So, I think I’ve found another spirit city. Thanks to a weekend of lashing rain and biting wind, the Amsterdam I will remember (until we visit next) is a muted palette of greys and creams, brick and brown water. The bikes that sit everywhere drip-drip-dripped and co-ordinated dames und herren pedaled around with open umbrellas in one hand and handlebars in the other.
Speaking of cyclists, here’s an accurate depiction of how I felt during my 72 hours in Amsterdam, chancing my life at every crossing and cycle lane. I have never wished for owl-like neck reflexes so much in my life.
But, the potential for becoming a traffic-death statistic aside, I fell in love with candle-thin houses, three windows wide in the most gentrified city I’ve ever walked around – at least, obviously, the most central parts. Gratifying, actually, to see so many independent shops and eateries, even if they’ve all been hit with the hipster stick, (though, who am I kidding? I love a good sans serif logo design as much as the next person…). It was a city of casually-dressed cyclists riding ancient-looking sit-up-and-beg bikes (unlike London where so many people who cycle to work kit out like they’re Bradley Wiggins and act like they’re climbing the pyrenees rather than trying to get to their desks)
I wish the sun had shined a little so I could a) wear the other shoes I’d shoved into my backpack b) don the sunnies I had so optimistically purchased from Topshop and c) hire some bikes and enjoy Vondelpark a little more…but we ended up checking off so many restaurants, bars and museums, probably because of the weather, I almost can’t complain. (Almost).
Thank god for the internet and glutenvrij tips, too. How did we cope before Google? Moeders was one of my favourite meals we ate, Pancakes! does gluten-free dutch pancakes (NOM) and Greenwoods offered gluten-free bread topped with some amazing avocado-chicken-cottage cheese-poached egg goodness. So. Good. Don’t go to Amsterdam without stopping into Wynand Fockink either, for some tasty, tasty liqueur. If you like beer then Cafe Gollem is a can’t-miss and De Zotte near the Leidseplein was my favourite place for a great atmosphere to have a chilled-out drink.
Also, tip: do as we did and go Thursday-Saturday. Probably because we stayed away from the area around Centraal station, we managed to be leaving the dam just as the Stag parties were getting going…and that was some pretty sweet timing, I’ll say.
Monday calls…and my feet may ache from the cobblestones but I feel refreshed going into the week. If you need me, I’ll be reading The Miniaturist and daydreaming about those canal houses…