Amsterdam continues to draw in tourists from all over the world – and it is for a good reason! Find out what makes the city tick, experience its unique flair – just like the Amsterdammers themselves.
MULTICULTURAL LIFE AT THE MARKET
Especially on Saturday, it seems that half of Amsterdam is out shopping for fish and vegetables at the street markets – or to eat some fresh syrup waffles or crispy loempia spring rolls. The largest market with the greatest cultural mix is the Albert Cuypmarkt; things are somewhat more tranquil at Noordermarkt and on neighbouring Lindengracht. It is part of the market tradition to end the visit with a slice of apple pie and a koffie verkeerd in Café Winkel.
Crispy, hot chips with a decent portion of creamy mayonnaise wrapped in a paper cone: the very thought is enough to make your mouth start to water. The best chips in Amsterdam are served at small street stalls at the markets or at established locations. The popular Vleminckx chip shop on Voetboogstraat even offers 20 varieties of mayonnaise. As an alternative, the locals sometimes eat their frietjes with Indonesian peanut sauce but never with tomato ketchup.
AND NOW, LET’S CROSS THE IJ…
When Amsterdammers feel the need to escape from the hustle and bustle of the inner city, they just take the ferry across the IJ. The five-minute boat trip to the shore on the other side is free of charge and you are sure to enjoy the wonderful view across the water. There, you will be able to choose between a visit to the futuristic Film Museum and EYE Film Instituut (IJpromenade 1, daily 10am–1am) or a cycle tour through Nieuwendammerdijk; what was formerly a dike village is now a piece of picture-book Holland on the outskirts of town. You can pause for refreshments at the idyllic harbour café ’t Sluisje (daily from midday, Nieuwendammerdijk 297, www.cafehetsluisje.nl).
The literal translation of borreluur is “cocktail hour” and describes the period after office hours when colleagues like to get together in one of the “brown cafés” just around the corner. There, those in the convivial groups drink a beer accompanied by a couple of bitterballen – round croquettes. Quite a few of the pubs are completely full at that time and people just have to take their beer and stand outside. The Café Brandon (Keizersgracht 157) is one of the most popular watering holes because it even has its own landing stage on the canal.
CREATIVE SCENE AT THE SHIPYARDS
Amsterdam is famous for its liberal creative scene and you can immerse yourself in it when you take the twenty-minute free ferry trip from the main railway station to the NDSM-Werft. An art community has now settled where ship hulls used to be welded. There are several cafés, an urban beach and artists’ studios, and a gigantic flea market is held once a month in an old wharf warehouse. The dates of the flea market vary. (Neveritaweg 15, www.ijhallen.nl).
AN EVENING SPENT STROLLING AROUND THE CANALS
The canals, with their picturesque bridges and magnificent mansions, are very beautiful during the day. But an evening stroll also offers many rewards: hardly any of the houses have curtains and it is therefore possible to see into the well lit rooms on the lower floors. The people living there are aware of this and they have their best furniture on display there. You will see designer furnishings or high-quality antiques beneath stucco ceilings and centuries-old beams and get an insight into life along the canals.
LONG LIVE THE KING!
Collective madness is de rigueur at the annual King’s Day celebrations. Until recently Queen Beatrix was honoured but now attention is officially focused on her son Willem-Alexander on 27 April. In reality, it is all about the typical Dutch party spirit coupled with business acumen: the entire city is turned into an enormous flea market in the morning and bands perform everywhere in the afternoon. Make sure you have some cash with you to buy some trinkets and head off to the Jordaan district where the festivities are the most social.
Buy the Amsterdam Marco Polo Spiral Guide.