All about that Amsterdam

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Amsterdam
Oh, Amsterdam. The fact is that I am in love with you and I just can't stop myself. It is a fact that has crept up me like a ninja and struck me square in the shoulderblades. It has paralysed me. I have been to you before - back in 2008 - and I knew I adored you then, but my most recent visit in January of this year caused me to fall completely head over heads. And I ask of everybody else: how can you not love this city so? Sure, Amsterdam has it's ~reputation~ but I believe this poor accolade has been fading fast within the past decade. No longer is Amsterdam the primary stag do capital of Europe, where thousands of to-be-condemned men descend upon for a last minute bout of boozing, sauntering down the Red Light District, and sampling all that the coffeeshops have to offer. Amsterdam is now a newbie nomads paradise; being such a quick flight from all UK airports (as in, no more than an hour!) and with a compact yet extensively intriguing city centre, it can be so easily to have thoughts such as, "Well I'm doing nothing this weekend... perhaps I'll pop over to Amsterdam!" Believe me, such thoughts exist in my mind and I don't doubt that I will one day act upon them.

The best thing I find about Amsterdam is that you can never get bored. Honestly. Maybe the streets outwardly seem like a damning repetition of coffeeshop, headshop, waffleshop, chipshop, FEBO, canal, and repeat. What I admire most is the integrity. Beautiful, gothicky old buildings such as the Royal Palace and the Centraal Station, make up one of the biggest historical city centres in the whole of Europe. Coupled with architecture of new, then throw in a few beautiful green spaces and punctuate with an army of canals. You've got yourself a stunning city to boot. Another thing that I love about Amsterdam is that there is genuinely something for everybody. Yes, for sure you still get your mad stag do groups trawling the Red Light District - but that's just one tiny demographic. I see this city as somewhere you could bring your friend, other half, parents, grandparents, first-time travellers, seasoned pros... it's not all about the naughty side of Amsterdam either. There are scores of enjoyable experiences: museums such as the Rijksmuseum and the Van Gogh Museum, historical heartbreakers like the Anne Frank House, parks such as the vast Vondelpark, and sometimes just simply aimlessly wandering around the Canal Ring of an afternoon. It doesn't get much better than that.

And there's nothing wrong with the so-called bad things of Amsterdam, although ask yourself, are they really that bad? You may walk down the alleys in the Red Light District all wide-eyed, slack-jawed and maybe even (ridiculously) offended, but you have to remind yourself that for these ladies, this has been a well-established way of making a living for centuries. Don't bash it, and certainly don't take photos! How about the ~substances~ of Amsterdam? That's everybody's individual decision for them to make and make alone. If you want to steer clear of marijuana and mushrooms, you certainly can - just don't expect the blatancy of it to disappear before your very eyes. However, if you decide to dabble in a little Amsterdam magic... well all that I can say is that, you won't have to look very far to make it happen!

Of course, all this walking and potential weed-smoking will make very hungry and thirsty vagabonds! Luckily there are lots of quick fixes that you can treat yourself too, to maximise exploring time. Littered amongst the streets of the city you will become very familiar with FEBO; a highly convenient fast-food outlet basically consisting of holes in the wall from with you obtain your snack. Simply insert your €1.20 into the slot and open the hatch to obtain the croquette of your choice - and there sure is a lot of choice, for meatlovers and veggies alike! Another common culinary attraction in Amsterdam are the many fritehuis that you see. Nothing more than hot fries topped with condiments such at mayonnaise, satay sauce, curry ketchup or mysterious garlicky concoctions, but it's pure satisfaction in a paper bag. You also simply must make time to eat are a waffle of some kind, particularly poffertjes which are a miniature Dutch pancake, and don't leave without visiting one of the many cheese shops that you can easily stumble upon along the streets. Mature Old Dutch is my new best friend! Wash it all down with a cold Grolsch, Amstel or Heiniken and you've Amster-done it.

Other blog posts I thoroughly enjoyed about Amsterdam:
3 Days In Amsterdam, by World Of Wanderlust
Picture Book Of Amsterdam Markets, by A Globe Well Travelled
Amsterdam For The Wholesome, by Backpacker Banter
The Canals Of Amsterdam, by Neverending Footsteps

So what are you waiting for? With return budget airline flights that often sit pretty on the £40 mark, make Amsterdam your next European weekend jaunt. And if you've already made it, well then come and share with me! Have you ever been to Amsterdam? What did you love the most?

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