Everything You'll Love About Amsterdam
Amsterdam. It conjures many thoughts when first uttered, most of them shrouded by thick clouds of smoke and gleaming red lights. But when you travel Amsterdam without looking for the cliches, you find much more to this enchanting city than the stereotype first reveals. Beyond the coffee shops and the red light district lays a city brimming with culture, history, fashion and the most delicious apple pie you’ve ever sunk your teeth into. For a weekend away that educates your mind, fuels your creativity and awakens your taste buds, this city is not one to be missed.
For the best priced fares fly into Eindhoven Airport. From there it’s only a short bus to the Metro and a train ride straight into Amsterdam Centraal. It’s a decent ride at an hour and 20 minutes, but it’s the perfect amount of time to mull over your grand itinerary, because once you step out of the station and take in the views of the canals, cyclists, unique architecture and diverse rooftop facades that this city is known for, you can easily find yourself mesmerised for hours.
If your interests lend themselves more keenly to the Arts, then Amsterdam’s museum district will not fail to impress. With some of the world’s most famous pieces in their possession (including Rembrandts ‘Watchmen’ at the Rijksmuseum and Van Gogh’s ‘Sunflowers’ at the Van Gogh Museum), hours could easily become lost in this artistic wormhole of a city.
While it’s always encouraged to find more secluded places and to steer clear of the well-worn tourist footpaths in a foreign city, there are some beaten tracks that ought to be tread by everyone at least once in their lifetime. The Anne Frank Museum is one of those places. The queue is known to stretch right along the canal but if you have an interest in history, then this museum is one that will surely expand your mind and broaden your understanding of that tragic period in history.
Pancakes are one of the many culinary standouts of Amsterdam. Whether you like them the size of your plate or enjoy the smaller and puffier poffertjes, these Dutch specialities will not disappoint. While the ever-bustling Pancake Bakery makes the dubious claim of having the ‘best pancakes in Amsterdam’, the dreamy looks of the patrons as their eyes flitter over the extensive menu confirm the statement.Tucked away underground just a few doors down from the Anne Frank Museum, The Pancake Bakery offers a warm and cosy environment within which you can witness (with mouths watering) the magic of pancake making while you wait for yours to arrive. With more than 75 kinds of pancakes on offer you will not be short on choices. For a more classic Dutch take on pancakes try the poffertjes with warm cherries and whipped cream. Melt in your mouth goodness for only 7 euros.
Pass by some cafes and you’re sure to find many lauding themselves, boasting the title of the ‘Best Apple Pie of Amsterdam’, but if your grumbling tummies can resist, hold out for Winkel 43: the apple pie crowned king by the locals. It’s situated near the Noordermarkt Marketplace and if you spot crowds of people or catch the scent of cinnamon in the air, you’re on the right track. On a Saturday it may be hard to find a table, but every moment spent waiting in the queue is well worth your time. All of your worries disappear after you have yourself a piece of that warm pie sitting in front of you, deliciously topped off with a swirl of whipped cream. Important to remember: this is not the kind of dessert you share; you want a piece for yourself. You’ll be wishing you’d ordered yourself a second while you try desperately to collect the last morsels of the crumbling pastry from your sadly empty plate.
Cheese is synonymous with the Netherlands and if you want to get your hands on some of this tasty dairy there’s no better place (or price) than the Noordermarkt Market. There are many cheese stands from which you can easily taste the different varieties and take home a generous hunk of your favourite for only 5 euros. Stands offering crepes, poffertjes and freshly squeezed juice abound, so you’ll never be short of fuel while you sort through the fashions, art pieces, books and other knick knacks that proliferate this bumbling market every Saturday from 9am – 4pm.
Fashion hotspot and the Netherlands may not be words you ever thought to put together in a sentence before, but after spending a few hours walking down De 9 Straatjes you’ll realize how fashion savvy this city really is. De 9 Straatjes (or The Nine Streets) are dedicated to clothes, shoes, jewellery and unique household items. Peppered in between are real coffee shops, for the caffeine kick you’ll need to keep you working your way through the seemingly endless racks of clothes.
If vintage threads are more your style, you can also find a bevy of thrift stores and specialty shops which offer period designs and draw inspiration anywhere from the 20s right up to the 60s with flapper dresses, pencil skirts, and rockabilly full-skirted dresses all for sale. I Love Vintage on Prinsengracht street specialises in pin-up couture dresses, skirts and petticoats with original handbags and boots. Cherry Sue on Eerste Leliedwarsstraat offers custom-made 50s inspired fashion pieces made entirely in Amsterdam. Slip a little further away from the crowds and take a wander down Tweede Anjeliersdwarsstraat, Anjeliersdwarsstraat and Tweede Egelantiersdwarsstraat for even more vintage and second hand finds. While Paris, London and Milan may be the first cities that come to mind when thinking fashion, the Netherlands will be sure to join their ranks after you visit its fashion central.
With Ryanair offering incredibly low priced fares (from some european cities) plan your next escape to Amsterdam and before long find yourself cycling amongst the locals and absorbing all of what this beautiful city truly has to offer.