Amsterdam Travel

AMSTERDAM

A weekend jaunt


My great friend from San Fran (read about my food adventures in that city here) was over in Europe in September and wanted me to join her on a weekend city jaunt.

We settled on Amsterdam as neither of us had been before and I’m so glad we did – it’s a brilliant city.


STAY

We had wanted to stay at the ‘one and only bedroom’ in Hôtel Droog,  from the people behind the design shop in Staalstraat but with it being a one room hotel, there was unsurprisingly no availability. Stout & Co. also looked like a cool option but alas they too had no availability. We also considered Maison Rika, Mayor Manor and Miauw but ended up going with an air b’n’b apartment.

The apartment was in the heart of Jordaan; the perfect location, walking distance to lots of nice cafes, bars, restaurants and of course the elegant canal houses. My first encounter with these tall thin buildings was via my mum’s collection of KLM porcelain bottles, filled with gin, replicating the shape of these famous dutch houses. I was surprised at how taken I was with them – they are just stunning masterfully engineered buildings with an air of refined glamour.


EAT

I did quite a bit of research on places to eat and drink prior to arriving in Amsterdam and ran the names past some family friends who live there and some locals, to verify if they were any good.

On the day we arrived, it was pissing it down – we jumped on a train to the centre of town and headed to G’s A Really Nice Place in the Jordaan for a spot of breakfast whilst we waited to check into our air b ‘n’ b flat. This place is super cosy like you’re chilling in someone’s living room. We ordered eggs and avocado on toast and it did the job. It wasn’t super busy when we went as it was a Friday morning but I believe it gets busy at the weekends so best to book as it’s a small place.  Service  was friendly and laid back.

This place is best know for its brunch (apparently there are very few places that offer proper brunches in Amsterdam with Bloody Mary’s and Mimosas and G’s is blazing this path, with three joints in total, including one on Linnaeusstraat and a brunch boat (pick ups and drop offs on Keizersgracht). They also seem to love a good party and have a thing for Drake.

Over the weekend we tried out several spots:

Friday afternoon, we headed to the Acne store in 9 Streets  to get some boots and ended up having a bevvy at  Brix, a laid back trendy bar that was literally across the street from the store. Dinner that evening was had at the 1 Michelin star restaurant, Ron Gastrobar.

On Saturday, we grabbed some excellent bread, cheese and toffee waffles from the farmer’s market on Noordermarkt across the street from our apartment. Then we checked out new hotspot Toki.

toki-amsterdam bench
Image from we-heart.com

Late afternoon, we had some wine and cheese at Wijnbar diVino, a nice little wine bar on Boomstraat, a short walk from our flat in Noordermarkt. More drinks were had with my family friends at one of their favourite bars, Finch, which conveniently for my friend and I was also in Noordermarkt, about a 3 mins walk from our flat.  Finch is right next door to another bar, Proust – both of which have outdoor seating, so if one is full, guess you can always just pop over to the other one. After drinks, we made our way to the lovely Marius for dinner.

We kicked off our Sunday with an average brunch at De Bakkerswinkel (about €15 a head). However it was conveniently located next to the monthly market in Westergasfabriek, which was a rather nice way to spend a Sunday morning in Amsterdam. In the afternoon, after checking out photo gallery Foam, we decided to stop for a drink at nearby BUFFET van Odette before heading back home to chill before dinner. BUFFET van Odette is a gorgeous little spot – very clean, sleek and minimal. An all-day dining place that serves simple homemade style food; think omelettes, soups and salads. My friend and I had a glass of wine at the bar but there was just something about the service that was a little off and made it not feel particularly welcoming. Slight hipster attitude. So, whilst it is a fine looking establishment that has a cute little outdoor space, I’m not sure I would go back because it’s the sort of place I feel you go to, to drink and relax, rather than have a proper meal and I didn’t really feel relaxed, so going back there seems a bit pointless. We finished off the evening with dinner at BAK.

Image from buffet-amsterdam.nl
Image from buffet-amsterdam.nl

Monday I spent hopping from cafe to cafe. Starting at Winkel where I had their famous apple pie. Sooo worth the hype. Possibly the best apple pie I’ve ever had. I’m beating myself up for not having one every day considering it was a two minute walk from where we were staying. For lunch, my local family friend picked me up and took me to a Surinamese-Javanese restaurant in De Pijp, which I thoroughly enjoyed.

We didn’t have a chance to explore the East which I’ve heard has a growing number of hot restaurants and I was also disappointed we didn’t make it to De Kas but guess that’s something to look forward to when I next visit the city.


DO

Our culture fix was had via the Rijksmuseuma national museum dedicated to the arts and history  and Foam, a cool photo gallery on Keizersgracht; both of which I would highly recommend. We were lucky to catch a very interesting but somewhat depressing exhibit ‘Bible and Dildo’ at Foam by Japanese artist Momo Okabe, who had turned her lens to a few members of the transgender community in Japan. The result is a set of very raw and intimate photographs which could seem exploitative but aren’t due to the tenderness Okabe has managed to imbue them with.

foam
Image from Arup.com

We also visited the organic Farmer’s market in Noordermarkt, a stone’s throw away from our apartment which was full of great produce. Another market we checked out, was the huge market held the first Sunday of each month, in Westergasfabriek near Westerpark, where all sorts of art and craft goods were on sale, as well as vintage lamps, bric a brac and a few food stalls.

We skipped the weed and red light district but still managed to have a good time!


SHOP

There are a bunch of cool shops on Westetraat like high end design shop Moooi and vintage furniture shop Koutsj, selling mid century pieces for very reasonable prices.

For clothes shopping, 9 streets has a ton of stores including local brands like Anecdote and ATELIERAMSTRDM, the latter focusing on leather goods (shoes, bags, accessories) with a small ready to wear line. I loved their range of simple well crafted leather bags and when I have a few bob I’ll be looking to purchase one. They also sell a range of brilliant vintage designer glasses most of which have never been worn – check them out here.

Image from http://www.de9straatjes.amsterdam.nl

Amsterdam has got a laid back groove to it which I loved. Beyond the ‘coffee shops’ and the red light district, there are some interesting design shops like Moooi, hip hangouts like Toki and much much more to explore. I’ll definitely be back. 


Image of canal houses from dalewilcoxphoto.com

 

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