I’ve heard about you all my life. Your canals. Your infamous red light district. The mary jane cafés. & THEM BIKES.
As an artist, I’ve endured hours of courses on Dutch art history in art school back in NYC.
Then I moved to Europe. But, being broke and in the Alps, you were just too far away…
Then I got a second place in Paris…and heard everyone here talkin’ about their trips to Amsterdam blah blah blah (since, as you can guess, Amsterdam is not super far from Paris like it is from Grenoble).
I then had to take off from work to do some visa stuff, and my SO offered to take us there for a weekend!
We were there last month during the infamous heatwave, where even the Netherlands was hot! I was a bit under the weather PLUS I am heat sensitive. But, luckily, since Amsterdam is not overwhelmingly large, I was able to get a feel for the town during my short two days there.
I also fell in love with one of the AirBnB cats (above). We actually had conversations…I mean…I would speak to him and he would meow back in different ways. I truly miss him.. He’s an awesome cat.
I also got to speak with a few locals, which was highly unexpected. I always try to speak with locals when I travel. But, I got so used to the idea failing that I sorta’ gave up. Surprisingly, quite a few Amsterdam locals started conversations with us in public, out of nowhere! Kudos to you Dutch folk for challenging the stereotype that Europeans are cold! I also realized, though, that French customer service isn’t so bad. The cut-to-the-point Dutch don’t seem to want to waste time or energy, so I was practically shamed into not asking any questions when reserving a boat tour on the canals. I’m so used to the whiny, question-y, argumentative French way. That definitely does not fly in the Netherlands, where it seemed like zero ducks were given (and that I would be considered a dumb-ass if I even tried to ask for additional information, even as a tourist!).
I visited Amsterdam en couple, not as a young, hip party girl out with her girlfriends (this place is very much a party town, full of obnoxious frat boys if you wander certain areas), so I started off at the Van Gogh museum…for which I reserved tickets in advance (a must)! We only waited in line for 20 minutes. Before getting in line, we got coffees to go and a blueberry muffin that we ate while waiting on line. The BEST muffin I’ve eaten while in Europe! And, I love the coffee to go culture here! Every café had “coffee to go” signs. Like, France…c’mon…get on board!!! If I want a coffee to go in France I have to go to either Starbucks or McDonalds!
After the museum we just walked around. I just like to stroll, to get a sense of the city and it’s neighborhoods and people. Although I’m an artist, if I only have a couple of days somewhere, I’m not going to spend too much time hidden away in museums.
We went to the chic Jordaan neighborhood followed by the city center (and Red Light District…to which I also returned to at night). When you go to some place as famous as Amsterdam, it’s funny how your real life experience compares to how you imagined it to be. I was definitely blown away by the architecture and the amount of canals. Also, there were WAY more bikes than I had imagined! And they have the right-of-way, so you really need to check yo’self before crossing the street!
There are many things in Amsterdam that I didn’t get to experience…certain museums, locals foods and such. But, there was only so much I could do in two days with a terrible cold in a heatwave. I look forward to returning one day! I definitely recommend the Van Gogh museum, walking around the city exploring the neighborhoods and going on a boat tour through the canals! I was also impressed with their food culture. I think it’s because I’ve been in France for too long! Every time I leave France, the culinary and beverage culture always seems so much more international and evolved!
And, if you can find an AirBnB with a really awesome cat, tant mieux!
Some random things that I experienced in Amsterdam:
- I ate really good ribs (there are Argentinian steakhouses everywhere for some reason!) and had really delicious chicken wings!
- I accidentally walked into a brothel and also witnessed a working woman pull a drunk guy into her red-light window box..
- Oh, and this random parade happened where women were dressed up as plants:
Have you been to Amsterdam? If so, what are your recommendations?
Oh, and, any Amsterdam locals selling their houseboat? 😀 😀 😀
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DianeJuly 22, 2017 at 7:45 am
Hi there, I’ve lived in France for over 5 years now and still haven’t made it to Amsterdam. I have to get there one day — looks like a blast. And I know it was just a small detail, but I LOVE that you can get coffee to go in a cup! That alone would make my day. The little things… 😉
GrenobloiseJuly 22, 2017 at 12:14 pm
Hi Diane, thanks for your comment! I have almost no idea who reads my blog so I’m glad to know of you!
Yes, Amsterdam is great! I was originally going to go to Berlin this year, but I did not have the budget for a real vaycay, so a weekend in Amsterdam was plan B. It was great though and I hope to do an artist residency there one day to immerse myself in the local art community there. Would be cool!
Yeah..coffee to go, great food and people who speak English…it was a nice treat for a France-dweller. Little things; indeed!
teiJuly 31, 2017 at 11:36 am
But you can get coffee to go from Coffee & Go in Grenoble! But you can’t get coffee there in a real cup even if you had it there (if they haven’t changed that recently)
GrenobloiseAugust 2, 2017 at 11:28 am
Hi Tei, yes there are coffee to go options, but not a lot. I can think of about 4 places in the ENTIRE city of Grenoble where there is a coffee to go option (outside of MacDo). For me that is very bleak! Ditto for all other French cities.
I do not like Coffee & Go, I will never go back there. There is The French Coffee Shop, as you probably know of, but I am not a big fan either. Right now my favorite coffee spot (to go or to stay) is without a doubt Kai’Iwi Café — a lovely new addition to Grenoble!
teiAugust 3, 2017 at 10:03 am
The beer scene in this town has improved significantly in the past few years that we’ve been here. So, let’s hope the same happens with coffee. (and then with sandwiches and salads 🙂