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De Gooyer Windmill
I've been procrastinating... So I'm finally back with our next destination in Europe: Amsterdam! Leaving Berlin behind, we took a train to Amsterdam, a city of bicycles and bridges! Do you know how the name of Amsterdam came about? It's because a dam was built in the river named Amstel - hence Amsterdam!
The largest city and the capital of Netherlands, there are many things to see in Amsterdam, including numerous museums, Anne Frank house and the ever-famous red light district, just to name a few.
Burger Meester - where I've eaten one of the best burgers ever!
After putting down our luggage, we first went to hunt for this burger place called Burger Meester. I know I know, why are we there to eat burgers? Shouldn’t we be there to eat authentic traditional Dutch food? Well, when I was researching on the places to eat in Amsterdam, I found a site that strongly recommended this burger place. It’s not a fast-food joint, but they do have three outlets in Amsterdam, and the nearest to us was at Albert Cuypstraat 48 (and it was super near a popular and very crowded Albert Cuyp Market). They have other branches at Elandsgracht 130 and at Plantage Kerklaan 37 (which was so near our hostel that we went to eat the burgers again later on).
They have an English menu so we knew what we were getting. They even have vegetarian options! In the end we settled for the mini trio – three mini burgers for 9 Euros – and you can choose whichever flavour you want. Yum!
Salmon Burger - 8.5 Euro (4.5 Euro for mini)
Wild salmon served with bok choy, sesame and wasabi mayo - the wasabi wasn't very strong in the sauce but the sauce and the salmon go so perfectly well together.
Good burgers are messy!
The other two burgers that we ordered is the Italian Chicken Burger (can't remember the price sorry!) and the Royal Beef Burger (8.50 Euro, mini for 4.25 Euro). I like the chicken burger because of the very generous dressing they gave. The royal burger has a herbed beef patty, pancetta and truffle eggs. Yummy yum yum!
Here are the details once again:
1) Albert Cuypstraat 48
1072 CV Amsterdam
2) Elandsgracht 130
1016 VB Amsterdam
3) Plantage Kerklaan 37
1018 CV Amsterdam
Albert Cuyp Market
I know I've said it many times, but I really, really love street markets like this. Albert Cuyp Market is a open-air street market. It's just nice to walk down the streets and see what the stalls have to offer.
Albert Cyup Market
From fruits and produce to clothes to tiny gadgets to souvenirs - Albert Cyup Market has it all! (:
Museumplein is one of the most popular park in Amsterdam. From the name itself, it's quite easy to tell that this place is called Museumplein because of the many huge and famous museums being situated here. The most famous would definitely be Van Gogh Museum. The queue to enter is pretty long! One may chide us for not visiting such a world-renown museum, but X and I just can't appreciate paintings. /: Plus, it's a whooping 14 Euros for each ticket, and the don't have special rates for students. Hence we gave it a miss and spent the time elsewhere (much more worth it if you ask me!)
The famous "I amsterdam"
The huge field at Museumplein
Besides being a popular tourist area due to the famous museums here, Museumplein also appeals to the locals. Locals can be seen just lying on the field and relaxing.
One of the museums at Museumplein - Rijksmuseum
Vondelpark is the largest city park in Amsterdam. We went in from a small gate and we saw a lot of ducks hungry for food. We spent the whole of late afternoon wandering around the park and feeding ducks.
Feeding the ducks - they're not afraid of humans!
Fast food restaurant
We saw this very interesting concept in a fast food restaurant. It works like a vending machine - insert the coin and choose the slot that you want.
The wide selection of tea they have when I ordered one
We researched online and had our dinner at a restaurant that served traditional Dutch food - De Blauwe Hollander. It was a small and cozy restaurant. I ordered tea because of the cold weather and they had such a wide selection of tea available! In Singapore, restaurants usually offer only about 4 to 5 choices of tea I think.
Chose Turkish Apple, mmm!
Stroopwafel - Amsterdam special - must get!
