AmsterDAM WE HAD A GOOD TIME!
SO THE SUN ROSE ON OUR SECOND DAY IN THE ‘DAM! Well, the sun didn’t exactly rise, but the grey day crept into existence and we LEAPT (staggered) out of bed, bright eyed and bushy tailed (bleary eyed and limp tailed). We decided the first port of call was coffee, and it needed to be stronger than this workout video.
Luckily enough, we stumbled upon the brilliantly named Mr Bean, who were ready to administer us with as much caffeine we required, while we planned out the days adventures.(Spoiler- they mainly revolved around food and shopping.)
All stark wooden walls, with strains of groovy jazz over the speakers, this is a cracking little spot to hole up with a hot drink and watch the world go by.
Suitably perked up, we strolled over to the Albert Cuypmarket, in the heart of the trendy De Pijp quarter where you can stock up on all MANNER of purchases- nostril-quivering street food, gorgeous printed textiles, clothes, leather bags, handmade jewellery, ceramics and homeware and every colour of flowers under the sun.
Having worked up an appetite by then, we strode, stomachs rumbling into Bazar, just tucked behind the market stall. BAZAR IS SO COOL! Housed in a former Church, the high ceilings are set off by beautiful tiled walls, fairy lights, kitschy fluoro light box advertisments and the menu focuses on Middle Eastern/North African dishes.
A pal of mine who’s an Amsterdam expert told me we had to have the breakfast, SO THAT IS WHAT WE ORDERED. And by jove, we weren’t disappointed. Out came a huge platter comprising of thick, creamy Greek yoghurt and fresh fruit, a basket of airy Turkish breads, a thousand-holes-crepe (like a big crumpet which I was wooed by immediately because if I have one beef with crumpets, it’s that they aren’t big enough), feta cheese, herby cream cheese, kaymak (a middle eastern clotted cream), apricot jam, honey, boiled eggs, thick slices of dutch cheese and spicy sujuk slices (a bit like salami). WHOOMPH THERE IT IS.
It was so awesome, and all for about €8! No need to make reservations here, as it’s absolutely huge. Absolute winner.
By the time we’d finished our breakfast banquet, it was then obviously time for a drink, so we sought out one of the best Bruin Cafe’s in town- Cafe Brecht.
Obviously Amsterdam has the rep for weed, but you do have to actually seek it out if you want to smoke some, not everywhere just hands it out like sweets. As a rule, if you see the sign ‘Coffee-Shop’ that’s a smoking joint (HA) whereas ‘Cafe’s are bars.
Traditionally, they’re called Brown Cafes due to the centuries’ worth of smoking stains on the walls. Nowadays they’re full of breathable air but haven’t lost any charm, with wooden floors, rickety wooden tables and candles providing a gentle glow. Cafe Brecht had all that with the added bonus of overstuffed armchairs in chintzy fabrics, and a homemade blackberry gin behind the bar. SOLD.
One cocktail (OKAY ALRIGHT I’LL ADMIT IT IT WAS THREE) we wandered to Kalverstraat to indulge in a spot of shopping. And posing by the canals.
Given that we were doing the city on a bit of a budget (because you know TWENTYSOMETHING), it’s just such a lovely city to stroll around. The canals flanked by tall, thin houses, wandering down side streets packed with vintage boutiques and cafes, perfectly placed to sit and wile away a few hours people watching.
That evening, we hunted down some gininatins (because you can take the girl out of London etc), dolled up and went for dinner at a bustling MEAT HAVEN, the beautifully named Cannible Royale.
Specialising in burgers and ribs (and fit bearded waiters I might add- YEAH I’LL HAVE A BURGER WITH A SIDE ORDER OF SWOON THANKS) the decor is hysterically macabre- above the stairs there’s a display of creepy dolls hanging by the neck, whilst old Victorian photos of children stare down at you whilst you munch your meat. The food is uncomplicated and blooming delicious. In their own words, “Forget all hypes about haute cuisine for a minute, it’s time to enjoy everything that is tasteful, rich in flavour and is just simply good.” I didn’t take any pictures because it’s quite dark in there and I forgot my flash because I’m a dick. BUT IT’S SUPER COOL!
The following morning, we dragged ourselves up and out super early to visit Anne Frank’s House. We’d actually tried to go on our first evening, but the queue was two hours long. My advice would be to book a timed slot on the website in advance, otherwise the queue really does snake around the block. But armed with coffee we waited patiently to visit this poignant place and it was truly humbling. I read Anne Frank’s diary in full only a couple of years ago, having dipped into it as a kid previously, and it is just astounding how eloquently she writes. The blend of her profound observations about the world, her wit and the sometimes stroppy, emotional outpourings of a girl on the brink of adolescence is beautiful. This video is on show in the museum, and what her father says about her writing in this video made me cry.
The secret annexe is absolutely tiny. You just absolutely cannot imagine how eight people managed to stay in hiding and live with such constant fear. What really struck me though as we made our way through the museum, was the utter selfless bravery of the people who helped them. One would like to think that we would step up and show such courage without flinching in such desperate circumstances, but in reality I wonder if we would. Astonishing. On the way out, my heart broke as I caught sight of a little girl crying and asking her Mum, “But if she had survived, would she have been able to find her Dad?” The museum does a fantastic job of educating and telling the story of the annexe dwellers and their helpers, beautifully preserving the memory. And stories like that one need to be told.
Sobered and moved, we walked along the canal as the sun finally came out to play, digesting what we’d just experienced. Finding a lovely little spot for brunch at Buffet van Odette, we grabbed a table outside and settled in for the morning.
I won’t lie, I had still been thinking about the truffle ravioli from Pasta e Basta, so when we spied omelettes with truffle cheese on the menu, it was a DONE DEAL MATE.
Scoffing our breakfast (there mayyyyy have been also a breakfast pudding of apple pie and whipped cream but don’t tell anyone) we gazed out across the canal, each of us saying a silent fond farewell to this lovely, friendly city. THANKS Amsterdam for making us feel so welcome. WE LOVE YOU!