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Amsterdam is famous for canals, cannabus, and cool alternative culture. While I was visiting for a photo shoot, my friend Katie came from London to join me on the weekend before my shoot to explore “Venice of the North”.
But sorry, no red light district or naughtiness for us in this story. We decided to have a calm and relaxing girls weekend of catching up and getting acquainted with Amsterdam the honest romantic way.
WHAT TO DO:
WANDERING THE STREETS and canals of this charming town would be enough to do for a long weekend on its own. It is petite, quirky and mismatched and authentically European. See how the building were built on a lean to hoist up goods to top floors safely and how narrow some of the buildings are since they used to be taxed according to their width!
Watch the locals ride their own vessels, often relaxing or sipping wine while rowing down the canals. On the Queen’s birthday (now newly King’s birthday) a famous celebration goes on for the weekend where thousands wear the national color of orange and make a boat party on all the canals.
The newly opened RIYKSMUSEUM houses thousands of Dutch Masters and dedicated to the art and history of Holland including painting, pottery, scultpture and stained glass.
SHOPPING in the main streets in the centre and north of the centre ranges from fun tourist shops to small and well priced boutiques. There are also small shopping and eating areas in Jordaan.
ANNE FRANK Museum– go early as there are huge lines to see inside this tiny home where Anne waited patiently.
BOAT TOUR around the canals and harbor- don’t forget to buy a little bottle of wine at the ticket shop and share with plastic glasses as you take this convenient and frequent tour. Great to see the architecture of the city by water.
COFFEE SHOPS– really they mean pot.. as in weed… now that’s in legal in a few states in the USA, it may not be as novel, but go see the diversity and how marijuana is treated like any other consumable; categorized, refined by class, effect, taste and cost. It will make you reflect on how we view and curate wine or liquor in other parts of the world.
Dutch cooking seemed somewhere in the realm of heavy German and “war time” food. This coming from me, a modern healthy eater who is spoilt with the nuances of to-the-minute trends in New York City.. but I had many Dutch people agree with me… so… Go Italian!
There are places outside the centre that are meant to be modern and groundbreaking but for two young girls on a budget who wanted to walk around… here are the canal side gems we found.
Restaurant Cafe van Puffelen is located on the Prinsengracht. In the middle of the Jordaan district, in the area around the characteristic ’Negen Straatjes’ (nine little streets): they couldn’t have had a better location. Once just a small and authentic Amsterdam ‘bruin cafe’ (brown bar), but after a couple of expansions Restaurant Cafe van Puffelen has become a hotspot in the city and a place that every ‘Amsterdammer’ knows. Serving simple modern dishes at good prices.
D’Antica located close to the center and near the photography museum, is a divinely delicious traditional Italian restaurant with exquisite roast vegetable antipasti, pastas and tender beef filet. The staff is all Italian and unbelievably welcoming. They will push suggestions and… they are totally right. If you are cognoscenti order Spaghetti al Parmigiano – and everyone can watch as waiters turn steaming pasta inside a wheel of cheese. MUST TRY
There are dozens of cute cafes, most not outstanding for food, but you will be so in love with the atmosphere you can just become part of the Gezelligheid “cosy” amsterdam culture!