Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Amsterdam Must Do's

We have been lucky enough to have several friends and family visit us here in Amsterdam, and as locals now, we have been doing our best to give our guests the best experience they can get. Here, in no order, are some of our guests top things to do (of course some things are best kept secret :)).

BBQ in Vondelpark.
On a sunny day Vondelpark fills up with so many people you might actually begin to wonder if it’s a public holiday. On a day like this buy yourself a disposable BBQ (roughly €4-€6) from most supermarkets and a bottle of red wine and have lunch/dinner in the park. It’s bliss.

Hire a bike and check out the Amsterdamse Bos (Amsterdam Forest).
That’s right, forest. The forest was built (planted?) roughly 70 years ago and has since become overgrown, but because it was a planned park it has lakes, several leisure and sports facilities and an open-air theatre. There are also canoes, kayaks, horses and pedalos for hire. Because it is massive, we have always been content to just ride our bikes and explore. The Amsterdamse Bos is gorgeous and it’s hard to believe there is such a tranquil place so close to the city, no wonder it has become the favourite place to visit amongst most our guests.

Try some Indonesian food.
It was surprising in our first weeks here to see so many Indonesian restaurants, take a-way’s and eetcafé’s. Why Indonesian? During the 17th Century Indonesia was occupied by the Dutch, and so many of these Indonesian spices and dishes were introduced back in the Netherlands. If your budget allows it, go for the rijsttafel (rice table), a Dutch invention that includes rice with several small dishes. Our favourite Indonesian place so far is Kantjil & de Tijger on the Spuistraat, if your budget doesn’t allow for the rijsttafel here (between €44.50- €57.50 for two) then I strongly recommend one of the Rames (between €13.50- €16.40 per person), which gives you a taste of several different dishes on one very generous plate.

Tour Jordaan on foot.
With its picturesque canals and bridges Jordaan is probably the most charming part of Amsterdam. You will find several cosy brown cafés, quirky shops, tonnes of art galleries and some fantastic markets. And speaking of markets, while in Jordaan don’t miss the organic farmers market on the Noordermark. It has some delicious fresh food; the goat’s cheese and the homemade truffle chocolate are to die for. If you like markets as much as I do, then this website has a list and brief description of what's on offer in Amsterdam.

Do a bicycle beer and bitterballen crawl.
My fiancé and I love riding our bikes along the canals and stopping for beer and (occasionally) a bit of bitterballen. Our only rule is that once we leave a bar we have to go into one of the next three bars we see. This way we get to walk into places we usually might not walk into, because of this we have discovered some really great bars/brown cafes that we’re keen to go back to! We usually hit up a different area each time we go but we tend to avoid areas such as Leidseplein and Rembrandtplein because we find that bars and restaurants here tend to be expensive (and the quality of food not too great). But having said that, people watching in Leidseplein and Rembrandtplein is great fun and sometimes having a beer in an outdoor courtyard there can be a lovely way to start a bicycle beer and bitterballen crawl.

Visit the Beach.
I have mentioned before how great a cycling trip to Bloemendaal aan Zee via Haarlem is. If you don’t have it in you to ride the whole way, the train is your best option. You can take a train from Amsterdam Ceentral to Zandvoort aan Zee, it takes close to half an hour and costs roughly €9 for a return trip. From here you can walk along the beach to Bloemendaal aan Zee. All along the beaches here are beach bars with deck chairs and day beds for customers. A few ice cold Heinekens with your bare feet in the sand is a day well spent!


pinkie said...

I second everything on your list. Especially Amsterdamse Bos. I went at least once a week, even more in the fall. It's so beautiful!

piece-of-plastic said...

Thank you, Angela! Wonderful post!

Life Abroad said...

Great list! Everything here sounds so wonderful. I love your idea of trying out new bars and cafes. There are just so many here in Amsterdam that you could visit a different one everyday haha!

John said...

um. so basically we love the exact some things about ams. though i could add: sitting next to a canal on a blanket and watching the boats go by...

but i would subtract bitterballen. ok- maybe if i had jenever, just beforehand.


Angela said...

Pinkie: I will check it out now that Fall is here, I bet it's beautiful in shades of red and orange! Perfect time for photos :)

парче пластмаса: Thank you! Glad you liked the post :)

Heather: I must admit it was actually my fiancé who came up with for the very reason that there are so many here in Amsterdam :)

John: Sitting next to a canal on a blanket watching the boats sounds like a fab idea! Next time it's not raining I'm totally doing that :)

thamarai said...

ah, reading this post makes me wish I could live in Amsterdam! :)

Anonymous said...

Oh man, you mentioned Indonesian food in your list.

I wish I lived in Amsterdam, then I could eat from home whenever I wanted to. Not like here in the bloody-nobody's land country

Patrick said...

We liked Indonesian restaurant Sarang Mas on Rokin, the last time we were there about a year ago.

Invader Stu said...

I found Amsterdam bos just a few months ago which is quite shameful considering I've been living here for 8 years. I have to agree it is a great place. I went to the tree climbing centre with friends which was great fun.