In the global sense of travel, majority of tourists still consider Amsterdam synonymous to sex, drugs and clogs. The Netherlands’ capital may be well known for its Red Light District and cafes that serve soft drugs with their soft drinks, but there’s so much depth to the city that needs more recognition.
Spot the little phallic street post thingymabob. Triple X marks the spot.
Like, its elaborate canal system is actually an industrial engineering type of genius. The 17th-century narrow residences are perfectly dreamy for artists and photographers alike. And the art available to see, from the Museumkwartier to the escapist scenery on the streets? Fantastic.
Honestly, I think Amsterdam is small enough to enjoy for three days. During my last trip, my first day was spent just frolicking around without much planned agenda, save for dinner plans at Lt. Cornelis. Days two and three were reserved for the museums, sight-seeing, and shopping.
Here’s how Day One panned out:
Beware, The Sex Museum
Honestly, this felt like a big itinerary cock-up.Fine, sex sells. But in my defence I genuinely thought The Sex Museum was some sort of informative place with artsyfartsy tasteful stuff. Showcasing an old school multimedia approach with a variety of muffled moaning from hidden speakers, it’s kitschy and tacky and rather in-your-face. Entry is cheap at €4 but I would’ve preferred to have spent that on some stroopwaffels and hung out by the canal.
Jordaan is a really cute area. It has super ciik cafes, gorgeous indie boutiques and nifty shops that sell cutesy instagram-worthy gifty thingamajigs.
But of course, penis-shaped pasta. Clearly not for baby-led weaning afficionados.
Why is Dutch cheese is so gouda (har har)? I randomly went inside this shop called Amsterdam Cheese Company and thought I went to heaven. All sorts of Dutch Gold spread proudly across its four walls. It’s a chain, and it’s not particularly artisanal, but everything I tried was goudamn good (har). The flavoured cheeses were quite novel, but tasty AF.
Amsterdam’s Floating Flower Market is the only one of its kind in the world. It gives the city much colour, and green-thumbed tourists flowery ideas and souvenirs to fly home with. It’s a much better place to see when the flowers are actually in bloom. I was so tempted to buy some seeds to bring back home but a) I got a bit skeptical after flashbacks of those airport border security shows and b) my thumb is as green as fire. Maybe I’ll pick up gardening some other time.
Lunch at New York Film Academy Cafe
The New York Film Academy at the Damrak has an amazing cafe that’s cool and serves the most amazing hotdogs I’ve ever had. No wonder it’s quite popular, not only to the aspiring film industry leaders, but also to locals and tourists alike. If that photo’s not nearly enough to convince you, I’ll write a proper review about it soon.
Street Performers at Dam Square
I found it endearing to see this puppet stage by the Dam Square. Whereas most kids I know (my sister, niece and nephew included) would have their eyes glued to mobile gadgets, the kids watching couldn’t take their eyes off the puppet show. Plus, they laughed, giggled, and squealed on cue! It was nice to see kids taking a break off all things digital for once and appreciating old school entertainment.
Royal Palace of Amsterdam
Possibly the highlight of my first day, the Royal Palace of Amsterdam or Koninklijk in Dam Square was a beautiful and easy place to see. I’ve seen many epic structures but it still felt amazing to be in a place where legends and rulers used to dwell. Koninklijk had a few transformations from town hall to palace to town hall to palace and was once listed as the eighth wonders of the world. It also used to be the largest administrative buildings in Europe. All that history and all that art within the building is quite fascinating.
The central hall itself is beautiful with its marble flooring and high ceilings. On the floor, there are two maps of the world and the celestial hemisphere.
I was in awe of the statue of Atlas at the centre of the Citizens’ Hall which symbolizes Amsterdam’s greatness as city of trade.
I particularly enjoyed going around the rooms where the royals and their posse worked and retired.
And the chandeliers were rather impressive. Sia would’ve loved a little swing.
For €10, you get admission and a mobile guide as you walk through the interiors of each hall and room. Bargain!
Drinks at the W Hotel Rooftop
Nothing satiates a pleasant thirst from an all-day walkabout other than a cold glass of wine with a good view and some sunshine. I love the W Lounges and the one in W Amsterdam is no exception. The one in the Exchange Building has a really cool rooftop bar – and pool! Unfortunately at the time of my visit the pool was undergoing maintenance. Still, the sun was shining brightly and the panoramic views from up there was absolutely breathtaking. Please go, even if you won’t stay at the hotel, please have a beautiful cocktail atop!
Dinner at Lt. Cornelis
It was definitely a chilled day out and exactly what I hoped for after flying. Despite clocking a little over 20,000 steps getting lost within the ins and outs of city centre, I felt recharged and relaxed. I’m a sucker for itineraries but Amsterdam is easy and pretty enough to navigate. And sometimes it does feel nice to not feel rushed or pressured to have to be somewhere at a certain time, non?
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Have you been to Amsterdam? What were your favourite spots?