I heart Amsterdam

We broke up. My (former) favourite city and I.

I didn’t fall out of love, it just became too difficult to maintain a long-distance relationship. Our love affair began in 2001, at University. We grew up together, formed a deep connection, an unbreakable bond… or so I thought. But then it was graduation and time to get a real job – I moved to Surrey. It was a sad farewell. We tried to make it work. I visited at weekends, whenever I could and we kept the sparkle going for longer than anyone expected… but as the years went on, we drifted further and further apart.

We had a good run, Brighton and I.

But things change, relationships move on, and you can only have one favourite city.

So, here’s the story of how Amsterdam wooed me…

Sex appeal || Street Art

You can go to the Van Gogh and Rijksmuseum when it’s raining! If it’s not – walk. Amsterdam is a piece of art in itself!

The architecture, the canals, the people, the Street Art. Spend a day walking around Amsterdam and you’ll learn just how damn sexy it is. And I’m not even talking about the red light district!! Walk the entire length of the Prinsengracht  (one of Amsterdam’s three main canals) and you’ll experience countless pieces of modern art. Thought provoking, fun and above all: brand spanking new! These talented artists see a bit of blank wall or a garage front and create masterpieces. Not so great if you happen to own that garage or piece of wall, but hey, it’s all in the name of art.

Street Art, Prinsengracht, Amsterdam

Street Art, Prinsengracht, Amsterdam

One of my favourite pieces (pictured) can be found just 300m away from Anne Frank’s House. As you can *just* see, it’s number 185 on Prinsengracht. (Fingers crossed it’s still there!) This particular piece has suffered a bit of graffiti, but then again, what is graffiti and what is art?

If you’re really into it, you can even go on a Alltournative (ha ha!) Street Art and Graffiti Walking Tour.

Sense of humour || King’s Day 

Amsterdam isn’t afraid to be playful or to take the piss out of itself. The best day of the year to visit Amsterdam? 27th April. Without a doubt! On Koningsdag or King’s Day, aka Europe’s biggest street party, the whole city turns orange, otherwise known as oranjegekte (orange crazy). Yep, that’s right – lots of people will be dressed head-to-toe in orange! The sillier the better! Even the more modest people will bring / wear / buy at least something orange. Some people even dress their pets in the colour. Seriously.

The whole of the Netherlands is a massive party on this day, but nowhere more than in Amsterdam! The main roads are closed off to cars and trams so that crowds can party in the streets and there’s live music, LOTS of booze and an electric atmosphere wherever you go! You could even call it gezellig! 😉

To add another level of craziness, the whole city turns into an open air flea market for the day. Time to get rid of some old tat, or let the kids test their budding entrepreneurial skills!

Kings Day 2014

A typical King’s Day outfit

The biggest and most atmospheric vrijmarkt  (free market) is in Vondelpark. Can’t visit for King’s Day on 27th April? There’s a flea market on Waterlooplein 6 days a week. Buy some crazy orange stuff ready for next year!

The other amazing thing about King’s Day (even despite the date being moved – it was formerly Queen’s Day on 30th April) is that the sun always shines!! Now, I don’t want to jinx it… so work with me please, weather gods, but the last five King/Queen’s days have benefited from glorious weather, making it even more gezellig! (If that’s even possible!)

Good teeth || Food 

The third and probably most attractive quality of Amsterdam is the food. It’s a real food lovers paradise!

The Netherlands doesn’t have the best reputation for its grub, but in Amsterdam you’ll find culinary delights to suit every taste and budget! To try some traditional borrelhapjes (borrel  is drink and hapjes is small bites – so snacks to accompany an alcoholic drink) head to Nieuwmarkt. My absolute favourite area of Amsterdam!

Here you’ll find tons of cafes and kroegen (pubs) serving:

  • oude kaas (‘old’ mature cheese)
  • leverworst (liver sausage)
  • kaasstengels (literally: cheese sticks) or kaassoufflés (both based on deep-fried cheese) 
  • vlammetjes (spicy ground beef enveloped in a little parcel and deep-fried)
  • and of course bitterballen!! (Yup, you read the name of the blog, right?)

My favourite places to go are Gewaeght Cafe, Cafe Del Mondo and Cotton Club. The latter only serves drinks, but be sure to check out the toilets which are floor to ceiling tegeltjeswijsheid (Dutch wisdom tiles) very traditional and very funny!


