Ahhh, Amsterdam. There is not a day that goes by when I don’t miss being in Amsterdam. It’s one of those rare places which I felt an immediate affinity with, even after just a few hours of being on Dutch soil. Me and the boy popped off to Amsterdam back in March, and I was inspired by Frankie’s recent travels to pen this li’l post about our own Dutch adventures.
Instead of rattling off a list of things to do and see in Amsterdam, I thought I’d let you all know exactly why it’s one of the best cities I have ever visited. (Plus, there is a handy list of my fave places at the bottom of this post if that’s the kind of content you are here for).
Here are my reasons why Amsterdam is the best city ever:
Dutch people are truly, brilliantly eccentric
The Dutch, particularly those I encountered in Amsterdam, remind me a lot of Bristolians – very welcoming, fiercely proud of their city, big fans of cycling and just ever-so-slightly eccentric. Where else could you spot two blokes on a floating motorbike-powered garden chugging down the canal?
As soon as we arrived at our Airbnb, a boat in the North of the city, we were greeted by our hosts enthusiastically tumbling out of their cabin, one shoe on and one shoe off, giving us a whistle-stop tour of our apartment before asking if we fancied a beer. Brilliant.
So. Much. Beer.
Speaking of which, Amsterdam is most definitely a beer-lovers paradise. We went to a fantastic bar called Arendsnest Proflekaal which had a ginormous board with about 30 different beers chalked up, often very strong and served in half pint measures. One of my favourite games was to listen to confused English people walk in and ask for a pint of lager, and not make a fuss when they were handed an elegant glass of deliciously strong brown ale.
So. Much. Cheese.
Y’all know how I feel about queso. Amsterdam was pretty much heaven for me, with beer and cheese in abundance. This is the counter at the local deli we frequented for late-night bread and edam snacks.
They do delis much better than the UK
We quickly fell in love with the chain supermarkets on every corner in Amsterdam, our favourites being super-fancy Marqt and Albert Heijn. These up-market Tesco Express’ are more like little farmer’s markets, with beautiful avenues of cheeses, deli meats, fresh fruit and veg, bars of Willy Wonka-style chocolate, and our personal favourite touch – a machine which dispensed freshly squeezed orange juice. You know dat shit got drank every single day.
… Not to mention fried food
British people could be mistaken for thinking that we are the undisputed kings of frying things. But let me tell you, we ain’t got nothing on the Dutch. If deep fried croquettes of mystery meats are your thing, you’re going to love Amsterdam’s late night snack mecca, Febo. Quite simply, it is the greatest thing I have ever seen in my entire life.
One of the Netherlands’ national specialties is bitterballen (or kroket) – little deep fried balls (or croquettes) of a kind of meaty gravy, which Febo serve up for a few Euro in little trays, kept warm throughout the night in a self-serve hatch system, so you don’t even need to talk to anyone when you have the munchies and need a midnight snack. If only Greggs would catch on and have self-serve pasty machines; they would make an absolute killing.
McDonald’s also do a McKroket, which is most probably the most majestic thing I have ever tasted, especially when washed down with another delicious Dutch special, Chocomel.
Everyone cycles everywhere. Seriously.
I was 100% unprepared for the Dutch’s obsession with cycling. They really do cycle everywhere. And I don’t mean it in the half-arsed Bristol sense of cycling, I mean that in Amsterdam, you are more likely to be mown down by a bicycle than a car. The hierarchy of the road system seems to go bikes > scooters > cars > trams > people, which makes crossing the road an exciting game of dicing with sudden and certain death.
Also, this is their actual instructional video on how to cycle in Amsterdam. Commissioned and paid for by the Dutch Tourist board. I love the Dutch so so so much.
Do I even need to elaborate on this? Dutch pancakes differ from crepes in that they are a bit thicker and about a million times tastier. LOOK.
Top places to pay a visit:
In de Wildeman – Brilliant little pub in a historic part of the city, with a little bench outside, perfect for people-watching.
De Wasserette – Excellent brunch and coffee, warm welcome from the hipsters running it, and a nice outside bit to while away the hours.
NDSM – A short ferry ride over the top half of the city, with plenty of art to see, and beers to drink.
Foodhallen – A foodlovers paradise; a collection of local food vendors in one giant hall, with a big bar in the middle.
Upstairs Pannenkoeken – Aforementioned teeny tiny pancake house up some VERY steep stairs. You need to book a table for this one!
Jordaan – Just a really, truly beautiful district with lots of nice bars and shops. We went for a lovely meal at De Reiger which I highly recommend.
Until next time, Amsterdam!