Wednesday, 3 September 2008

Put me in your suitcase….Amsterdam!

In a city where prostitution and cannabis are legal I’m determined to prove there’s more to this fascinating city than the just the rumors, I go in search of its hidden gems.

After arriving into the city, the first stop on my list is the infamous Anne Frank house. This is a must even if you haven’t read her diary as it sets the stage for this city’s (like most European cities) dark past. Don’t be discouraged by the long lines, I can assure you it moves fairly quickly and while you’re waiting look behind you at the clock tower (Westertoren) - the church located on the south corner. Its bells rang every fifteen minutes, which took some getting use to (Anne Frank confesses in her diary) but also provided time orientation for those in hiding. Some interesting points not to be missed: height measurements of the girls on the wall, the staircase (very steep and narrow) and bookshelf – which concealed the secret rooms.

I took some time after the exhibit to wander around and soak up the sights and sounds. Bikes, trams and pedestrians travel in harmony along the cobble stone streets. It’s easy to see how they call this city the ‘Venice of the North’; it feels like every corner presents a new canal and charming view. One can easily get carried away with taking photos here. The city’s name comes from ‘Amstel dam’, that is a dam in the river Amstel (which runs through the city). As the lights in the streets start to turn on and the city skies turn dark it’s time for me to get ready for the night’s plan.

But not before something to eat! I head to a snackbar for a frites speciale. Trust me, this is one dish you don’t want to miss out on - you can worry about the calories once you’re home…actually come to think of it, calories consumed abroad don’t really count, do they? This heavenly treat includes chunky chips with mayonnaise, curry sauce and onions. It sounds gross, I know; I was a bit nervous at first as well, but it’s incredible! You can thank me later ;P

Once I’m all dressed up we head to Studio/K, an uber cool, retro club/restaurant located at Timorplein 62. Two bands are scheduled to open before the DJ is set loose for the night. In another room, games -Twister, ping-pong, and old-school video games - are set up. This is where we spend most of our time (why would we leave when we’ve just started a ping-pong tournament?).

The next day we head to The Stedelijk Museum. The main focus here is modern art and the gallery is temporarily located about a 10 minute walk east of the Central station. While I was there an exhibit on the Pop Art master himself Andy Warhol was on entitled: Other Voices, Other Rooms. It was a comprehensive exhibit displaying some of his most famous films, along with drawings, photos and rare archive material, all presented alongside audio snippets from Edie Sedgwick, Mick Jagger and Man Ray.

After spending hours in the Museum I have just enough time for dinner before I head back to London for another work week. Time has flown and I feel like I’ve seen a lot, Amsterdam is a fascinating city even without the draw of its red light district and cafés.

Wish you girls could’ve been there

Jessica xo

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