Looking for something more sophisticated? Try Woo Brothers at Jodenbreestraat 144. (They don’t have a website because they are TOO COOL and they don’t need to!) Asian food at its absolute best.

Oh, and don’t even *think* of leaving the country until you’ve tried patatje mayo (chips with mayonnaise). Get them from a street vendor; they’ll come in a cone, drowned in mayonnaise! Lekker!

What’s your favourite thing about Amsterdam? Or, if you haven’t been yet, what are you most looking forward to checking out?

Hayley x


  1. I am even more excited to visit Amsterdam this spring after your post. Especially looking forward to the food. My favorite city is probably Cape Town, great views, mountains, beach and all the perks of a city. Or Boston, for the history and of course the food.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ooh, Cape Town! I’d love to go there! A little tip for you as well: if you’re planning on visiting Anne Frank’s House during your trip, make sure you get your tickets online in advance. Otherwise the queue can be hours long!


  2. I am dutch but am living in england becouse my partner is english
    i enjoy your blog very much
    Tip fot amsterdam do a biketour , so you see a different side of the city


    1. Hi Esther,

      Hope you’re enjoying life in England! 🙂 I will do a bike tour at some point, thanks for the tip! But at the moment I still count myself as a tourist in Amsterdam (as I’ve only lived in Holland for 8 months) and I never recommend that tourists ride in Amsterdam! They need to stick to map reading safely: on their own two feet! 😉

      Liked by 2 people

  3. I visited Amsterdam for the first time late last year and loved it! So much cheese! And wandering around by the canals and of course seeing the red light district made it a great trip.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. King’s day is not just an orange funky dress up and flea market, it’s a PARTY!!!

    It starts the evening before (26th of april) and lasts until about 22:00 hr on the 27th. It’s dancing, drinking and having fun. And not in you’re home or in the pubs, but right out on the streets.
    There will be no traffic in the main parts of the city’s. (No trams, taxi’s, cars or bicycle’s) You can try riding you’re bike, but you won’t get anywhere. Streets are cluttered with partying folks.

    Oh did I mention it’s the King’s birthday? We’re celebrating his birthday party. Not in a circle and not with cake for once 😛

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Good point, Maria. I didn’t make that explicitly clear. I guess I’m so used to talking about King’s Day and having people know what it is! (I did link to a previous post which explains it a bit more…) But you’re right, I’ll do a bit more explaining about the PARTY part! Thank you.


  5. I have to admit I quite enjoyed the Van Gogh museum (I usually don’t like museums, my husband forced me to go!). And there was this great mexican restaurant with the best margaritas ever downtown. Haven’t found that good margaritas anywhere since…

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Even though I’ve been living technically next to Amsterdam for more than 14 years, I never get enough of visiting this incredible city. My favourite thing about A’dam would probably be the fact that you can be anything you want to be, and no one bats an eye. Feel like skateboarding in a Pikachu onesie? Or maybe you’re a tough guy and want to walk through the streets in only your underwear and some leg-warmers? Or perhaps you want to cover yourself in bodypaint and glitter? No one will stop you. And yes, these are my own eyes’ examples.

    I really enjoyed your post by the way, thanks for sharing! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Very well put. Amsterdam wooed me as well. It took me a little while to come to terms with the fact that it would be a relationship including over 800,000 other people as well but Amsterdam does have its charm.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Hi Hayley, did you go to Falmer?? My sister is a teacher there (not bad for a Dutch girl eh?) so I visit Brighton regularly; well I wouldn’t break up if I were you, Brighton is a lovely city as well, with all the little alleys, the Pavillion and the Pier of course. It’s just that I cannot walk very well, so the ‘climb’ uptown is pretty steep…
    Thank you for your interesting blog and your positive comments on Amsterdam, I should know cause I live there. 🙂
    Here’s another suggestion: go waterbiking through the canals. Great fun and a good way to look at the 17th century houses. Impressive history looking down on you!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Bert, no I studied on the Moulsecoomb campus – but I worked for the University at Falmer 🙂 Small world!

      I still love Brighton, I just don’t get to visit much now I live in Holland. When we visit the UK, our time is spent visiting friends and family, so we don’t get much ‘free time’. I just need someone I know to move there!! That’s not a big ask is it? 😉

      Thanks for your lovely comments and for the tip! Klinkt heel goed! Dank je!


  9. It is great to fall in love with a new city. I’m an Australian living in Sai Gon, Viet Nam and there’ll be free flowing tears when I leave.

    Glad you’re enjoying your adopted hometown.


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