It was quite the trip I must say; especially getting to grips with the Amsterdam culture, lifestyle, and remembering that “forward” is on the right hand side of the road and not the left as it is here in England!
I spent an amazing few days there in the Dutch capital, and come leaving day I did not want to go home! Below I will share with you a few of my favourite captures from the trip. Captures are specifically from iPhone (6S+ model) as I did not take my DSLR.
Getting to the hotel was the first main objective on landing at a sun-soaked Schipol Airport in Amsterdam around about 8am. What lay ahead was a very relaxed train and tram journey respectively – with costs roughly similar to what you would pay for both in England (the pound to euro is weak these days remember!).
Travelling to the hotel was fairly straightforward and took all of about an hour to complete (including traffic). I noticed all the bicycles and boats I passed en route to the hotel and had already made the decision that both were destined to be used/experienced during my time here. The buildings were a neat sight too :).
Some of the views on the last-leg of the walk to the hotel were mesmerising including this shot (above).
On arrival at the hotel, it was discovered that it was not time to check-in yet; so my girlfriend and I set down our bags and decided to go for a short wander nearby in order to kill the time. The first eatery visited was Ted’s on Bosboom Toussaintstraat – about a minute’s walk from the hotel. I must say that Ted’s immediately became my favourite place to eat – before even being anywhere else yet! Their food was incredible, and the chilled, calm nature of the area was right up my street. I think the great weather helped! My ordered Eggs Benedict was delicious, along with freshly-squeezed orange juice. I lunched on this whilst watching others go about their business – especially the many cyclists who were whizzing up and down the street of Bosboom at ease.
There was an “open bookcase” of books nearby in both Dutch and English, which passers-by were allowed to take books and go off with. I had not seen anything like this in England and I found it really cool.
One thing I realised immediately about the area I was staying in was the opportunity to capture a lot of one-point perspective shots such as those below. I was constantly pausing on every other street to take photos and here is the one I have taken on Derde Helmersstraat.
Further south from here, I passed through Museumkwartier – one of the local parks filled with plenty of sun-bathing individuals: cyclists, students, and families in general enjoying the lavish weather.
After finally being able to check-in suitcases and bags, I was able to explore the bridges of Amsterdam; something I was very much looking forward to on arrival in the city. I have always seen countless Instagram posts of the bridges and scenery and thought “I’d love to be there”.
My girlfriend and I visited the shopping districts of Amsterdam and in the process I captured this shot of a couple going about their business (below). We were mainly in the area to see a Dutch designer friend of mine - someone I had got to know in London when running a market stall for my brand Labels Are Limitations®. We met this friend at Proeflokaal Wynand Focknick (not pictured), a small, but fun-filled pub.
Twee (Dutch for “two”)
The second day of my time in Amsterdam saw me go on a boat tour in and around the city of Amsterdam and also visit the Anne Frank Huis (House) where visitors were not permitted to take photographs.
During the boat tour, the recognition of the city’s sleek riverside architecture was one of my favourite things about the tour. Tall buildings with large ground floor windows dominated the scene for the first half of the tour; and this was followed up by catching a glance of the stunning Amsterdam Eye building – a Delugan Meissi Architects creation. The Amsterdam Eye looks like a piece of architecture the late legendary Rem Koolhaas would have constructed – I instantly think of architecture by OMA.
There were other sharp pieces of architecture which I passed by on the tour including Amsterdam's Maritime museum and Nemo Science Centre. I must say that the thirteen euros for the 1hr 20 trip was more than worth it! A lot of the museums and tours in the area tend to range around the 9-17 euro mark in general.
Moving into the evening: whilst waiting 90-minutes to get into the Anne Frank Museum (ages), I took this shot of some buildings to my right, simply taking a note of their appearance. Below is a capture of the “Westermarkt” building.
I wish I had Anne Frank Huis imagery to show, but this was not allowed as I am sure you will have read in the opening few paragraphs of “Twee” ;)
Onto day 3: The final full day in Amsterdam.
