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La Spezia Market Experience

The La Spezia markets are some of the best we have been to oduring our travels with the locals more than willing to lend us a hand.

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Fresh cherries in La Spezia

We travel for food. In fact we often wonder why we didn’t start a food blog instead.

There are not many experiences that delight us more during our adventures than meeting the locals and interacting with them in their local environments.

And the most local places in any small town are always the market squares.

La Spezia market

When we booked to stay in La Spezia we were planning on just using it for access to the Cinque Terre hiking trails as it is only 7 minutes away by train from La Spezia to Riomaggiore. Plus it’s a lot cheaper to stay in if you want to save a little bit of money.

However we were stoked to find that there is a HUGE local market in La Spezia held every day selling everything from local handmade goods to fresh fruit and seafood. Ideal for us food lovers.

Vegetables La Spezia market

The key to getting the best experience from markets is to act like a local. With our reusable bags in hand we might have looked the part but our limited Italian and cameras dangling around our necks surely gave us away. Luckily ever time we approached a seller we were greeted with cheek splitting grins, a friendly “Ciao” and free samples to try.

Freshly picked cherries that were sweeter than any we have ever tasted before were just one of the treats popped into our bags.

Fresh cherries in La Spezia

Locally produced cheeses and mouthwatering dried meats for our sandwiches were sliced up with hand gestures from us to indicate that we wanted more or less.

La Spezia markets

Dried meat in La Spezia

In our excitement we would often pick fruit and veges at random. However, every time we would hand our chosen veges over, the stall owners would quickly exchange them for ones that they deemed a little fresher or riper with a wry smile.

La Spezia market veges

The locals even dropped extra bits and pieces in after we had paid to make sure we had enough to last us for the day.

Reaching the end of the market stalls we turned around with our bags overflowing and smiles plastered on our faces and slowly wandered back through. Hands were raised from the stall keepers in gestures of goodbye and we promised to return again every day during our stay in La Spezia.

Where to stay in La Spezia? Affiticamere Tre Fre

We recommend staying at Affiticamere Tre Fre for all adventurers as we loved it when we were on our way to hike Cinque Terre. We just wish we could have stayed longer!

Location

Affiticamere Tre Fre is located just 2 minutes walk from the main train station. The harbour, local markets, Castle and local train station are all within 5 – 10 minutes walk. A perfect location to base yourself for Cinque Terre.

The Rooms

The rooms are brand spanking new and designed like hotels. Each has a private bathroom with decent air-conditioning and mini-fridges.

Other Amenities

On check-in each guest is provided with a free voucher for use at one of the local cafes in town for breakfast. It’s only for a croissant and coffee but they open early so you can get a good start on the day.

Free WiFi is also available in all the rooms.

Staff

We only saw the owner, who was extremely lovely, when we checked in. So while we have no complaints, we don’t have a lot to say either.

Social Atmosphere

There was no social atmosphere at all but considering its a B&B rather than a hostel then this was expected as there is no common areas.

Cost

$80 Euro for a private room.

Overall

We were pleasantly surprised with La Spezia and Affiticamere Tre Fre. As we were there to explore Cinque Terre we only stayed one night either side of our hiking adventure but really wished we had decided to stay longer. We would recommend that for anyone headed to Cinque Terre then stay here as it is a lot cheaper than the five villages and easily accessible by train from early in the morning until late at night.

We just wish our La Spezia accommodation had a kitchen so we could have cooked up some of the seafood pulled straight off the boats in to the market stalls.

Seafood La Spezia market

Disclaimer: We were guests of HostelWorld but as always our thoughts are always our own.

Cole is one half of New Zealand's leading adventure travel blogging couple who have been wearing out their jandals around the world since 2009. He loves any adventure activities and anything to do with the water whether it is Surfing, Diving, Swimming, Snorkeling or just lounging nearby on the beach. You can follow Cole on Google+. Or consider following us via RSS Feed, Twitter, Facebook and subscribe to our Newsletter.

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25 Comments

25 Comments

  1. Jeremy Branham

    July 16, 2012 at 4:17 PM

    I love checking out the local food when I travel. However, I have to admit I don’t travel for food. It’s not one of the top reasons I travel. However, I still love to try the local dishes and go to the markets. It’s a great way to meet locals.

