Ode to Amsterdam

The best way to see Amsterdam is on foot or by bicycle, such pleasant ways to pass the time or commute in a city built for both. I have rediscovered the practice of walking in Amsterdam – strolling, thinking, seeing, listening – often with no fixed destination in mind, no map and when my legs are tired relying on my instincts to navigate me home. There is something so peaceful about walking without a purpose and the city of Amsterdam is designed to allow you to wander with pleasure for hours each day. Being observant has allowed me to witness many things – people moving house and using the hook on the outside of each building to winch furniture in through an open window, a woman riding a bicycle with two beautiful bunches of flowers in her basket, an elegant elderly lady in a fur coat doing her grocery shopping, children with bright eyes and red cheeks being transported through the winter air in a bike seat or sitting in a purposely designed carriage as well as an older couple walking down a street carrying a large round dining table. I have witnessed delicate snow flurries where the snow is so light it flutters gently onto my coat before disappearing like magic.  I also noticed many beautiful canal houses too with a slight droop, with windows that aren’t level and bodies that are leaning slightly forward like they are trying to hear what is happening on the streets and canals below.

Almost 50% of traffic movement in the CBD of Amsterdam is by bike and there are thousands chained to bridges, lamp posts and parked out the front of canal houses and cafes around the city. Bike theft is common, so most bikes are very average single speed machines which might be decorated with a basket, once-bright plastic flowers or a practical plastic bag taped over the seat. It’s amazing what the Dutch can carry on a bike – a child (or two or three), an adult, groceries, a cello or even an ironing board. I bravely hired a bike for a few hours on a sunny morning and set off, following the red signs and paving while trying to remember to stay on the right side of the road. I am definitely not as competent as the Dutch, the back pedal brake had me a few times with my legs flailing as I tried to slow myself down while pointlessly pressing the absent hand brakes. I got the speed wobbles too when squashed between a bus on my left and the raised path on my right. I’m told though it doesn’t take long to get used to the “just go” approach to cycling that they Dutch have mastered so well!

My time in Amsterdam has drawn to a close, and I have loved the welcoming, quaint, beautiful city and I can’t wait to return. A list of what I enjoyed most is below, if I have missed anything that I should do on my next trip let me know.

See & Do

Museum our Lord in the Attic
Oudezijds Voorburgwal 38, 1012 GE Amsterdam

Home – keuze pagina

The Old Church
Oudekerksplein 23, 1012 GX Amsterdam

Museum Willet-Holthuysen
Herengracht 605, 1017 CE  Amsterdam

Anne Frank House (be prepared to queue)
Prinsengracht 263-267, 1016 GV Amsterdam

Historical walking tour of Nazi occupation in Amsterdam

Also this – I didn’t go but I’m told it’s great (and free!)

Museumstraat 1, 1071 XX Amsterdam

Central Library Amsterdam (go to the top for the view, there is a balcony for the non winter months)
Bos en Lommerplein 176, 1055 EK Amsterdam

Amsterdam Royal Palace (sometimes the Palace is closed for royal events so check the calendar)
Dam Square, Amsterdam


Back to Black
Weteringstraat 48, 1017 SP Amsterdam

Back to Black Coffee

Ivy and Bros (and not just for the Australian coffee master!)
Oudezijds Voorburgwal 96HS, 1012 GH Amsterdam

Bocca Coffee
Kerkstraat 96HS, 1017 GP Amsterdam



Cafe Het Paleis (my favourite place for mint and ginger tea with a slice of Dutch apple pie – the waitress knows my order!)
Paleisstraat Centrum 16, 1012 RB Amsterdam

Winkel 43 (for Dutch apple pie)
Noordermarkt 43, 1015 NA Amsterdam

Pannenkoekenhuis Upstairs (best for Dutch pancakes)
Grimburgwal 2, 1012 GA Amsterdam

Hot stroopwafels from Albert Cuyp market


Albert Cuyp Market
Albert Cuypstraat, Amsterdam

Cannibale Royale
Ruysdaelkade 149, 1072 AR Amsterdam


Noorderstraat 19-21-23, 1017 TR Amsterdam

Moeders (super kitsch with delicious Dutch food)
Rozengracht 251, 1016 SX Amsterdam

Ron Gastrobar (fancy, delicious, Michelin star dining)
Sophialaan 55, 1075 BP Amsterdam


Tandoor Indian Restaurant (this is actually really good)
Lange Leidsedwarsstraat 56, 1017 NM Amsterdam

Other stuff – on snow

We haven’t had a lot of snow, but we have woken up on a few mornings to a sprinkle of white across the footpath. It looks like someone with a giant sieve in the sky dusted the streets with icing sugar. Quite beautiful until you walk on it and slip (Stu) or stack (me). I was very grateful for my layers of clothing which softened the landing, but nothing could be done about the dent to my ego.

Other stuff – on language

The curiosities of the English language become evident when translating phrases from one language to another. When asking whether you can do something, for example “Can I buy a ticket on the bus?” the answer from the Dutch most often is “It’s possible.” Not yes, not of course, but phrase with mostly yes but a hint of maybe not.

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