It had already been decided that Hortus Botanicus – a picturesque set of gardens south-east of my hotel – and the Van Gogh museum were on the menu for the day. Photography was not really permitted inside the Van Gogh Museum so you will have to refer to my instagram @iamroyikoroha to see the few shots I took within the venue.
Hortus Botanicus was reached by bicycles which my other half and I decided to rent for the day from our hotel (Grand Hotel Downtown Amsterdam) for a cost of 19 euros – insurance included. Now I had not cycled properly in close to fourteen-years so was super nervous about taking to the roads of Amsterdam and “competing” with other cyclists and motorbikes. Somehow though, I actually managed to successfully get to the museum and back with minimum cycling issues.
It was a lot of fun [albeit strenuous up the hills – I need to up my exercise-bike difficulty in the gym] cycling around the city and it took me back to my youth of cycling carefree in local North London parks with my parents watching on and telling me “I can do it” and “keep steady”. Below are a collection of photos from my amazing time at Hortus Botanicus:
...and a photo of me striking a pose on the bicycle en route back to the hotel...
During the cycle, I did imagine what it would be like actually “living” in Amsterdam (food for thought).
Moving on into the evening, it was time to visit the Van Gogh Museum – but not before grabbing a bite to eat in Restaurant Stedelijk, a stone throw from the museum. It had been a while since I had steak and I usually go for “well-done”, however today was the day to move onto medium/well-done steak; and I loved it! I am probably the last person in the world to realise that it most certainly is no longer worth having “well-done” steak as all the flavour is cooked out of the meat in this state.
After that brilliant meal, it was onto the Van Gogh Museum to view the artwork and history of one of my artistic idols Vincent Van Gough himself. The foray into his gallery was really insightful and I got to learn so much about the inspiration, lifestyle, heritage, strengths, and flaws of the great man. I would say the inspiration I got from this Museum paralleled with that I got from visiting the Anne Frank Museum the day before. I recommend the galleries to anyone who happens to be planning to visiting Amsterdam.
Now it is time to leave...
Home beckoned, but not before visiting Ted’s for one last time for a final brunch – eggs benedict on the menu of course ;)! Dining here epitomised my new found love for Amsterdam and its ways; and it is somewhere I will definitely be returning to someday soon. The immediate photo below outlines my thought on Amsterdam:
Goodbye Amsterdam, I will see you soon.
Closing & Concluding
Amsterdam was a class experience. Prior to my trip, I had this preconception that it was a great place, but somewhere which was exclusively for lad’s/ladies’ weekends away or couple’s naughty weekends away – but this is not the case.
It has definitely been a place which has inspired me both as a creative; and more widely as an individual.
I never imagined a place so calm. Amsterdam is a very inclusive and welcoming city with smooth surroundings flowing almost effortlessly into one another; coupled with a vibrant cycling community and one which clearly is very into its healthy lifestyle – something which practically ticks most of my boxes. I will say, make sure you remember to keep your eyes open at all times otherwise you run the risk of getting whacked by a cyclist you did not see coming from your left! The costs in Amsterdam were slightly more than expected, but this could be blamed on the weak pound versus the euro these days. I won’t be making this discussion political however, fear not!
Amsterdam is also impressively clean, something which pollution-prolific London could learn from if it is to become more “green”. The city is far more of a creative’s paradise than I thought, with graffiti eminent on many of the side-street walls; but done in a way which does not make it look grimy or as if it should not be there – similar to Shoreditch in a way some parts. Everything in the city compliments one another and for me – this is how a city should look! I love London and it remains to be one the greatest cities in the world in my eyes – but it could pick up a tip or two from Amsterdam.
I have one regret, and that is not booking to stay longer at the beautiful Grand Downtown Hotel, my hotel for the duration of Amsterdam 2016.
I sign off now hoping that you have found my short insight into my Amsterdam foray interesting? If so, feel free to leave a comment [or like] under the article. The “likes” are anonymous ;)...