Amsterdam like a local

Posted on February 23, 2015


My first trip to Amsterdam was in my early twenties and is possibly one of the best weekends, ever. Not that any of us can remember that much of it. And I have been back on business a number of times. Even sneaking off one weekday afternoon to visit the Anne Frank House (touristy yes, but also haunting and makes for a reality check from the bubble of a life most of us live in).

But this trip was different, I was with a native. My beau, who lives in London but was determined that I fall in love with his other favourite city…

IMG_9662First up, bikes: the preferred mode of transport in Amsterdam, I was starting out like a local and hired bikes from Frederic’s – cheap, easy and good service.

He opted to stay in Jordaan (taken from the French word jardin meaning garden). Probably one of the best known areas being central with superb restaurants and shopping – what more could a girl ask for?

Well, lets start with an apartment on one of the canals. We stayed at the lovely Canon House, found here on AirBnB, which opened right up onto a quaint street by the canal. Not only is the apartment in a great position and beautifully decked out but the owners were fantastic and happy to help wth anything they could to make the stay memorable. I also came across this list of beautiful places to stay in the same area.

Next on the agenda was embracing another side of Dutch culture… by getting naked at Sauna Deco. I was so distracted by the stunning Art Deco interior that I forgot to worry about any saggy bits (mine or anyone else’s). The space has been recreated with original materials taken from Bon Marche in Paris, dating back to 1920s. It’s 25 euros a pop plus food, drinks and massages (the masseurs are meant to be brilliant). It’s an easy place to wile away a couple of hours.

IMG_9681 We didn’t quite get a couple of hours as we had dinner plans, although we managed to find time to stop for an aperatif at Wynand Fockink, where gin is rumoured to have been invented. de Kas (the Greenhouse) has no menu, just a choice of the number of courses, plus matched wines if desired. And they only use ingredients that are either grown on site or from the local area. The actual greenhouses are open to visit and the food was divine, no wonder bookings need to be made weeks in advance.  It’s a little further out of town than everything else we visited, but only 20mins on the tram and absolutely worth the trip.

IMG_9689Day two was packed: starting at the Van Gogh museum, a coffee pitstop and wander around the Droog design shop, lunch at the trendy Hutspot, a wander around The Rijksmuseum (with the obligatory viewing of the Night Watchmen), and then Winkel for the best Apple pie I have ever tasted (a perfect mix of deep filled real apples, crisp pastry, a crunch top and fresh whipped cream).

The day was topped of to a meal at de belhamel not far from where we were staying. Another cute French, art deco style interior with fabulous, and reasonably priced food. The venison I had was so utterly tender and delicious that I am still dreaming about it. But the best thing about this restaurant was not the excellent food, or the decor, it’s is the view from the tables by the window – a romantic spot overlooking the canals. Idyllic.

On our last morning I hopped on the back of my boyfriends bike for a personalised tour of Amsterdam (there’s a knack to getting on the back of the bike which means the bike is already in motion…it may not have been the most elegant the first few times I tried but happily mastered it after a few goes with no falls and not making a total tit of myself).

IMG_9667After all that hard work (his not mine) the last tour was of (hearty) traditional Dutch food. Starting with Erwtensoep – a Dutch pea and smoked sausage soup served with rye bread. We followed this with a Dutch pancake at the Pancake Bakery which we took with bacon and apple…and a drizzle of maple syrup – heavy but surprisingly good. And finished off with Poffertjes, small fluffy pancake-like dessert covered in icing sugar and served with butter.

He wooed me with food, art and a beautiful city. How can I not have loved it?