  2. Laurence

    July 16, 2012 at 9:14 PM

    As Jeremy says, checking out the local food is one of the highlights of any adventure.. even if it’s not always kind on the waistline. Still.. it can always be explored off 😀

  3. Andrew

    July 18, 2012 at 11:56 AM

    My parents and I stayed in la Spezia during our Cinque Terre visit a few years ago. It really is a cool, kind of unassuming town. I had forgotten about the market area. Well not forgotten, just kind of let it slip around my mind. This idea of having an open air market in a place that rains so much isn’t so smart, so they covered it, which is pretty cool. We didn’t eat there, as we were out seeing stuff, but it was wonderful to wander through.

  4. Vago Damitio

    July 18, 2012 at 5:24 PM

    Those cherries look incredibly delicious!

  5. Tim @ Marginal Boundaries

    July 19, 2012 at 1:11 PM

    Mmmmm cheeeese 🙂

    I love local markets….and as you say, always the best place to get the best deals.

    Ok, it’s early, I haven’t had my coffee, just rolled out of bed and now I’m starving and absolutely dying for some fresh parma. Thanks =P

  6. Ali

    July 19, 2012 at 4:53 PM

    This sounds like a great town. I’ve heard a lot about it from Andy from when he was there a few years ago with his parents, so I’m sure it won’t take too much convincing to get him back there someday. And I will definitely be checking out the market!

  7. Turtle

    July 19, 2012 at 5:41 PM

    You’re making me miss Italian food so much! Please stop writing such delicious stories!! 🙂

  8. Waegook Tom

    July 19, 2012 at 6:14 PM

    Ahh I LOVE local markets, too – I always make a bee-line to check them out and am rarely disappointed! Fresh ingredients and if you go with a smile and a good attitude, they’ll likely chuck in a little extra. Thanks for sharing – and I’m drooling over those cherries…

  9. Christy @ Technosyncratic

    July 20, 2012 at 2:48 AM

    Big local markets are the best! When we were in Cinque Terre we ate a lot of artisan bread with cheese and fresh tomatoes. Sooo goooood….

  10. Diana Edelman

    July 20, 2012 at 10:38 AM

    I love to visit markets! Whenever I get to a new place, I seek them out.

  11. Arti

    July 20, 2012 at 4:29 PM

    I so much agree with you with what you write at the beginning of your post!! I too love to eat and make it a point to sample local delicacies!!

  12. Angela

    July 23, 2012 at 12:50 PM

    Lovely photos, food in Liguria is delicious 🙂

  13. Oriana

    August 1, 2012 at 9:23 AM

    It’s cool to read a blog post about a place that is so familiar. My dad is from La Spezia and, as a child, I was lucky enough to spend most of my Summers there with my grandparents. I went to this market with my grandmother countless of times, following her from one stall to the other and helping her with the bags. It’s a memory I’ll always treasure, thanks for bringing it back for me.

    Hope you got a chance to eat farinata at “Pia – La Centenaria”. If you didn’t, it’s enough of a reason to go back. Trust me.

    • Cole Burmester

      August 2, 2012 at 4:15 PM

      Oh man we didn’t get to try farinata! Definitely going back now 🙂 So glad we helped you relive a little bit of your past.

  14. Alexandra

    August 8, 2012 at 1:34 AM

    Markets are one of the things I love most about traveling! I wish America had markets like this!

    • Cole Burmester

      August 8, 2012 at 1:29 PM

      So many places in other countries outside of Europe are slowly starting to re-embrace the local markets. We love trying to live like locals. Just wish we knew more of the local languages.

  15. Cheryl

    August 13, 2012 at 8:40 PM

    I adore Cinque Terre! And of course, who could not love the fresh food in Italy. Great tip about where to stay, as accommodation can be so expensive there!

