For all the red light hooplah surrounding the city, Amsterdam is an incredibly romantic place, complete with endless canals, charming gingerbread houses and laneways to explore.
You can happily spend a weekend simply walking around - the architecture is so interesting you never tire of it.
But this is a city famed for its bicycles. And yes, I saw thousands and almost got run over by a few. Crossing the road in Amsterdam is far more complicated than it seems. I soon learnt you have to step out quickly to seize a space between all the quirky cars, hipster bikes and trams.
And while I never got behind a pair of handle-bars myself (walking and trams sufficed for the weekend), it was great sight-seeing. All those pretty people and all those bikes … if there’s one city that makes you want to go on a health kick, it’s Amsterdam.
It’s too bad then the food is so damn delicious. On my first night in the city, I dined on the most incredible steak and tuna followed by the raved-about butterscotch pudding at the intimate and rather famous restaurant Vlaming (95 Lindengracht). It was definitely worth the hype.
For a snack, the city’s chain Bagel and Beans totally hits the healthy(ish) spot for a quick meal before more walking. For my pitstop, I tried the banana, cinnamon and maple syrup bagel. So delicious.
When I found out pre-trip there was a burger joint in Amsterdam called Getto (51 Warmoesstraat) that serves burgers named after drag queens, I had to seek it out. Located in the Red Light district, this bar had everything – seriously amazing burgers, super strong cocktails, a DJ playing disco, space themed decorations and ‘Barbarella’ playing on the big screen.
Drag queen burgers aside, I couldn’t go to Amsterdam and not eat my weight in pancakes either.
While you can order them pretty much anywhere in the city, I enjoyed some traditional-style crepes at the famed yet simply-named Pancakes Amsterdam (38 Berenstraat 38). It’s well worth escaping the typical tourist areas to try.
Next stop, the stores. If I had to sum up Amsterdam’s shopping it would be vintage stores, cheese and flowers. If I could have my time all over again I would have taken than red fur coat from Petticoat home with me and perhaps not have taken advantage of so many of the free samples in the cheese shops.
Since I was staying in the Museum district, it would have been amiss not to take advantage of the cultural fix right on my doorstep.
With so many to choose from and so little time, I opted for the city’s Modern ArtStedelijk Museum (10 Museumplein) where the futuristic design world of Marcel Wanders was the highlight.
And for the final evening, getting last-minute tickets to a Boom Chicago (117 Rozengracht) show was a real highlight.
It might seem odd to see a Chicago improv show in Amsterdam but it totally delivered. Poking fun at both American and Dutch culture, the show is a really unique way to capp off a wonderful weekend in this fantastic city.
Published under license from Well Travelled.