Amsterdam was everything everyone has ever told you and so much more. The Red Light District was vibrant yet laid back with an anything goes attitude. A Bucket List destination for so many tourists, when in the Red Light District you are surrounded by a diverse combination of people, it essentially felt like one big Global Village.
Bicycles are king in Amsterdam being both locals and tourists transport of choice, with 15,000 bicycles salvaged from the canals annually you can imagine the dire need to keep them under lock and key at all times. Hiring a bicycle while in Amsterdam meant we got to explore the city at our leisure with visits to the urban paradise Vondel Park, a the Heineken Factory tour and the Jordaan district.
Vondel Park is the largest and most popular park in Amsterdam with over 10 million visitors a year, the pathways are used by bicycles and the the grass is scattered with groups having picnics and soaking in the sunshine. The Heineken factory tour leads you through all elements of brewing and the brand’s history culminating with tastings at the rooftop bar with views over the city.
The Jordaan district’s scenic streets have galleries, cafe’s and boutiques waiting to be discovered around every corner. We visited Cafe Thijssen (http://www.cafethijssen.nl/) for lunch and sat in the outdoor terrace people-watching the immaculately put together Dutch as they went about their day.
Relying on Time Out my old faithful for food recommendations we found ourselves at Cafe Amsterdam http://www.caferestaurantamsterdam.nl), seated at a table on the edge of the canal we were met with wonderful service and delicious french-inspired food – the Escargot were delicious and the Beef Carpaccio was one of the best I have seen. A local recommendation led us to Amsterdam’s first Mexican restaurant Rose’s Cantina (http://rosescantina.com/), after 30 years in the business it’s certainly evolved with the times delivering contemporary and flavoursome Mexican cuisine.
I could spend hours musing about the houseboats and their decadent rooftop gardens, the higgeldy-piggeldy terraced houses that are constantly on a lean and the classic lines of the Dutch fashion. There’s so much observing to be done and there’s no better way to partake than a cruise on the canals – by simply walking up to the skippers on boats lining the canals you can indulge in a private cruise throughout the canals.