Amsterdam

Amsterdam

Bitterballen

Bitterballen

Gouda Cheese

Gouda Cheese

Clogs Amsterdam

Clogs Amsterdam

Heineken

Heineken

Tulips

Tulips

My story of being an Amsterdamer has started when I moved to the Netherlands four years ago to study at the Amsterdam University. Comparing to the other big European capitals such as London and Paris, Amsterdam is a rather big cosmopolitan village. There are less than a million inhabitants although the central areas are always crowded due to the never ending tourists. The landmark of the city is undoubtedly the bikes. Bikes are the most important transportation means in Amsterdam. You can see men in suits and women in high heels going to work on their bike and it is perfectly normal. People carry each other at the back of their bike and make it look as if it is the easiest most comfortable thing to do. It is possible to see girls who put their make up or people who roll their cigarettes while they are being carried at the back of a bike. In Amsterdam there are definitely more bikes than people and more bike thieves than any other kind of thieves.

Throughout the year there are more rainy days than sunny days in Amsterdam. Summer consists of a couple of sunny days. The summer never takes for three consecutive months. When the sun shines in Amsterdam you really see that the city is alive and everybody is out in the city. People are happier, more positive and smile to one another just because it is sunny. In one of these days I like to sit in a bar’s terrace enjoy my beer and Dutch snacks or going on a picnic with my friends.

Beer is not a joke in Amsterdam and it has a long tradition in the city. Heineken, one of the most popular beers in the world, actually comes from Amsterdam. Their first beer factory at Stadhouderskade is turned into an interactive beer museum. This is a very interesting place to visit and learn about the history of Heineken, taste the beer and have fun. For those who enjoy richer and more elaborate beers like me should go to Brouwerij ‘t IJ at the East side of the city. This brewery offers different types of gurme beers. This brewery has its own windmill, you can never ask anything more typical Dutch than that! For those who enjoy hard liquors and cocktails instead of beer, there is no better spirit than centuries old Amsterdam tradition called genever. Near Museumplein there is a cocktail museum called House of Bols. By visiting this place you learn about the centuries old genever tradition, games prepared for your smelling and tasting buds and at the end of the tour you taste delicious cocktails prepared with bols liquors. In the museum’s shop it is possible to find and buy all the different flavors of bols liquore, the ones that you cannot get from any other place.

Amsterdam is not exactly the right city for shopaholics however it does offer some level of decent shopping experience. The main shopping street of Amsterdam is the Kalverstraat. Kalverstraat is a typical European shopping street where the commonly known brands appear at the both sides of the street. Kalverstraat is a long street in the centre where one end is at Damplein and the other at Muntplein. For upscale shopping with Guccis and Armanis you should go to Pieter Cronelisz Hooftstraat. Amsterdammers like to dress casual and carefree, thus it is not a surprise that Amsterdam is the capital of second hand shopping and vintage. The famous “9 straatjes” or the 9 streets are the perfect address for vintage and design lovers. 9 Streets are in the very centre of Amsterdam consist of 9 streets which draw a big block. There are many cute caffes, concept stores, design shops, as much as second hand clothing stores and vintage stores.

If you are looking for a cool night out and don’t like techno or electronic music unlike many Dutch people, I can recommend you the coolest place in town which is called Bourbon Street. It is very close to Leidseplein and there is live music seven days a week until five o’clock in the morning. If you are looking for peace and quiet in the middle of the city you should definitely go to Begijnhof. The entrance at the Spui looks like going into someone’s house so it is really like a secret oasis. Another element that makes Amsterdam so special is the big parks all over the city. The most famous one is Vondelpark and it is literally in the city centre. The main entrance is across the Holland Casino. There you will typically see bikers, people with their roller-blades, musicians with their instruments, lots of barbequing when the sun is shining and last but not least joggers, a lot of them.

Another mark of Amsterdam is nevertheless tulips. Although the Dutch tulips originate from Turkey, Netherlands gave them the worldwide fame and holds the market of tulips in hand. Bloemenmarkt at the heart of Amsterdam, literally the “flowers market”, offers many different types of flowers, flower seeds and tulip bulbs. This place is open during the summer and the winter. It is a hot spot for both locals and tourists. That is the place to buy seeds and bulb of any kind either for your own garden or to give to others as a present. Across the Bloemenmarkt situated a cheese shop called Old Amsterdam Cheese Store where you can taste and buy a variety of famous Dutch Gouda cheese. Their products and packaging are suitable transportation in plane. As a highly touristic city Amsterdam has many souvenir shops. Apart from the typical touristic items such as magnets and mugs, here you also find great many creative souvenirs some of them kinky and some of them funny. Although you can find similar items across the city my favorite is a small store close to Dam behind the boat size Dutch clog. This store always offers good prices for souvenir lovers.

You shouldn’t leave Amsterdam without eating the famous Dutch snack bitterballen. Bitterballen are a type of fried meatballs served as snacks. It has an acquired taste which may be difficult to appreciate at first but once you got used to it you become addicted. The best brand for bitterballen is Van Dobben and it is easy to find in any Albert Heijn supermarket. Many of the bars across Amsterdam serve Van Dobben bitterballen but it is always better to ask. Traditional bitterballen contains pork meat so for those who do not eat pork I advise kalfskroket from the same brand. It is made of veal meat and it is equally delicious.

So this is my Amsterdam. Put it in your to visit list, somewhere on the top!

– Special thanks to Özenç Demirkan (Amsterdam, the Netherlands) for writing this blog post for us.
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