In early December my best friend and I decided that it was time for a short trip to Amsterdam again. For last years we have been going to Holland twice a year, because we absolutely fell in love. We don’t go there to party hard or smoke weed, we just think that Amsterdam has a lot to offer. This time we had even made a plan for our limited amount of time.
After sleeping in very dodgy hostels at our last stays, we even put an effort in finding us a cool place, in a very nice area called “De Pijp” in “Amsterdam Zuid”. Our hotel is called “Bicycle Hotel Amsterdam” and as we made our way from Amsterdam Centraal we were very pleased with the location. The room with two beds was small, but nice and we had our own sink, but shared toilets and showers, which was completely fine with us, because that way we only had to pay around 60 Euros per night for the room (which is a good price for Amsterdam, I can tell you). Breakfast was included and we were very thankful for the coffee every morning. You can also rent bikes in the hostel, but even IF the weather would have been nicer, me and my friend are to scared to ride a bike in Amsterdam. We aren’t just scared of the cars, but mostly of the other bikers who can very mad if you don’t follow the rules, whatever they are.
Of course, because that’s how it goes when I am travelling in Europe, it was raining cats and dogs for two straight days (which resulted in a lack of photos). Smarty pants that we are, we did bring an umbrella and went for a walk, right after we arrived. We took a walk on the Albert-Cuyp-Market, which is just around the corner, where you can buy anything really, on our way to the Emaillekeizer. I love old enamel stuff, that you find on flea markets (for example the bread box and the mug with the hearts on the picture). But I discovered that the new stuff from Emaillekeizer is just as precious. The shop is packed with pots, mugs, plates, teapots, signs and everything your kitsch heart wishes for. And since my birthday was coming up, I was allowed to pick a present from my friend.
We brought our newest acquisitions back t the hotel and walk into the city centre, because we were hungry and thirsty. We ate a quick falafel and went straight on to our favourite bar in Amsterdam, that we found the last time we were there: Cafe ‘t Mandje – one of the first gay bars in Holland. It opened in 1927 for the first time and was reopened in 2008. For more information about the Bars history, check out their website. The bar isn’t the hippest place in town or one where we made good friends or anything, but we feel at home when we go there. No one is uberfriendly, no one pisses you off, you can sit and have a good talk with your friends or someone else, and you can also dance… we love ‘t Mandje and it is our only real constant in Amsterdam, as we experience so many new things, every time we visit.
On our way home we decided to have another drink. First we went to Pilsvogel, which looked nice from the outside, but turned out to be a bit to snotty for us, so we went on to Café Krull instead (also on our way home), were we sat and talked into the morning hours.
Next day was Saturday and one of the reasons I wanted to come to Amsterdam again is beautiful talented Angelique Houtkamp, a tattoo artist, who owns Salon Serpent. Every Saturday she does Walk-Ins, where she tattoos drafts that she and her team have been preparing during the week. I don’t think I have ever seen a drawing by Angelique that I didn’t like, so I am indeed a really big fan. I wanted to get a tattoo that day and on the unlikely case that I didn’t like the one-of-a-kind-drafts I wanted to make an appointment. But guess what? I chickened out. And I wanted it for so long… of course I regret it now, but maybe I’ll eventually get myself to make an appointment and just do it the next time I am there. We will see. But I can tell you, her parlour looks beautiful and she and the other artists are extremely talented. So go and check her out and remember the Walk-In Saturdays, because she is very busy and booked out up to 6 months in advance.
That day we visited the Anne Frank house, which was long-overdue, because we wanted to do it every time we were in Amsterdam. You learn a lot about the brave girl, her family, the people who lived with them and their helpers. I don’t want to go into detail about Anne Frank, because I could not do justice to their story and their lives in an article like this.
After leaving the Anne Frank house we had to rest for a bit, so we went for a coffee and dropped by Kitsch Kitchen in Rozengracht 12, where we spent an hour touching and playing with everything in the huge shop full of kitsch. But reasonable as we sometimes are, we didn’t buy anything and went on to the next thing on our list.
After getting lost and walking for 45 minutes through Amsterdam’s alleys, we finally made it to the PIC Amsterdam (the Prostitution Information Centre) with whom we wanted to take a guided tour through the infamous red light district. Our guide, a historian, with a focus on Amsterdam history of prostitution, was a lot of fun and she explained to us how the system works and why Amsterdam’s red light culture is as distinctive as it is. A very interesting tour, that lets you see the area from a from a different perspective.
Since it hadn’t stopped raining and we were very wet, we went to grab a bite to eat, before we went to Café ‘t Mandje again. It was the 1st of December, the World AIDS day and the bar was crowded. The proceeds from the candles they sold that night, went to a national AIDS foundation. Before going to bed we stopped at Casablanca, a karaoke bar, that is also located on Zeedijk. But the singing really hurt our ears, so we went back to Café Krull for one last drink.
After a good night of sleep and a coffee in the morning we started our last day with a visit of Amsterdam’s zoo, which is ridiculously expensive, but my friend loves zoos, so we went. The zoo is okay, but as every zoo, it does have deficits with to small enclosures. The best thing was that after a rainy couple of days and a rainy morning the sun eventually came out and we were finally able to drink one last coffee in the sun before we went homewards…
All said and told, another wonderful weekend in one of my favourite european cities.
(Some of the pictures from this post weren’t taken on the weekend I was writing about, because the weather was just to bad for good photographs).