My friend and fellow blogger Nathalie asked me to write a post about Amsterdam for the ’48 Hours In’ section on her blog. Below you’ll find the full article which was originally posted on The Destination Unknown:
Question 1: where are you originally from?
I grew up in the Netherlands and lived over 5 years in Paris (where I lost my heart to what I think is the most beautiful city in the world).
Question 2: where do you live now?
For the past 2 years I have been living in London, it took me some time to get used to it but I am slowly starting to appreciate this city.
Question 3: which city are you writing about today and why?
Amsterdam! It’s funny how I’ve only really started to discover the pretty capital of my home country when I moved to London. For work I had to travel frequently to Amsterdam and that’s when I got to know it rather well. It has become one of my favourite cities now; the canals, the typical architecture, the bikes, everything. There’s a very pleasant vibe in Amsterdam I find, it’s hard to describe what exactly creates it, but it’s definitely there. All the more reason to go on a little trip and find out for yourself!
Question 4: in 48 hours, what are the best monuments to go to?
I have to admit (embarrassingly so), I haven’t done much of monument visiting in Amsterdam. Obviously there is the Palace on the Dam Square which can hardly be missed as pretty much every tramway coming from the Central Station drives past it, so that’s one monument down.
I’ve wanted to go to the Anne Frank House, but almost constantly present massive queues have prevented me from doing so. I do think that if you’re in Amsterdam only once, it might be worth visiting. You can book tickets online beforehand so you won’t queue too long.
In terms of museums Amsterdam has a lot to offer. Personally I’ve been to the Van Gogh Museum (years ago though), and as far as I can remember that was quite good, depending on if you like Van Gogh probably..
One museum that is still very high on my ‘to do’ list, is the Rijksmuseum. Unfortunately I can’t tell you if it’s worth going there, but it’s supposed to be -the- arts & history museum in Amsterdam so I’m sure there’s some interesting things to see. And in case the museum turns out to be a disappointment, there’s always the massive ‘I amsterdam’ letters just outside, giving you plenty of good photo opportunities.
Question 5: in 48 hours, what are the best chillout places to go to?
It might not be the most original answer, but if the weather is nice, go to a park or find a quiet spot somewhere along the canals. The most famous park is probably the Vondelpark, but there is also theWesterpark, where besides chilling out you often can enjoy many cultural things that are going on.
Question 6: in 48 hours, what are the best restaurants and bars to go to?
A personal favourite of mine is Mossel & Gin. They specialise in Dutch mussels (yes, we are famous for our mussels too!) and Gin. The restaurant is located on the Westergasfabriek, a former gasworks factory in Amsterdam, that is now being used a cultural venue and as such houses several bars and restaurants. A nice little dinner at Mussel & Gin could be the perfect ending of an afternoon full of chilling in the neighbouring Westerpark…
I am sticking with the seafood because I just recently went to the Seafood Bar and it was super good. There are several of them in Amsterdam, I ate at the one in the Ferdinand Bolstraat. Think platters of fresh (Dutch) prawns, crab, salmon and eel with a nice bottle of cold Sancerre in a casual setting.
Less classy, but a MUST eat, is a big cone of fries. Topped off with a big clod of mayonnaise and maybe some peanut sauce and accompanied by a ‘frikandel speciaal’ or a ‘kroket’. Super greasy but super good. What can I say, we Dutch love to fry! You can pick up a cone at one of the many snack bars you’ll see in the streets.
Question 7: any tips on places or behaviours to avoid?
Amsterdam seems to become more popular among tourists every year. As much as that is a great thing for the local economy, it has is downsides too. The city is not a big metropole such as Paris or London so at times it can feel crowded. Of course there are certain tourist hot spots you’ll want to see, but I would try to see parts of Amsterdam that aren’t that touristy (yet). Discover the real Amsterdam instead! Rent a bicycle, which is not only fun but also a great local way of getting around, and pedal yourself to beautiful neighbourhoods that are quieter.
I’d definitely take the ferry and go to the north part of Amsterdam around sunset; incredibly beautiful. If you’re looking for a place to have a romantic dinner with your loved one, Eye has a nice big terrace overlooking the IJ river, offering you a front row seat for the sky spectacle that is called a sunset.
Question 8: any funny anecdotes / heroic moments to share?
A not so heroic moment yeah.. I was in Amsterdam with my French friend Audrey last year when she thought it would be a good idea to go for a ride in a giant merry-go-round at a fun fair. ‘The view is going to be amazing’ sold me, I think. I don’t know how high it was exactly, but I definitely thought we were going to fall out of our (not so stable feeling) seats. I pretty much spent the entire ride with my eyes closed, telling Audrey we were going to die and swearing at the guy who controlled the machine for not letting us back down sooner..
Question 9: any other useful tips you’d like to share?
Useful I don’t know, but you should absolutely try another Dutch delicacy: bitterballen. They’re some sort of fried (I told you we like to fry), meatballs that go extremely well with another thing we Dutch love: a glass of ice cold beer. Add a little mustard on the side and you’re never going to want to leave Amsterdam again.
Thank you very much for your insights, Neelie, and see you all next month for some more features!