Eclectic Amsterdam

Canals, charming narrow streets and gabled facades make Amsterdam a favourite city-break destination. One of my dearest friends lives in Utrecht, which is a stone’s throw from Amsterdam, and we were long overdue a good catch up so the first weekend we were all free, we booked flights. It so happened to be the Easter Bank Holiday weekend and let’s just say we weren’t the only ones with this bright idea.

Saturday

As soon as we arrived in Amsterdam I became a man on a mission, to get some good coffee. We found Koko Coffee & Design which is in Amsterdam’s central district. As soon as we walked in it reminded us of many London coffee shops (such as Husk, Taylor St Baristas). Strangely enough they were also selling clothing items – which explains its name. The coffee was one of the best I’ve had outside of London,  it had a rich flavour and the crisp earthy taste complemented the almond milk brilliantly.

We walked around aimlessly taking in the magic of Amsterdam.

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When we got too cold we stopped for lunch at Ivy & Bros. It’s a quirky cafe with healthy food and the salad I ordered was delicious and so filling I couldn’t finish it.  

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One thing I would say is that the place is more suitable for a lazy lunch rather than a quick meal and it was a real shame we didn’t have time to try any of those delicious looking cakes.

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Afterwards we rushed to Dam Square for the free Alternative walking tour and whilst it was a fun way to spend a couple of hours and the tour guide was funny, it wasn’t the most informative I’ve been on. If you’re more into the history and facts, the normal tour might be a better option.

I, on the other hand, was only there to steal some jokes.

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Should you wander through the city you’ll surely encounter tasteful street art around some corner. I wonder what makes them so creative.

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It was windy and rainy the entire day so after a few good hours walking around in circles we called it a day and headed towards Utrecht to escape the crowds and meet up with our friend.

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Sunday

We started our second day with a leisurely breakfast at home, topped up with the obligatory stroopwafel and then set off to Amsterdam. We passed by the Flower market  and the Anne Frank House (book tickets in advance if you want to avoid the interminable queues) and walked away from the centre of the city to explore some of its beautiful neighbourhoods.

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We walked through De Pijp, where everywhere you look there are beautiful buildings and countless bicycles .

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De Pijp reminded me of Kensington in a way: lots of tastefully decorated houses, quiet streets and happy (or at least rich) people. Everybody seemed to have a good time there – whether it was walking with their dogs/children/husbands – it just felt right. Of all areas visited in Amsterdam I would definitely prefer to live in De Pijp.

We fuelled up on coffee at Bakers & Roasters and continued our adventure.

Man, Bakers & Roasters felt like a hipster convention: I didn’t feel worthy enough to be there. One thing I didn’t understand was their decision to create a waiting area near the entrance – large enough to seat around 15 people – instead of just having more tables. The coffee was bang on average.

Our main stop of the day, Rijksmuseum is a gorgeous museum where you could easily spend days. It was, like most spots in Amsterdam completely packed which made it difficult to enjoy all the masterpieces.

The iamsterdam letters are at the back of the museum but it was packed with people and we didn’t felt like queuing to get a picture. The Van Gogh Museum is also close by.

Afterwards we went to one of the many English ‘pubs’ in Amsterdam where we watched some good old Premier League football – as my team were playing – and a bit of Formula 1 – although the latter was short-lived as Max Verstappen had crashed early in his race, much to the disappointment of the fellow Dutch pub-goers.

We finished off the day with some vlaamse frites from one of the chain shops. We didn’t have much luck with the food on our second day but we had tried most of the traditional foods we wanted to in Utrecht so keep your eyes open for a future blog post on that.

The fries were a bit rubbish; I had high expectations of them.

Monday

Our third and final day was spent mostly in Keukenhof Garden. I know we’re really late posting this but it’s never too early to start planning next year’s trips… or at least that’s how I like to think.

Seeing the tulips in bloom in Amsterdam has been on my bucket list for ages so I thought a trip to Keukenhof which is only open during springtime was not up for negotiation. The stunning colours and the perfume are hypnotising and if you search hard enough you may get lucky and find quieter spots or even a bench for a quick rest.

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I’ve never seen more flowers in my life and I don’t think I ever will. It makes for a pleasant sight; I was thankful for being allergic to cats and not flowers. The number of tulips was only exceeded by the tourists. Literally everywhere I went there was at least another tourist that I couldn’t get away from…

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Next on the bucket list was cycling around the tulip fields. You can hire bikes from outside the garden and there are several routes you can choose from depending how much time you have. This all sounded really dreamy on paper, in reality it was my second time on a bike so I was petrified that I was going to fall in a canal. We went for the shortest route but I am pretty sure we got lost as the signs weren’t very clear for that one and it ended up taking much longer than planned.

Cycling around Keukenhof was a joy – the Dutch drivers are extremely considerate of cyclists. Of all places I’ve cycled this was by far the most pleasurable.

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If you’re short for time or on a budget, there are normal buses that will get you near Keukenhof and you can just walk alongside the nearby tulip fields and take all the pictures you want.

We came back to Amsterdam and spent the final bit of the trip with our friend at HannekesBoom, a relaxed waterfront cafe with strong vintage vibes.

After the last afternoon, I can’t wait to back to Amsterdam in a quieter month and try and avoid the weekend. Now that we’ve gotten the “touristy” bits out of the way I really want to go back there and just be.

What’s on your Amsterdam bucket list?

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