Jamie McHale

Amsterdam

I went to Amsterdam this weekend to visit the city and Van Gogh museum — a wee birthday treat, booked back in April.

The Van Gogh Museum was excellent. I am a big fan of Van Gogh and this visit was an opportunity to see some of his works up close. The museum is located on Museumplein, close to the center of the city. We went on a Friday night, when the museum is open until 10pm. They have music and Van Gogh-themed video projections in the lobby area, and serve up G&T and beers for visitors.

The museum was excellent, with three floors taking you through Van Gogh’s life, influences, family and friends. Taking in all the works was manageable in the few hours we spent there — highly recommended.

I was a big fan of the “Nine Streets” and Jordaan area — lots to explore, with small cafes, bars and restaurants. The center of Amsterdam has a really distinct character, and lovely architecture. I’m less of a fan of the area over the other side of the center, which seemed to be filled to the brim with gawkers and tourists in the Red Light District. Do they not know that there are excellent sandwiches just a few streets west?!

Amsterdam is a bike city — I was really impressed by their cycling infrastructure. It made me wish that Edinburgh had even half the level of provision for walkers and cyclists. The trams were also excellent, hop on and off to easily get around the city. You can pick up travel cards from the tourist travel center by Amsterdam Centraal Station.

We walked around the gardens of The Rijksmuseum to see the sculptures and monuments. There was an exhibition of tree and boulder sculptures by Giuseppe Penone, which were striking and impressive.

There was a monthly market by the Iamsterdam sign in front of the Rijksmuseum — craft, art and fashion stalls, plus some street food and coffee.

We managed a quick run in the Vondelpark — I try to run in every new city I visit. It was 7km round, plus up Albert Cuyp market street. A good flat run, and as with everywhere in Amsterdam, full of bikes. You really have to pay attention to where you are going!

The food was good throughout — thanks Foursquare! We tried the recommended Dutch snacks of Stroopwafels, poffertje and waffles; sandwiches from Singel 404, and De Wasserette; and evening meals at Sama Sebo, The Pantry, and Ali Ocakbaşı.

The Pantry was one of the few restaurants advertised as traditional “Dutch” on Foursquare. It was a little touristy, but worth a visit. The food was based mainly on sausages and potatoes — possibly more suited to a cold winters evening than a summers day! The pea-soup starter was surprisingly excellent (excellent pea soup, who knew!). The waiter heard me deliberating over whether to get the soup or pickles and ham for a starter, so solved my dilemma presenting me with a small pre-starter pickle gift with a Dutch flag. I love pickles, so this made my day.

Lastly, if you are looking for a place to stay in Amsterdam, check out Hanane’s Airbnb listing. It’s a cosy apartment located just on the southern edge of the central district. It’s within walking distance of the museums, a street market on the doorstep and two minutes from a tram stop.

Dank je wel , Amsterdam!