The first time I ever visited Amsterdam, it was my last stop before heading home after travelling around Europe for two months. I got the overnight coach from Berlin and arrived early on a chilly day, the icy wind whistling down the canals. I was exhausted from traveling and once I’d bought a warm baggy shirt, I spent the day wandering in this stunning city before yet another coach to London. I’ve now visited the city in times of bleak winds, rain and beautiful blue skies and sun and whatever the weather the city is visually stunning wherever you go:
Reunited with my friend we spent the day wandering the streets and whilst most people might say the best things to do in Amsterdam are the Rijksmuseum, Anne Frank’s House etc., getting lost in the canals is what really makes your visit in my opinion. Anyway here are a few photos and description of the sites accidentally wandered into:
Whilst Amsterdam has an especially laid back calm feel, especially compared to most European capitals (with the exception of living in mild fear of being run down by the eponymous Dutch bikes), the Begijnhof is an oasis of peace in the middle of the city. A quiet courtyard once inhabited by unmarried or widowed Catholic women who wished to live a religious life.
Tulips and lots of them. Not much more to say.
The Specialist Shops in the Negen Straatjes:
I never thought I recommend going to a specialist toothbrush shop when on holiday but De Witte Tanden Winkel is a glorious emporium dedicated to knasher cleanliness – toothpastes made of charcoal and gold, toothbrushes in the shape of a leg in a high heel, and better dental hygiene advice than any NHS dentist has ever provided me with! The owner speaks English – I’m not actually fluent in Dutch dentistry lingo.
De Kaaskamer was another highlight of this niche shopping district especially I you’re a cheese addict like me. Absense of the substance in my house results in “there’s no cheese Gromit”-style scenes. This place had around 50 types of gouda alone!
This is one of the largest Dutch Reformed churches in Amsterdam and also Rembrandt’s burialplace although the exact location of his paupers grave is unknown. By now are weary feet however meant we were craving food and the Wil Graanstra Friteshuis in the square below provided some amazing golden fried sticks of wonderment (my friend’s facial expression sums up how amazing these frites truly are!).
Usually, being a fanatical museum visitor I visit several in one day abroad however many of Amsterdam’s museums are slightly pricy for the budget student traveller. This small museum in the delightful Jordaan district though was definitely worth the entrance. The museum itself is in the basement down a near vertical typically Dutch canalhouse staircase that was basically a ladder. The owner is a aged hippie with an astounding knowledge and passion for flourescant art. Bioluminescant geology, technicolour posters of Jimi Hendrix and surreal 3d sculpture – this museum is definitely a unique experience and really enjoyable even for those without a great interest in this niche artform.
Vintage clothes shopping in the UK is rarely affordable with their wares often on sale for a tenth of the price in a charity shop down the street. This place however had an amazing and affordable supply of baggy technicolour men’s patterned shirts which I tend to live in alongside some pretty snazzy sunglasses. Usually I hate clothes shopping but this place is an wonderland seemingly selling everything ever and sometimes hopefully never worn in the past few centuries.
After this my friend and I attempted to find dinner (surprisingly hard as many eateries were now shut and due to an absence of supermarkets), accidentally wondering through the red light district.. as you do. Our varying levels of culinary daring (I prefer a bit of spice and mysterious national dishes) ultimately resulted in that good old stand-by – the Italian pizza. After a quick night-time wander bed was calling before another day of Amsterdam adventures (some cheesy alliteration but when in the land of gouda and edam who cares!).