Lisa Delanty gives her top six highlights of her journey through the streets of Amsterdam.
For a long time, I had dreamt romantically of strolling along the wistful water canals of Amsterdam, biking through the historical city and admiring artworks in the grand Rijksmuseum. But who needs wishful thinking when you can hop on a plane and do some exploring for real? Stepping out of the Schiphol International airport and into the crisp, fresh air, I came face to face with the iconic “I amsterdam” sign, famous for being the city’s catchphrase. I immediately felt welcomed, and ready to hit the streets.
My favourite thing to do when I first arrive in a city is take a jog around in the morning. It’s a great way to get a feel of the atmosphere, culture, and nearby sights of a place you’re staying, faster than walking and makes you feel great! I stumbled upon Lake Sloterplas, a picturesque recreational area for fishing, sailing, and canoeing. At first, I was running with my earbuds in but I quickly took them out, preferring to listen to the calm rippling of the water, and take in the swans swimming side by side, and local people setting up for a day’s work. I could have spent all day relaxing by the lake, but there was much more to see.
Food, Glorious Food!
I’m a big foodie and nutritionist, so my next favourite thing to do is try the local food and popular dishes! Someone recommended that I go to Albert Cuypstraat, a street market, to find all things Amsterdam. As I sauntered through fresh tulips and seasonal fresh fruits and vegetables, I came upon a lady selling “the best Dutch herring!” and I grabbed the chance, nabbing a plate of lightly brined silvery fish topped with diced onions and a mouthwatering pickle on the side. Deliciously down the hatch and onto the next! I have to admit that my next food selection was not the healthiest, but I think I earned the extra calories from my morning run. If you have never had a fresh stroopwafel, it’s time to book yourself a trip to Amsterdam. I still remember the man’s face as he welcomed me up to his booth holding a spatula of creamy caramel. My eyes lit up as he poured waffle mixture onto the hot circular waffle iron, and I watched with anticipation as he split the warm dough in two and slathered the syrupy filling in between to glue it together. Hot off the iron and into my belly!
With all that food tasting, it was time to bike it off! There are loads of bicycles in Amsterdam, and it’s trusted by locals as a super convenient way of getting around. I tested my balance and as I rode across the Skinny Bridge, through the Jordaan neighborhood, and around the 17th Century Canal Ring. It was magical to ride along, catching snapshots of peaceful river boats, tall, big-windowed townhouses, and lively locals as they gathered cheerfully by the waterside cafes, small breweries, and restaurants.
Growing up with my father an artist, it was mandatory that I visit the Rijksmuseum. My dad would be impressed, I think, at the four hours I spent there, admiring the works of Rembrandt, Frans Hals, Johannes Vermeer, and Vincent Van Gogh. I loved being able to experience history through the eyes of such talented artists, while standing in the beautiful museum building, a testament to refinement both present and past.
Europe’s Tallest Swing!
Starting early in the morning, I hopped on my bike once more after stopping at a small coffee shop for a traditional turkey panini and cappuccino. I biked my way through the IJ tunnel, toward the Central station where I took a two minute ferry ride to the A’Dam lookout. This new attraction is where you can find Europe’s tallest swing and dangle your feet 100 meters over the edge of the sky deck! You also get a 360 degree panoramic view of the city from the observation deck on the 20th floor. If you are looking to conquer your fear of heights, this is the challenge for you! With the adrenaline flowing through me, I had one last stop to make, so I got moving once again.
Instead of taking the ferry, I chose to relax and hop aboard a canal boat cruise. Greeted with a Heineken, the original Dutch beer with the green bottle (and a Redstar!), I sat back and enjoyed some sightseeing from a different perspective. Slowly floating through the canals, I saw the Anne Frank house, some fun local hotspots, and the many interconnected bridges of Amsterdam. The cruise dropped me off at the “Heineken Experience”, where I learned about the history of the brewery, beer making process, and how to pour, taste and drink beer like an expert! All in all, Amsterdam is a gem of a place, for any type of traveler looking for beauty, fun, and adventure.