After inevitably succumbing to Ryanair’s alluring prices we boarded our 6am flight from Edinburgh to Amsterdam. This spur of the moment trip, booked a mere two daring days in advance, was made all the more exciting by our 3am shuttle driver singing admirably loudly to Blank Space. However, by the time we reached Amsterdam the 24 hours of sleep deprivation was beginning to hit. Nevertheless, we strove on to our first port of call: the hotel. We eventually decided to invest in an OV Chipkaart (essentially an Oyster Card) which, although almost bank breaking, turned out to be a far cheaper method. Eventually, we boarded the train to our hotel: the Citizen M. Despite everything being completely see through – both the toilet and the shower – it made for a rather entertaining experience.
In our effort to be thoroughly cultured in the history of the Dutch by the end of our stay, we ventured out (jumping straight in at the deep end) and visited the Sex Museum. Inside there was two distinct groups of people: the discombobulated and the free spirited individuals who were taking everything in their stride. I like to think we were the latter, but I still cannot deny that subsequent post-sex-museum feeling of complete overexposure to intimate human anatomy.
Steak. If you are ever in Amsterdam, you must find a steakhouse. I am a firm believer in sticking to the reviews of Tripadvisor, but my daring companion convinced me to leave behind my trusty iPhone. I was skeptical to say the least. However, what we found was a tiny restaurant, hidden away behind a large canal boathouse. Despite the overly friendly waiters and the questionable glow of red lighting the steak was perfectly succulent, and the side of alcoholic Chocomel complemented the meal exquisitely. On the other hand, a truly well known delicacy in Amsterdam is the ‘frite sauce’. At first I was unsure of this alien concoction, but after tasting said ‘frite sauce’ (similar to mayonnaise); I have to say I may be converted. Nonetheless, the food that truly needs no introduction is the stroopwafels – not sampling a stroopwafel when in Amsterdam is comparable to visiting St Andrews without trying one of Fischer and Donaldson’s fudge donuts.
Aside from strolling along the charming canals, our time in Amsterdam would not have been complete without a visit to the Van Gogh museum. Beginning his story on the first floor and climbing upwards towards his tragic ending left you with a profound sense of loss. His artwork, both emotionally honest and boldly beautiful, was cut short by the coldness of life. It is almost painful to wonder what the world missed out on. Similarly, nothing can truly prepare you for walking through the bookshelf that hid Anne Frank and her family for two years. The annex has hardly been touched, and as you read the fading pages from Anne Frank’s diary you gain a painful glimpse into her life in hiding. Not only does the museum beautifully portray Anne Frank as an artist whose journey was only beginning, but it also conveys the engaging and perceptive insight Anne had into the wonders of life.
One evening, when strolling through the Museumplein with a freshly made waffle we came across a poster for the De Badcuyp. We decided to give it a try, and I’m so glad we did. It turned out to be a live jazz bar. It was one of the highlights of the entire trip, and gave us a real flavor for a true Dutch night out. The free lunchtime concerts held at Amsterdam’s famous Concertgebouw are also a must. A chorus of angels for free; what more could you ask for?
People said to me you could visit Amsterdam for only a day to see everything you need to. I disagree. I have never felt more welcomed to a new place than by the Dutch. Moreover, the juxtaposition of the beautiful culture of the canals and aligning town houses with the exposed roughness of human desire is fascinating. However, in order to fully appreciate the wonders of Amsterdam you must come see it for yourself.
Images courtesy of the author, and sourced from Pinterest