knew about it as it is apparently the best pizza in Amsterdam! (I can totally agree). The design stores in Nine Streets and the canals around it are the best. I had incredible blue cheese and celeriac soup at Humphrey’s.

Be sure to hunt down the Begijnhof – it’s the most magical little place right in the heart of the city (but it doesn’t feel like that’s where you are). It’s so sweet – and lots of history (explained when you’re there). I also loved Cafe Papeneiland in the Jordaan. And there’s another coffee/produce place that we fell in love with which I’ll have to hunt out for you…! Favourite museums were the Van Gogh & the Rijksmuseum – I guess they’re sort of must-dos if you’re going for the city’s history & art/culture!

Have an incredible trip – hope to hear about it! x

Motivational Quotes -October 3, 2014, 4:06PM

With havin so much content do you ever run into any problems of plagorism or copyright violation? My blog has a lot of completely unique content I’ve either created myself or outsourced
but it seems a lot of it is popping it up all over the internet without my permission.
Do you know any techniques to help prevent content from being ripped off?
I’d really appreciate it.

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