It’s a pity that, amongst many of my peers, the main attraction of wonderful Amsterdam is the weed. Yes, I may have dabbled somewhat nervously with that pungent herb, but in the words of A. Silverstone, ‘It is one thing to spark up a doobie and get laced at parties, but it is quite another to be fried all day’. At least that’s my view on the matter. All I’m saying is that I think you can enjoy the ‘Dam so much more when sober, and with wide open eyes that can catch a glimpse of all that this quaint city on the river can show you.
Undoubtedly the best way to travel around is by bike. The city is actually larger than you think; plus, if you do a bit of exercise it kind of counteracts all the dutch pancakes, slathered in luscious applesauce or rich chocolate you’ve eaten…right? The city is well set up for biking, with cycle lanes accompanying every road and bikes almost taking priority over cars in most places! We hired some old-fashioned bikes with sturdy wooden handlebars and vintage wicker baskets on the front, and pottered about the backstreets, skirting around the conglomerations of pots, overflowing with blooms of the brightest hues.
I think that was what I noticed the most about Amsterdam- how it seemed to be bursting with colourful life, teeming with excitement and the bustle of the tourists mingling with the to-and-froing of the locals going about their business.
Being the contrary travellers we were, we voted to go to a smaller and less famous gallery than that of the classic Van Gogh (although I am not saying that this is not well worth a visit); the Moco Museum, showcasing some more modern works of the elusive and infamous Banksy and the pop-art icon Andy Warhol. Having studied and created pieces in the style of Warhol for coursework in the previous years, we were eager to see the pieces we had attempted to mimic in style and vigour. Needless to say, the exhibition was thought-provoking; Banksy’s attempt at showcasing rebellious notions through his stencilled, unsubtle works is certainly not everyone’s cup of tea, but being the young wannabe rebels we were, it was certainly up our street.
If you’re a fan of the unusual when it comes to clothes, 9 Streets is the place to go. Crammed with underground shops containing row upon row of superfluous vintage clobber- the hats, bags, scarves, shirts and skirts of the faded ’70s- and the contrast of neat, minimalist independent stores showcasing rather pricey regalia. These are interspersed with kitsch coffee shops for the connoisseurs needing a caffeine boost. We wound our way though these quaint little streets, picking up a mixture of treasure and assorted junk along the way (including a fabulous sweater which has swiftly become a staple), occasionally pausing to sample little gebakjes from friendly bakers or an amusingly named slagroomtaarten.
Our evenings were spent meandering through Vondelpark, beneath the haze of sweet-smelling smoke and with low, solemn beats and the hubbub of lazy chatter dancing in our ears. This is a city full of life and simple pleasures.