Hello all, Husband here. This is a quick reference guide on some things you may want to check out in Amsterdam.
The Jordaan is a former working-class neighborhood that has been revitalized into the most hip Amsterdam neighborhood. As most of Amsterdam is, the Jordaan is filled with canals, as well as row after row of charming Amsterdam homes. Duck into a cafe or a bar for a snack or drink and just enjoy the view. While you’re there, check out the houseboats inhabited by the locals (or rent one out on AirBNB) and admire their private gardens on the roofs of the boats. The Jordaan is also home to the Anne Frank Museum (right on the border of the district). Due to the long lines, we decided to skip this.
And why, you may ask, do the buildings have hooks hanging out from the facade on the top floors? Traditional Dutch homes are tall with narrow staircases. People would (and still do) attach a rope to the hook in order to hoist large furniture to upper floors. Don’t let go of the rope!
While in Jordaan, stop at Cafe Papeneiland. Dating back to 1642, the bar is one of the older establishments in Amsterdam. When you walk in, you immediately feel at home – from the wood-paneled walls, to the wood-burning stove, to the twinkling string of lights, to the simple turn-of-the-century chandelier. Apparently Bill Clinton ate here once (per TripAdvisor) and liked the apple pie, as did many reviewers. We should have read the reviews; we missed out on the pie. It is, however, a great place to stop just for a drink as well, which is what we did. Drinks are reasonably priced and the ambiance is perfect for a pre-dinner beer. A Belgian beer called La Chouffe is served in many bars around Amsterdam, including this one – it’s a strong (8.0% ABV) Belgian Pale Ale with aromatic notes of citrus – and we highly recommend it.
It’s the building on the corner. This is about 9:30pm – there is still considerable sunlight well past 10 in the summer in Amsterdam.
Upon our departure, the proprietor offered us a vintage postcard of the bar, which we compared to the modern look.
Brouwerij ‘t IJ
Don’t ask me how to pronounce this place, just go there. Brouwerij ‘t IJ is a local Amsterdam brewery that you can easily find by looking for the only old-style windmill within Amsterdam and going inside the adjacent building. Beer is inexpensive and the vibe is good. It’s open from 2-8pm, so don’t go late – the goal of the brewery is to have a place to enjoy a beer responsibly and not deal with the rowdy late-night crowds, which made it great for us. While not as communal as a Munich biergarten, the atmosphere was enjoyable and relaxing. In terms of beer, try the Columbus.
Get Fries at Vlaams Friteshuis Vlemenckx
Yes, that’s really the name of the place. It’s amazing. Garlic mayo and peanut sauces are great. Just do it. You won’t regret it.
So that should give you a few things to do in Amsterdam. Don’t, by any means, stay away from Amsterdam due to its reputation. Many people associate the city with the free use of recreational narcotics and the Red Light District. By writing off Amsterdam for these reasons, you will miss out on all the good things Amsterdam has to offer. What you will find are picturesque buildings, beautiful canals, and accessible landmarks (everything is just a bike trip away). We never felt like we were in a dodgy neighborhood, and we never felt threatened. So go, and make Amsterdam yours!