Amsterdam is only a stone’s throw away thanks to many daily and affordable flight routes from Berlin. I’ve been plenty of times but I’ll gladly return annually to one of Europe’s most amazing and captivating cities. In many ways, Amsterdam is more progressive (albeit a lot smaller) than Berlin, which I find motivating. And although Berlin is much more central to EU politics and simply much more capable than Amsterdam, the latter always somehow feels more metropolitan and worldly.
We wanted to chill, hang out, and relax, so I picked a really comfortable and cozy boutique hotel. The Canal House is slightly overpriced, especially if you would much rather see the sights. I usually stay in much more budget friendly alternatives, but lately, Amsterdam has become very expensive in the city center. I’m definitely trying an AirBnB next time.
We were lucky to stay in such a comfortable hotel though, as the weather was quite stormy and wet – so no regrets here.
The Canal House is located at the rim of the Jordaan. This particular quarter is full of posh boutiques and breakfast cafés, generally tidied up and less packed with tourists. The Jordaan is named after the gardens in the courtyards of most of the buildings. The Canal House has one of those gardens. That’s a rare sight in the narrow streets of Amsterdam, where the buildings are usually as close as possibly to the water and shaped too tiny for some actual greenery. On the edge of the Jordaan located is the Anne Frank House. On my last trip to Amsterdam, I visited this extraordinary museum and left shaken and crying. I know, that doesn’t sound like much of a positive experience, but it’s worth it. Same goes for the FOAM, the photography museum of Amsterdam (minus the crying).
Tourist traps in Amsterdam
I appreciate everything about Amsterdam. Even the tourist traps are somewhat charming (if you can avoid the pub crawls). The inner red light district is very interesting in architecture and people. I know most people want to smoke weed while in Amsterdam, so here’s my favorite coffee shop, the creatively and aptly named Coffeeshop Amsterdam. Beware that some stores only allow the sales, but not the smoking of joints.
Another obvious tourist activity is a boat trip through the maze of canals. I would say it’s great to pass the time and get a quick view of the city, but otherwise something I wouldn’t put on every itinerary. It’s a lot more fun renting a bike and being flexible in your discoveries. But either way, Amsterdam feels tiny and is often easily walked and explored by foot.
Spang Makandra: Indonesian cuisine
As for food, there are the typical cheese wheels and Stroopwaffels and French Fries with mayo, but this time I wanted to try something more “local”, in a relative sense. The Surinamese-Indonesian comminity in Oudje Piep apparently has made quite the lasting culinary impression, so we tried the tiny bistro Warung Spang Makandra. It’s a modest experience of Javanese food, so you won’t miss out on anything if you skip it, but I found the typical dishes (tempeh, sate and saoto ayam) extremely pleasing.