Amsterdamned! – ‘ON’ the beaten tracks!!

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Back on desk after a long and lovely autumn break in far east, so hellos and greetings are in order. Trust me, I took all my writing and reading material along thinking, I would keep filling in here but I was so mesmerised and busy falling in love with it!

Now that I sat to write on our short stay in Amsterdam (as I’ve promised on the side bar of my home page) I see a big NO ENTRY sign held up for my thoughts. As I’m trying really hard to push the train of thoughts through, the engine begins to warm up.

But do pardon me if I don’t sound like myself in this post.

 

 

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Amsterdam was an instant love though, for all its charm and romance, I did not expect it to be!

 

Where do I begin? I guess, I heart Amsterdam should be a good line to start with! 🙂

Amsterdam is one of those cities in the world that are truly unique, like Venice. I say that because when you see an image of this lovely Dutch capital there is no mistaking it. You see it, you know it.

 

 

 

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The quintessential Amsterdam. Of course then there’s tulips and windmills. Bicycle and riders. Van Gogh and Rembrandt and Anne Frank. I’m getting there. Keep scrolling down.

 

Amsterdam felt like right out of my childhood story book. The ones you get on to, after you’re ‘too old’ for castles & princes, witches & magic potion fairytales.

 

 

 

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Just as I imagined!! :)

 

As I rode past the red brick houses standing shoulder to shoulder with another, with large naked windows, big bunches of blooms & small bridges over small canals, the book and it’s illustrations were coming alive. Filled me with glee, even if it was too chilly for my liking and dressing!

 

We were in Amsterdam for just 72 hours in September. Just to let you know, I would have stayed there for 72 days and seen one new thing every day. So, pressed for time, we left ‘exploring the off beaten paths’ for a revisit and took to much beaten paths of this city.

The first of which was Museumplein.

 

Strike 1 : MUSEUMPLEIN

 

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This lush sight with painted clouds was the first thing I saw in Amsterdam. Wowed out I was. Naturally.

 

 

If I could see just one thing in Amsterdam that would be The Van Gogh Museum. That was decided the day I turned the last page of a book I read on Vincent Van Gogh’s life.

 

 

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A likeness of the master himself. I’ve adored him over the years. There was nothing and no one that I would see first.

 

 

 

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Gleeful to be here!
That’s Rijksmuseum and the Van Gogh Museum (the round building) behind me.

 

 

 

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Or perhaps more than gleeful?
The city concert hall forms the background here.

 

Museumplein is a must see tourist attraction of Amsterdam where three major museums guard, arguably, the most precious artworks of the world!

Before we move on, I hope you’re keeping up with the Dutch names? If yes, then brilliant!! If no, I have some bad news for you. They are perhaps the easiest ones to pronounce. I gloated on the fact of being really good with tongue twisters until I visited a Dutch city.  🙁

 

 

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Inside Van Gogh Museum.
Photography is reasonably prohibited in many areas.
But they let you have some to brag about.
Here’s mine with Van Gogh’s bedroom in Arles.

 

 

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If Van Gogh would have been alive today guess who’d be cleaning his brushes and mixing the paints?
Adi against Van Gogh’s Sunflowers, that need no introduction, I guess.

 

 

 

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If you had any doubts in what I just said this tete-a-tete should wipe them.

 

 

 

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I’d probably be…erm…still learning to pronounce Dutch names. :P

 

 

 

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He said it himself! And that’s why I don’t quite get abstract art.

 

 

Even if you aren’t an art lover, you must make it to Museumplein for it’s picturesqueness and some other equally invigorating and inspiring sights that would plant a smile on your face. You can people-watch.

 

 

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Or dog-watch even?

 

 

 

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Or baby watch??
It was definitely MUCH colder for this chap’s dressing. But it was all summer in the fellow’s head.
While I only imagined what joy it must’ve been to run bare feet up and down the path, he lived it up!

 

Rijksmuseum is the national museum of art and history of Netherlands and houses the works of Vermeer, Rembrandt and Frans Hals. If you wish to meet the Girl with the Pearl Earring, you’ll find her in The Hague. But if you’d like an eyeful of Night Watch, do not miss it. You’ll find Vermeer’s Milkmaid here too.

I’m gonna say hello to her another time. Fingers crossed.

 

 

Strike 2 : CROSS THE HISTORIC CANALS

It is around these meandering canals that this huge city thrives. Some of these canals date back to 17th century, the Dutch golden age. This one is Prinsengracht or Prince’s Canal, named after the Prince of Orange!

 

 

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On Prince’s Canal. Some of the buildings on either side also date back to 17th century.

 

Perhaps, Keizersgracht  or the Emperor’s Canal is a more popular choice. Well, the name says it all!

 

 

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Soak in some autumn sun. While it’s there!

 

And while you are around Prinsengracht, do take a detour and visit another historic landmark, the Anne Frank house, from the Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank.

 

Strike 3: ANNE FRANK HOUSE

I read The Diary of a Young Girl as a young girl and found it deeply moving and one of those books that stay in the back of your mind. So much so that I can still recall some images from the book in considerable detail. While I gave this one a pass, a long queue of visitors did suggest it’s worth. 

 

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Near Anne Frank house

 

 

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Well I seriously considered visiting it! I stood right in front of the queue, taking time to decide if I really want to visit.

 

 

 

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But then decided to move on.

 

 

 

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We love to walk around in cities. Pause where something catches the fancy. Capture when it convinces. And talk!

 

Of all the ways I know, it’s the best way to travel and to make your acquaintance with the place. Besides, it keeps you ‘together’! And you can have all those lovely little frosted devil of cupcakes and bakes that call you from the display windows. 🙂

 

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Near Amsterdam Centraal, Damrak

 

 

Strike 4: BIKE AROUND THE CITY!

 

They say there is a bike each for all the 800,000 people living in Amsterdam! It’s a bike-friendliest place I’ve ever seen. Everyone seems to be trotting past on bike of all shapes, sizes, colours.

You really feel left out when you’re not on a bike in Amsterdam!

 

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The (un)Official Dutch Ride!

 

 

Strike 5: VONDELPARK

 

That’s where ‘orange’ and ‘grape’ mix in the summer! Or brunch in autumn sun.

 

 

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Though this isn’t from Vondelpark, it is as gorgeous with tree line boulevards, small ponds and big mansions.

 

 

 Strike 6: I AMsterdam

 

Every beaten track in Amsterdam goes here. Every tourist pays their respect here by climbing it and taking a ‘conquered it’ picture. It’s a lovely place if you can manage to read the letters on a crowded day!!

 

 

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The sign is right at the backside of this.

 

 

 

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I AMsterdam!!

 

 

 

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I can do without the acrobatics, thank you very much!
That’s good enough distance for me.

 

 

 

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We had a lovely walk through here on the way to the sign.

 

 

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Adi in Autumn Palette

 

 


Strike 6 : RED LIGHT DISTRICT

The Red Light district, though, unadmittedly is perhaps the only ‘museum’ and attraction that brings many people to Amsterdam but it’s on everyone’s list.

Your visit here should be timed to around or after eight at night. That’s when it starts living upto its name. As you enter the area a strong smell of cannabis, piercing long wavelength red light and loud music launch a sensory attack on you!

 

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Dark and grey, narrow and cobbled alley ways lead to the happening part of Red Light area.

 

Well, I had seen this area in some movies but seeing up close was a different experience. An area full of irony is how I would describe it. Windows flooded with red light open not too far from the church.

 

 

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Amsterdam’s oldest church Oude Kerk hides here!

 

 

 

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A hop away is the residential area, where the windows cast a contrasting ‘homely’ yellow glow .
And so I call it a very ironic area.

 

 

 

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It’s a beautiful area with many canals and lovely bridges.

 

 

 

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It’s beautiful AND quaint.

 

 

 

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But I can’t really say I rather enjoyed the place.
Rows and rows of human beings put on display windows was quite disconcerting after a while.

 

 

 

 

 

Strike 7: MARKETS & SHOPPING!

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Shopaholic shopped a russet-orange bag and an orange jacket and got them in an orange carry bag from orange country!
(Relax! I’m just trying to redeem my tongue twister title here.)

 

You can set back your account on a lot of things in Amsterdam! From tulip seeds to avant-garde apparel to vintage love of clothes to books to some of the best stationary shops to adorable toy shops and the swankiest of handbags! All this is besides itsy-bitsy-cutesy souvenirs that one can buy.  The Nine Streets (De Negen Straatjes)  & The Kalverstraat and Leidsestraat (conventional shops/stores like Mango, H&M etc.) are the busiest shopping areas, for good reasons. You can sort out your vintage shopping here. Get a taste of local market at Albert Cuypmarkt.

And these are the stores where I got my orange things 🙂  Who’s That Girl at ReestraatHester van Eeghen at Hartenstraat 

 

One last thing! 

 

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Hug a dog!
Though this isn’t a real thing but my love for them is!

 

You can find him in South Amsterdam.

So this was all that we could fit in on our short stay in Amsterdam.

Amsterdam is a big bag of so many things – tulips, the windmills, the canals and the bicycles and the riders, the brick houses, Van Gogh, Rembrandt, Vermeer and red light district and cannabis coffees and stroopwafels and much more. It will be your run against time as to how much you can fish out from that bag! But even if it’s just a couple of things and on a weather beaten path, it will be worth it!

That’s how charming Amsterdam is!

 

 

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oh yes!

 

 

General tips and suggested reading:

For overview and/or deeper insights you can get some great help here .

Okay that’s no brainer, I get it. May be you’ll love this then.

For those who will travel for food you must visit MOMO an asian fusion restaurant. I strongly recommend making a reservation especially for dinner. Also it’s a LBD kind of place so be mindful of packing it.

For some comfort Indian food with no dress code and no reservations you can head to  Koh-i-noor. Also don’t miss eating Manneken Pis Potato Fries near Amsterdam Centrum station on Damrak street. Here’s the link.

I understand you might not have immediate travel plans for Amsterdam but an immediate desire to be there cannot be and should not be over-ruled! So I have some suggestions for bookworms and couch potatoes who would want to dig deeper into this beautiful city.

The Diary of A Young Girl by Anne Frank (for very obvious reasons!!)

Lust for Life by Irving Stone (not so much for sake of city but for someone who put the city on my world map, Van Gogh, who else?!)

Girl with the Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier (a beautiful poetic fictionalisation on Johannes Vermeer painting by same name)

For one’s who prefer the book to last no more than a couple hours, there are movies by the same names plus there’s Ocean’s 12!

 

Hope you enjoyed being here. See you soon!

Comments

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  2. Hi Nikita, again an amazing account of Amsterdam—-an attraction for art, artist and of cource Anne.You have very beautifully described/lived a fairy tale.Very lovely pics and very enjoyable reading.Nice work keep it up dear.

    • pastlifeseamstress says:

      Many thanks! I’m so glad you enjoyed reading it. It is indeed a very beautiful city. Looking forward to seeing you here again!!