Amsterdam

Last time I was in Amsterdam,  I was around four years old. So this (re-)visit was long over due. Two full days to roam the streets and channels of Amsterdam… What should one do?

DSCN4883First of all, I readily acknowledge the fact that I should not have been travelling in the mood I was in. There was a medical emergency in my family and I seriously considered cancelling the whole trip. Everyone else kept on insisting that I should go. Reluctantly I decided to go and it was a big mistake. I wasn’t prepared for the trip, I couldn’t concentrate on anything and my mind was not in the game. Amsterdam for me was a big blur (and I didn’t even eat any magic mushrooms!).

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Let’s start with being ill prepared… On the train trip back from the hospital to my flat I managed to look at the weather forecast so luckily I had an umbrella, a warm jacket and long-sleeved shirts. Earlier in the week I had managed to borrow two travel guides, but I hadn’t had the time to read them. I decided to just wing it. The first mistake I did was I bought a two-day Amsterdam travel card for 20 €. I stayed near the airport and I had looked at the train ticket prices and noticed it is much cheaper to buy the travel card. Amsterdam is such a small town you can easily walk everywhere so I only used the travel card to get to and from the airport to the city centre. When I finally had the time to try and figure out what one should do in Amsterdam, I noticed that they sell IAMSTERDAM city cards. A 24 h card costs 49 € and includes free, unlimited use of public transport in the city, free entrance to Amsterdam’s major museums & attractions, free canal cruise, a map and free entrances to different attractions. I did the math and got super pissed! It will cost you 17.50 € just to get to the the Rijksmuseum! So instead of enjoying Rembrandt and Van Gogh like I thought I would, I just walked around the city aimelessly. I don’t know if I could have concentrated in the paintings even if I had decided to pay for the entrance fees.

DSCN4898 DSCN4903I wantDSCN4909ed to try Dutch pancakes. You can get them all around the city, but at The Happy Pig Pancake Shop (Rosmarijnsteeg 12) you can get organic pancakes.

Ordering them is super easy. You choose the style of pancake (wheat or spelt-buckwheat), the filling and the toppings. The hardest thing is to choose the right filling and the toppings since everything sounds so delicious. You can choose a salty pancake with cheese and fig jam or beacon if your sweet tooth is under control. Spicy hot chutney sounds like a fantastic option for cold days. I think I would be happy spending a week at the pancake shop trying different variations.

I chose a wheat pancake with apple, raisin, cinnamon and toasted almond slices filling and chocolate-hazelnut sauce and vanilla ice cream topping. It was delicious with a hot cup of tea, but the vanilla ice cream was actually soft ice cream.

DSCN4912DSCN4933The other local dish you need to try is the Flemish fries. Deliciously fatty and so unhealthy, these thick fries will melt in your mouth. The best way to enjoy them is to eat them straight away with mayonnaise. You can buy them at different streetcorners with every shop claiming to serve the best Flemish fries in town.

The only museum I ended up visiting was Anne Frank’s House. You are not allowed to take pictures in the museum. I first read The diary of Anne Frank as a teenager and it had a big impact on me. The lines for the museum were long, but compared to other museums in Amsterdam, the entrance fee was reasonable (9.50 €). I can’t describe the feeling of actually seeing the space where they lived and walking up the stairs behind the bookcase. The most chilling moment when I was waiting in line and heard the bells of Westertoren and I suddenly remembered how Anne Frank had described hearing the same bells in her diary.

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The BloemenmaDSCN4916rkt is the place to be if you are interested in Dutch tulips. Being so late in the year, the market offered tulip bulbs instead of blooming tulips. I had to settle for admiring the wooden tulips at stalls.

Amsterdam is famous for its liberal views on drugs and prostitution. There are coffeeshop selling weed and magic mushrooms shops around the city centre, but the only people I saw using the products were tourists. You could buy your cannabis starter kits at the market or buy cannabis ice cream from the shop.

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The houses were just like in the postcards: beautifully painted, tall, narrow and a bit crooked. Despite being famous for tulips and windmills, Dutch cheese also needs a recognition. Old Amsterdam is a creamy cheese with a rich flavour. Make sure to pop into one of their shops in the city centre and try the free samples. Some cheese shops sell vacuum packed cheese that you don’t have keep in the fridge. It’s super easy to buy as a gift for someone. Remember the you are only allowed to bring hard cheeses in your carry-on bags.

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After walking in the cold DSCN4938rain for most the day, I wanted a nice big cup of tea. I am a huge fan of afternoon teas and try and visit different tea shops while abroad. I came across ‘T Salon (Leliegracht 18) that also works as Hotel ‘T.

‘T Salon is a tearoom in the making. It has a lot of potential, but as of now, it fails to go the final stretch. I chose black Assam tea with apple pie.The number of tea options was average, but you only had two options for a sweet treat. The slice of cake was fresh and big, but didn’t really taste like anything.

While waiting for my tea to brew, I browsed through the catalogue of their hotel rooms. They have unique and colourful themed rooms that looked really nice.

DSCN4892DSCN4897Eventhough Amsterdam didn’t go as planned, I managed to see some of the sights. Sometimes things just fall into pieces.

Next time I come to the city, I will definately hit the museums big time! And buy the bloody IAMSTERDAM card.

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