Nat’s Travels – Museums And Food Of Amsterdam
With only about 48 hours in Amsterdam I wanted to see and do a lot. I have visited this city once before, so there were one or two of the ‘big’ attractions I wanted to get to, as well as exploring some lesser known areas. I used an I Amsterdam City Card, as this gave me unlimited public transport plus entry and discounts for attractions. I had a lot planned for my 48 hours!
The Adam Lookout
As I arrived in Amsterdam in the late afternoon, I didn’t have much time to make the most of the day. So first stop was the hotel to drop my stuff off.
I was staying at the Lloyd Hotel, which is a little out of the main city, but with brilliant transport links. The nearest tram stop is literally just round the back of the hotel. Perfect location.
The hotel had large rooms that were light and airy. It is a quirky hotel, located in East Amsterdam. The rooms are all different shapes due to the quirkiness of the building. It started out as a hotel, but has had many other uses between its first opening and reopening as a hotel in 2014. Pictures of these previous uses can be seen on the stairwells.
The first attraction I decided to see was the Adam Lookout, as this was open late and I got 25% discount with my I Amsterdam City Card. Located across the river from Central Station, it was a quick free ferry ride across.
The views from the lookout were incredible. A panoramic of the city. From the lookout the historic centre, the port and the canals can all be seen. There was also plenty to occupy me at the top, with information screens scattered around. There was also a bar and a very casual seating area. It was a great place to stay as the night drew in and the city lights started to sparkle.
The next day (after a great breakfast buffet at the hotel) I set out to visit the Jewish Cultural Quarter. The I Amsterdam City Card gave me free access.
There are several places to visit in the Jewish Cultural Quarter. There’s the Jewish Historical Museum, the Portuguese Synagogue, the Holocaust Museum and the Holocaust Memorial.
Considering that all the museums had a similar theme, nothing was repeated. They had a main focus on different things. The Historical Museum focused on Jews in Amsterdam throughout different eras and delved a little into Jewish beliefs. In the Synagogue the information provided was about the building itself as well as Jewish ceremonies. The Holocaust Museum focused on those that died during World War II, especially the children. Inside the Holocaust Memorial, there was not a lot, and the memorial itself was simple, yet it was still moving.
There was a lot to take in and learn in the Jewish Cultural Quarter. The Jewish Historical Museum had the most information, spread over several floors. I was given an audio guide, which was full of information.
The most moving part was the Holocaust Museum, in which there was a section about the children that had died. It told a few children’s stories and displayed some of their possessions, such as toys. Downstairs there was an art exhibition. This exhibition was just different sized suitcases. Each size represented an age range of a child. Each one of the suitcases represented a child from one school that died in the war. The suitcases could be touched and moved around. There were so many, especially when you remember that this only represents the dead from one school.
The next morning I planned to visit the Van Gogh Museum. This was another museum that the I Amsterdam Card got me in for free. Although I had entry with the City Card, I still had to book a time online.
The Museum takes you on a journey through this famous artist’s life. From his early influences and paintings to his mental breakdown and death. There’s a lot to see, but it’s not just about the paintings. Van Gogh himself led an interesting life.
In one section you can listen to letters from his family and friends being read. This gives more of an insight to the artist’s life.
I believe that the food of a destination is a large part of the culture. And a food tour is a great way to explore the food of a region. After spending my morning at the Van Gogh Museum I joined Amsterdam Food Tours on their Jordaan District Food Tour.
I’ve heard a few people say that the Dutch don’t really have good food, or anything that is particularly Dutch. How wrong are they?
The tour was amazing (and filling). We went to eight different places and tried various foods. There were plenty of breaks from the food too, where our guide told us about the history of the city and let us digest what we’d eaten before heading to the next place. All in all the tour took four hours to do and I was impressed at how much information I came away with (and how full I was).
The places we visited ranged from cafes to butchers. There was a wide variety of food on offer, mainly Dutch but also some fusion food from old Dutch colonies. I was expecting mainly herring and pancakes, but there was so much more. Herring, apple pie and gouda were the obvious foods that had to be included (and the herring was particularly good) but there was also satay, bitterballen, boerenmetworst, poffertjes, kibberling, stroopwafel, achterham and more. A few drinks were also included, such as tulip vodka and a elderflower beer. The guide was great too, he had so much to tell us about each place we stopped at and the food that we were given.
The Church In The Attic
Completely stuffed from the food tour, I still had a couple of hours spare before I had to go for my flight. I had heard of a church hidden in an attic somewhere, luckily the food tour guide knew what I was on about and gave me directions. The place is called “Our Lord In The Attic” and is also free with the I Amsterdam City Card.
There was much more to this museum than I first expected. I was given an audio guide and directed down some stairs, which confused me a little. But it turns out I had to go down to go up. I honestly thought this museum would be a simple look at the church and go. It wasn’t.
There was so much information. About the building, about the church, about how the museum came to be, the history of the owners of the house and even about life in Amsterdam. Much more than I ever expected. The tour takes you through several rooms, slowly climbing up to the main attraction.
The church in the attic. Wow. It is incredible. Taking up three floors across three buildings, it is massive. And richly decorated. It is simply beautiful and in an unbelievable location. You wouldn’t suspect a thing from the outside of the building.
And with that is was time for my flight home. Amsterdam is a great city to explore, with many hidden gems waiting to be discovered.
I Amsterdam City Cards (https://www.iamsterdam.com/en/i-am/i-amsterdam-city-card) can be purchased from I Amsterdam. The card gives free access to numerous attractions, discounts at various attractions and restaurants, plus unlimited public transport. The card can be purchased for use during 24, 48, 72 and 96 hours.
The Lloyd Hotel (https://www.lloyd.nl/) is located in quirky East Amsterdam. Just 5 minutes from Central Station with a tram stop right outside, it is in a good location to explore the city and surrounding area. The unconventional hotel provides rooms of all shapes and sizes. There are 117 unique rooms to choose from, with options available for all budgets.
Amsterdam Food Tours (http://amsterdamfoodtours.com/) offer food tours in Amsterdam. The Jordaan District Food Tour (http://amsterdamfoodtours.com/index.php/jordaan-food-tour/) explores the 17th century Jordaan area. The tour includes a minimum of seven food stops with information on the food and history of the city.