STEP ASIDE, I’M BACK AGAIN
Amsterdam is one of those places I’m quite happy to visit again and again. My archives prove this, as it’s one of the few destinations that’s clocked up multiple trips (only Kingston, Paris, Copenhagen and Margate have this honour) and I can sort of pretend to live like a local. I guess I’m just a sucker for stunning architecture, a culture where cycling is the norm and the fact that you’re never far from hot syrup waffles.
On my latest visit with Supal, the mission was to tackle a few of the things that we’d missed previously. Where you stay can have a massive impact on what you end up seeing and I’d completely missed out on any museums and the Vondelpark area. Here’s everything we got up to across 48 hours, involving windmills, stumbling across a music video shoot and narrowly avoiding cycling disasters.
We were guests of Stayokay for this trip, with our flights, accomodation and some expenses covered. Our travel and museum entry was provided by the I am amsterdam city card. This post also contains some affiliate links.
Stay In A Completely Different Area
Ever since I visited Valencia, I’ve been keen to find other hostels with an emphasis on eclectic design. Stayokay are a definite contender. On first glance I was won over by the pastel chairs and greenery (it’s been newly refurbished), but it’s interesting to note that it’s a non-profit organisation with a focus on sustainability. They’re on a mission to phase out single-use water bottles, plus you’re encouraged to have five-minute showers.
There’s numerous accommodation options, so you can either go with a dorm if you fancy saving money or a private room with en suite. Make sure you check what’s included, as it may be best to bring things like shower gel, towels and a padlock to save on extra costs. The breakfast covers the basics, but you may want to alternate with trying different places if you fancy something more substantial.
I’d never stayed in the Vondelpark area before and it helps that the hostel’s in a really convenient location. The bus from the airport drops you off five minutes away and it’s tucked away from the hectic main road.
You can also get to the museums easily, so if you fancy being really efficient, I’d recommend heading to their late nights so you can make the most of the daylight (always got my blogger hat on). The Stedelijk modern art museum wasn’t too busy and I loved the colourful Günther Förg exhibition. Anything that’s inspired by Bauhaus architecture is a must-see in my book.
The thing I was probably the most excited about was cycling in Vondelpark. Like I mentioned previously, I am equally as enthusiastic as I am scared whenever I’m on two wheels. Having the park nearby was the perfect way to build confidence before tackling the dedicated paths.
Although it’s daunting to be around impatient cyclists (and the odd scooter), I did feel a massive sense of achievement after navigating the way to Corner Bakery. I definitely deserved my photogenic cappuccino.
Poloneck – Topshop, Dress – c/o Oliver Bonas, Boots – Vagabond
Get Out Of Your Cuisine Comfort Zone
I probably don’t always make the most of living in such a multicultural place, so I always try and make up for it when I travel. My research told me that Surinamese food needed to be on my list. If you need a geography lesson (I Googled it too, don’t worry) Suriname is a former Dutch colony situated on the Northeastern coast of South America. Dishes are a mixture of Indian, African, Javanese, Caribbean and Chinese flavours as a result of the diverse population.
From what I understand some restaurants may veer towards a certain cuisine and others are more of a unique blend. For example the Roti Kip at Roopram Roti initially reminded me of Jamaican curry goat, but served with green beans, potatoes and a boiled egg instead of rice n’ peas. It was definitely comforting, though my duck pieces were a little bonier than I would have liked.
You can also get spring rolls that seem more like ‘roti rolls’ and a hot sauce that Supal was familiar with. Prices are reasonable (our meal came in at under €30 in total), plus they offer smaller curry wraps that are a great lunch option. I’m definitely curious to try dishes that are more of a Chinese-Surinamese blend and apparently Albina is worth a visit.
Another cuisine I don’t seem to eat much of is Indonesian food and Cafe Amoi was a last minute decision after a long day exploring the windmills. It’s such a cosy find with generous portion sizes. The waitress advised us to order 2-3 dishes per person, but I’d recommend starting small and only ordering more if necessary (you must get the Ayam Bumbu Bali chicken).
Get Out Of Town
When you’re familiar with a place, it’s a good excuse to plan a bit of a day trip and we kept um-ing and ah-ing between Harleem or the traditional Zaan region. The windmills won us over though. Zaanse Schans is about half an hour away by train (definitely consult Citymapper) and you’re immediately greeted by the smell of chocolate thanks to the factories near the station.
This historic village is pretty popular with coach tours, but don’t let that put you off. It offers an insight into what the Industrial Age was like in Holland and a slightly different style of architecture. Most houses are painted green to display the wealth of the owner (it was the most expensive colour to buy) and are worth around 2 million euros today.
Some of the windmills still operate and you can even tour a few of them to see how they produce flaxseed oil. Just remember to consider opening times as most close between 4-5pm and trains are not the most frequent.
We encountered so many random acts of kindness, the first was meeting one of my subscribers Rose in a cheese shop and later on a tour guide gave us a free ride on his boat. If you’re spending longer here, then it may be worth hiring bikes and zooming through the fields for a real sense of freedom.
Check Out The Instagram-Friendly Spots
OK I’m not enough of an expert to deliver a full-on Instagram guide, but I do have a few suggestions if you’re looking for particular backdrops.
If you like millennial pink – You’ve probably spotted this extremely Wes Anderson friendly restaurant in your Explore tab and you can see why Mama Kelly brings all the bloggers to the yard. Just look at all the pink!
The decor did result in my most liked Instagram post, but don’t let that be the only reason you visit. It helps that the food is actually decent, with a menu that focuses on chicken, lobster and decadent sides (hello truffle fries).
This is the second location for the bold restaurant brand (I visited the original in the Hague a few years ago), which tends to go for off-the-beaten track areas. Make sure you factor in the journey time to the former Olympic Stadium and book for as soon as they open (you can also specify the table you want).
If you like anything Midcentury – You must sneak into The Apartment if you’re having brunch at Lotti’s, which is part of the Hoxton group. There’s also plenty of cosy seating areas and enough tiles for the perfect FWIS shot.
If you like shops with enviable interiors – Prepare to be charmed by the plush velvet sofas at OU. Boutique Stores and the eclectic collections at Fabienne Chapot. We also stumbled across Restored in the Jordaan area, which focus on fairtrade and sustainable items. Why did I leave the terrazzo boards behind?!
If you like architecture with a story – There’s more to Amsterdam architecture than the narrow canal houses (although I still have approximately 345 pictures of them) and our hostel was near some of the best 19th century examples. Each one of the Zevenlandenhuizen or ‘seven countries houses’ is modelled on the style of a particular country.