The tea came with a small waffle called stroopwafel, which was actually two thin waffles sandwiched together with a caramel-like filling. Sweet, sticky and chewy, they were traditional snacks of Netherlands since 1784. One is actually supposed to place the waffle over the cup of tea / coffee / hot chocolate to allow the steam to soften the waffle and syrup before eating them. I fell in love with these waffles the moment I ate them and we bought a small packet to snack on them during the rest of our Europe trip. They are widely available in supermarkets and souvenir shops hence they make really perfect souvenirs to bring home. (:
Chicken and Vegetables Soup
A very hearty soup with lots of chicken shreds and vegetables. Perfect soup to warm ourselves up (:
Braised Beef with Hotchpotch - € 12,25
Hotchpotch, aka Hutspot, is a dish made with boiled and mashed potatoes with carrots and onion added into it. Hotchpotch is a traditional dutch dish. I like the addition of carrots into the mashed potatoes - the carrots add a slight hint of sweetness into the mashed potatoes which makes it really tasty. The braised beef was really tender and flavourful, and the sauce is delicious!
Chicken with Peanut Sauce and salad - € 11,75
This dish reminded me of satay, just that the meat used has lesser fat and there's no spiciness in the peanut sauce. X really liked this dish... guess we were missing local food!
De Blauwe Hollander
Leidsekruisstraat 28 (Leidseplein)
1017 RJ Amsterdam
Magere Brug [Skinny bridge]
On our way back, we visited the Magere Brug - in 1691, a very skinny bridge was built in this site, hence the locals called it Magere Brug, which literally meant Skinny Bridge. Over the centuries, this bridge was demolished and rebuilt several times. This bridge is no longer skinny, but still remains a special bridge in Amsterdam. The bridge is decorated with 1,200 light bulbs which will be lit in the evening.
Houses by the river
De Gooyer Windmill - once a corn mill, now a brewery
The next morning, we popped by the De Gooyer Windmill. This is the only windmill that we went to (but we didn't go in because it wasn't open yet). Built in 1725, this windmill was originally a corn mill until 1929, when it was bought and restored by the city. It is now a popular tourist-spot brewery.
Waterlooplein Flea Market
We visited two more markets in Amsterdam before the start of the Walking Tour. The first is the Waterlooplein Flea Market. The biggest second-hand market in Amsterdam, there are many stores selling second-hand clothes, "antiques", house deco etc. In my opinion, there's not much that one can buy in this market, but it's quite interesting to see what these people have at their homes.
Bloemenmarkt (Flower Market)
What really fascinates me is definitely this Bloemenmarkt. It's the prettiest market I've ever been to! One of the oldest and most developed flower market, Bloemenmarkt was first held in 1862. Seeds, flower bulbs, flowers... all these can be found in Bloemenmarkt.
Bloemenmarkt (Flower Market) - all the bulbs of flowers!
Bloemenmarkt (Flower Market)
Munttoren [Mint Tower]
Nearby the Bloemenmarkt is a tower standing on the busy Muntplein square. The medieval tower originally forms part of the Regulierspoort, one of the main gates forming Amsterdam's city wall.
Falafel from Maoz Vegetarian
X and I stopped for a small snack called Falafel. It's not a Dutch cuisine, it's probably originated from the Middle East. It's made by grinding chickpeas and/or fava beans and mixed into a batter with parsley, scallion, garlic and other spices. The batter is then deep-fried in scoops, forming small balls / patties. They are really tasty and hearty, and are often served in a pita or a flatbread with salad. What's wonderful about this falafel we ate from Maoz Vegetarian is that the salad bar and the sauce is free-flow! We totally love the coriander sauce!
1) Muntplein 1
1017 CK Amsterdam
Monday - Sunday 11:00 AM - 01:00 AM
2) Leidsestraat 85
1017 NX Amsterdam
Monday - Sunday 11:00 AM - 01:00 AM
3) Van Woustraat 15
1074 AA Amsterdam
Monday - Sunday 12:00 PM - 11:00 PM
4) Damrak 40
1012 LK Amsterdam
Monday - Sunday 11:00 AM - 02:00 AM
5) Ferdinandbolstraat 67
1072 LC Amsterdam
Monday - Saturday 11:00 AM - 11:00 PM
Sunday 1:00 PM - 11:00 AM
This is actually a shopping centre! What a beautiful building!
