My girlfriends and I went on a small mission to Amsterdam to endure delicious treats, world famous art, vintage apparel, quaint shops and Dutch beer. What an exhausting time we had, but gosh dam it, we’d do it all over again! We loved every second of Amsterdam, even the ridiculous Sex Museum.
Amsterdam lies in the Netherlands in Europe, a stones throw away from the UK. The buzzing city is in the northern province of Holland with a population of approximately 1.1 million within its urban region. Trams, buses and trains put English services to shame as they are copious and punctual, but if you want to feel like a local, hire a bicycle and explore the city’s many side streets by wheel. Amsterdam is set up amazingly for cyclists so don’t feel nervous about rolling around!
When one thinks of Amsterdam, there are a few things that spring to mind: the red light district, the special coffee shops where you get high on other things than caffeine, windmills, canals and clogs. But what no one really mentioned to me was the incredible eateries there and of course, the kick ass vintage shops. I flew with EasyJet, aka the airline that will charge you through the nose if you dare exceed their hand luggage allowance, and since I was doing the city break on a budget, I had crammed a flowered holdall with everything I thought I would need. Unfortunately, this also stopped me from truly unleashing my fierce shopping spirit which I found surprisingly painful and really quite traumatic.
A word of warning, people: Go to Amsterdam with an empty suitcase and be prepared to bring home a whole new wardrobe. Your bank balance will blister, but your feet will be blister free in delightful vintage leather boots. You need to fully explore the Negen Straatjes (‘Nine Little Streets’) to get a proper vintage fix. Cool stores line these streets and the likes of Zipper, Episode and Laura Dols will have you grinning like the cat that got the cream. Or cheese. Or mouse… whatever the analogy is.
Fur collared coats, leather boots, framed unicorn pictures, incredible blue and white china, cool door knobs and toilet flush handles – the list is endless. You can stock up on literally anything and you’re house will look instantly twee and your wardrobe will gain some timeless qualities.
Don’t forget, there’s plentiful culture to be had. We queued up for a good solid few years to get into Anne Frank’s house that has been turned into a museum. It was really sad and pretty hard hitting to walk around the house that she hid in and still see the posters and pictures she had put up on the walls of her bedroom. An intense but incredible experience, especially for those who have read her diary.
Head to the Stedelijk Museum and the Van Gogh Museum to see all the art works that you’ve seen in text books. And if you feel that your brain has soaked up enough culture, pop over to the Sex Museum for a bit of horror and comedy. Cue lots of penises (I just had to google the plural of penis), old retro style porn, extreme sizes of body parts and general odd rooms full of stuff that may scar you for life.
Enough about the x-rated side though. Hit the pub to recover with a stiff drink. Some of the pubs are incredibly quaint and get jam-packed when the weekend hits. The Dutch speak fantastic English and are incredibly friendly, so you’re sure to make some new friends on a night out! Head to Pilsvogel for some great local Dutch beer, and then once you’ve drunk the place dry, head over to Trouw at around 2am. That’s when the techno party would just be kicking off in the giant warehouse club! Party on till 6am, then head home via Trouw’s in-house burger shop.
You never truly know a place until you’ve eaten where the locals eat. And what the yeat. I was luckily enough to be there with my cutie-pie dutch friend, Anouk, and she knew exactly where to go. She was a woman on a Dutch food mission.
Traditional Dutch food includes Broodje Kroket, which is a type of open meaty croquet sandwich with wholegrain mustard. Try this at Café Brix on Wolvenstraat in the centre and you’ll definitely be eating like a local! Be sure to head over to De Bakkerswinkel for award-winning bread and tiny sandwiches, which are guaranteed to make you instantly fall in love with the baker. And the desserts and pastries are to die for: Appel beignet (apple fritter) and Oliebol (an amazingly soft doughnut) are amongst the many that must be sampled.
if your hangover from Trouw is too much to bear, be sure you have somewhere nice to sleep for the night. The Airbnb choices for Amsterdam are awesome and are well worth the money when traveling in a group. We rented an entire apartment and had the luxurious freedom to cook for ourselves and watch movies whilst slobbing out on the couch. But after seeing the dreamy canals lit up by the old ornate street lamps, I kind of wish we had slept on an actual houseboat!
Wherever you end up staying, you’re guaranteed to not spend much time in bed as there’s a ridiculous amount to do and see in Amsterdam. It is the perfect European city break with the perfect balance of culture and decadence!
All photographs by Sophie Saint