A European Quickie, Part 1: Netherlands

Yes, we flew all the way across the pond for a quickie. But, although Amsterdam is home to the red-light district, I don’t mean it like that. I mean we flew out for three big shows – two with Blink-182 and one with Green Day. And, in true fashion, I’m taking every free moment of this short week to explore as many cool spots and drool-worthy foods as possible so I can share them with you. I know what you’re thinking, “Wow, how selfless.” I know. You’re welcome.

While I feel so lucky to have the opportunity to play with Blink here, I am also grateful that I got to revisit my favorite spots after coming through just two months ago with All Time Low (read about it here). This time around, I wanted to do an entire post dedicated to both of my days in Rotterdam and Amsterdam, in order to give credit where credit is due.

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Americans often make generalizations about the Netherlands. The assumption that the country is full of tall, nice, beautiful, and free-spirited people who own bikes, boats, or both? 99% true. The assumption that the entire culture is based on legalized weed and prostitution? Not so true. Before I get into my busy day in Amsterdam, I want to shed a little light on the modern beauty of Rotterdam…

Rotterdam

Located an hour southwest of Amsterdam, Rotterdam is Holland’s true major city. It’s home to high rises, modern transportation, and bustling industry, not fields of tulips and quaint shops. We got in the day before our show, so I decided to go for a run to get a better feel for the city.

*SIDE NOTE: I have to give a shout out to Lorde’s new album. It was grey outside, and Melodrama was the perfect soundtrack for running in that exact moment/environment. I also couldn’t help but think of the similarities between this city and Jack London Square back home in Oakland.

View from below the central bridge in Rotterdam.

After my run, I had an incredible dinner at Warung Mini, a casual Indonesian spot just a few blocks from our hotel. Unfortunately, the lighting in the restaurant was too dark to take photos, so you’ll have to trust me when I say their chicken roti over coconut curry with cabbage and potatoes is out of this world. (I also really wanted to try Fenix Food Factory, but it was closed the night I went out to explore.)

Photo by Austin Henry Wallace

Our show in Rotterdam was stellar. As somewhat of a social experiment, I decided to take the metro to the venue from our hotel. The looks I got on the train from others on their way to the show were priceless. I wish I could have seen their reactions when they saw the same blonde dude sitting across from them on the metro wearing an Oaklandish baseball shirt later that night on stage. Thank you to the Dutch crowd for once again bringing tons of energy in a certain kind, communal way. It reminded me why I love playing here.

Amsterdam

Usually, my first stop in Amsterdam involves a personal moment with a slice of Dutch apple pie from Latei, nestled in the heart of the modest red-light district. This time, we had a larger group, consisting of myself, Cole, Nick (drum tech), Justin (guitar tech), and Cade with my parents (who were visiting on vacation). Although I wasn’t alone, the fresh mint tea and apple pie were just as satisfying. After that, we rented bikes and made zero attempts to blend in with the locals. Sometimes, you just gotta embrace the tourist title.


Riding a bike in Amsterdam ain’t like riding along the Newport Beach boardwalk. This sh%t is like Fast and Furious. Since bicycles are the main mode of daily transportation for the Dutch, riding your bike here can sometimes feel like driving a car in New York City. After navigating a bit through the city center, we traveled to the less hectic outskirts of town, where most Dutch people actually live, and home to Vondelpark, the Netherlands’ most famous public park.

Life is good.

Vondelpark is massive and completely closed off to cars, making it a perfect tranquil escape for both locals and tourists. Endless trees, ponds, grassy areas, play structures…even a beer garden – a well-deserved break during our bike ride. Few moments compare to the sheer bliss of sipping on a nice cold glass of light beer in a local beer garden on a hot summer day in Europe.

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I love America, but cheap beer just isn’t the same at home.

Riding bikes was classic, but, to get the full Amsterdam experience, we needed to get ourselves on a boat. Since I’m still in the early stages of cultivating my international network of boat-owning friends, we ended up renting one to take us through the canals for a few hours. Yonnik, our skipper, gave us a wonderful tour of the city, completely enchanting us with the views from the water. I’m telling you, this place is so much more than just a means for people to party and pay for sex and legal drugs. It is quite literally a utopia built on water.

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Moshpit Mark living it up on vacation brah.

A perfect day is not complete without a perfect meal. Although I’ve been here multiple times, I just discovered that Holland has an epic Indonesian food scene. The roots of this fusion date back to the early 1600’s, when the Dutch took control of Indonesia. Pictured below is our dinner at Long Pura. Known in the Netherlands as a “rice plate,” this is their  tapas-style of eating where an assortment of different mixed dishes are brought out for the table to share. The flavors reminded me of a combination of Indian and Thai food. Lots of spices, stewed meats, and sauces, all eaten with coconut rice. I think you can assume based on the photo quality that I was pre-occupied shoveling all the delicious spicy food on my plate. I can’t wait to come back.

I have so much love for the Netherlands. The architecture, the history, the mind-blowing civil engineering behind their bike-centric lifestyle, the Gouda cheese – all completely live up to one’s expectations. But this place has unexpected qualities too…(who knew Indonesian food here would be out of this world?) If you have the opportunity, PLEASE plan a trip. Pack your wallet, passport, (tea perhaps?), but leave your stereotypes behind.

Cole at band camp

Next stop, Berlin tonight. Then Hyde Park in London on Saturday. Hope to see you all dancing at our shows. If not, I’ll be sure to take you along for the ride on Between Stations.

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