Amsterdam, well known for it’s coffeeshops and red light district, but really this is just a tiny fraction of this gorgeous city…
I arrived on Friday morning with the boy flying in late that night after work (sucks to be him!). We were only there for a couple of days, flying out Sunday evening, so we really felt like we had to make the most of every minute!
I’m only going to write about one meal, breakfast! We really stick with the rule that breakfast is the most important meal of the day! Neither I nor the boy can start the day without it, we get incredibly grumpy if we have to wait longer than 30 min from getting up to having food and coffee! So headed out and went to The Breakfast Club down Haarlemmerplein. And man, I’m still dreaming about the pancakes I had!!! They were incredible! Honeycomb butter, fruit and maple syrup and so light and fluffy! He went for buttermilk chicken, obviously he didn’t share so I can only presume they were good. And obviously we had vanilla iced white coffee which was pretty good too once you give it a really good stir! I highly recommend you go, they do also do dinner and beer!
One of the things that was incredibly important to me was seeing Anne Frank’s house. Knowing I was going to Amsterdam I thought it time I actually read her diary. It’s a brilliant, moving book and gives you an insight into what the War really was like for those living through it every day. I couldn’t, and still can’t, get over how well she wrote. She’s an inspiration. Her dad helped her achieve what she wanted to, it’s heart-breaking to think she couldn’t do it herself. Her house, in the loosest sense as it’s really more of a few small
rooms, is right on the canal near the Westertoren Church (Anne writes about this in her diary!). I wasn’t really thinking it all through and it turns out you have to book tickets way in advance if you want to go into the museum and her house. However, from 15.30 it’s tickets on the door; this is when I actually did my research and discovered people can start queuing from as early as 9am!! I was torn between wanting to see more of Amsterdam and an iconic piece of history. I decided to pick up a super hipster cold pressed juice and head to the queue at 1pm. Thankful it wasn’t that busy, it was a Friday so I’m not sure if that had something to do with it, but I was feeling pretty lucky. I had my book so I was set for the next few hours. And I have to say, it was worth it. Reading the book is one thing, but seeing the place they had to live, how they tried so hard to survive is incredible, so moving. It’s hard to imagine eight people hiding out there, it’s so small! There are still pictures on the wall that Anne stuck on herself, as well as the bookcase they used to conceal the door. It goes on into a museum which has a lot of information on the holocaust and what happened to those in the Secret Attic. It will stay with you, everything you read and see but it’s one of the best things you can do. Be more organised than me and book your tickets the second you know you’re going to Amsterdam – http://www.annefrank.org/
Now let’s move on to the more cheerful side of Amsterdam… In 2010, the Canal Ring was
added to the UNESSCO World Heritage List. You can see why, it’s what makes Amsterdam so original. When I first arrived I spent half the day just walking up, down and around the canals. They are so pretty and very romantic, though I may have gotten lost a few times (not that that’s a bad thing in such a beautiful place). There are many options about how to get around on the canal but we went for the super touristy City Sightseeing canal boat. It was so nice just looking up and around and soaking it all in. We ended up staying on for the full loop instead of getting on and off and I don’t regret it! It took around 2 hours for the green route which went around the outer ring of the canal. It stops at many of the top attractions such as Rijksmuseum and Albert Cuyp Market. Apart from our trip on the boat we walked everywhere! There were a couple of markets we went through which is always nice. Lots of food and cheese samples which was great! We ate a lot of cheese! We also did the Bloemenmarkt, which was nice but I wouldn’t say you have to go out of your way. It’s very touristy, I thought there would be lots of flowers and bright colours but it was mainly filled with magnets and knick-knacks.
While we were there the Museumplein, the green outside Rijksmuseum, had been transformed, hosting the Uitmarkt festival with music, food and stalls of all sorts! It was great fun looking round and going up the selfie tower and taking it all in. The only downside for me was that the famous Iamsterdam letters were slightly hidden but it was worth it to see a different side of the city. I got a tad overexcited with the Mountain Dew stand where they were doing instant photos. Thankfully the boy also got into it (well as much as I could ask for considering he hates photos!) and I’ve ended up with a fun keepsake on my fridge. We didn’t go in to the Rijksmuseum as we didn’t have the time. We probably would have popped in had it been free but at €17.50 we couldn’t justify it for 30 minutes but just the building itself was amazing to walk around it.
As the boy is super into his beer and a brewer we obviously had to do the Heineken Tour. It was good fun and you get a lot for your money. I recommend pre booking your ticket, saves
you time as you don’t have to queue, which when you are only in Amsterdam for little over 48hrs ever minute counts. A highlight for him was seeing all the rugby memorabilia they have! We got three samples of Heineken, one in the middle and two at the end with our tokens (these are on your wristband tickets so don’t go losing them!). You enjoy the last two on the top floor which has a balcony looking over the city! It’s a great view, we ended up spending longer than we thought up there admiring it and a bit of people watching too.
Sticking with beer, I also recommend Brouwerij IJ! The brewery itself is located east of the city. It is worth the walk! The beer is great and such a range of choices. We had managed to try a few of them at this bar we happened to stumbled upon the night before, for the life of me I can’t remember the name of it, sorry! Brouwerij IJ is located under Amsterdam’s largest windmill which definitely adds to the reasons why you should go. The windmill is an iconic symbol of the Netherlands and would be a shame not see one while you’re there. The labels are pretty cool, all well illustrated and colourful. We also got some nibbles of cheese (of course!) and meat which went great with the beer. Sticking with traditions the boy bought a beer related t-shirt which I have to say was actually pretty cool.
Go, pack your bags and head to Amsterdam! There is so much more to discover…