It’s only a few days ago, that we came back from our little spring timeout in Amsterdam. A pleasant spring weather made it easy for us to discover and enjoy this city which is bustling and relaxed at the same time.
Sometimes I find taking photographs a difficult thing to balance, especially when travelling. I want to keep memorys, impressions, but at the same time I see the risk to miss out on the experience while concentrating on taking pictures. So the self-imposed task for this trip was to limit the view through the lense in favour of the immediate impression. I’ve also basically reduced the equipment to my Nicon prime lense AF-S NIKKOR 35mm f/1.8G. It forces you to step up to your object instead of keeping you distanced … overall a good experience.
Visiting the Rijksmuseum and the ongoing special exhibition on the ‘Late Rembrandt’ reinforced this conviction so much. On the one hand there was the fascination for all those famous paintings, for getting the chance to see them with my own eyes, discover the details in Rembrandts famous ‘Nightwatch’ …
… the other part of the story: Masses of people of whom only a few in fact seemed actually interested in the paintings. Instead they seemed to work off a to-do-list, which consisted mainly on taking pictures of all exhibits – at least all famous have-to-see-exhibits – (or selfies infront of them!) and then rushing to the next one. This ignorance made me sad,… and angry, cause actually they were hindering the ones who really would have liked to study the paintings calmly to do so.
By the way, not only the collections of the Rijksmuseum, but also its building is quite impressive. Where else can you actually drive through the museum with your fiets (bicycle)?
For dinner we chose delicious pizza at the small La Perla in the laid-back Jordaan district – real buffalo mozzarella just makes a difference!
Let’s talk about the Grachtengordel: Canals after canals are crossing each other, building a ring around the core of the city. This famous attraction of Amsterdam – lined with bikes, flowers, street cafés – didn’t fail to captivate us as well, although we lost orientation more than once in the labyrinthic structure. But then there’s always a nice café around the corner where you can give your feet a little rest. What definitely doesn’t only make pigs happy: The pannenkoeken and wafels at “The Happy Pig”.
Bikes! … When we planned our trip to Amsterdam I was sure that we would – at least for one day – rent one of the famous Dutch fietsen to make our way through the city … it took about 10 minutes after getting off the airport bus on the arrival day and we decided against doing so! It seemed just suicidal and hubristic trying to keep up with the fast and hazardous style of biking that is practiced in this city … by apparently every inhabitant. Mind the fietsers in Amsterdam!
On our second day in Amsterdam we entered the sea, or at least the IJ, to head to the north. By ferry (departing behind the main station) we drove to the NDSM-wharf, which was said to be a vibrant industrial place hosting a wide range of shops, restaurants and events … er … yes it was quite industrial, really industrial. But I wouldn’t describe the area as bustling, at least not at noon time, when we hit the place.
Nevertheless we found the two huge vintage depots – Van Dijk&Ko and Neef Louis – situated there … both of them huge treasure troves for all kind of old furniture, dinnerware, and …er … stuff. If we would live just a little bit closer …
In the IJ-kantine we enjoyed yummy sandwiches, frietjes and a relaxed view on the harbour, including an old submarine.
In the evening we decided to try Indonesian cuisine – where if not here, in the capital of the former colonial power of the “Nederlands-Indië”? – The restaurant Sampurna turned out to be an excellent choice to get a culinary insight into the Indonesian rice table. It’s situated right at the famous flower market … which becomes a tranquil area again after the market has closed.
We started our last day in the Scheepvaartmuseum, a museum definitely worth the money (other than the rather dissapointing photography museum Foam), not only because it highlights an important part of Dutch history and identity, but also because of the – multiple awarded – modern, attractive way of exhibitions (a lot of them designed by the Stuttgart based Atelier Brückner).
From the ‘Amsterdam’ located at the Scheepvaartmuseum we enjoyed the views on the nearby science museum Nemo – and afterwards the other way round from the Nemo terraces, although we didn’t stay there too long … just too many school classes!
Instead we took a walk back into the Grachtengordel … for a satisfying belegd brood (sandwich) at the Broodbar.
Invigorated this way – we made a little trip to the Eastern outskirts of Amsterdam. With tram no.26 we drove all the way to IJburg, a district of Amsterdam consisting of artifical islands filled with newly build quarters as part of a huge governmental housing project called VINEX. I found the total artificiality of this district, its unbroken modern architecture very fascinating – although I couldn’t imagine living there.
We spend our last evening in a very special, and perhaps the coziest restaurant in Amsterdam. It’s called Moeders (Mothers) and, well, nomen est omen: They offer Dutch traditional homestyle-cooking, that wants to make you feel at home: Erwtensoep (pea soup), hearty meals like Stamppot with rookworst (potato hotchpotch with smoked sausage), sweet dessert like poffertjes (small pancakes) and hangop (cream made of buttermilk hung up and drained, similar to labneh). And while dinning you are surrounded by hundreds of mothers – every space is filled with pictures of mothers and every guest is invited to bring their own picture to complement the ever growing collection.
Last, but not least, some words about accomodation. After checking a few possibilities, finding out that a lot of them were already booked up, we finally stayed at the VanHolland House. Located at Frederiksplein, which the tram station right infront of the door, it lays ideal to reach most parts of the city within a few minutes by tram (or a bit more per pedes). Although we found a few points of criticism (the rather poor equipped breakfast pantry, the meditative sound of the fridge at night), it’s over all recommendable (although not ‘luxury’) as a jumping-off point to discover Amsterdam.
So many things to see and do in Amsterdam, but limited time … a good reason to come back! Until then I’ve assembled a Pinterest board for you, with all places that we’ve been (marked with a ★) and some more spots to eat, drink, shop, sleep, look at.