Astonishing museums, gorgeous gabled homes, a nightlife to remember, and a bicycles wherever you look: these are just a fraction of the details that contribute to Amsterdam being the go-to city for students who have a thirst for new and exciting culture. It’s a ’gateway’ to becoming totally addicted to traveling. Its vibrant culture, and Golden Age history is what drew Jenny Edwards into its everlasting charm and in this article she shares her experience in the city which she calls a watery, miniature London City.
The culture in the Netherlands is particularly diverse, which reflects the Dutch way of being; they have such an open-minded, welcoming nature to all walks of life. I had the pleasure of visiting the beautiful city this summer, so I’m going to try and give you some top tips of places to visit, places to stay, and places to eat.
Rijksmuseum: In English, this translates to ‘The State Museum’. Over two hundred years old, these buildings hold some of the most amazing collections that I have ever laid my eyes on. It was almost as if someone had merged all of London’s best museums and put them in one place. Undoubtedly, the shining star of the museums was the Rijks library; once you enter the room, you become overwhelmed with a sense of marvellous history, and the sheer capacity of books is unbelievable. It is not surprising that Rijks is the largest art history library in the Netherlands.
Van Gogh Museum: Even if you’re not a fan of art, the Van Gogh museum is a must. It is the best way to get the true sense of the amount of work that one man was capable of producing in his lifetime. Of course, it is a very popular tourist attraction, and so it is best to head there in the morning as the queues can get frustratingly long – and it’s just so much nicer to not be rushed around the gallery by the huge crowds.
Anne Frank House: For some reason, I prioritised Amsterdam Zoo over visiting this spectacle, but that is because I knew the Zoo would have a lot less people queuing. (Also, the Zoo was fantastic!) I read a few reviews online and found that many people were saying that Anne Frank’s House was ‘underwhelming’; I don’t entirely see how such a thing could come across as ‘underwhelming’, because what do you really expect? I imagine it to be haunting, and yet equally wonderful to wander halls that hold so much rich history.
The Red Light District: Everyone knows what goes on in the Red Light District, and yet I still was in total astonishment when I first walked through the tight alleyways and swiftly passed by the ‘windows’. Coming from a country that’s labelled for being prudes, it was obviously going to be a culture shock. It is definitely something to experience though, it really makes you wonder how different countries are, that live so very close together. It does have quite a wonderful atmosphere regardless, as almost everyone is in the same boat – Amsterdam tends to attract a lot of British and American tourists, and so the Red Light District simply consists of many English speaking people walking around in total shock.
Food: The Dutch capital is renowned for its diverse dining and it does not disappoint – there is certainly somewhere to eat for absolutely everyone. If you’re feeling adventurous, there’s ‘Restaurant Azmarino‘, it’s an Ethiopian restaurant with a lively vibe – the best part is that the food arrives on a huge round platter, and is presented on pancake-like bread called Injera, which is delicious! Or maybe if you’re not feeling so adventurous, ‘Jacketz Oud-West‘ is a restaurant that specialises in brilliantly presented jacket potatoes, with toppings from all over the world. Also, do you remember the scene in Pulp Fiction where Vincent and Jules are having that long conversation about food? It’s simply a must to try the Dutch speciality, chips with mayonnaise! Somehow, it tastes so much better when you’re there.
The Student Hotel: Especially if you are a beginner with traveling, like me, places like ‘The Student Hotel’ in Amsterdam are a fantastic concept. It’s a ten minute tram ride away from the center of the City, has friendly staff, a bright and constantly busy atmosphere… Oh, and of course has lightning speed Wi-Fi (Of course it would, it’s full of students).