    • Cole Burmester

      August 14, 2012 at 2:25 PM

      La Spezia was really handy for Cinque Terre and highly recommend it next time you visit Cheryl. Thanks 🙂

  16. Sam Gooch

    September 3, 2012 at 2:24 PM

    Please may you let me know where this market was in La Spezia? We are going next week & it looks like it is well worth the trip!
    Thank you

    • Cole Burmester

      September 3, 2012 at 3:49 PM

      Hey Sam,
      Thanks for dropping by. Definitely check out the markets. The closest address I could come up with is: Corso Camillo Benso Conte di Cavour
      19121 La Spezia SP, Italy. Put that in Google and you can’t miss it. Let us know how it goes.
      Thanks
      Cole

      • Sam Gooch

        September 3, 2012 at 3:51 PM

        Thanks so much for the help! I am loving reading your blog 🙂

  17. Mary @ Green Global Travel

    September 11, 2012 at 5:20 PM

    Great tips! I’m sorry I missed La Spezia when I was in Cinque Terre. It would have made for a fabulous picnic along the trail.

  18. Travelwriticus

    February 7, 2013 at 12:16 PM

    Visiting markets is always such a great way to get in touch with local products. Thanks for your extensive article.

    • Cole Burmester

      February 7, 2013 at 1:06 PM

      No problem 🙂 Always happy to share our experiences when trying to live like a local!

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Europe

Amsterdam Food Guide

If you think of Amsterdam you don’t think of food. However if you try the food here in our Amsterdam food guide you might get lucky.

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Amsterdam Food Waffles

We are total foodies and our travelling has allowed our passion for food to grow considerably (not to mention our waist lines)!  We love trying new food when we visit foreign countries and always make a huge effort to eat the local cuisine. Check out some of the food we ate below in our cheap and delicious Amsterdam Food Guide.

Amsterdam Food Waffles

We had heard from a number of people that the Amsterdam food was nothing to rave about. To be honest food was not really our main interest in visiting but then again neither was an Amsterdam Peep show and we ended up enjoying that!

However we were pleasantly surprised. I think the people whom we had talked to had it wrong. Sure Holland doesn’t really have a local cuisine but once we got over this fact we realised there is still some damn good food to be had from the various Amsterdam Restaurants.

Amsterdam Food

The best meal we had was actually next door to the Red Light district in Chinatown. Crossing the canal to the east away from the neon lights your nostrils are attacked and your mouth begins salivating from the delicious smells wafting along the narrow cobbled streets.

As we walked into Bird Thai restaurant the enticing aroma hit us instantly leaving us drooling in anticipation. It was definitely up there with some of the best Thai food we have had. We went for the classic Green curry, fried rice and duck combo.

The Green curry was so flavoursome with the richness of the coconut milk blending perfectly with the traditional spices.  The duck was cooked to perfection and for the first few minutes of the meal all you could hear was the crunching of the crispy outside layer as we devoured the duck in minutes. Needless to say the fried rice was a taste explosion too!

Cheap and delicious Amsterdam food is easy to come by. With hangovers and munchies affecting your hunger it is no surprise that there are an abundance of Fast Food chains and takeaways in Amsterdam. In fact it was actually more the way that the fast food was served that surprised us as you could buy it out of massive vending machines at Febo!

Amsterdam Food Febo

Hidden workers stand behind the vending machines churning out burgers, fries and sausage rolls so all you has to do is insert a Euro and “hey presto” you have a hot meal in your hungry hands.

Then there were the frites stores which seemed to be on every corner. The first thing you noticed about these was the tantalising smell. There is nothing like the smell of chips straight out of the fryer and covered in salt to get you tummy rumbling. Served in a triangle cardboard carton and covered in mayo which meant that that you couldn’t reach the chips at the bottom without covering your greedy fingers in sauce. Just a tad annoying!

But there is nothing like hot chips to warm you up on a cold day.

Finally, while hot chocolates are not typically food I feel they still deserve a mention especially because the usually come paired with waffles! Ahhhh the perfect breakfast.

Amsterdam Hot Chocolate

We loved nipping into a cafe or bar like Cafe Bar Eddy in Amsterdam to warm ourselves up with a hot chocolate. It literally tasted like they had melted chocolate down and added cream. Heaven in a cup. And the choice of waffles was daunting as you could have whatever you wanted. Fruit, chocolate, syrups, cream or all of the above!