Koninklijk Paleis Amsterdam or Paleis op de Dam [Royal Palace of Amsterdam]
We gathered in front of one of the three Palaces in Netherlands for the Free Walking Tour. It was once the royal palace of the king Louis Napoleon and is situated at Dam Square.
University of Amsterdam
The first stop of the tour was the University of Amsterdam. It is the third oldest university in Netherlands. The campus is originally the former headquarters of the Dutch East India Company Headquarters.
Amsterdam Waag [Weigh House]
A Weigh House literally means a place where goods are weighed. It was constructed in 1488 and was orginally part of the city gates. When the city gate disappeared, this place became the weighing house for goods, before international standards for weights were established.
Oude Kerk [Old Church]
Oude Kerk is the oldest church in Amsterdam and is located in the middle of the red light district. It was said that sailors would come here to confess after visiting the red light district!
See how the houses are leaning forward?
One in Amsterdam will definitely cannot help but notice that majority of the houses are leaning forward and there would be hooks attached on top of the highest window. The stairways in Amsterdam houses are very narrow and steep, so it is impossible for people to get the furniture or big objects up the house. Hence, the hook on top of the highest window acts as a pulley, so that they are able to lift the furniture up and allow it to be delivered into the house. The buildings are built leaning forward to prevent the object from hitting the buildings while it is being pulled up.
Begijnhof - you're not allowed to talk in there!
Our tour also included a visit to Begijnhof, which is the oldest courtyard in Amsterdam. The houses in the courtyard were once occupied by devout celibate Béguine nuns and are still home to single women today. In the centre of the lawns is a medieval church. It's like a totally different world in this Begijnhof - outside this courtyard it's filled with buzz and noises, but inside this courtyard it's really quiet, serene and peaceful.
Het Houten Huys [The Wooden House]
Inside the Begijnhof, one can also get to see the oldest wooden house in Amsterdam. It was built around 1528 and looks really impressive. There's another old wooden house below the IJ River - at Zeedijik 1 in Amsterdam Chinatown. There are also 12 other wooden houses built in the 17th and 18th centuries located at Amsterdam North.
Narrowest house in Amsterdam (the middle red brick building)
Common views in Amsterdam - rivers, bridges, and more rivers and bridges
Can you guess what it is?
This is actually a public toilet for men! I wonder if there's a sink inside for them to wash their hands...
Beautiful floating house
Westerkerk [Western Church]
Built between 1620 and 1631, this is a Protestant Church and is the tallest church tower in Amsterdam. It is located near the Anne Frank House.
We stopped for a pancake break at The Pancake Bakery. They have lots of pancakes to choose from - savoury and sweet. I ordered a sweet one - Banana Pancake with Nutella while X ordered a savoury one (something with cheese I think!). The pancakes were super huge and it was pretty good, just that it's a bit too much for me and X - we were so stuffed just from eating these 2 pancakes!
The Pancake Bakery
1015 DS Amsterdam
12.00pm - 9.30pm
Amsterdam's popular red light district - De Wallen covers several blocks south of the Oude Kerk [Old Church] and crossed by several canals. Besides having approximately 300 tiny one-room cabins rented by prostitutes to provide sexual services, there are also a number of sex shops, sex theatres and even a sex museum.
It was an interesting walk down the small alleys, but it was also a really smelly walk due to the heavy smell of marijuana present in the air. I couldn't stand the smell of the marijuana, hence we didn't stay in the red light district for long.
Nightview in Amsterdam
Amsterdam is a beautiful and unique city - the construction of Amsterdam houses really intrigue me and how I wish I can stay in one of those boat houses one day! I yearn for a chance to go back to Amsterdam again and travel out to experience the countryside of Netherlands. (:
Will try to update soon about our next destination! (: