Friday, 31 May 2013

THE CLEAN, QUIET CITY OF POT SMOKERS & PROSTITUTES - AMSTERDAM


Before I went to Dam, the only people I knew who had been were the rough kids in school, looking for a place to smoke even more weed then they already did around London. I was never really interested in going, until I came to Uni and met a few others who had been and seen some of their photos. I realised what a beautiful city it was, but it was mainly the architecture and layout of the city that really attracted me.


As a student I couldn't really afford to go there, but then I found a way to justify paying out the money - I took the misses for her birthday, so I kept her happy and I got to go and look around, two birds one stone kind of thing, I'm such a good guy eyy! We were over there for a few days in our Easter break '13. The weather wasn't great but it wasn't too bad either to be fair, cold in the evenings though.

As I've said before I don't like to visit places I prefer to experience them, and if you’re like me and just want to explore the city and travel up and down the canals, experiencing Dam means a lot of walking, especially if your girlfriend is too scared to ride a bike. Your legs will love you.

Dam was completely different from what I expected it to be. Although I'd seen a new side to it through others photos, I was still a bit naive in letting the original image I had of it override it. I thought it was going to be loud raunchy strips, full of prostitutes, sex and the smell of weed. It actually turned out to be the quietest, cleanest city I've visited. There’s a neatness about it, everything is in order, on time and where it should be. Yeah they smoke pot and are hugely open towards sex but it seemed to be working in keeping a sense of order.

Absolutely massive, beautiful house we found beside the central park
The canals were the main thing I loved, lined with tall narrow buildings, none of which match in colour, all leaning different ways, some looking like they're ready to fall. They make the place feel very picturesque, along with the small arched bridges and constant ringing of bicycle bells. Make sure one of the bikes don't hit you though, they are not a fan of stopping, even if you are in the way.


We literally spent most of our days there walking around, taking in the scenery; it’s a city like no other I've been to and kept me interested doing nothing but that. This did lead to us getting lost quite often as although no two buildings look the same, the constant mis-match makes each turn look like the last, but if you stick to the tourist areas and don't get lost you won't find the cool spots like we did. So yeah wherever you go, get lost, I tend to find cooler things when I don't mean to.


Something I thought was really cool were the trams. In London I'm used to packed buses or trains which aren't frequent and are usually late, smell of some drunks bowels and are expensive as hell for this not so lovely service. The trams over there were frequent, ALWAYS on time, clean and at no point were they too busy. We paid something like 16 euros each for a ticket which allowed us on all public transport for 72 hours from the first use, which was worthwhile for how much we used it.

Contradictory to what I've said above, Dam was a very neat & clean city, but something which never failed to catch my eye, was alleyways decorated head to toe in bright graffiti & murals. Art, especially street art has always been a love of mine, so to visit a new country and experience their take on it was pretty sick. I think what made it far more interesting was the fact that over here in London its usually messy scrawled tags, but the Amsterdam kids prefer to hit up the streets with mainly murals & stencils - something we don't see much.

Eventually, after some serious persuasion, we got on some bikes

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HIDDEN TREASURES - The Secret Church
While wondering through the city, Sophie pointed out a beautiful statue of a catholic saint, stood by a small dark passage. When investigating where the passage lead, we found a narrow set of spinning doors, no wider then say 5ft. Through these doors, tucked in behind the hustle and bustle of Amsterdam, lay a peaceful, glorious gem of a church, highly decorated and surprisingly big. Its shocking to think thousands of people walk past this beautiful &amazing, yet concealed piece of architecture.

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RED LIGHT DISTRICT - Quick Tip; No Photos
I'd read that if the girls in the windows catch you taking photographs of them, standard procedure, after the screaming of verbal assault, was to take your camera off of you and throw it in the canal - and after a scary little moment, I can verify their aggressive behaviour towards people with cameras. I didn't try and take a photo of one of the girls, I was filming as me and Sophie walked through the streets on my GoPro. As we passed some of the girls they smashed against the windows but before they caught me I ran off - I wasn't about to have my brand new camera thrown in a canal. I never thought I'd end up running from prostitutes when I booked the trip.

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Food we ate.

Before I get into it, I'm a big OJ fan, I've always said Tropicana was the best but the fresh OJ the cafes serve over there was MAD, so good. You should get some.
When you head into Amsterdam's City Centre you'll quickly notice two main types of places to eat; pancake houses and steak houses. The city is full of them, with cosy traditional Dutch pancakes houses hidden down side streets away from the main tourist areas, to groups of predominantly Argentinian steak houses alongside each other right at the city's centre.

Firstly if you go to the Netherlands and do not go to a genuine Dutch pancake house, you are a fool, it’s pretty much as simple as that. The first pancakes I had out there was in a small cafe on the second morning. I was craving some real crispy bacon, so thats what I got. In pancakes. Cover it with syrup, like literally cover it, and BOOM, lovely little start to my day! Bloody gorgeous!


On one of the other days me and Soph then decided to go to The Dutch Pancake Bakery for a snack, a really authentic, dimly lit spot we'd heard about for having the best pancakes around - and they were. It wasn't really a snack though, these things were huge! I'd say maybe 16'' across and packed with whatever toppings you'd ordered. I had some sort of cinnamon special one. It was a cinnamon pancake covered in slices of roasted Bramley apples, scoops of cinnamon ice cream, whipped cream, cinnamon liqueur and icing sugar. I know it sounds a little much but it was so good, best pancake I've had by a mile, and I was stuffed afterwards. Anyone heading over to Dam should check it out, it’s located near the Anne Frank Haus and was definitely worth the long walk we had to get there. Also the big pot of honey on each table is quite fun to play with, not sure if the waitresses likes you doing it though.


Now onto the man food - steak. We found a really cool looking restaurant just off of Dam square called CAU. It caught my eye because the place looks sick from outside, a real modern styled black and grey building with big windows and big men in suits outside to escort you in. Anyways back to the steak, I ordered a sirloin - it was the best steak I've ever had hands down, so juicy and tender. Without sounding like too much of a fat boy this piece of meat was beautiful, along with the peppercorn sauce, my mouth was loving life. We also shared a few sides between us. Vegetables can't beat meat but these had a pretty good go at it - garlic & lemon spinach, chunky chips and chilli & mint peas. I was in a real happy place sitting there. CAU is definitely the best place to go if you want a good dinner out there.

  
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Sophie in one of the cooler coffee shops we were in
Being an architecture fanatic and addicted to travelling, Amsterdam was an amazing place; the city is beautiful, the food delicious, people welcoming and lets not forget, they let you smoke weed as and when you please - a very enjoyable trip. If you ever get the chance to visit, do, but be prepared to spend because, unfortunately, it is expensive!

Hope you enjoyed the post! Feel free to ask any questions!
- Jamie


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After booking Dam, I ordered a few bits for my cameras - unfortunately while there. the SD card I was sent, corrupted meaning I lost all of my photos, bar some we took on our iPhones , so sorry the quality of them wasn't the best guys! I will be uploading a cool video soon however.... 





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