Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Local's Secret (4) : Victor's Amsterdam

Did you know Amsterdam inhabits the largest number of nationalities (177) in the world? It's a great place to try the cuisine from many of these countries, ranging from Indonesian to Surinam and from Ethiopian to Iraqi.

The Basics

What do people have to know about your city’s transportation? 
It's a great investment to buy a "chipcard" to use in trains and public transport. Buy it at the "NS train desk" at Schiphol airport, and tell them you want to use it in the public transport (trams, buses, metro). Don't forget to check in when you enter the metro, train etc. and check out when you leave again. See https://www.ov-chipkaart.nl/apply-1/which-card-is-right-for-you/tourists.htm

If someone is new to the city, which website should he check for daily or weekly free events? 
Iamsterdam.com is a great place to start, it's the city's official website. Otherwise check the Amsterdam group of Couchsurfing for some alternative events. Timeout Amsterdam has some cool stuff too, so does fellow blogger Anne at www.yourlittleblackbook.me, and don't forget to check out my own blog too! E.g. cheap eats in Amsterdam: http://www.victorstravels.com/food/cheap-places-to-eat-in-amsterdam/

Tell us about the food scene! 

Signature dish and where to get the best servings: 
When it comes to Dutch food, aim for winter dishes or sweets, that's where we are good at. Get yourself a "Stroopwafel", a syrup wafel, at the Albert Cuyp street market where they make them fresh for €1.50. The fun part here is to try different cuisines here. There are plenty of places that sell Indonesian, Surinamese, Ethiopian, Iraqi or Iranian food, but also fusion concepts are popular here. 

Wackiest food in town and where to try them: 
Although I haven't tried it myself (I never even smoked weed, can you believe it?) I hear many funny stories about "Space cake". This is basically a brownie filled with weed. Yes, the drug. They can be very yummy if baked right, so do be careful with the dosage :)

Everyday food that foreigners might find exotic? 
We put chocolate on bread for breakfast. Also we eat raw herring and smoked eel. But usually not all on the same day ;-) 

Hidden Gems/ Victor's Secrets! 

Sell us the one or two "things you should experience before you die” in your city. 
- On the 27th of April every year we celebrate "Kingsday". Kids sell goods on the street and set up old Dutch games, the whole inner city is closed off and there are open-air stages with music ranging from techno to old Dutch ballads. It's massive, with over 1 million people visiting Amsterdam from outside the city (and country) and all wearing the national colour, orange.

- Take a stroll in the Vondelpark during rush hour on a workday and see thousands of people on all sorts of bicycles swoosh by. Or, even better, participate in the morning rush yourself with your (rented) bicycle. 

Hidden gems in the city that tourists tend to overlook:
- An area that is most overlooked is the Bijlmer, since there aren't many obvious landmarks there apart from the Ajax stadion. The shopping area (Amsterdamse Poort) of this formerly rough area is a great example of Amsterdam's multicultural melting pot. Head out there during lunchtime on a weekday to see suit-and-tie bankers have lunch next to groups of loitering locals with Surinamese, Antilles or Mid-west-African roots. You can find good food here too. Take metro 54 from Central Station and get off at station Bijlmer / Arena.

Amsterdam Noord (Amsterdam north) is an upcoming neighborhood, with lots of "hipster" activity. A lot of music festivals are held here, and there are  many small food joints and microbreweries if you know where to find them. Take a free ferry from the water-side of Amsterdam Central Station and you're in Amsterdam North. It's useful to plan some kind of route beforehand, since things aren't that close to each other in this area.

Let’s talk about the best festival in the city, and how to participate! 
- The best time to visit my city is the 27th of April, because of Kingsday, which I have told you about in an earlier question. 

- Another great "festival" is the Gay Pride parade. The whole city is full of lovely people watching a parade of boats with, well, gay-related things on them. It's really grown to be a all-inclusive event, you definitely don't have to be gay to participate. 

- A relatively new festival is the Light Festival, which is one of my personal favorites. In the dark winter month of January, you can stroll around the city to find all sorts of light installations. It's quite spectacular and really lights up the city! There is an "official" walking tour and boat tour, which I recommend doing both. 

Tell us your favorite photo spots in your city and how to get there 
To photograph skyline, I go to the top of the public library or science museum.
My favorite secret(or not so secret) spot to take photo of  a windmill with a brewery inside is in front of Brewery 't IJ (great beers too!). 

Tell us about the best day trip destination from your city and why is that your choice? 
Marken is a great day trip out of Amsterdam. It's a small fishing village where some of the locals still wear the traditional dresses. If you go at the end of May there is a festival in this town where there is a smoked eel competition. It's quite interesting and delicious! 

Utrecht is a lovely, less busy city with a similar vibe to Amsterdam. The city center is smaller and, different from Amsterdam, it's possible to have dinner at water level on many of the canals around the city. Very romantic!

(BONUS Tips) 
How long should one visit Amsterdam? 
I would aim for 3 days, since the attractions are pretty close from each other and the public transport is fast. Get yourself a bicycle for a real Amsterdam experience!
Hoi! It's Victor from Amsterdam, blogger at Victorstravels.com and overall adventurous traveller. I'm currently in a train from Nijmegen (east of Netherlands) to Amsterdam, as I am on my way home from a 5-day road trip with three friends. We started with no particular route in our heads and ended up driving to Prague and back (about 2000km). I like traveling in many different ways, as I have by foot (e.g. 200km from Seattle to Vancouver), car (e.g. hitchhiked 2000+ km from Whitehorse, Canada to Fairbanks, Alaska and back), bicycle (e.g. cycled 2500+ km from New York to Miami) or boat (e.g. hitched a cargo boat going from Panama to Colombia in 8 days). Follow all my adventures on Instagram (instagram.com/victors.travels), Twitter (twitter.com/victorstravels) or Facebook (facebook.com/victorstravels).


Andrew Boland said...

nothing like a parade of giant penises!

Annika of 457 Australia said...

I certainly agree of the light festival for it is fascinating to see the street light up during at night. It is kind of romantic too!