Amsterdam | Beyond Space-Cakes, Fries, & Mayo
Travel Dates | July 11, 2017 to July 14, 2017
It’s so clean…
That’s all that came to mind at the moment I stepped off the train, and took a big deep breath of the cool, crisp air. I walked freely, with a quasi-swagger, up and over the small hill made by one of the canals. I was sure to glance side-to-side, continuously, and take in every, little detail. It’s more than charming crooked houses and winding waterways, but Amsterdam had me hooked immediately.
In every direction, there’s a little nod to the city’s history, and that’s the beauty of the Dutch capital. Even the crooked houses speak to the city’s foundation, literally. Most of Amsterdam was manmade, so some of those homes have a slipping foundation. Originally, they were built on top of wooden piles buried into the wet soil. So it takes a full on excavation to determine the sturdiness of older houses. However, the council of Amsterdam has most of the unruly ones on record, and there are few stories of these crashing down.
But even if they did, I think the Dutch would find an amiable and efficient way to deal with the rubble. Seriously, the Dutch are the most… logical people I’ve met, and if we’re keeping tabs, kind too.
This story is so telling.
One morning Michael and I walked to brunch, and witnessed a motorcyclist and cyclist start veering toward each other. In an act of avoidance, the motorcyclist turned sharply, skid on his bike, and then fell off.
All of us were stunned.
I held my breath waiting for name-calling, finger pointing, and lapel grabbing. However, the befallen stood, picked up his bike, paused, turned toward the cyclist with a big smile on his face, nodded, and dashed away.
Why So Chill?
Okay, sure. When I’ve told this story more than one person has suggested the two cyclists were probably high. So, here’s the thing about the Dutch and weed.
They don’t care about it.
Sure, it’s legal. But most of my Dutch friends don’t make their way to the coffee shops*, nor do they mention it for the top things to try. For them, take it or leave it, but most leave it.
*Coffee shops are head shops. Cafes are actual bistros. However, some are mixed, so choose wisely.
If that had happened in the States, I can’t even imagine. I had anticipatory butterflies and a flushed face waiting for the inevitable rage. But nothing happened. The motorcyclist recognized no damage, so there were no worries. I was impressed.
Not only for that reason, but Amsterdam is lovely on all accounts. I often had the thought the Dutch society is the perfect example of what a diverse culture could be. At risk of being redundant, if more cities were like Amsterdam world peace might mean more than a joke reserved for clichéd pageant queens.
Her What Ifs Are Now Our Opportunities
The story of Anne Frank goes beyond her diary. Visitors of the Anne Frank House are guided through the partly reconstructed office and house where the Franks and van Pels hid. The house is powerful, and not for the faint of heart. No really, often tickets are sold out at least a month in advance, although you also have the option of waiting for 2.5 hours the day of like I did. I definitely think it’s worth the wait.
Go On A Run or Head To A Concert in Vondelpark
Vondelpark’s tree-lined path and autumnal weather kept me running for a breezy 6 miles. Also, there are plenty of breakfast places around for an after-run pick-me-up.
And if the nightlife is more your jam, take a step back in history with the Vondelbunker. The Cold War bunker, turned squat, turned donation-based music venue will satisfy your grunge, indie, punk, alternative music craving. There are few rules, but most are dedicated to keeping the peace. So if you’re making the trip, just remember not to be an asshole. (If you want to learn more about the Vondelbunker, check out Michael's podcast, 07 - It's Not A Squat).
Step Aside, Paris!
Amsterdam is radiant at night. So grab a waffle and stroll along the canals to take in the reflected soft white light of the building facades.
But I’m Tired Of Fries And Mayonnaise
Don’t fret! Amsterdam’s a melting pot that extends to its cuisine. If the chilly weather put you in the mood for some warm and spicy pho, I’d recommend Little Saigon. It’s cozy, quite small, and is guaranteed to have a wait. But believe me, the insanely cheap banh mi and sinus-clearing pho is worth the wait.
The Married Duo Behind Local.Hero
Stop, it’s just too adorable. Local.Hero is an Amsterdam based café with the husband as the chef, and the wife as the host-waiter-literally everything else. The couple’s upbeat charm is recognized in their playful decorations, quirky magazine choice, and pride of sharing their work with the local and international patrons. I’d go back in a heartbeat.