There is a quote by Patrick Rothfuss that says: “There is nothing quite so delightfully mysterious as a secret in your own backyard.”
I’m originally from the Deep South of the United States, Mississippi to be exact, but call the Netherlands my second home. As an avid foodie and adventurer, I love the off-the-beaten-path places, small businesses where the locals go, and the stories of those I meet along the way, which are the threads that bind each community.
As someone who has lived in the Netherlands for many years, I am not new to Amsterdam. It is generally the gathering place when friends visit from across the globe or just from other parts of the country. Ironically for someone who loves to explore and discover the least obvious places when travelling abroad, my foodie friends and I rarely ventured outside of the city center of Amsterdam, and it was time to change that. We reserved a serviced apartment at Yays Entrepothaven for the weekend, with the full intent of exploring Amsterdam East. Armed with the Yays Neighbourhood Guide (which is packed with so much great information about exploring the Neighborhood and the ‘neighbours’ ), a couple of us set out on day-one to visit some of the shops featured in the guide, as I wanted to create a delicious lunch gathering in the apartment on Saturday.
The Yays Neighbourhood Guide led us along the water, which was dotted with benches where one could soak up the sunshine or read under the shade of a tree. It was a beautiful walk and along the way we stopped to interact with several of the locals who were allowing their children to swim. The Eastern Dockland area is a beautiful community, and everyone we encountered was extremely friendly. As we wandered the streets on foot (Yays bikes are also available for rent, if you prefer cycling), we enjoyed seeing the mixture of old and new architecture. The neighbourhood is not one that is usually included in mainstream tours and it felt like a mostly undiscovered treasure that had been right under my nose all along.
We made our way to the Czaar Peterbuurt where we visited several of the Yays neighbours. Fromagerie Kef has been on my ‘to visit’ list for quite some time. The small but quaint shop is a treasure trove of delicious cheeses and a few other delicacies. Nothing beats the level of personal attention you get at small local shops. I explained I was looking for several kinds of cheese for our reunion lunch with friends, received great advice, and left with three types of cheeses that made our meal memorable.
We also visited De Pindakaaswinkel (a peanutbutter specialist shop) and while you may think that peanut butter does not sound that exciting, it takes just one visit to De Pindakaaswinkel to leave it with an entirely different opinion. With flavors like salted caramel, stroopwafel and chilli pepper with lemongrass, their peanut butter is next level. Aside from having the regular-sized jars, they also have mini jars, for those of us who cannot decide on which flavor to purchase. Because there are so many flavors, you will definitely want more than the few I mentioned.
A little something that not all people outside of the Netherlands know, Dutch people love coffee. Moreover, their passion is contagious: I was not a coffee drinker when I moved here, and now a great cup of coffee is one of my favorite little pleasures. It only took me walking inside Kaffa Koffie to know why this coffee specialist is popular in the neighborhood and with Amsterdammers. Marcos was the sweetest man. I took his advice on which coffee to purchase and it was absolutely delicious. He also has a wonderful selection of teas and I picked up a rooibos ginger tea - flavorful and caffeine-free, perfect for unwinding in the evenings.
After walking, exploring and shopping most of the day, we decided to go back to our Yays apartment and freshen up, with the intention of going out, but in the end - with such a lovely neighbourhood at the doorstep - didn’t feel the need to venture into the city center. We ordered food and then took another long walk along the waterfront as the sun was beginning to set. It was magical.
The lunch reunion we had on the next day was a celebration of friendship and a great - but also safe - way to get together and enjoy each other’s company while exploring the neighbourhood.
The One-bedroom Grand apartment had plenty of space, and the kitchen had everything we needed to cook a proper meal. It genuinely felt like a home away from home.
After lunch, we took our Yays Neighbourhood Guide and headed out to explore, only this time the opposite direction towards the Indische Buurt. It’s another hidden gem we had yet to discover. We walked the Javastraat and visited some of the local shops.
As we made our way back to the apartment, my husband and another friend’s husband arrived to stay for the evening. Dinner was also a tip from the Yays Neighbourhood Guide, the Boulevard Café, which happens to be a quick ten-minute walk from the Yays Entrepothaven apartment. The restaurant is in a monumental property which dates back to 1901 and has been a police station, a corporate waiting room, plus a private residence. The atmosphere is relaxed and has an old-school vibe to it, with friendly staff and delicious food.
I had promised everyone a big surprise and the weather was absolutely perfect for it: I had booked the Sailor’s Treat Neighbourhood Experience by Yays, a package including a private 1.5-hour boat cruise through Amsterdam with a private guide.
Being familiar with the city, I thought I was just in it for the fun, but I was surprised at how much I ended up learning from our guide and captain Beer. A host so delightful and full of knowledge was the icing on the proverbial cake for a perfect weekend. We watched the sunset from the boat and toasted champagne to friendship, summer, and fun. I would highly recommend the Sailor’s Treat Experience as the perfect addition to anyone’s stay at Yays apartments. As they say in Dutch, it was “super gezellig”.
After a great night’s sleep, it was time to make our way towards home. I am already planning my next stay with Yays apartments to explore more. My Yays Neighbourhood Guide is well used and has page after page dog-eared for my next time in the neighbourhood.
If you are a foodie like me and my friends, or love to explore the uncharted, live more like a local when traveling, all while not being far from the major museums and other attractions of the city center - then Yays is the place to be. The staff is there to help with any questions you may have, plus to offer recommendations if you need any outside of the guide.
The author: Lori
‘Southern Girl’ Lori from Mississippi, USA. Lori is a small entrepreneur running a baking and catering business (Southern Charm Cupcakes, on Instagram as @southerngirleats). A long-time resident of the Netherlands - where she lives with her husband, dog JJ and cat Mister Mistoffelees - she organized a special reunion with friends at Yays Entrepothaven. She found out that, no matter how many times you visit, you are never done discovering Amsterdam, especially with a Yays Neighbourhood Guide in your pocket.
[CREDITS: all photos by @southerngirleats]
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