A weekend in Amsterdam
So it finally came. My first weekend away of many in Europe. First stop, Amsterdam, a city that I’ve written about ten-folds and as a result have always wanted to experience first-hand. And did it live up to the hype? More than I could have imagined. For all the Red Light hoopla surrounding the city, Amsterdam is an incredibly romantic place, complete with endless canals, charming gingerbread houses and laneways to stroll hand-in-hand. If you must take a puff, do remember to pass it along because to experience this city blazed, would be to seriously miss out. I mean, how pretty can pretty really get?
If it’s not known for its coffee shops, then Amsterdam is famed for its bicycles. And yes, I saw many, and almost got run over by a few. Another reason not to green-out – crossing the road in Amsterdam is far more complicated than it seems. We soon learnt to step quickly between the myriad of quirky cars, hipster bikes and trams. And while I never got behind a pair of handle-bars myself (walking and trams sufficed for the weekend), I certainly wanted to. All of those pretty people and all of those bikes. If there was one city that makes you want to go on a health kick it’s Amsterdam.
It’s too bad though that the food is dam delicious. For our first night in Amsterdam we dined on the most incredible steak and tuna, followed by the raved-about butterscotch pudding at the intimate Vlaming. Definitely worth the hype.
For a snack, the city’s chain Bagel and Beans totally hits the healthy (ish) spot for a quick meal before more walking. For my pitstop I tried the banana, cinnamon and maple syrup bagel. So dericious. Much healthy. Do try!
When I found out pre-trip that there was a burger joint in Amsterdam called Ghetto that served burgers named after drag queens, naturally it was at the top of my list. Located in the red light district, the gay-friendly (duh) bar was everything I could have asked for and more – seriously amazing burgers, super strong cocktails, a dyke on the decks playing disco, space themed decorations and Barbarella playing on a big screen. Oh and a cat that aptly summarised how I felt the next day.
Drag queen burgers aside, I couldn’t go to Amsterdam and not eat my weight in pancakes either. While you can order a fine serving pretty much everywhere in the city, we enjoyed some traditional crepes at the famed yet simply named Pancakes Amsterdam. Well worth escaping the typical tourist areas to try.
I’ll admit I was running sadly low on funds for this weekend, but it didn’t totally kill my spirit nor stop me from looking at some of the stores. If I had to sum up Amsterdam’s shopping into four main categories it would be vintage stores, cheese, flowers and of course, penis-shaped bongs. Everything a modern day gal could need really. While the later was indeed tempting, if I could have my time all over again I would have taken than red fur coat from Petticoat home with me. That and maybe not have taken advantage of so many of the free samples in the cheese shops. Actually fuck it, I regret nothing!
Where to stay
As if I couldn’t love Amsterdam in all its penis-shaped bong glory anymore – our accommodation at the Bilderberg Hotel was fantastic. We booked the hotel via Secret Escapes – a luxury hotel sale site – for a total steal. While the hotel itself was beautifully designed and incredibly comfortable, it was the location that made it ideal. Situated between the city’s main museums and the designer fashion street (our room conveniently overlooked Prada), we could walk pretty much everywhere from the hotel, or catch the tram when our feet grew tired.
Things to do
If you’re anything like me, you can happily spend a weekend simply walking around in Amsterdam. The architecture is so interesting, I don’t think I could every get tired of it. One of our stay’s highlights though was getting last-minute tickets to a Boom Chicago show. It might sound weird to see a Chicago improv show in Amsterdam, but with the comedian phase I’m still going through, I was totally up for it. And it totally delivered. Poking fun at both American culture and Dutch culture, the show was s a really unique way to send a night out in Amsterdam – and a lot more funnier than a robotic sex show.
Since we were staying in the Museum district, it seemed amiss not to take advantage of the cultural fix that pretty much lay on our doorstep. With so many to choose from and so little time, we ended up opting to visit the city’s Modern ArtStedelijk Museum, where the futuristic design world of Marcel Wanders was the highlight.