The AmsterDAM Busters!
Ooh there’s just nothing more I enjoy than a good city break. Having had such a good time jaunting about Berlin earlier in the year, I jetted off for a cheeky little trip as a final fling before knuckling down to the glittery grind of Panto-land that begins at the end of this month.
TO AMSTERDAM! Land of tulips, clogs, red lights and the sweet sweet haze!
After a eye-wateringly early start (3.30 am is not fun unless you’re off your tits somewhere surrounded by a rowdy bunch of mates), after reaching the city of canals our first priority was LUNCH. We’d been tipped off about a little place just a hop, skip and a jump on the free ferry from Amsterdam Centraal station called THT. Located in Amsterdam North in the former canteen of The Shell Technology Centre, this airy little cafe serves up a host of small plates perfectly paired with good beer for a lunchtime treat.
We kicked off with some traditional Dutch Bitterballen. These utter TREATS are a kind of Dutch meatball consisting of golden, crunchy breadcrumbs encasing a kind of creamy, meaty roux (usually beef or veal) and served with tongue-tickling mustard. Whatever they were, they were BLOOMING LOVELY!
Appetites whetted, we tucked into a hearty lunch, accompanied by a few celebratory beers, all whilst overlooking the stunning city views- pretty even through the drizzle.
Full to our brims, we took a wander downstairs to have a quick gander at some of the artwork that was on display.
The ferry across the canal is super easy to find, just walk straight through Centraal station. They come every few minutes and are FREE! It’s like the tube but on water. Strolling down the streets of the ‘Dam (getting sliiiiightly giddy off some wayward green fumes) we jumped in and out of shops to check out the wares of the city. Well…when I say the wares, I mainly mean cheese and alcohol. Which is really all anyone wants in life anyway, right?!
TOP TIP- all the cheese shops offer a LOT of free samples. So get stuck in.
Having indulged our gastronomic urges we decided it was time for a bit of culture. Well, sort of.
We rolled over to the Damrak to visit the Sex Museum. And good lord what a giggly trip that was. Charting the history of sex, this place houses all manner of erotic curiosity- from paintings, to poems, photographs and pornography and everything inbetween- it’s all here. We were flashed, had a sex line call, got winked at by a ceramic bottom, gazed at self inflating condoms, and of course, sat on a giant penis. You have to.
The Sex Museum has over 500,000 visitors every year- what a horny little bunch we all are! The collection is incredibly thorough though, and although making us blush and chuckle at every turn, it was also massively fascinating to see how desires and attitudes towards eroticism have changed over the years. The examples of early pornography were especially cool- when women actually looked like women, rather than plucked and preened barbie dolls, with beautiful soft figures, pubic hair, beautifully pinned hairstyles and just loving life in all their natural glory.
Eyebrows suitably raised, smirks fully in place and the blush still pink in our cheeks we made our way back to our hotel to spruce up ready for dinner, managing to totally BOSS the tram system at the same time. The trams are super easy to use. Best thing to do, is to buy a travelcard for the amount of days you’re going to be there at any metro/train station and that lets you jump on and off all trams, buses and trains all day (for three days, ours was €16). Pick up a tram map and if you’re a dab hand at deciphering the tube map, you’ll have the routes under your belt in a matter of minutes.
A WORD ABOUT THE ROADS- be careful. LOOK all time when crossing the road. Most ‘Dammers ride bikes round the city, and are jolly aggressive along with it. THE BIKES ALWAYS HAVE RIGHT OF WAY apparently. So do look left and right. Multiple times. And obviously do your best not to get hit by a tram too.
That night, the Navigation Sensations (yes we gave ourselves a name, shush) strolled down the Western Canals, diving in and out of a few lovely bars and cafes for some pre-dinner beverages, taking particular delight in the pretty interiors of Ree7.
Dinner that night was at one of the most fun restaurants I’ve ever been to- Pasta e Basta on Nieuwe Spiegelstraat. Draped in heavy curtains and with chairs with padded seats and little feet, this place feels opulent but without being wanky. If you like your dinner with a spot of entertainment, this is the place to come- throughout the evening, all the waiting staff sing live with the resident pianist, everything from Puccini to Celine Dion. What’s more, they all have inCREDible voices (p.s Hi guys, can we make one of these restaurants in London? Given that most actors spend most of their time waiting tables anyway, we might as well sing whilst we’re doing it).
AND THE FOOD THOUGH. After browsing the menus (gorgeously printed on old vinyl cases), we hand-picked our starters from the buffet, which just happens to be nestled in the body of an old grand piano, before plumping for a tasting menu of three of the best dishes. I’m still having inappropriate dreams about the truffle cheese ravioli.
Truly a spankingly good night out, Pasta e Basta is well worth a visit, but do book in advance because it gets rammed!
High as a kite on truffle cheese and red wine, we nodded off, dreaming of absinthe, canals, bitterballen and 19th century pornography, already excited about the next day and already a bit in love with the city.