Oh how I wish I was back in Amsterdam, or anywhere except revising indoors for exams while the sun shines. So perhaps its times for a bit of enjoyable procrastination – time to write up my 2nd day in Amsterdam.
Firstly my hostel – Stayokay Stadsoelen was one of the nicest of the seemingly infinite number I’ve stayed in across Europe and in England so definitely deserves a mention. The free breakfast definitely influenced my opinion and today I went properly Dutch. I had hagelslag a.k.a. chocolate sprinkles on toast. None of that clean eating malarkey for me and considering how much the Dutch cycle I can understand why a daily sugar high is such an accepted idea. So off to explore and get rid of that sugary buzz…
Amsterdam is full of markets – from the specialist market in books near the University with its stalls in atmospheric arches to Albert Cuypmarket, a long street lined with every food stall imaginable. My favourite has to be the flea market in Waterlooplein – old ice skates, biscuit tin venders, 5ft statues of saints and washing machine/hob combos, this place is a true flea market and thoroughly enjoyable to browse.
Anyway after some more time wandering around the canals we decided to hit the major museums. It was a toss up between the Van Gogh Museum and the Rijksmuseum. Despite visiting Amsterdam before I’ve never been to either and especially coming from London, having to pay €17,50 for the Dutch equivalent of the V&A/National Gallery can seem a bit galling. We decided to go to the Rijksmuseum and it is definitely worth the entrance fee, especially as you can easily spend nearly a whole day here, even if like me you have a limited appreciation of the Dutch masters.
Although personally not much of a “follower of fashion,” the historical costume gallery was really unusually displayed with a catwalk so you got to see the dresses moving. And the 18th century number below was bizarre – the biggest contrast to the modern skinny jean possible!
The medieval galleries were another personal highlight, especially due to the amazingly bizarre renditions of saints martyrdoms alongside “unicorn” horn candlesticks (narwhale to you and me). The Dutch Masters in the grandiosely named “Gallery of Honour” felt rather underwhelming especially since most of the paintings – Rembrandt’s “Night Watch”, Vermeer’s Milkmaid etc. are so well known they’re not worth the effort of pushing past the audio-guide dependent zombies to see in much detail.
So after whiling away several hours we decided to finally go and find a 4 o’clock lunch, finding time be stereotypical tourists in front of the massive I Amsterdam sign. Just outside the Van Gogh museum is a massive branch of Albert Heijn, seemingly the only supermarket in the whole of the Netherlands. We picked up the essentials for a picnic in the Vondelpark; Amsterdam’s massive green lung. Among those essentials was herring (surprisingly tasty) and chocomel!!! Chocomel is the best chocolate milk in the universe, held in such high esteem that I witnessed a Dutch child run towards it with ecstatic joy because it was on offer. No joke.
Café de Doelen:
After heading back to our hostel eventually we decided on some late-night exporation although we only ended up in a café down the road. Not a coffee shop – don’t do drugs kids, not even a café but something pretty close to a British pub. So surrounded by Delft tiled walls with amazing company of one of my best friends and one of the nicest beers I’ve ever had (from local Brouwerij ‘t IJ) we definitely ended our time in Amsterdam on a high note.