city guide: amsterdam

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there are two types of tourists in amsterdam:  the ones who fall in love with this little city somewhere between late afternoon bike rides through the vondelpark, sipping cappuccinos and forking into appel taart in sleepy canal-side cafés, and climbing the steep stairs to the annex at the anne frank huis. then there are the ones who spend their time in amsterdam popping in and out of its coffeeshops, bars, and nightclubs and who hardly remember a thing about their time spent here.

for those who fall into the former category, this guide will be more helpful for you than those who fall into the latter! my advice to all first-timers is to spend most of your time away from the very center of amsterdam. if you’re seeking to experience the city like a local, neighborhoods such as de pijp and de jordaan have a more “authentic” vibe and offer a wide variety of restaurants, markets, and shops.

 

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museums and culture

if you’re planning on getting a taste of some of amsterdam’s world class museums, start early! the anne frank huis maintains a line out the door for the entire day, and from 9am to 3:30pm only those who made online ticket reservations are able to enter, so this is something to plan in advance or try your luck after 3:30pm when ticket sales re-open at the museum itself. the rijksmuseum, home to rembrandt’s “nachtwatch” and vermeer’s “milkmaid,” and the van gogh museum are also beautiful museums, but it is best to go as early as possible to get an unobstructed view of the works there.

if you’ve been to amsterdam before or are looking for alternative museum experiences, try the stedelijk  which showcases modern and contemporary art, the FOAM photography museum, or the hermitage museum which houses exhibitions in collaboration with the hermitage museum in saint petersburg. the amsterdam museum focuses on the history of the city of amsterdam itself, while the red light museum is a more racy but similarly interesting choice for those looking for some unique stories to bring home. the nieuwe kerk often hosts exhibitions throughout the year, past examples including one ancient rome and on marilyn monroe.

 

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hungry yet?

spending hours traipsing through museums can certainly help you work up an appetite!  for brunch, try lavinia goodfood, vinnie’s, or the breakfast club (try the buckwheat pumpkin pancakes!) which all have a variety of breakfast and lunch and vegan/vegetarian options. if you’re in the mood for coffee and quick bite, try caffè il momento in the jordaan,  lot sixty-one coffee on kinkerstraat, the cloud gallery which serves as a cafe, a gallery, and a workspace on the nine streets, or toki off the bustling harlemmerdijk.

if it’s later in the day, try phutakun for what I believe is the best thai food in amsterdam, venus and adonis for luxury surf & turf, poke perfect for hawaiian poke bowls, or rose’s cantina for yummy mexican and cocktails. also, broodje bert is a super yummy stop for sandwiches and salads (try the goat cheese, honey and walnut!) and de bolhoed serves wholesome vegan and vegetarian fare, amazing desserts, and has a super cozy and eclectic vibe.

 

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shopping

if it’s a saturday, you absolutely cannot miss the noordermarkt in jordaan. search for treasures among the stalls of locally made foods, antiques, vintage clothing, books, and nearly everything else under the sun. while you’re there, stop by winkle 43 for a coffee and a slice of their famed appel taart with whipped cream.

from there, head to the picturesque harlemmerdijk and spend some time weaving in and out of its wide variety of shops. for even more shopping, head to the 9 straatjes, or nine streets, district which is also known for its shopping, restaurants, and gorgeous canal views. if it rains or you simply want to sit, duck into the café de pels for a beer or a bite to eat. in de pijp, check out the eerste van der helststraat, and shops such as YAY health, anna + nina, and indianaweg 10 (my favorite vintage shop in amsterdam).

also, don’t forget to check out the de hallen! this former train depot is a gigantic dynamic space housing a food market, local goods market, café, work studios, and unique shops. grab a bite to eat at the foodhallen and then peek into the gathershop!

 

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not that kind of green

in the summer, pack a picnic and take a bike ride through the vondelpark in the museumplein, the sarphatipark in de pijp, or the westerpark and relax amongst the leafy trees and ponds. in the winter, check out the horticus botanicus, amsterdam’s indoor botanical garden. if you’re staying for longer than a few days in the spring or summer, consider a night at a dutch bnb in the countryside, or go on a day trip to the keukenhof gardens to cycle amongst the tulip fields.

 

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when the sun goes down

after a busy day of traipsing around the city, consider catching a film at the filmtheater de uitkijk, a show at the comedy club boom chicago, or a concert at the famous concertgebouw. if you’re looking for more of a night out, start with drinks at bar weber  then take your pick of the many, many nightclubs that keep the leidseplein up all night.

 

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tips and tricks

amsterdam is an incredibly dynamic and diverse city, but it is also very small, so instead of paying for expensive public transport passes, rent a bike or go by foot! with a bike you get a special kind of freedom and see the city in the most efficient way possible. oh, but please do be mindful of bike etiquette, locals take biking very seriously and there is literally nothing worse to them than groups of tourists on bikes!

some of the best experiences I’ve had in this city have been the result of aimless wandering. take your camera, grab some snacks from albert heijn and consider picking up a book at the abc bookstore and just enjoy being in this beautiful little city! you don’t have to go everywhere to see everything to truly enjoy amsterdam, I found that the hours I spent writing and reading while sitting on the canal in the jordaan were truly some of the most magical times I spent in the city.

