A wet weekend in Amsterdam

20th January 2017

by Collette Black

Amsterdam is one of my favourite cities in the world. The winding canals, the wonderfully eclectic architecture, the old school Dutch pubs, the bikes, the food…I just love it all. So as soon as Zoë suggested we go for her birthday weekend, my bags were packed and I was ready to go. The slight issue with Amsterdam in February is that it is pretty rainy! Dreams of bike rides and canal cruises go right out of the window and you’re left thinking ‘what to do…’

Usually my favourite thing to do in any city is just to wander around looking at the buildings, finding cute cafes and sampling the local cuisine. I find Amsterdam’s architecture infinitely charming, narrow houses with miss-match gabled facades, each one wonderfully unique and full of character. My favourite district is Jordaan, the residential area to the west, where cool Amsterdamers mosey along on bicycles and sip espressos in cafes that look like you’ve walked into a copy of Cereal.

As soon as we stepped off the train at Central Station we headed west to a really nice brunch spot which was quite aptly called ‘G’s a really nice place’. The menus were printed on LPs, pictures of famous rappers adorned the walls and chilled r’n’b music played softly under the chatter of the Amsterdam brunch crowd. The food was tasty and plentiful, I had the cinnamon challa french toast with banana and crispy bacon… it was amazing. For those looking for a boozy brunch, there was a whole menu just for Bloody Marys from the wasabi infused Bloody Tokyo to Canada’s take on the British classic, the Bloody Cesar which mixes vodka with Clamato juice, yes tomato and clam juice…I still need convincing.

Brunch seemed to be a serious business in Amsterdam, there was always a queue! On the Sunday we opted for Greenwoods, a cute English tea room with an Aussie flare known for their delicious eggs, and on Monday we took a trip to the trendy De Pijp area to sample Bakers and Roasters’ menu that took you on an around the world tour of breakfasts, all as big in size as they were in flavour. Full to the brim, we needed a wander, the rain just meant we had to duck in a few more pubs along the way…what a shame!

On our travels we even managed to find a little bit of East London, Cafe Struik looks like it was plucked straight from Kingsland High Street …candle lit, dreamy green walls with the plaster chipped off, mismatched furniture and a trendy crowd of young creatives. Plus it’s really close to the Foodhallen,  an old tram shed that has been transformed  into a cool indoor food market, basically Amsterdam’s answer to Street Feast. The industrial interior provided the perfect backdrop to buzzing crowds sampling the best of the city’s street food.

In search of a more traditional setting we stumbled across a small bar near Anne Frank’s house. Walking into Cafe Brandon was like walking into a time machine, the walls were covered with aged picture frames, old Hendrick’s gin bottles lined the room, slightly musky rugs covered the tables and mismatched armchairs provided the perfect spot to sit and sip your Leffe. Later we discovered that the bar is actually known as the ghost bar, the previous owners had started the cafe in the 40’s and after four decades decided to close the place and retire to their apartment upstairs where they later died. Twenty years later the new owners reopened the bar exactly as they found it, the couples’ portraits still hang above the door. Eerie and cool in equal measures, and oddly enough quite trendy. It just goes to show, fashion really does come back around.

Despite the rain, Amsterdam remains one of the prettiest, coolest and most fun cities I’ve visited and although we all decided that we had to come back in the summer, we did have an amazing weekend, and to prove it here’s us having a grand old time in the rain…in a clog… ahhh Amsterdam.