If you are heading here then don’t expect to find an array of traditional Amsterdam food. Instead treat yourself to a hot chocolate and waffle for breakfast, grab a quick bite from a vending machine and sample some of the different cuisines found near the Red Light District.

If you stick to this Amsterdam food guide then your taste buds will have a great holiday too!

If you have visited before then what did you think of Amsterdam food?

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Europe

How to smoke weed in Amsterdam

Check out our guide for the first timer in Amsterdam visiting a coffeeshop.

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How to smoke weed in Amsterdam

Before getting started I just want to clarify that we are not drug users. We don’t condone using illegal drugs. And we are not telling you to go and smoke weed in Amsterdam. BUT, our goal of this travel blog is to help advise, educate and provide travel tips for ALL situations. So if you are headed to Amsterdam then we hope our guide to smoking weed in Amsterdam will help you out.

And check out this smoker friendly accommodation for your next trip.

How to smoke weed in Amsterdam Coffeeshop

When you tell people that you are visiting Amsterdam then they immediately think of one thing and one thing only. Weed. Dope. Herb. Buds. Spliff. Whacky Tobbacky. Pot. Marijuana. Cannabis. 

Call it what you will but just know that the biggest name for it is “ILLEGAL”.

Yes it is actually illegal to smoke weed in Amsterdam. But for now the Netherlands government do tolerate smoking in designated “coffeeshops”. This is slowly changing as the Government tries to moderate the tourism drug trade and in 2013 there will be new laws which we won’t go in to now as they are continuously changing.

In the meantime if you obey the rules, are not a moron and use our guide to smoking weed in Amsterdam then you are going to be fine.

Smoke weed in Amsterdam

How to smoke weed in Amsterdam

Don’t smoke weed in Amsterdam in public such as on the streets. There are over 300 designated coffee shops where you are tolerated to smoke weed. These places are regulated and everything is done in the open.

Don’t get confused and try to smoke in a koffiehuis (coffee house) which sells coffee and light meals or a café that is a casual restaurant and/or bar.

The coffeeshops are super easy to spot with marijuana leaves in the windows and Bob Marley paintings on the doors. Not to mention the smell wafting through the cold breeze. There will also be the usual tourists that have stupidly over-indulged and are glassy eyed.

We visited one of the five Bulldog coffeeshops when we were in Amsterdam and had no complaints. We even enjoyed a delicious hot chocolate while we were there!

Bulldog Coffeeshop in Amsterdam

Buying weed in Amsterdam

As long as you are over 18 then you will be allowed to buy up to 5 grams of weed in the regulated coffeeshops. Plus you have the added security knowing that your marijuana is not going to be laced with anything else if you are attempting to buy it off someone on the street. And who knows, they might be setting you up to get busted.

We were (and are) total amateurs and had no idea what to do once we actually stepped foot in the coffeeshop. But quickly sussed it out. There will generally be a “dealer bar” with full menu’s and everything for you to choose. So if you are an expert you will probably know what to order! Prices will of course vary by quantity (grams, bags, individual joints) and quality.

For a beginner ask lots of questions. Don’t be shy like we were. Ask the staff what they recommend and what effects each type has. They will know then that you are a newbie and will guide you. Just know that they are very accustomed to tourists who don’t know exactly how to go about the whole process.

What we found out is that it is actually perfectly fine for you to visit other coffeeshops and smoke weed that you have already purchased somewhere else. However, it is considered rude not to at least buy a hot chocolate or coffee if you do this. Coffeeshops do also have some of the best coffee in Amsterdam.

How to smoke weed in Amsterdam

Don’t be an idiot

Number 1 rule: Don’t smoke too much weed in Amsterdam! Even if you are a pot loving hippie from a commune you are probably going to find the marijuana really strong in Amsterdam. Just take it slow.

If you are enjoying a drink as well then again take it easy with the booze. All the coffeshops won’t sell you beer as well as cannabis.

EAT! Don’t go drinking and smoking on an empty stomach as cannabis lowers your blood sugar level and this can turn a fun day into a disaster if you haven’t eaten recently. Check out our Amsterdam Food Guide for some quick eating tips here.

