Well prepared with a ton of fellow blogger tips (Your Little Black Book is a must), 3 travel guides (!) and a lot of suggestions from locals, we leave for a three-day stay in Amsterdam.
Very soon it becomes quite clear: Amsterdam is F.U.N. We already know that three days will not be enough. Returning will for sure be inevitable. Hotel V on Frederiksplein is our base camp for the weekend. Spacious rooms – Hotel V calls it lofts – modern furnishings; in short, a very lovely and stylish boutique hotel. Although we disagree a tiny bit with the loft statement. No time to lose. Let’s move! We leave for a first round of exploring the city. From Hotel V you walk straight into the Utrechtsestraat by crossing Frederiksplein. Immediately we feel this is one of the nicest streets of Amsterdam. One of us is even considering a move to Amsterdam right at this moment 🙂
Starting central seems like a good idea…Amsterdam ‘Centrum’ it is. We follow a walk from one of the guides. Along canals, through small alleys, passing the university and the ‘Begijnhof’, under gates and across little bridges. Amsterdam has a beautiful – although challenging – ground plan. Fortunately, ‘getting lost’ is synonymous for new discoveries. We marvel at the numerous canals, old buildings – crooked and skewed yet always charming – hip restaurants, pubs, trendy bars, thousands of parked bicycles, houseboats, the constant aroma of weed, vintage boutiques and concept stores: Amsterdam at its best.
A hungry stomach and the search for a nice and cozy lunch spot, brings us to the Royal Palace. Tons of people out and about, a long blue carpet, the Dutch press clearly present… No ordinary day it seems, when we suddenly spot Willem Alexander and Maxima. Nice extra; such a personal royal salute which instantly makes us feel very welcome in Amsterdam! We like it a lot!
The hungry ones are fed in ‘Dwaze Zaken’, very close to the central train station. Tasty no-nonsense cuisine. For sure try out the hot sandwich with 4 cheeses or brie. Tried and tested, proven delicious!
Following lunch, the thirsty ones are then satisfied in café ‘‘t Loosje’, one of the most authentic places on the Nieuwstraat. The building was formerly used as a guard station for the horse tram. Once inside you are taken back in time. The place exudes history.
A similar atmosphere we find at café ‘Int Aepjen’ (literally translated: in the little monkey) on the Zeedijk. It is one of the oldest pubs in Amsterdam, one of the oldest buildings in the city. Currently there are a total of two wooden buildings in the city, ‘Int Aepjen’ is one of them. A habitue and seasoned ‘Amsterdammer’ loves telling us the story. The place used to be one of the oldest lodges (apparently one with benefits :-)). Sailors who could not pay their debts, started paying with monkeys. These animals were not without their own creatures (fleas), so you could recognize people staying at the lodge by their heavy scratching. The phrase ‘in de aap gelogeerd’ or ‘getting yourself ended up in a nasty situation’ originates from here. We nicely pay in Euro…the story we get for free.
Dinner time! Three different sources advise us restaurant ‘REM eiland’. The restaurant is located slightly out of the center (in other words, walking is not an option), and the first sight reminds us of an oil rig (at least this is how we imagine a drilling rig/platform). However, ‘REM eiland’ is not a former oil rig, but used to be a platform at sea, including a 80 meter high mast, from which an illegal commercial TV channel used to broadcast. The mast was granted only a short life as a TV station. After only four months, the government made a raid to end the broadcast. Only a few years ago, the platform was renovated into a restaurant and saved from demolition.
Cool initiative, a unique location, in a building with history and a modern twist. ‘REM eiland’ has “a breathtaking view of the ‘IJ’, the ‘Minerva’-port and the new architecture of the ‘Spaandammerhout’“. At least that’s what the website says…we had the view of a bare white wall. Big disappointment as we lacked the nice view and charm of the restaurant. So one big tip: while making a reservation, ask for a table with a view of what has been described above.