Canals, joints, bikes, clogs & wind. Yep, that about sounds up Amsterdam. Okay, bye!
No, not really. I mean, those 5 words truly could be a brief description for the wonderful city that Amsterdam is, but I won't stop there - I promise!
It's always kind of awkward starting a travel post as I'm forcefully fighting the urge to start with 'Last week I visited Amsterdam'. But last week I did visit Amsterdam, thanks to my lovely friend Lana who is 'stuck' there on her post-graduate studies. I was planning my visit last year, but as going from Zagreb is much more expensive and a bit more complicated, I decided to wait. And I did a smart thing - now that I was in London, I could pay around 50 quid for a return ticket and grab an overnight bus, and with bam, bam, bam - it was Friday, 5th of December, 9.30 a.m. and I was there.
To start off, I will say it's probably not the best time to visit Netherlands/Amsterdam/anything North because of the obvious low temperatures and windy times that are taking over your day. Yes, I love layering - but realising I had only one truly warm and rain-proof jacket, it meant this won't be any kind of a fashion trip - almost repeating outfits was essential for me. And it kinda fell right - not that I usually dress up for a particular city, but I definitely try to inject a bit of the atmosphere in my own style while staying somewhere, and Amsterdam was the perfect place to go cazh, stay in a hunter green - black - grey momentum and just have fun. It's probably the least pretentious city when it comes to fashion - yes, hipsters are a must, but for me it was a fabulous blend of Paris in terms of high-quality outerwear and slim silhouettes, and the relaxed and more baggy style that I connect to a Northern city like Stockholm (although that's solely based on pictures I've seen, since it's not on my done list - yet).
It's incredibly tough to mention all the bits I've seen, especially since Amsterdam is all so similar and small, while very rich and diverse - the place is very dense regarding cultural elements, and that's probably why I could get the vibe from the city after 2 hours in it. My best advice is to get on bikes and take that as your choice of public transport - even during the cold days, even if you're not a usual cyclist. I had a true phobia of riding bikes because of an accident I had about 12 years ago, and I haven't really rode a bike since. Pushing myself into doing it felt absolutely amazing - after the first day of wobbling and bumping into people. Amsterdam is truly the perfect place to (re)learn how to ride a bike - you are almost always right and everyone, I MEAN EVERYONE, is letting you, as a cyclist you have the lead in traffic. Plus, it's cheaper and you get to see all the bits first-hand and can stop at any point.
Thanks to my awesome guide Lana, I saw most of the wider city centre the first day as we were on bikes for most of the daylights - only stopping to grab something to eat and sit down for a coffee - and of course - a joint. It feels stOOpid skipping on that green part because if you're not a NONONO person, it's worth mentioning places that are good for indulging in what is illegal in most countries. And probably due to the fact that I don't smoke, it was more of a 'illegal being legal' case with me. But even if you're a no smoker, De Dumpkring is a must-see place - with the lovely cat juggling around you, a funky interior and the fact that you can sit at the same table where Brad Pitt, George Clooney and Matt Damon sat in Ocean's 12. Good enough reason, no?
So the task for the first day was to see as much as possible, and take in the city. The second day was a bit different - as the weather was incredibly nice and much warmer than the usual, our plan was to explore Jordaan, an artsy yet very posh neighbourhood that was once reserved for a working-class nation. It's very typical and quite repetitive in European cities, so my instinct was to compare it with London's East/Shoreditch. Once for poor, now for posh. The small galleries, food markets (best falafel ever!) and sets of canals so visually incredible that I had to stop and stare every now and then. At this point I understood I won't be able to get to know my way around the city before I go back to London - everything looks same-y, and you can get lost heavily after just one wrong half turn. But I wasn't obsessing, I was happy with it - it meant you'll learn about the city more. We ended our day with a second night out (on Friday we went to Canvasopde7e for a Culture of Souls party) at the notorious Trouw - a culturally monumental club that has such a rich history (build under a name of an ex newspaper, and was the first club to get a 24-hour working permit) it makes you get watery eyes. The place is closing after the 3rd of January so I can count myself as one of the lucky ones that got a chance to experience the whole thing. I'll just say that we exited the club around 10 a.m. and that it was epic. Is that enough?
ps. Continuing the story soon...
|Fooling around Museumplein|
|My Native Youth jacket was the only thing that kept me warm so thanks to East Dane for that one!|
|Begijnhof inner courts, circa 1340|
|Sleazy tourist pose while wearing my Native Youth jacket, H&M scarf and jeans, ASOS cap, Fjallraven backpack (another lifesaver) & Nike trainers|
|Neon perfection aka the bike I would ride for life!|
|Red lights & hipster paradise!|
|Best park entertainment ever - trampolines!!!!! ps. Check out my baby bros!|
|Almost repeating outfits - Native Youth jacket, Asos sweatshirt, H&M denim shirt & jeans, Nike trainers|
|Because it's Amsterdam. Full stop.|
|The morning after... Hopping on bikes and driving home!|