WWhhoopp!! Oh Amsterdam how do I love thee, let me count the ways…..
It’s been more than twenty years since I was in you. I went with my ex-husband and we stayed with friends, and I never saw the canals or the museums or the red-light district. We never made it there, because my ex-husband flipped out at the top of the main street in that area, and refused to walk down there, in broad daylight, in the middle of the afternoon. Because he felt ‘weird’. He was such a p*ssy…..or maybe he’d been a sex-worker in a previous life, and his experience had not been a positive one. Whichever way, he annoyed the crap out of me.
Fast forward twenty four years, and I was there again, (sixteen years husbandless), for a flying visit with my equally PANKy friend from London. Not the red light district, the whole city, you understand.
Staying a thirty minute walk from the city centre was perfect. After arriving on Friday afternoon, we took a gentle mooch to the centruum area of the city, and pitched up at Seasons restaurant for an early dinner, us being on the other side of our New Year, new us-ness; had only nibbled on some healthy nuts all day. We took a zig-zaggy stroll back to the apartment, stopping here and there on the way, to have a glass or two of wine….. My dry spell well and truly ended last Friday night.
Staying in the Staatsliedenbuurt area of Amsterdam, afforded us great connections to Centrum and the Grachtengordel (the Canal ring) areas of the city, the public transportation system and also the airport. But honestly, walk; you can see so much more and stumble across little gems, hidden off the tourist drag. It’s not such a big city that you can’t pick a zone and walk around it in one day, taking in all the sights and places of interest there.
Having fallen off the healthy wagon, quite a bit more than we expected on Friday night, we stumbled home about 1 am (we think) and despite having a great dinner, we munched out way through ten kilos of cheese straws, that were part of the generous package provided by Luna and Jeroen, our AirBnB hosts; Saturday was approached with a modicum of decorum.
We did not partake of the coffee shops’ special brand of hospitality, as we had drunkenly enthused about the night before, but decided instead to be respectful of our older bodies and more sensible heads, and not spoil the rest of the weekend by regressing to our twenties uni days!! As we only had the best part of forty eight hours to cram as much as possible, we decided that we would adopt a two-pronged approach to sightseeing.
Saturday, Centruum and the Van Gogh museum and museum of contemporary art, which were all in and around the same area. And Sunday, Grachtengordel – including the red light district. But as with all the best laid plans, we needed to return on Sunday to the Rijkmuseum, because there just weren’t enough hours in the day…. On Saturday we took in the Van Gogh museum, which was wonderfully curated, and spent the best part of the morning being blown away by this prolific and tragic artist. I had no idea quite how much work he had produced, in his desperately sad short life. In need of a pick me up after our emotional morning, we went to close-by popular clean food restaurant, Blushing Amsterdam. Go. The place is great, the food tasty and heathy. And the staff are fabulous and hot!! I resisted licking the tricep of the angel boy waiter, who brought our bill, much to the relief of my friend…… and after dragging me away, we then wandered around in the rain
towards the red light area, en route to our studio. There’s nothing like the sight of an enormous metal bum ball, or a poster of two greasy bodies going at it, or a bored looking nana in a leather bikini, to shake the final tiny remnants of a hangover.
Ditching plans of getting the glad rags on, on Saturday night, due to the weather and forty-something fatigue; we found a wonderful place, at the end of our road to get great steak and fries with mayonnaise – don’t judge us – (when in Rome, an’ all that), and sample some local beers. Rooster is a find and a half, warm and cosy with lovely staff and a simple but spectacular menu and excellent value for money, away from the touristy centre.
I’ve never tasted mozzarella like it! And my steak was cooked to perfection….. We were in raptures. As a newly committed health fiend, and a frantic searcher of decent steak (due to the lack there of in BCN), it was like heaven on a plate. The Dutch know how to do meat.
On the last morning we tracked down Bakkerij Kwakman, to have our fill of foodie naughtiness, before returning to the straight and narrow. A cute little artesan bakery, standing room only, offers everything you could wish for from a buttery baked good. And then headed off to the Rijkmuseum for our final jaunt.
The thing that stood out for me the most, apart from the postcard prettiness, is how friendly and kind the locals are. Genuinely adorable humans, from our hosts, to the staff in bars and restaurants, to people in the street (no really. En route to Centruum on Saturday morning, a tailor waved enthusiastically and beamed at us as we walked past, out of the window of his workshop); I couldn’t believe their good nature.
I need to go again as I missed so much, and I advise four or five days, to have a more relaxed time to see as much as possible, because it just isn’t possible in forty eight hours.
Although we made the best of the time we did have, and I thoroughly, thoroughly enjoyed it – I feel there’s definitely more to explore………