Through the Canal into my Heart: Exploring Amsterdam, the Netherlands
Updated: May 7, 2020
It’s called the Venice of the North for a reason. I’ve been to a fair share of places in my time, but Amsterdam was the one that left the most vivid impression. Walking down its narrow streets packed with tall crooked houses and separated by the many canals felt like setting foot into a completely different world. The city’s atmosphere couldn’t be confused with any other European capital, and as soon as I saw it, I knew it was the type of place I could be living in long-term.
As with any heart of tourist attractions, there were so many things to see that by the end of the holiday I was absolutely shattered (but in a good way). Without further ado, let’s quickly review my time in Amsterdam, shall we?
When reliving the experience, Madame Tussauds is one of the first things that rushes back to my mind. An opportunity to stage photos with replicas of your favourite pop stars, superheroes and politicians – what a better way to perk up your Instagram account? Knowing me, I just couldn’t miss a chance to pose with Marylin Monroe and try to mimic Ariana Grande’s signature pose.
For those with an interest in science and biology, I would suggest to pay a visit to Body Worlds. The museum is separated into several floors sorted based on different parts of the human body, offering a look at dissected human organ preserved through plastination. While it was definitely a memorable and educating experience, I wouldn’t recommend eating beforehand if you’re squeamish, as the sights are very explicit.
One of the more light-hearted attractions was the Heineken museum. While I’m not really a beer fan myself, I’m also not one to refuse a free drink (unless it’s a jaeger bomb), so I took full advantage of the tokens that were included in the ticket price. There was also a guided tour of the history of Heineken, including on how the beer itself is made, as well as a video show. Let’s just say that if you enjoy a good pint, you’ll definitely want to check out this attraction.
If you’re up for an interactive show that also teaches you some stuff about the city’s history, Amsterdam dungeon is the place for you. A bit of advice – if you happen to have red, or any bright coloured hair for that matter – prepare to be picked on (I’m not speaking from experience or anything), but at the end of the day, it’s all in good fun. One thing that upset me was that it didn’t have a drop ride in the end like the Berlin one did, but you can’t have it all, can you?
Somehow, I managed to save the most serious one for last. To say that seeing Ann Frank’s house was a harrowing experience would be an understatement. It’s definitely one of the things that you’re glad you had the opportunity to visit, but once is more than enough as the image stays ingrained in your mind for a long time. For those wishing to see it for themselves, I recommend booking as far in advance as you possibly can, as the queues for the tickets online are massive. I was lucky enough to secure tickets on the day, as they make some available, but if you attempt to do that, prepare to be extremely annoyed by the endless online queues (don’t say I didn’t warn you!).
Food and drinks
It’s hard to think of where to start as all the restaurants I visited throughout my time in Amsterdam were absolutely amazing, so it really just depends on your preference.
I would definitely recommend The Pancake Bakery. From its cosy setting to an excessive choice of sweet and savoury pancakes, the place is suitable for both breakfast and dinner. I tried out a Norwegian pancake with salmon, sour cream and cream cheese, which was like taking a bite out of a cloud blessed by an angel (just writing about it makes me want to fly out there and taste it again). There are plenty of representations of cuisines from other countries, so there will definitely be something for everyone. While it’s a bit on the pricier side, it is absolutely worth the splurge.
For fans of burgers, Bar-B Burgers and Beer Bar is the place to check out. The restaurant provides a breath-taking variety of choices of meat, cheese, vegetables and sauces to make your own perfect burger, which you can even name as an addition to the menu. I personally love these sorts of places where you can craft your own meal, as it means even the pickiest of eaters will find something they like without much problem.
The Pantry was a place that had a queue to get into as its interior has very limited spaces, but it was well worth it. In this restaurant, I tried out bitterballs with horseradish mustard and a traditional combination of hutspot, boerenkoolstamppot and zuurkoolstamppot with a smoked sausage. As someone who hates mustard with a burning passion, the Pantry’s version was surprisingly enjoyable, and made me proud of myself for not being afraid to try new things (that being said, no one will force raisins down my throat ever).
For those with a sweet tooth, there are plenty of bakeries with all sorts of waffles, cupcakes and whatnot on the city centre streets, but one place I have to give a shout out to is Lucy’s Cheesecakes. The name speaks for itself as the place offers various flavours of cheesecakes and has a lovely display in the front for those Instagrammers. I tried lemon flavour and it was easily one of the best cakes I’ve ever tasted, so if you’re lucky enough to go over there, I definitely recommend.
Last but not least, I can vouch for the Ice Bar. Once again, it’s pretty self-explanatory – there are two rooms, one of which is an ordinary bar and another one is an ice bar that can drop up to –10 degrees Celsius. The place provides coats and gloves to keep people somewhat warm in the room, offering either flavoured shots or pints of beer while inside. Once you can’t handle the cold, use up your remaining token for a regular drink. It’s definitely a golden (or shall I say silver) photo opportunity!
Let’s conclude by saying that after four days, both my legs and wallet were extremely worn out, but it was well worth it. Here’s hoping I get to go back someday, and possibly share more of my adventures... Till next time.