I hope you love amsterdam as much as I do and feel free to send me an email or a message on instagram if you have any questions!

 

always,

                 emma

 

 

 

 

film diaries: copenhagen

saturday

morning: waking up sleepy in a cozy room lit by the washed grey morning light. we rolled out of bed and lazily perused the internet for breakfast suggestions. we ended up at a place by the name of bervar’s, and stole away to a cushioned place by the window and ordered a breakfast plate and lattes that came in pale blue ceramics. after filling up on bread and cheeses, fruit, museli and skyr we ventured down the road to the nørrebrogade flea market, a local market set up against the pastel yellow wall of the assistens kirkegård. I left with a few treasures, including a golden silky slip dress, a vintage clock, a tin with a gorgeous floral detail and a sweet hummingbird, and excitedly failed to bargain with the sellers when they named their price for my finds. the wrought iron gates of the assistens kirkegård, perhaps the most notable danish cemetary, stood at the end of the  market. instead of walking back the way we came, we found our way through the winding lushness of the resting place of famous danes such as hans christian andersen, and marveled at the peacefulness of it. there was a gentle rustling of the cool wind in the trees, the kind that leaves your cheeks pink and your face cool to the touch. I remember saying to Isaac that it was very possibly the most serene place I’d ever been to in my life.

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afternoon: we made our way back into the center of town, stopping at the torvehallerne (a food and goods market) to peruse the stalls of flowers, fruits, and partake in a sampling of korean foods. after tasting a variety of deliciously cooked mushrooms, kimchi, and other delights, we attempted to plan out the rest of our day. the sunlight was soft and prevented us from feeling as if we were going to freeze and the quietness of the city was a welcomed change from the bustling center of amsterdam, where we spend the majority of our days. after veering off onto a large boulevard, we ended up at the rosenborg castle, the great danish palace of the 17th and 18th centuries. from the outside it looks quite small, but it was filled to the brim with gorgeous royal relics, including the crown jewels of the renaissance king. the gorgeous spindled towers, weathered brick facade, and sweeping gardens of the castle added to the fairytale essence that the city itself had already instilled in us.

after exploring the palace and gardens, we headed for another notable landmark, the rundetaarn, an astrological tower built in the 17th century with sweeping (and windy) views of the city. we laughed at the amount of effort required to climb the equestrian staircase, and I giggled at all the children attempting to hide from their parents in the small corridors built into the walls. at the top of the tower, we marveled at the conflicting quaintness and vastness of the cityscape, and peeked into the small astrological tower which is still in use today. the aches and pains of tourism were definitely getting to us, so we decided to head back to our apartment for the rest of the afternoon. there, we showered off the late afternoon chill and cozied up in bed to take a nap. that evening, I dressed up in my new slip and a comfy sweater and we walked through the winter darkness and a bit of rain to dinner. after a few glasses of wine and beer to warm us up, we ended up in a smoky jazz club (apparently the jazz scene is big in copenhagen). we stayed there and sipped beers and stole kisses until 1:30am, when we decided that if we wanted our next day to be even slightly productive, then we should get some sleep.

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sunday

afternoon: we woke up late and skipped breakfast, in a vain attempt to make it to the tivoli gardens before the crowds set in. after a sleepy morning, we spent the better part of the early afternoon being whirled around on the rides and sipping cappuccinos and picking at pastries inside the park. outside of the train station, we grabbed the bus heading towards christiania. there, we walked through the commune of brightly colored houses and again marveled at the quiet that seemed to characterize the city. the grey clouds made us wary of the weather, so we stopped into a cozy vegetarian restaurant and hid out from the rain with bowls of hearty soup and milky chai. having checked off the better part of our to-do list, we decided to take the 45 minute walk to the nyhaven harbor. we walked along the canals and amongst the rows of colored houses and sails, and down the coastline toward  the amalienborg palace, the home of the danish royal family. with a few scarce hours left of daylight, we hurried to den lille havfrue, the sculpture of hans christian andersen’s the little mermaid, which has been a tourist attraction since 1913.

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evening: by the time we had walked back into the center it had gotten dark, and with dying phones and little clue of where to find an inexpensive dinner, we settled on grocery store baguette and herb & cheese spread, and followed google maps to the grand teatret, a beautiful movie theatre which opened in the early 20th century in hopes that they showed films in english. in a stroke of luck, the next movie playing was cafe society, the new woody allen film. we bought our tickets and promptly settled into the crushed velvet seats of the theatre, which I now declare as my favorite movie theatre in the world. for the next two hours we were taken away into the stylized dream that characterizes woody allen movies, and found ourselves incredibly sleepy when the film ended. after a few wrong turns on our way home, we finally were able to shower, crawl into bed, and fall asleep to catch a few hours of rest before our early morning flight back to amsterdam.

 

always,

                 emma