I love Amsterdam!
Before hopping on the plane, I was, I hate to admit it, distinctly apprehensive about this Dutch metropolis. The stories I’d heard of Amsterdam usually began with brownies and ended somewhere in the Red Light District. I don’t think my ignorant little mind could have been more wrong!
When we arrived at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, it was a lazy Sunday evening. After a short bus journey, we came to our hotel in the gorgeous Latin Quarter. Surrounded by bakeries, designer shops and an ice-cream parlour, it all felt very glamorous! I already had day dreams formulating, in which I’d buy a bicycle and bid goodbye to Blighty, in favour of a chic Dutch life.
The hotel was in a great location (…everyone always says that, but I mean it). Sir Albert was a gem, found last minute using Booking.com. Right in the heart of the creative De Pijp district, it provided a different vibe from central Amsterdam – and made us feel a little posh and a lot spoilt!
On our first day the rain was torrential. We’re Brits and can hack it, but this was Biblical.
Needless to say, we took cover in one of Amsterdam’s many fascinating museums; the Rijksmuseum to be exact. The building’s architecture itself is something to behold. My favourite exhibitions included the 17th century doll’s houses. At the time, I was reading “The Miniaturist”, a mystical tale in which a Dutch girl receives prophetic figurines for her opulent doll’s house, from an unidentified miniaturist. The novel bought the doll’s houses to life, in an unexpected and enchanting way.
In contrast, we spent the afternoon visiting the Anne Frank House. This tragic, humbling, and devastating memorial to the life of the Frank family is truly moving. It is one of the rare times that I think words fail to iterate the sensation of a place. I would recommend reading Anne Frank’s own telling of it, and I suggest feeling the history held within its walls for yourself. More tickets are released online, on the day, for those wishing to visit.
Our second day in Amsterdam consisted of a great deal of walking. This is really a place best seen on foot. The canals weave through the streets, reflecting sunlight through the heart of the city. At every turn, you’ll find an even more intriguing café or boutique. I could absolutely get lost here, and never exhaust the number of things to see.
In this vain, a great recommendation would be the Sandeman tours. Our guide was engaging and kept us going for 3 hours (yes…3!). She showed us the National Monument, the Dutch East India Company, the New Market, the Jewish Quarter and much more, each with a fascinating story or lesson about Amsterdam’s rich history.
She also introduced us to the Red Light District…
The Red Light District has a reputation that precedes it. But, whatever your views on its moonlight activity, it was astonishingly pretty and twee in daylight. It’s history, of sailors atoning their sexual ‘sins’ in the resident Catholic Church, makes for interesting reading. Well worth a coffee in one of its cafes – it makes for a surprising break from the hubbub of the busy tourist city.
After miles of exploring, we feasted on cheese pancakes, with a side of syrup. It was as it sounds – a little unexpected on the palette. If anyone has any food recommendations for Amsterdam, please let me know…we were a bit unsuccessful in our search!
So, that brings me to the end of our whistle-stop tour. Needless to say, I’m polishing my wooden shoes and pumping my bicycle tires, ready for a return to Amsterdam.
Other Amsterdam blog posts I loved reading: