Amsterdam, The Netherlands

How not to travel Amsterdam

Summary: As expected Amsterdam was fascinating. The vibe was an intoxicating blend of beauty, subtext and liberality. Like any city, there are definite shifts in ‘vibe’ (from luxurious to underworld in the space of a street or two) but i never felt unsafe and was caught off guard by the cities beauty.

I got a fair bit of work done including teaching, building out the base for Instagram, pulling together a business plan for the site and planning my next few weeks of travel.

Nomad list: Nomad list score for Amsterdam is 3.1. The city scores well on almost every metric but according to peer review misses the beat on cost, weather and AC/heating availability.  (Although the weather was beautiful the whole time i was there)

Best bits: The diversity, the canals, the liberal culture.

More pictures: http://www.instagram.com/how_not_to_travel

Good for work?: Kind of. Plenty of places to do it but plenty of distractions.

Where to work: There are loads of cafes and bars with Wi-Fi. I liked The Plantage (http://caferestaurantdeplantage.nl/en/#home) for the environment and food. I also liked white label coffee for decent java / work environment, available at: https://whitelabelcoffee.nl/

What to do: So much: Clubbing, bars, coffee shops, bike rides, liquor tasting, free walking tours, canal rides, museums, galleries etc.

Cock up count: (5) One accidental train ride to the middle of nowhere at 1am, two fails at finding train platforms,  one lost pair of headphones and one case of severe overspend.

Learn from me

Sprinter and Intercity trains have different stops. (Gah) Also if the train station you’re trying to get to won’t appear on the self-service ticket machines try typing ‘Amsterdam’ first. I.E: Amsterdam Muiderpoort.

– There is a massive range in Hostel quality and the free inclusions you get as part of your package (Breakfast, bar crawls, walking tours etc) so pick with care. Always check out the reviews on http://www.booking.com http://www.hostelworld.com etc first. Also for the cheapest price, get a quote from a comparison service then ring the venue directly and see if they can beat it. (They usually can)

– Don’t leave stuff out your locker / unattended in a hostel that you’re not prepared to lose. (Duh)

– Buy a protective case for your laptop – especially if you’re like me and completely dependent on this for earning money. (Duh)

– It’s easy to spend loads of money and burn a lot of time in Amsterdam, so pace yourself and make sure you don’t go too crazy.


Amsterdam story

So having arrived in Amsterdam late after very little sleep and a cramped 4 hour bus journey i did what any overexcited 26 year old traveler would do and immediately set out to find the closest coffee shop.

Unfortunately, sleep deprivation kicked in en route and i managed to catch the wrong train which meant an amusing but very frustrating jaunt into the middle of nowhere and a hefty wait for the last train of the night back into town. (Original ETA had been under 10 mins)

Anyway, my take on the must do’s: You’ve gotta check out the red light district just to experience it. (Just don’t buy anything off the street hustlers kids, these drugs really don’t work)

amsterdam red light district

| Snap of the red light district, taken from pixabay and posted with permission |

Whilst we’re discussing the socially questionable: For those smokers in the blogosphere drag yourself to Prix D’ami the afternoon after a night on the town and spend the day mooching on the TV’s and smoking/eating your troubles away. Thank me later. The place is central so easy to find and spread across 3 floors. It even has a gaming section with pool etc as well as several American diner style smoking dens. Check out some photos and more info on their site here: https://www.prixdami.nl/pics.php – it’s the one.

There are obviously loads of other Coffee shops to try: Ibiza coffeeshop was good but Barneys coffeeshop and Grey area were better. (Y)

Coffeeshop

| Generic coffeeshop snap lifted from Pixabay and posted with permission |

Definitely rent/borrow a bike. It’s an integral part of the Dutch experience. I was chatting with one of my Air BnB hosts about how people from all social circles use bikes in the dam. Seriously: everyone from suited n’ booted financiers to the odd maniac jamming hectic folk-pop fusion on his guitar whilst hurtling down the street ‘no-handing’.

My host said she’d even once seen people moving home using their bikes – one MATTRESS at a time. (Two people to balance it on the seat – lol) Anyway, there are loads of nice parks to go to and it’s so much quicker, cheaper and healthier to get around the city on two wheels. I’ll be doing this from day one next time around.

Bikerideamsterdam.jpg

| Snap of the bike i borrowed from my Air BnB hosts |

Moving onto beer… You can wipe out an entire avian species with one stone by trying a range of beers and simultaenously check out one of amsterdams famous windmills at the famous Brouwerij Het Ij.  https://www.brouwerijhetij.nl/?lang=en

Instead if you fancy a decent club, head to ‘The School’, it’s 24/7 depending on the act with a lavish restaurant, chic vibe and a great atmosphere/sound system. More info on the official site here: https://www.deschoolamsterdam.nl/en/

Finally on the libation front: Go tasting at the Wynand Fockink liquor distillery. You can really it push it on the number of samples you taste before purchase and the customer service/product knowledge is top notch. Take your time and try a large spread of flavors. I enjoyed the coffee blend and a mix of cinnamon, peach and apple. (Wow)

liquortastingamsterdam

| Snap of Wynand Focknik taken during my visit |

To work i’d recommend The Plantage, a beautiful building right next to Amsterdam zoo. The location is wonderful, the decor chic and there’s all the usual nomadic bells and whistles: Wifi, decent coffee, plug sockets etc.    (http://caferestaurantdeplantage.nl/en/#home)

thecafelaptop

| Snap of the Plantage taken during my visit |

For somewhere less foody I’d also recommend White Label Coffee – a non-smoking cafe with good wifi, plenty of plug sockets and everything you need to get on with work. (https://whitelabelcoffee.nl/)

I split my stay between both an air bnb and hostel as i liked the variety this gave me. (Local knowledge from the Air BnB + privacy vs party vibes and cheap living in hostels) My Hostel experience was clouded somewhat as i did have some money and headphones nicked off me which has meant downgrading to some truly abysmal black mp3 player things. They look and sound 20 years old and are the size and shape of small plates – but at least ive got my tunes.

Hostels, in general, are great for the record it’s just important to choose wisely. Thanks for reading, the next post #4 – Berlin will be live next Monday.


Soundtracks for the stay:

Rae Sremmurd – Bedtime stories (R&B / Hip-hop) – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N_JyXaL2myI

Lil Wayne (Ft kendrick) – Mona Lisa (American Hip-Hop) – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qk4ionKGeeE

John Mayer – Gravity {Live} (American Folk / Blues / Rock / Soul blend) – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fo4746XZgw8