The way one experiences this Celtic village of a city, is vastly dependent on the time they visit. No matter when it is going to be windy and / or rainy unless you bring a Druid, but the following itinerary is based on a tourist path around early May that the sun is already shining. Visiting in summer is also recommended as you can have the utmost pleasure of watching the locals dive in fountains in their underpants, and you yourself to attempt the safer and more hygienic (albeit brown) Sloterplas lake, even if for the waterfiets but let’s face it; I do not honestly expect a lot of people to skip Mallorca for the Netherlands.
Amsterdam has so many factors in its wall of fame that it is startling they do not even begin to cover its reality. Amsterdam actually has over thirty parks, a facade in the centre that is UNESCO heritage, forbidden to build in any different style and protected by the local authorities since since 1699; plus it is one of the most sustainable capitals in the world – which might not mean much, but one appreciates the tasty tap water and the hardly any trash everywhere. And the windmills of course. Imagine, if you stroll in downtown Amsterdam you see the same buildings as Napoleon did when he threatened to occupy the city in 1810. It kinda bugs me that people think about space cakes and window shopping for girls when they hear its name, but that is why I’m here, to assist with correcting that.
So I am taking the bike path with you down to some of the loveliest sights of Amsterdam. This one will include only beautiful locations to ride, stroll, grab a bite or a coffee and chill. Given its 47 museums I have to make a separate post…
Let us begin.
1. No, not Vondelpark. The road below. Amsterdam Zuid (South) is the nicest and richest area in the city, and this part is the one that is still picturesque; lower (below no 3) you find the industrial area with the WTC and lots of relevant New York style buildings. The road to follow is called De Lairessestraat, and wander around there. Always nice cafes around the corner but my ultimate suggestion would be for lunch, at Gent aan De Schinkel, as the highly motivated chef changes the menu each season and uses only organic ingredients. I had the best Linguini con le Vongole there (for the connoiseurs, fresh clams, white wine, onion and black pepper ONLY).
2. Sloterplas lake. One of the city’s many miracles that the government has made in order for the less fortunate to be able to amuse themselves (they have an actual freakin forest too.) It is a haven in the city that really feels like countryside for a couple of minutes, the path is not very big but there is also a fountain in the middle and to ride around is majestic no matter the time. From the west side, next to Osdorp, you will find Grand Cafe Sloterplas to sit and take in the view with a hot tea or chilled wine, and if you feel like replenishing the calories you burned, the grilled salmon is always done to perfection.
3. Beatrixpark. Even though it is small and largely inactive, with no bars or open air theatres inside it, for some reason it is my favorite. It does have a vibe of a fairytale. The road there is also impressive, like mentioned above still in Zuid, and after you cross it you end up in WTC where you can watch men in suits stroll by sipping a Starbucks Caramel Macchiato or if it’s a Tuesday wolf down as much as you can at SushiTime cause they have a value deal.
4. Westerpark. Even though it is (surprise) a park, I think of it as mostly activities rather than the park itself. It does make a nice ride but an even nicer stroll, as it has a very cute pond in the middle full of ducks, swans and relevant poultry crowing in harmony. Westerpark has the nicest places for day and night, alternative crowd and definitely not touristic. At Espressofabriek you can sip a rare quality coffee in a very relaxed atmosphere, then go next door to Pacific Parc to enjoy the vibe, the weird ceiling piece and tasty dinner – I wish I could recommend the shrimp but once they were absolutely terrible whilst the other times they were amazing. Do return them please if they look greenish and are mushy, you deserve fresh shrimp after all the cute selfies with the geese. Check out the website also for the live stage, one of the few places that you can watch a live band with no entrance fee.
5. Noord. For some reason people tend to forget it exists, as if it is not implied that a city split into West, Zuid and Oost would have a Noord somewhere. Anyways. The walk/ride through Haarlemeerstraat is also one to take for a hipster view of the city, as a road with many vintage clothes’ shops and eclectic cheese corners. At the end of the street you will find Daily Fresh from where you will get a Ratatouille on the go, it is made by the Egyptian wife of the owner and I do not know how she does it but I’m pretty sure the person who wrote the movie had tasted this.
With the salad in hand, you will take the free ferry to NDSM Werf and you will end up in Pllek , the only bar in Amsterdam with its own beach (!). Great views and great food, I cannot praise highly enough the pan mushrooms.
So by now most of you are Masterdamers (an actual typo but I liked it!) and in a very different way than most, congrats! See you in the museum tour for the cultural part, plus some late night suggestions downtown.
That’s that for now folks and happy Amsterdamming!