There is only one phrase that adequately summarizes the best way to see this city. And that phrase is: “Idle exploration”. This is exactly what we did while we were in the capital city of the Netherlands. We strolled around, aimlessly, and without any purpose!
Amsterdam is famous for, among other things, it’s artistic vibe, it’s elaborate canal system and narrow houses with gabled facades, and it’s legacies of the 17th Century. In the city’s Museum District one can find the Van Gogh Museum, works by Rembrandt, and modern art at the Stedelijk. The best ways to navigate this city are either on foot, or on a bicycle. In fact, cycling is central to the city’s character, and an intricate bicycle network exists. There are 165 canals in Amsterdam. In total these waterways add up to more than 100 kilometers!
It is difficult to sum up a city like Amsterdam in words. It is simply something that you have to experience for yourself.
“Amsterdam is famously gezellig, a Dutch quality that translates roughly as convivial or cosy. It’s more easily experienced than defined. There’s a sense of time stopping, an intimacy of the here-and-now that leaves your troubles behind, at least until tomorrow.
The easiest place to encounter this feeling is a brown cafe (traditional Dutch pub). Named for their wood panelling and walls once stained by smoke, bruin cafés have gezelligheid (cosiness) on tap, along with good beer. You can also feel gezellig lingering after dinner in snug restaurants while the candles burn low.” – Lonely Planet
A stroopwafel translates literally to “syrup waffle“. It is basically a waffle made from two thin layers of baked dough with a caramel-like syrup filling in the middle. The stiff dough for the waffles is made from flour, butter, brown sugar, yeast, milk, and eggs. Medium-sized balls of dough are put into a heated waffle iron and pressed into the required uniformly thin, round shape. After the waffle has been baked, and while it is still warm, it is split into thin layered halves. The warm filling, made from syrup, brown sugar, butter, and cinnamon, is spread between the waffle halves, gluing them together.
As you can imagine, THEY ARE DIVINE!
Interesting Bicycle Fact
A whopping 25 000 bicycles end up in Amsterdam’s canals each year. The crazy part is that, apparently only about 8 000 bikes are pulled out of the canals annually. Hmmm… I wonder what those canals would look like if they dried up. PLENTY rusted bicycles under that water!
The Triple X
Since Amsterdam has a strong reputation for it’s sex industry, it is easy to assume that the tripe X spotted all over the city, refers to this common stereotype. This is, however, not the case! The triple X on the Amsterdam coat of arms is actually just a coincidence. The three X’s are, in fact, silver St. Andrew’s Crosses, also known as saltires – the type of cross on which St. Andrew is said to have been crucified, and a common heraldic symbol worldwide.
Why I Love Amsterdam
“For me, and for countless other travellers over the centuries, Amsterdam has become a home from home. Since the earliest seafarers set out to explore the world, Amsterdammers have had an open-minded global outlook and sense of adventure that still defines them today.
While Amsterdam retains its Dutch heritage in its charming canal architecture, works by Old Masters, jenever(Dutch gin) tasting houses and candlelit brown cafes (traditional Dutch pubs), I love that this free-spirited city is a multinational melting pot with an incredible diversity of cultures and cuisines in a compact, village-like setting.” – By Catherine Le Nevez
Oh the Food Options!
There are tons and tons of food and bar options in Amsterdam. In fact, there are 1,515 bars and cafes in this city! We like a bit of a rustic vibe, and sometimes we will walk for some time to find a place that fits what we are looking for. In Amsterdam we never had to walk far before seeing a place where we would want to sit. While Eli was sleeping, on one of our afternoons there, we sat down for some beer and tapas. The food, decor, and service, were all perfect.
We absolutely loved Amsterdam, and could definitely see ourselves living in city like this. If an opportunity arose to move to this capital city, we would definitely jump on that! The rain might have slowed us down in the beginning, but once the skies cleared, we really did get to see a lot of what this gorgeous city has to offer!
Being South African, it was especially interesting for me to be here. Being able to speak Afrikaans meant that I could read and understand many of the signs, and also eavesdrop on many conversations. Creepy, but cool!