AN UNORTHODOX VIEW OF AMSTERDAM

Isn’t Amsterdam most famously known to be the ultimate adult playground of Europe and possibly the world?

Well maybe in some cases yes, but there is more to Amsterdam than its’ notorious red lights, its hard partying ways and its’ blazing green friendly approach.

Amsterdam is a city that packs in a lot considering its size in comparison to the other major players’ of Europe – London, Paris, Berlin and the list can go on.

The way of life here is simplistic, transport wise so to speak. Bikes rule the roads and it is easy to get around. If you were even to travel more than half an hour in Amsterdam, you would be well and truly out of the city. My native Dutch friend moans that a 20 minute commute to anywhere in Amsterdam is considered too far away. For me, its stock standard to anywhere I have lived, especially in Perth where I would consider a 20 minute ride a short journey!

So what can you do in Amsterdam besides letting your wild child inner ambitions come out?

Plently! Outside of the skirts of Dam Square, the main hub of town where events occur and streets filled with shops and lively cafés are nearby, there is much to do. Of course a must visit when in Amsterdam would be to check out the Anne Frank House however just a short stroll away from this iconic residence is the artistic neighbourhood of Joordan. The home for many independent designers, art stores and cutesy cafes this area goes beyond the canals and is worth exploring as there is an evident creative flair in its surrounds’ as well an overall relaxed vibe.

Venture out and catch a ferry to escape to the north where there are many unique places to check out such as Pllek, a popular hipster restaurant and bar housed in shipping containers.  With its’ beer garden nicely completed with a fake beach along the Amstel River, it provides the perfect place to sit back and enjoy the local beer Amstel (or a Heineken if you much prefer) and watch the river life pass you by.  Europe’s biggest flea market IJ Hallen is also held on this side of Amsterdam and is held on the last weekend of each month. This is a must if you are a lover of trinkets and vintage items.

To escape the bikes and the tame hustle and bustle life of the Dam, take a stroll through Vondelpark, the main central park of Amsterdam, which is perfect for people watching and roughly a 20 minute walk from the city centre.

Museum Quarter (Museumplein) is a district not to be missed, especially for the opulent Rijksmusuem which is considered to be one of the world’s most breathtaking museums. After completing a 10 year restoration and renovation in April 2013, the 19th century museum houses an international revered collection and the building itself is one of the Netherlands’ most grandest. Museumplien is also home to the Van Gough Museum and the Stedelijk Musuem, a must for any lover of the fine arts.

Experience Amsterdam like a local and explore the up and coming hipster area of De Pijp. Soak up the chilled atmosphere with its’ many trendy dining and drinking joints on offer. Opt also to stroll through the daily street market De Albert Cuypmarkt which sells a variety of items including various street eats, local produce, clothes, flowers and various items. Luckily for you if you are quite the beer drinker as the Heineken factory, home of the famed tourist trap the Heineken Experience, is located just steps away from this area.

The Netherlands is not usually known for its food besides cheese but worthy local tastes to try include Kibbeling (lightly fried pieces of herring), a frikandel (The Netherlands’ answer to Germany’s Currywurst), bitterballen (croquette style potato balls that are dipped in a mustard sauce) and a stroopwafel (waffle type biscuits with a caramel filling). And lets’ also not forget the Dutch pancakes either!

The Dutch like to have a good time and festivals are a part of the Dutch way of life. Hosting more than 300 festivals a year, festivals range from many genres from art to food to sport however multiple music festivals held over one weekend are a common fixture across the summer period. The djing and deep house culture is rife in The Netherlands and if you are visiting over the summer, a dance at one of the many boutique and relatively inexpensive festivals is not to be missed.

So instead of thinking that Amsterdam is all about the shady red lights and blazing green, think orange (the national colour) and see Amsterdam in this new shade.