Amsterdam - a city Guide
I always find visiting a new city so exciting. Getting lost, accidentally finding a gem of a restaurant, walking through a dodgy neighbourhood accidentally or just soaking in the different personality. It's always so, well, fun. Travelling with Tom has been easy from the start, we like wondering, eating, taking in the sights, we never have a plan bar 1 or 2 spots which we'll try and see and we always, always love getting on a plane no matter what time of the morning. Amsterdam has been on our list for a while now and when Tom's sister flew over to Europe for a wedding we decided there was no better time than a quick catch up with her in a new city.
Getting there was remarkably easy and from the airport a mere €4.20 train ticket on the speedy one gets you right to the heart of the city within 25minutes. You can buy these tickets ahead of time but they're the same price as on the day and it's really easy once you arrive so I wouldn't bother. We had planned to meet an old friend first thing as we arrived early and couldn't check into our hotel till 3pm so off to Herengracht we went. Canals are everywhere and the effect is so calming. Water, albeit brown, gently flows between houses and the houses themselves are to die for. Herengracht is one of the "posher" neighbourhoods around and is a street that loops the main "island" of Amsterdam. I would definitely recommend staying in this area! Our hotel was in the main island and although a mere 10 minutes walk out to Herengracht the noise, dirt, tourists were overwhelming and so I'd def recommend staying outside of it.
First impressions: bikes - everywhere! And gorgeous stoops. Around the centre of town there aren't many parks and so it seems that people make little garden on their stoops - jasmine, roses, and all other manner of gorgeous blooms fill every step and the effect is just beautiful. Most people who have stoops tend so sit a lot on them and so when we arrived with our friend we sat with cushions in the sunshine watching the people go by. It was so beautiful and immediately we both wanted to move to Amsterdam!
Second impression, how much rubbish there is everywhere! We both find Ireland is filthy but Amsterdam was equally dirty and it was so surprising as the Dutch seem so big on recycling, biking, health etc that it was quite a contrast. And although we were quite shocked we still were enamoured with Dutch beauty. After a light lunch with our friend we wondered around more in the Jordaan area - we'd like to live here it was that good! Cute boutique hotels, everyone sitting outside in cafes, beautiful shops to tempt us, it was just so lovely. Some of our favourite streets were : Ree Straat, Bloemgracht, Eerste Bloemdwars Straat, Tweede Egelanstiers Dwarsstraat, Leidsegracht, Spuistraat, Prinsengracht, Brouwersgracht and all in-between those (basically a big kinda diamond). We also loved the area of Pijp which had one of our favourite places in, Foodhallen!
Below are some of our favourite places to eat!
Winkel - best apple pie in town. DON'T MISS IT (and don't eat anything else here). We made the mistake of stumbling upon it, seeing everyone else eat apple cake and order off the menu cos we were peckish. Only after reading it was famous for apple cake did we go back, order said apple cake and devour it within 2minutes. AMAZING
Coffee and Coconuts - definitely our favourite. A bit out of town but on the way is the Heineken museum and close by is the Rembrandt and Rijskmuseum. We loved the vibe, the food, the space. Everything was on point. Three of us with full breaky, coffee and juices came to €42 which compared to Dublin is great! I would order the coconut pancakes again, and again, and again.
The Cold Pressed Juicery - by far the best and tastiest juices in town, there are several locations around town so don't fret. Try the Astronaut's Fuel.
Near Winkel sits Good Life, the best coffee shop we found who also did a mean iced soya latte. HEAVEN! On Monday mornings there's a flea market in the square (Westerstraat St) where Good Life and Winkel sit - food stalls here too. We went for coffee, to watch the people and we stumbled across some Dutch pancakes called poffertjes. GET THEM! Even maybe get two lots. They were divine. Not healthy, but divine.
Van Stapele - the best bloody cookie in Amsterdam. You must visit these guys and get there early. They open at 12pm each day, we visited at 3pm the first day and they had sold out. I made sure we were back there on time and bought 6. If I lived in Amsterdam, I would go every day and get really, really, really fat. I mean, these are good. The shop sits just off a little square (Spui x Spurstraat) and it's a lovely space to sit down for a while. It also had the best magazine shop called Athenaeum Nieuwscentre on it.
Foodhallen - this was quite far out considering but it was a beauty. We went for lunch on our last day and would have loved to go back for supper and cocktails (or mocktails for me!). There was all manner of delights here - Korean, French, Mexican and more. We got some fun photo booth photos too at the Kanarie Club so pop in and have some booth fun!
Monte Pelmo IJs - by far the best sorbet we came across. First time we noticed it because the line was round the corner, 2nd time we got there at 10am and avoided said line...and enjoyed it sooo much. I had the raspberry and Tom had mango and citrus. Amazing
I'd definitely recommend getting the trams in Amsterdam, it was so easy and simple. For a one hour ticket you can buy it online with cash (€2.90) and there's a lady who will sell you a ticket in a booth that sits at the second to last door on each tram. If you want a day pass, or longer, you can buy your passes at lots of newsagent type places but not on the tram and there are no ticket booths at stops.
Let me know if you visited any of these places and what you thought or if you have some other ideas of places to go. We've put Amsterdam back on our bucket list to visit before our chilli bean arrives so we want more recos please!