On Friday night myself and 3 girlfriends arrived in Amsterdam for the first time. I immediately loved what I saw as I stepped out of the central train station into the warm night air and as a taxi whisked us to our hotel, we all agreed it looked like a beautiful city.
Our stay for the next two nights was at the Sir Albert Hotel, a recently opened boutique hotel in the De Pijp area of town, which is away from the hustle and bustle of Dam square in the centre, but close enough to streets full of bars and restaurants and just around the corner from a canal cruise and The Rijksmuseum.
First impressions were very good and the duration of our stay proved it was the perfect hotel for us. Relaxed and friendly, but high on style and low on cost. We were immediately offered a glass of chilled prosecco each and left our bags with the reception staff while we went out onto the streets to explore and find a bite to eat.
Sir Albert Hotel
We soon realised that Amsterdammers do not eat late and most restaurants close at 11.00pm but luckily after a recommendation, we found De Knijp or The Squeeze, as it translates, which is popular with theatre goers and serves until after midnight. The restaurant has been open for over 30 years and it was easy to see why, a great menu, good prices and excellent service and ambience are all plus points for this establishment. We dined on steaks and fish with a side salad, topped with a dressing and toasted pine nuts, wine and beers all came in at around 23€ each!
The next morning after a night in what must be the world’s most comfortable bed, we were treated to a delightful breakfast and I was thrilled to discover that they had a selection of breads, including spelt bread, which is gluten free, so perfect for my gluten intolerance allergy. Everything had been thought of and as well as cereals, dried fruits and nuts, fresh juices, including wheat grass, there was a full a la carte cooked breakfast included!
We had decided the night before, that to get our bearings of the city it would be a good idea to go on a canal cruise. This was in fact a great idea, we had 75 minutes cruising along in the sunshine whilst we were told through headsets, the history of Amsterdam, which was built on the river Amstel and then to avoid the city sinking under the rising water, dams were built giving the city it’s name, AmsterDam, get it? All the important buildings and areas were also pointed out and as the cruise ended we had a really good feel for where we were and how to get where we wanted to go. I would highly recommend this to anybody visiting, go on a canal cruise first.
After disembarking from our boat, we headed to The 9 streets area, or de-negen-straatjes, as it’s locally known. These nine streets straddle the 3 main canals and is one of the prettiest areas of the city and also one of the most trendy and creative areas, full of independant shops, galleries, bars & restaurants.
One of my favourite shops was Laura Dols, which is a vintage clothes emporium full to bursting with the most beautiful vintage clothes and accessories I have seen in a long time. They specialise in occasion dresses and wedding attire and if you want a vintage wedding, there is probably no finer shop to visit.
The small shops have great ideas for displaying items
A selection of vintage Dutch tins
Amsterdammers are very health conscious, with lots of organic fruit and veg available and fresh juices. They are very aware of the environment and use lots of recycled materials and upcycled designs and of course everybody, and I mean everybody, rides a bike.
In the evening between the Nine Streets and Dam Square, there is a host of lively bars with live music. We were recommended Bourbon Street by a local girl, which is a good mix of ages and music genres, but as the night unfolded we didn’t manage to get there, but that’s another story. What goes on in Amsterdam etc etc and no it’s not as bad as it sounds!!
I would avoid Dam Square if you can help it. It’s just very busy and commercialised and it’s where all the High Street shops and Department stores are. Amsterdam is so much more than this. I’m saving my next post to tell you all about The Sunday market in West Park, which is a whole post in itself, an amazing place!