One of my cooking friends who I first met through the CookLight (magazine) bulletin board back in 2000 and then met in real life in 2001 just came out from Portland for a visit.
For those of you who've been to Portland, she brought with her Stumptown coffee and VooDoo doughnuts. They make a bar doughnut with maple glaze topped with bacon. Yeah, it is as decadent as it sounds. Go look at their menu, it'll make you want to go to Portland.
She also discovered Koan Float (careful, the website has really annoying music). Remember those sensory deprivation chambers of the 1970s? Being barely born, I, of course, don't, but sure I've heard of them. Well, that's what Koan offers you. A chance to float around in your own little pod of very, very salty water. Amanda landed (11 hour flight), dropped off her luggage and then headed straight into the city to go float. She says it was an awesome way to start her trip. I returned with her a few days later to try it myself. And yep, it's hippy, err, cool and it is relaxing. We determined 45 minutes is the optimal float time. We tried for an hour and got bored at the end.
We had grandiose plans of heading off to Mastricht or Delft, but there is so much to do and see in Amsterdam, that we stayed. Of course, this is for the best because this is also when I started to really feel bad. But Amanda was a trouper, coming home early with me and twice (TWICE!) she cooked dinner for us.
So here are her tips:
1. No need to bring cycling gear. No one wears it, you'll look like a dork.
2. When Em tells you to get off the train at Spui don't panic because you feel like you've been on the train too long and get off 5 stops too early, it'll make you late for your float.
3. There are many good (unhealthy) Dutch snack foods, but it's hard to define a Dutch meal.
4. Bring a pair of low/no heeled boots. You'll want them for the weather, cobble stones and fashion.
5. Bring a warmer jacket than you'll think you'll need and some sweaters.
6. Bring some Emergen-C (that's just for me though)
7. Bring plenty of room in your suitcase because there is a lot of cute stuff here.