A few weeks ago we had the pleasure to discover the beautiful northern city of Amsterdam. Its canals and houses are famous amongst people around the world, and we were looking forward to seeing it with our own eyes. Nevertheless, Amsterdam has its “must-sees,” and “must-visits,” some of them, we were not inclined to do.
We did not go to a hotel when staying in Amsterdam.
We chose to book at Yays, an apartment-hotel in the northern part of the city. The apartment had two bedrooms, a little kitchen, plenty of room to relax during our stay. We were on a quiet street, with a view over a lovely canal. The Apartment-hotel was close from the city centre, close to the tramway, and close to grocery stores and various local shops, so it was convenient. It also gave us the opportunity to shop in exciting places owned by even significant people and eat at home.
We did not go to a great restaurant.
We enjoyed local food. Amsterdam is home to many specialties. You will not miss Kaasland Haarlemmerdijk for Gouda cheeses of course, but also for their fantastic bread! Ibericus Amsterdam has all kind of most excellent Spanish ham, not very Dutch will you say, but who cares, it’s so good! For everything else, you’ll find several grocery stores, but we liked Marqt in particular, for the quality of its products and also the fact that many of them are local.
Feel lazy for breakfast? We did! The Breakfast Club was not far and on the way to the Tramway station. They have fantastic “cities of the world inspired plates” for every taste! We also loved Stach, which serves delicious pastries, hot drinks, and chocolates. You can do a little shopping in here too; everything is delicious! If you are in a mood for most excellent bakes: Petit Gateau is the place! Anyway, you do have to taste the Stroopwafels!
We did not go to Anne Frank House
We visited The Dutch Resistance Museum. For this one, I will invite you to read this link to the very new blog “Flo’s History.” My son is sharing his love for History here and tells better than I would do about this fascinating place, quite underrated I believe. There were very few people, and the visit was thorough about the subject. It also happens to be near ARTIS Zoo. A perfect place after spending some time inside, or for the ones of your group who are not so interested in WWII History. The first part of the park is free to access; there are a cafe and a huge birds house. Further, we were lucky to discover something astonishing. On that all white snowy day a very remarkable pink area: the little lake was home to flamingos. It was magic.
We did not go to the Van Gogh Museum nor the Rijksmuseum
What I enjoyed is having a look at the local workshops and shops: Concrete Matter for men’s gift shop, Madelief for pretty bunches of flowers. You obviously can’t ignore that flowers and mainly tulips are essential in the Netherlands! Restored is a “slow store” where you can find a little bit of everything, I will only say that it wears its name pretty well! Sukha is a shop full of happiness and respect for nature and people.
If you happen to visit the Dutch Resistance Museum, walk a little further to De Werkwinkel, a lovely shop owned by a lovely lady, with plenty of beautiful, tempting things!
We did not go to A’DAM lookout
We love having a view of the cities we visit, but we didn’t have time to take a ferry to join that building. During our walks, we found Blue Amsterdam. It happened to be a place for a perfect lunch, with some more local food and a fantastic view to go with it. I don’t understand how we had so few people when we went up there; I believe we were lucky.
We did not avoid to rent bicycles!
No we didn’t, and our daughter made sure of that, and she was so right! I was skeptical regarding the outdoor temperature and weather when we visited: we had two days of snow! So cycling, I mean, really? But, yes it was worth it. We found the very helpful and very friendly Amsterdam Velo and had a perfect afternoon. Amsterdam is a city ideal for cycling around. We didn’t test them, but they also organize some cycling guided tour in English or French.
We did not buy biscuits at Van Stapele, but not our choice!
But it was not our choice! We knew we could have there some wonderful cookies. We were not the only ones hugely disappointed to see the sign “Sorry, out of cookies for today, hope you can come back tomorrow!”. It was our last day in Amsterdam, so we couldn’t have another chance to taste the cookies. Maybe some of you will be able to tell us how great they are?
We did not stay on Dam place for hours taking photos around
I was amazed to see people merely staying there and taking selfies in front, or let’s say instead at the feet of the tall buildings surrounding the famous place for hours. We didn’t because I had something else in mind. A little Instagram inspired photo spot in H&M store. I will let you go hunt for it: “not the highest” and “corner” will be my clues… Good luck!
We did not go to the “Heineken Experience.”
Definitely not! First, we wouldn’t dare queue in line for hours (really: hours!) to have a Heineken beer we can get pretty much anywhere in the world. Second, Amsterdam is not only famous for its canals and houses, but also for the consumption of products, illegal in many other countries, and this line was full of people happy to be able to do that. We were not. So we went past the corner and spotted the truck entrance to the delivery doors. My husband had the souvenir photo he wanted, that was enough for our Heineken Experience. We enjoyed better our dinner at Eetsalon Van Dobben and ate real Dutch “Broodje Kroket.” Some locals food experts told me that this straightforward looking place was the best for this Dutch specialty.
We did not stay in the busy downtown.
As you now can understand, if you spotted all of the previous addresses on a map, most of them are in Haarlemmerbuurt and north Jordaan, close to our Apartment-Hotel. We liked the area and had a great time wandering, during the day and at night, the weekends and during the week. It was quiet and friendly, with beautiful architecture and beautiful canals view spots. Many shops to enjoy local crafts, Amsterdam is a place where people love to make things locally, it’s a good thing to appreciate that when visiting.
Where to Slow Travel this September for some more destinations great at this time of the year!
Want to know more about Amsterdam, we have a photo album with tonnes of photos and a Slow Travel Guide ready for you!