Discovering Amsterdam

I don’t know why I waited 33 years to visit Amsterdam. I guess I’m not that much of a weed / Red Light District fan. I was invited by my sister who currently lives there and I completely fell in love with the city during the hot summer of 22.

I was super lucky to visit beginning of August because of the incredible weather which makes it easier to walk the streets of the city. I really enjoyed Amsterdam’s architecture, the canals, the narrow house facades, the colours and the flowers. I loved how people just take their chairs out, in front of their house, to just enjoy having a drink outside.

I realised the parallel between the urban organisation of Amsterdam and New York – the square and block system – which makes sense as the city was taken over by Dutch colons. I learnt that the private and public dimensions of their life is intertwined in a healthy, responsible way. Dutch people are truly epicurean, unlike the Germans it seems.

The other reason why my time in Amsterdam was so amazing is that I visited during Pride weekend (and I had no idea). I wasn’t aware how LGBTQ+-friendly the city was, and this festival was a shared moment of joy, fun, solidarity and collective positive energy. The best moment was on Saturday with the boats filling the canals of Amsterdam, while people were following them, dancing and partying from the streets and bridges. Everyone was dressed up and the colours of the rainbow flag completely invaded the city. I had never seen, anywhere else, such a shared celebration.

Canal Pride Boat Parade

My favorite food spot in Amsterdam is definitely Lanskroon Bakery where you can get fresh honey stroopwafels and good coffee. You can take it to go or take a moment, sit facing the street & its canal and just enjoy the unique crisp & taste of the wafel.

My favorite street is Runstraat and all its little cute jewellery, second-hand fashion, fresh fries and cosmetic shops. You can walk from there to Jordaan which is a very pleasant, pretty and less touristy area to visit.

My favorite activity was to visit the Mind Spa by the House of Rituals, and to try the deeply relaxing brain massage. The name can sound scary, but basically it’s just a mix of the most comfortable chair you’ve ever sat in, with relaxing lights and a very interesting sound wave experience. I found this activity to be a very accessible, relaxing break in a city where you can walk for hours, and I would have loved to stay longer in this little bubble. I loved that it requires no preparation (no need to take your clothes off or anything) and I truly enjoyed the whole experience – from visiting the store, trying some products, to enjoying a warm cup of tea after the massage. I definitely recommend it and will definitely go back.

My favorite learning was that tulips actually come from the Himalayas ! At the Tulip Museum, just in front of Anne Frank’s Museum, I was exposed to the whole timeline of how tulips were offered by the Ottoman empire to the Dutch people who then developed its culture and trade. And that their « signature tulip vase » in « Delft blue » is just a copycat from China porcelaine. I always love to dive into the links between the East and the West, and to see what the West actually owes to the East.

Of course if you go to Amsterdam, don’t forget to take a boat tour to visit the city in a different way and see details you would otherwise miss – such as the « canal houses » and the very smart « house hooks & pulley » system they use to move furniture into houses. Enjoy your visit!

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