As far as sightseeing goes, I’ve pretty much seen all of the most popular traditional landmarks, museums & monuments Amsterdam has to offer and trust me they’re all spectacular. I just can’t help but feel like the majority are overpriced and not so worth it. So this time round I thought we’d go see what actually appeals to us instead of feeling compelled to go somewhere because “it’s a must see” or “unmissable” and I’m so glad we stuck by this.
So before hand, of course we did some research so we had at least a rough idea of where we wanted to visit throughout the week, and the rest of our trips were pretty spur of the moment spontaneous adventures which worked out perfectly.
So on Sunday as soon as we arrived in town we made our way to Vegabond, a small Vegan cafe & wholefoods shop which was just as lovely and welcoming as I expected it to be (if you want to know more in detail about the places we ate out at, check out my Amsterdam Eats post!).
Once we were settled in our apartment, finished our food shopping and dinner we decided to explore the neighborhood.
We wandered around the Magna Plaza for a while (basically a high end shopping mall).
Then ended up in a little Indonesian inspired coffee shop called Amnesia, it was cool and well set out, mostly filled with locals which I sort of liked! They had a large selection, and even offered a herbal replacement to tobacco which I was impressed with. Amnesia also offered many herbal teas, ice cream, homemade smoothies (they even had soya shakes!) so if you have the munchies, you’re pretty much covered as it’s a stoner’s delight. For the record their music taste is also great, A Tribe Called Quest’s album played for the duration of our visit.
Monday we were headed to Waterlooplein Market. So we started off by visiting Vondelpark for an early morning stroll, I can imagine it would be so beautiful in Summer with the fountains, bandstand on the water and little cafe in the centre although there was something so atmospheric and beautiful about the wiry trees surrounded by mist.
We then got a tram to the city centre and made an unplanned visit to The Sex Museum which is pretty self explanatory, I think anyone whos gone to Amsterdam has been whether it be from free will or being dragged in by their friends, anyways it was pretty entertaining and we had a good time.
Then we went to Maoz (a vegetarian falafel chain) for a snack and after that we stopped by Candy Freaks just down from it, a specialist candy store that also sells Vegan, gelatin free, gluten free sweets which was great.
We also weaved in and out a good amount of vintage shops down the streets on the way from Dam Square which were all pretty cool.
We then arrived at Waterlooplein (probably my favourite market), which is one of Amsterdam’s biggest markets, you’ll be in your element like we were if you’re into vintage clothing, unusual ornaments & miscellaneous random bric a brac, theres a few stores & places to eat dotted around so we went into Bagels & Beans after about 40 minutes of browsing for a little coffee/bagel break which was much needed and super satisfying.
We then began our wander home, we didn’t get trams or taxis much as we tended to get to know the areas better and find little gems whilst on our way to places, was also nice for the exercise, and refreshing to walk off our lunches after stuffing our faces! I feel this would be even better to do in summer as it was pretty damn chilly especially in the evenings. Our last stop was The Vegetarian Butchers where we stocked up on some delicious faux meats and some vegan cheese which were the bases of our dinner that week.
Tuesday was a chilled day for us as we were pretty wiped out from the lack of sleep and walking! It also happened to be pancake day so we made pink pancakes and they were lovely.
We spent most of the day looking up places to go and watching some of The L Word (my latest show obsession) then made some lunch.
Later we wandered down our street checking out the local shops and foreign food stores, picked up some goods from the asian supermarket to accompany the Sushi we had delivered later.
Wednesday was the day we decided to go to Albert Cyup Market & SLA. On our way we checked out the famous I Amsterdam sign at musemplein which was surrounded by museums and next to a little ice rink. We didn’t take any cliche photos as we didn’t see much point in having a photo filled with random tourists so we stood people watching, amusing ourselves at the bizarre pose striking and selfie sticks waving around for a while until Ilia had the great idea to take a photo from the back of the sign then flip it, genius!
We then headed to Albert Cyup market which was mostly just stalls selling tacky phone accessories, cheap clothing & food, but it was a nice area and we did find a nice rustic stall selling dried fruits, candied nuts, trail mixes etc and you could do a pick and mix sort of thing so Ilia bought some crispy cinnamon apple chunks and banana chips which were both really nice. We then walked to the highly anticipated SLA salad bar which I was extremely excited about and it was everything I’d hoped for.
We popped in and out of a good amount of vinyl, vintage and retro shops on our walk back to the main drag in town. We then wandered down Prinsengracht (my favourite street) and checked out a few independant art galleries (I’ll admit, one was only to use the toilet but the lady seemed nice so we lingered and showed some interest) on our way to the next stop, Electric Ladyland Museum.
It was off a little side street tucked away and you could tell the people visiting it had done their fair share of scouring the net and researching in order to find it too. The Jimi Hendrix Inspired named Electric Ladyland is the first museum of fluorescent art and it’s guaranteed something you’ve never seen before. It’s owned by a lovely couple, Nick Paladino from New Jersey & Michele Delage from France. Both had long hair and beautiful coloured embroidered clothing and both I could listen to for hours as they’re full of knowledge and stories of their world travels. The main shop was cluttered and sort of like a storage to keep and showcase their incredible art, a lot of which was for sale, a bit out of my budget so I just stuck with a postcard for the memory. Downstairs was filled with rocks, minerals, objects and sculptures from all over the world that were only fluorescent under blacklight/UV/ultraviolet alongside a participatory sculpture area that you can walk about in and touch. I loved the whole experience, there was no time limit,you were free to take photos and touch anything you wanted and there was something liberating and homely about walking around without shoes on.
The next day was chinese new year.
We looked around our neighborhood and checked out the local market.
We then had vegetable ramen for lunch and headed off to Chinatown. We visited the stunning He Hua Buddhist Temple and roamed about the streets surrounding it including the red light district.
And in a flash it was Friday, our last full day there. We made mug brownies with soya whipped cream which were incredibly decadent and soooo so good.
We went to a favourite place of mine De Bolhoed for dinner and then headed to the other end of prinsengracht to the iconic De Uitkijk film theater to see Deadman starring Johnny Depp (one of my favourite films). The theatre was so beautiful, it’s stunning interior was that of a classic 1920s art-house film theater with a single screen, plus private balcony seating & a cafe. During the time I spent there, there was an amazing atmosphere and I felt I had gone back in time a few decades and instantly wished I was wearing a flappers dress, cloche hat, long pearl necklace with a cigarette in it’s holder in one hand and a whisky in the other (I don’t drink much or smoke bearing in mind).
It was a lovely end to our stay and I can’t wait for my next trip back there and I’d definitely recommend anyone going abroad to use air bnb as oppose to hotels.
Until next time…