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  • Writer's pictureChris Mads

Escape to Amsterdam

Sometimes the perfect preparation for a crazy time is an escape; with a new term looming for S and my busy season fast approaching we decided to hit the road for a city break.

Truth be told, the last year has been pretty manic for the two of us and it was ideal to take a few days, relax and just enjoy each other’s company in another city. So, what did we want? Somewhere not too far-flung, easy to stroll around, coffee shops and street-front bars to get lost in and a few little bits to explore.

The answer? Amsterdam.

Now, you can stow ideas of weed-infused hijinks and sex club madness. Amsterdam’s reputation precedes it, but what was amazing to find was the city which that reputation lives in. It is a haven of cobbled streets and trundling trams, where you can just as easily sit with a beer to watch the world go by, as you can dive in head first to the – easily located – hedonistic madness.

I’m not going to spend too much time extolling the virtues and locations for Amsterdam’s well-documented party life. It’s been done better and in more detail by others. I want to take you on a quick tour of the bits of Amsterdam which possibly don’t get as much press.

If you’re heading out that way here are a few spots I’d add to your list.

De Pijp

If someone took Shoreditch and dropped it into Amsterdam, you would get De Pijp. This part of the city is set just west of the circuit of canals and is based around a collection of markets, vintage stores and unique restaurants.

We dropped by here on a whim, looking for a market to visit, and ended up going back for another trip to try out the restaurants and shops on offer. I’m pretty sure S could have happily spent a day more in the vintage outlets and if (when) we return we are definitely planning on staying here.

't Smalle

There is no shortage of bars in Amsterdam, but I would recommend this one. It is sat on a street corner just down from the Anne Frank House and it is the perfect spot to watch the world go by.

Grab yourself a table across the street from the bar itself, down by the water, order a couple of beers and while away the afternoon. If you head there in the late afternoon you will be competing for space with locals who are coming out after work.

Poffertjes at Noordermarkt

These are a Dutch treat which you can find all over Amsterdam, but head to this market square on a Monday or Saturday and watch them made on the stand.

They are like tiny, doughy pancakes coated in powdery sugar. Grab a plate and then stroll through the market looking at stalls offering everything from old photos and bric-a-brac to electrical goods and clothes.

Ludo & Hedo

AKA ‘Amsterdam’s best ice cream’. This will get a post of its own, but with ice cream option ranging from vodka and coffee to honeycomb or liquorice, this place has something for everyone.

Gone vegan? Go here

Eating when we go abroad can be an issue for S. Veganism is catching on in the UK and in other places, but we have been on a few holidays where restaurants offer either a bemused look or fish when asked for a vegan option. Not so in Amsterdam. The shops offered easy ingredients for food and we found some great restaurant choices too.

Robin Food

If you can make an evening to go here, do it. It is a community project which is run by volunteers and offers a no-menu three-course meal in a single room accessed through a bar. If it sounds hippyishly Shoreditch, it is and it’s amazing.

Do you have more tips for a trip to Amsterdam? We are definitely going back, so it would be great to have more pointers.


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