So last weekend myself and some friends took ourselves away to Amsterdam for a few days, very reasonably priced and just 50 minuteish flight from Gatwick it'd be rude not too! Here's what I got up to on my short stay and a couple of places I'd recommend.
Where to Stay
We stayed in an Airbnb apartment just west of Central Amsterdam, near Westerparc. It was the perfect location, just a 20-30 minute walk to the Centrum, a lovely walk at that! Plenty of beautiful independent shops and cafes along the way. If you have a tighter schedule, you could also take a quick journey on the tram, which by the way is very reasonably priced.. we bought a 48hr pass for around €12, we needn't have bothered to be honest because we walked most of the time as it was so beautiful, but it was great for getting home after a long day and evening spent around Central Amsterdam.
What to See / Do
Aside from the canals and stunning architecture and the OTHER obvious places and the things Amsterdam is famous for ahem.... I don't think I need to go into detail.. there were a few places I particularly enjoyed:
Van Gogh Museum
We struggled to decide whether to go to the Rijks Museum or the nearby Van Gogh Museum, after some umming and ahhing we decided on the Van Gogh Museum as we figured it would be a more niche collection, unlike anything we could see elsewhere. It didn't disappoint, it was a fantastic insight into the life of Van Gogh, and the progression of his work throughout his career and life, where he took his inspiration from and how he developed his techniques. There were so many beautiful pieces that i'd never seen and many unlike his more famous pieces! We bought a small print of the piece 'Blossoming Almond Branch in a Glass' as I loved the colour palette he used.
You may or may not have heard of this as I believe there are several around the world, an exhibition of the human body using specimens of real human bodies. The one in Amsterdam is 'The Happiness Project' which also shows the impact of happiness on our health and bodies. It was incredibly interesting, but also incredibly bizarre.. the bodies of the donors are just there.. out in the open.. both whole and chopped up, insides and outsides - so not for the faint hearted (or hungover..). It was really amazing though, with interactive bits and pieces along the way.
We were having dinner around the corner from our apartment one of the evenings, we asked the waiter where we should go next for drinks, where would he go on a night off. He suggested Pacific Parc explaining it was a great place for a drink and there's often live music there. He gave us some directions, it was quite near right by Westerparc, so we headed on our way for a cheeky few. It was such a great atmosphere! So spacious, I think it may have been an old warehouse or something. It had a long, reasonably priced, bar with both areas for sitting and chatting and a dance floor area. Later on we caught a live band, no idea who they were or what they sang about but it was quite a pleasure to listen to - i'd have preferred singalong dance tunes but I can't complain.. Perhaps i'd have sang along if it was my language. It seemed to be a place where the locals go for a night out so it had a much more relaxed vibe than I expect larger places in Central Amsterdam would have..
Where to Eat
This was the place we ended up in for dinner on our first night, and we didn't top it! We wondered around looking for somewhere to tickle our fancy and this place looked cool from the outside, so we popped in. When we ordered our drinks, I ordered my usual Gin and tonic, the waitress (I think maybe she owned the place to be honest she was beyond lovely.. incredibly accommodating and talked us through the entire menu as they didn't have an English version) suggested I try a Dutch Gin called 'Bobby's' which was delish!! It had orangey and spicey undertones, what topped it off is they had Fevertree tonic, which is my fave! We also tried some of the local cuisine in the form of 'Bitterballen' to start - we didn't know what they were and I still don't really know now.. a fried ball of meaty/gravyey/potatoey/stewy -stuff? I don't know but they were really tasty! For main we all ordered the 'Rooster Burger' which was one of the most delicious burgers I've ever had! I expected it to be chicken to be honest given the name but it wasn't.. but i'm a meat fan so that was fine by me. It was soooo juicy and just had everything you could want from a burger! A thoroughly enjoyable meal, i'd be a regular if I lived there for sure!
Apparently Apple Pie is a well known delicacy of the Netherlands and apparently Winkel 43 are legendary in their particular Apple Pie. I had no idea, but it was recommended to us so we checked it out. I have to say it was pretty great.. it was VERY busy but it was worth the wait as it definitely was up there with the tastiest apple pie I've had. Crisp thick pastry, BIG pieces of delicious apple and a big ol' dollop of cream. I don't know what else I can say it was just proper lush. They were also very generous with their portions..