A final word of warning, please watch out for the spacecake! Eating cannabis will knock you on your ass and is much stronger than when smoked.

Finally, enjoy yourselves and for goodness sake obey the rules, laws and customs while you are smoking weed in Amsterdam.

If you have an addiction to drugs then reach out and seek some help.

Check out these Weed Products for your next travel adventure.

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Europe

Four Jandals Visits an Amsterdam Peep Show

Have you ever wanted to visit an Amsterdam peep show? We had the chance to go and embraced it with open arms. Check out our experience here

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Amsterdam peep show Sex Palace

An Amsterdam peep show is a must, just like visiting the Eiffel Tower in Paris. Okay slightly different. But you have got to go!

And if you have ever wanted to visit Amsterdam then more than likely you are going to be interested in checking out a peep show in the red light district. It might be worthwhile checking out this Amsterdam’s Red Light District – The ultimate guide.

Amsterdam Moulin Rouge Red Light District

There is something about the red light district that draws the punters and tourists alike in. Maybe it is the bright red neon lights that illuminate the darkened alleyways that pull them in like moths to a flame. Or the bars and coffee shops that let a certain smell waft lazily across the glistening canals.

Or maybe it is just the fact that sex really does sell.

When we visited Amsterdam with a couple of friends we actually spent what I now consider an embarrassingly long time in that same area. The fact is that we seriously could not get enough.

Not like that of course!

We just couldn’t believe that everyone is so open and carefree about what is for all intents and purposes, window shopping for sex. The number of guys knocking on windows and being ushered behind the curtains of every room were staggering.

However, we were not enticed ourselves to fork over $50 euros but were intrigued enough to want to check out an Amsterdam peep show. I just want to clarify here that it was actually Adela that was the most keen. I just didn’t want to let her down so went along with it…

Amsterdam Red Light District

http://www.flickr.com/photos/shaynekaye/4792525797

Visiting the Amsterdam peep show

Much to our surprise, there is only one Amsterdam peep show left in the whole city back in 2012!

The very originally named “Sex Palace” is situated on the banks of one of the main canals in the heart of the red light district on Oudezijds Achterburgwal street. Walking under the neon flashing lights into the entrance way your senses are assaulted by sights, sounds and disturbingly smell.

All around the walls are posters and screens showing ladies in various states of undress and positions. A white board lists the movies that you can rent out for your viewing pleasure in one of the many private booths. But we were only there for one thing:

The circular structure sitting slightly to the left of the entrance with a dozen small doors along it’s walls. 

Each of those small doors lead into equally small rooms no larger than a traditional UK phone box. A small covered viewing window blocks your view forward.

The money box clinging to the wall to operate the viewing window only accepts coins. But don’t worry if you only have notes as they handily have a large coin machine dishing out $2 euro coins for ease of watching.

Once you close the door and chuck in your money, the viewing window pops open for 2 minutes and allows you to view the large, slowly-rotating stage on which a scantily-dressed woman displays herself. With her flexibility she could have represented any country in the upcoming Olympics!

Amsterdam peep show Sex Palace

http://www.flickr.com/photos/mattmangum/2301545978

I was cracking up laughing the entire time I was in there because you can actually just make out the rest of the “audience” in the opposite booths. I even got a little wave and smile as the girl slowly revolved past my window.

The Amsterdam peep show was a little bit creepy. But even though we were there late on a Saturday night the booths were doing a roaring trade. Obviously nearly everyone else, from the hens parties to the couples, were there for the same reason as us. To check out one or two rounds before heading back into the night giggling like school girls at a sleepover at what we had just done.

The shifty eyed single men on the other hand skulked away to their respective viewing windows again and again with pockets full of coins.

If you ever get the chance then we actually do highly recommend taking the plunge and visiting an Amsterdam peep show. Just make sure that you are always respectful of the women in the shows and the ones on the streets!

Have you ever been to an Amsterdam Peep Show or Sex show? Tell us about your experience below.

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Meet Cole and Adela

Cole and AdelaWe have been wearing out our jandals (Kiwi for flip-flops) on our travel adventures around the world since 2009. We think our blog is thought provoking and a little witty. But we have been proven wrong before. Find out more about us here...

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