Oh Holland, how I love thee! I wouldn’t exactly call Amsterdam my second home, however this is my sixth trip to this delightful city. I love travelling to a place time and time again. With each visit you become accustomed and more comfortable in your surroundings. You begin to recognise places, you’ve found the quickest transport routes and you know a great little place round the corner. The city becomes a friend you catch up with.
I also like to revisit destinations because you get to experience a city beyond the tourist spots. I thoroughly enjoyed the Van Gogh museum when I visited a few years ago, and Anne Frank’s house was unforgettable. But once you’ve been there, you no longer feel the obligation to sight see. All there is to do now is throw yourself into the culture. From that moment onward, it’s all about eating good food, chatting to locals and sitting outside bars to watch the world go by.
My first port of call was my favourite spot – Vondelpark. You will certainly find this urban park on plenty of “things to do in Amsterdam” lists. First of all, it is gorgeous and big. Plenty of trees, a pretty lake and several cafes to snack at makes it a fabulous place to visit in all seasons. Secondly, it is free. We grabbed a couple of beers from the nearby Albert Heijn supermarket and took a nice, long stroll round the 120 acre park.
Vondelpark – if you wish to bring your pet wolf, they’re totally cool with that.
We spent another fun and frugal day at Albert Cuyp Market. I’ll admit, it wasn’t the best market I’ve ever been to. There wasn’t much by way of handmade or local goods, but we still enjoyed taking a wander around. I found out the market had been there since 1905, so I was expecting a bit of history and more than just clothes and snacks. I guess that’s often the way markets go when they’re in such lucrative tourist areas.
We did however stumble upon heaps of trendy bars just behind the stalls, which was a pleasant surprise! I later found out that the area is called De Pijp, and is a thriving artist hub. Although the following word is overused, I think “hipster” would suit the area quite well, in the best way possible.
It was in De Pijp that my true Britishness shone, as we proceeded to turn a simple day at the market into a pub crawl. Cafe Flamingo had a great selection of local Dutch craft beer and we enjoyed a couple of cocktails at Kingfisher Cafe.
Obligatory Iamsterdam snap.
A couple of days into our trip, several of my friends went to run the Amsterdam marathon. Don’t be alarmed, it wasn’t a spur of the moment decision but rather the purpose of our trip. I, of course, wasn’t joining them. I am lazy and find it hard running for the bus. This gave me and my friend Richard a fantastic opportunity to visit some authentic Dutch pubs. I like to think of this as immersing ourselves in local culture, however in reality we were just getting drunk.
We managed to find a splendid pub called Cafe ‘t Molentje, which was just a stones throw away from Dam Sqaure. We spent the afternoon sifting through their record collection and playing tracks we hadn’t heard in years. Having a record player that we could help ourselves to was such a nice touch, and the relaxed atmosphere was just so lovely. We spoke to everyone who came through the door – locals and expats alike.
Amsterdam isn’t known for it’s street art, but we did find this awesome piece by French artist Fafi.
And of course, no trip to Amsterdam would be complete without visiting a coffee shop. Or 5. I probably spent more time in a coffee shop than outside of one, which made for an interesting albeit hazy week in the ‘Dam.
What are your favourite spots in Amsterdam? Have you got any tips or know of any secrets hang outs? Let me know in the comments below!