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Easyjet from Gatwick | BA from LHR | Ryanair from Stansted- 1h 30m flight time max.
Culture: happy go lucky, used to be a stag haven but there is more to Amsterdam than cheap beer and the red light district.
Local transport: Tram and trains are very reliable. Bicycles are everywhere that’s the preferred way to travel. Its a lifestyle, get into it.
The Dylan Hotel:
Located in Negen Straatjes – the Nine Streets, the Dylan is a smart boutique hotel spread over two adjacent buildings. A traditional canal house, discreet and swish. Forty contemporary style rooms, restaurant and an ideal location to get out and about. Five minutes from Anne Frank’s House, ten minutes from Jordaan and stone throw from the many of boutiques and restaurants on the Nine Streets.
This quirky hotel is in the South and rather like its name is eccentric but at the same time traditional. It sometimes feels as if you are in the personal home of a grand English Lord. Situated in an old diamond factory in De Pijp, it is as you would expect it to be; full of quirk. You notice this as soon as you walk into the lobby to see a collection of noses as art on the brick wall. The location is great for exploring the museums and the Albert Cuyp market and no shortage of eateries at its door step or moments away. It too has a lovely fusion restaurant and a rather delightful brunch.
The trick to getting a full dose of any city is to arrive early enough to see the transformation from the airport to the city itself and to get a sense of your stay. It works for me. Arrive early afternoon, check into your hotel catch your breath and get your bearings right. Now admittedly I was in Amsterdam for a short weekend trip so I spent most of my time walking, and eating as opposed to seeing the sites… but there is always next time.
Anne Frank’s House: make sure to book well in advance the queues are terribly long. The home where Anne Frank and her family hid for more than two years during the Holocaust has an effect on you. The darkness of the world captured in the writings of a twelve year old girl. The museum preserves the history of the Holocaust, and the lives of its inhabitants, carefully staying true to history much of the house serves as a stark reminder of what hate does and finding some glimmer of hope in a time of absolute despondence. A lesson the world we live in today would be good to his that we do not revert to mistakes of the past. This is a history lesson worth learning from.
Van Gogh Museum. The story of Van Gogh is one that jars me because it intertwines the artist with the man and how he struggled to balance the two worlds. Van Gogh was an incredibly gifted artist who struggled to be in a world that failed to understand him or his artistry. This is the largest collection of Van Gogh and the most intimate. Don’t pass up a chance to visit this place. A good two hours should do you well.
Off the beaten path– Rembrandt’s house museum is the studio used by the artist until 1669. Although it has undergone extensive work it still maintains an authenticity.
The Jordaan: the shops, the canals, the little galleries and littler lanes. Jordaan is that special neighbourhood in the city. What used to be an enclave for immigrants and the poor, is now one of the most desired neighbourhoods in Amsterdam. It never feels as touristy as it should, something about it remains reserved which is pretty rare.
Nine Streets: is packed with shops and eateries, its like a little hip treasure trove that reveals itself the longer you wander and the further you go. From concept stores to dutch owned brands, bakeries to galleries, its almost impossible to leave empty handed.
Albert Cuyp market: not far off from the Sir Albert Hotel is Albert Cuyp market, a market open since 1912, pick up something sweet, something savoury, something fresh and stay for the atmosphere. Or just long enough before the crowds arrive. Enjoy the gloriously green space of Vondel Park, people watch or bask in the glorious sunshine. Spend some time here, take things slow and resarch more about Van Gogh.
Side Note: Go for a wander in Centrum, the busiest part in Amsterdam, bookshops to explore, weird shops to poke your head into, markets and unexpected places until its time for dinner.
If there is one thing you’ll never get bored of, its the food culture in Amsterdam. Its lit AF with good food, really good food and not just dutch pancakes, there is a healthy Korean food industry here… who’d have thunk it.
Upstairs Pannenkoekenhuis: I’ve written about this place already so I’ll keep this short and sweet, you gotta go here. You gotta eat the pancakes (I mean they are more crepes) but you just have to eat here. Book in advance and if its just you, then turn up with your fingers crossed and a prayer because the pancakes and just that great. Probably they best you would ever eat. Please quote me on that. I am not wrong.
Singel 404: Pick up a delicious sandwich from Singel 404, anything and everything here would do. Opposite is Laandstraajt, for warm freshly made waffles you’ll never soon forget.
Pompadour Bakery: dessert is a food group for me so there will always be a bakery recommendation on my itineraries because who am I if I don’t find a really good bakery in any town, village or city? No one. So stop at Pompadour bakery and leave with one of everything.
Its time to get out of town for a bit. I had between the Hague and Rotterdam to choose from and I chose the Hague not least because I am fascinated by the law courts but mostly because I had a mission; for as long as I can remember, since being introduced to art anyway by my sister and grandmother, I’ve had a list of paintings I would like to see before I die and one of them is The Girl With The Pearl Earring by Vermeer. The painting is resident in the Mauritshuis in the Hague. The journey to the Hague from Amsterdam is about forty minutes by train and whilst enroute, the landscape is truly enthralling.
However, The Hague, the town itself is not at all what I expected, its got a primark in the centre which is enough said. It reminds me of a dingy wine bar, you know, a speak easy… but I didnt have time to see much of the town itself so I could just be casting an uniformed judgement. Either way the little I saw left me a little cold. The buildings of the law courts is all I had enough time to see before I got hungry. And who knew there was a healthy Korean culture in the Hague? Yep, some of the best restaurants to eat are Korean.
Once you’re done with the meal, a little walkabout, and its time to go home.