While most of the world has a perception of this city has being a hotspot for legitimised drugs and easy sex, the ones who have been lucky enough to visit, know that there is so much more to this beautiful city. Once you can get pass The Coffee Shops, The Windows and The Fast Food Joints, you will come to see that there is so much more to offer in the way of culture, history and a easy-going, laid-back approach to everyday life.
The first thing you'll probably notice is that just about everyone travels by bike. Include the little ones who sit in a wooden cart and get pushed along....it may not look like the safest of travel utilities but it must work! Then the second thing you might notice is the very public urinals, for men only! Strange when you see it.
While I only had the chance to roam the streets for a 3-day weekend, these are what I recall and would recommend you to check out if you were ever on the side of the world:
A neighbourhood of the Zandaam district, you need to catch a train outside of Amsterdam for about 40-minutes to Koog-Zandijk. Once you get to the station, it is a brisk 10-minute walk before you reach a lake, dotted with the quintessentially-Dutch windmills and wooden cottages. While a bit of a tourist destination, it is nevertheless a lovely insight into historical Dutch life. Make sure you take a cheesy tourist picture in the giant clog!
Anne Frank Huis
We all know the story of Anne Frank so it was only paramount that we paid homage to the story that has lived on past the existence of the one who wrote those pages. Nothing short of touching, sombre and hopeful nonetheless, the house and the things that have been preserved show us nothing less of the amazing quality of the human spirit.
A neigbourhood of Amsterdam, where you will find a bevvy of independant boutiques, restaurants and bars. There's always one in every city and this one is it.
Van Gogh Museum
Only a must-see when you're in town. It's always an amazing feeling to stand in front of an artwork that you've seen throughout your entire life. That's what it felt like for me - Sunflowers, 1889.
Okay, so I did have two really great meals while we were there. One was a Dutch bistro with great, hearty food that really filled our bellies from the winter bite. It was frequented by locals and about a 20 minute walk from the city centre. The second was an Italian restaurant we stumbled upon, only because our initial plan for dinner at Balthazar's Keuken was cancelled when they told us the next available table was for 10:30pm. Only issue is I don't remember either of the restaurant's names. The only thing I can say is that the Italian restaurant is on the same street at Balthazar's. Not only was the food incredible, but the Owner would come and translated in his broken-english, every single dish on the hand-written menu. He did this for every table.
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