My trip to Amsterdam in August this year was the second visit to this unique city. The trip itself was completely different to last. This time I came from London to visit a friend living there. My friend was living in Maastratt, which is out of the main city high street and it was because of this I saw the city in a new light. It was quieter and away from the tourist area, it was like seeing the city as a local.
I arrived in the city after a quick 45-minute flight which felt more like 20 minutes. That's what I love about living so close to Europe you can be on a flight or train and be in a country in such a short time. The train system is right in Schiphol airport itself, making it easier to get straight onto a train into the city after flying. Although the stops in Dutch were a little confusing (even for my friend who had been there for a few months), it is still quite straight forward.
On the first night, I went to De Parade festival, full of artistic performances which even catered for the non-dutch speaking. I also experienced my first silent disco, others looked on from the outside at what looks like people dancing and singing to no music. I know it doesn't sound that exciting but it was one those times where you don't care about what others think, you are having too much fun to care. A mixture of Dutch songs and classic hits played, such as the Beatles which anyone of any culture could appreciate. Even with the Dutch songs we danced along and got involved as it was contagious.
The food was like something you would find in a restaurant, we chose the roast chicken, salad, and roast potatoes. The Dutch are such friendly people, and I ended up chatting to a group of locals. It was surprising to hear that they had never been to the Anne Frank house even though they had lived here all their lives. I guess that's something that many of us take for granted, the experiences we have right at our doorsteps. I know I am guilty of that having lived in Australia and not adventuring around as much as I could have done.
I felt like I was back in Melbourne most mornings when visiting cafes for breakfast. One, in fact, was a Melbourne owned cafe called Little Collins in de Pijp. The food and smell of coffee were like being back home in Melbourne.
Another favorite was getting around everywhere by bike, it was something I am just too scared to do on the busy roads of London and even Melbourne. I could not recommend enough that anyone who visits Amsterdam should hire a bike to get around. It was because we had bikes that we got to ride in the countryside of Amsterdam, past all the beautiful windmills and scenic countryside. The only recommendation doesn't wear a long dress on a bike because you will have a Bridget Jones moment and get it caught on the bike and nearly flash the countryside. In the afternoon we had a dip in the beautiful Amstel river, which was perfect on a warm Summer's day.
Just across the river in Amsterdam is Buiksloterham in the north, a must for an afternoon visit. As my friend told me the city tries to encourage locals to live there as it has much more space, they do this by making the cruise over the river free and easily accessible. There are some really great bars and restaurants there. We sat at Pilek bar which happened to have a live gig and was nice to listen to in the sun and across the river at a stunning view.
Amsterdam really is a European city you must see, and of course, you need to also venture out of the main tourist area to see what the local and countryside have to offer. I know if I hadn't gone back and saw the city in a new light, I wouldn't have appreciated it as much as I did and had the good vibes I got from going there.