Amsterdam, The Netherlands. June 2013.
Amsterdam is one of my favourite cities. I didn’t think it would be. When I first visited back in 2002 (I was thirteen), I was with my family and my cousins’ family, and we kids didn’t really have any idea what was going on, where we were going or had any say in the itinerary. All I remember from that trip was walking through red light district at night, taking a canal cruise and some foggy memories of what the city looked like.
At thirteen, I didn’t really care as much about travel, or appreciated the fact that I was in Europe, and was lucky enough to go to all those amazing places. To a tween, it was a lame summer spent away from my friends and missing out on all the inside jokes and whatnot.
I really wish I could remember more of that trip–I’ve realised that my travel memories are stronger (less ‘pixelated’, somehow) after I turned fourteen or so. If I had known that I would miss those memories so much, I would definitely have kicked my brain into hyper mode to try to absorb everything. But alas, my mental scrapbook of travel pre-13/14-years-old are not as comprehensive as I would like. That condition (or is it a superpower) where a person is able to access 100% of their brain? Yeah, that would help.
Fortunately, I was able to go back in 2012 and 2013 for a more in-depth visit, and I’m so glad that I did. The city was even more vivid, artistic and charming than the feeble representation I had of it in my mind. My previous visit was so brief that I barely got to see, eat or do much, so this time my sister and I made sure to do tons of all that.
We tried to visit as many museums and markets and parks and neighbourhoods as our feet would allow, and we found that Amsterdam is also (surprisingly) quite the foodie city, although people would generally think of Paris or New York first. It’s also diverse, culturally rich and highly architectural–descriptors which I initially did not think to attribute to the city, but that the city has so provenly deserved.
I also love that despite its modernity, Amsterdam has managed to preserve its culture and architecture so damn well. The whole place is practically like an outdoor museum!
There is so much more Amsterdam left that we haven’t been able to experience yet, but I’m glad we decided to go back to try to get to know the city a little more deeply. It’s one of those cities that you can walk around endlessly in, and nearly every corner is a postcard or movie montage waiting to happen.
And did I mention the food? I could live off the stuff, seriously. Poffertjes (those tiny pancakes with powdered sugar and butter on top), stroopwafel (you will forget those Starbucks knockoffs immediately and weep at the syrupy goodness of a fresh stroopwafel), and can I just say that Dutch fries are the best and most consistently awesome fries I’ve ever tried? Fries were thick-cut and crisp to perfection at every place that served them. Oh, and bitterballen too (kind of like croquettes but molten inside), and fresh orange juice, and roast chicken, and fried herring. Yeah. Basically, the food. Mental note to do a dedicated post on Amsterdam’s food.
I cannot wait to go back again.