So, where do I start….? Amsterdam was really a mixed bag for me. It was very much a matter of been there, done that and now I have to wash all my clothes because they stink of weed.
I got off the bus and started heading down from Sloterdijk station to the city centre. On the way of making my way out of the station, I was aggressively approached by a beggar demanding that I give him money. I’m not naïve of poverty in cities and crime, having lived in London and Edinburgh, I am well equipped to dealing with this sort of thing but I was thinking “Cummon man! I’m just 5 paces into Amsterdam!”
I made my way to the city centre, and headed for some food. One thing I will give Amsterdam credit for is De Foodhallen. Situated in Oud-West, it rivals those in Copenhagen and other cities I have explored for variety and its buzzing atmosphere. The bar in the middle gives a real sense of community as you are sitting around a bubble of different languages and smells from all the surrounding stalls. It was so good that I finished my trip with another glass of wine there before heading to the bus.
Once I had finished my gourmet hotdog and a glass of wine, I headed to visit the canals, I managed to get a quieter spot in Oud-West along Jacob van Lenepkade to appreciate what the city had to offer. However it sadly didn’t last long, I was spotted by a man on a bicycle who asked if I was English. I assumed that the man was lost and was more than happy to assist him as best I could. As soon as I said “Yes, I speak English”, he started badgering me to give him money. I managed to shake him off after he continued to persist as he slowly rode his bike beside me and my responses degraded from being polite then getting sharper and shorter in my responses, I headed back to a busier location.
I made my way to De Wallen, one of the most famous attractions of Amsterdam and naturally had to be experienced. As I meandered through the alleyways, doors would occasionally open with beautiful women in lingerie draped in the doorway trying to tempt men with their visible assets. It wasn’t as aggressive or offensive as I initially thought, however you could spot men nearby preparing themselves to enter the parlours which was not an attractive sight to witness. Throughout De Wallen and connecting through to Dam Square, there are countless tacky shops promoting weed and wooden tulips. However I managed to find the Henri Willig store. This cheese shop is brimming with unique flavours and yummy samples to tempt any cheese lover to part with some cash. Naturally, I sampled all the cheese, from Goats Cheese Lavender to Coconut, Pumpkin and Honey and Thyme. It is a must visit for any foodie! There are also an assortment of beautiful (but overpriced) vintage stores selling stunning outfits for every occasion.
After dodging drunk high groups for a while, I opted to sneak behind Centraal station and take one of the free ferries to Amsterdam Noord. It was a pleasant break in the day to get away from the chaos of the De Wallen. Most of the area is still in development but it is home to the EYE Film Institute. I enjoyed the sunshine and sat in the park nearby to the water and watched the ferries go back and forth and people watched the locals go about their business. Once I had re-centred myself, it was time to head back into the city.
When I headed back through the city, I stopped off at the Bloemenmarkt. Tho world’s only floating flower market, it was a pretty addition to my walking route towards the Rijksmuseum. It was a beautiful building to uphold and once I cut through the courtyard I was greeted with the famous IAmsterdam sign. Hoards of tourists are climbing up the letters to get that ultimate Instagram shot! I on the other hand, opted to go for a letter that looked the same backwards (like the ‘m’) and managed to get a perfect picture without anyone bothering me.
In a nutshell, my day trip of Amsterdam was mostly dodging confused or inebriated tourists who were spilling out across the pavement and onto bicycle lanes. Most routes I walked in city was just Lads trips with Heineken bottles tucked into their back pocket trying to fathom where the “hunnies” were. On top of that you have locals who clearly regretted going out to get their shopping and Chinese tourists looking confused and the smell that was lingering in the air. Maybe the city is nicer early on a Sunday morning when the chaos has calmed and everyone is soothing a hangover? I went to Amsterdam with an open mind but was severely disappointed. The locals looked fed up with the tourism but appreciate that it is how their city generates so much money. I definitely won’t be rushing back any time soon.
Have you ever been to Amsterdam?