Amsterdam - taking the easy way round

by Shipscook

Forget bicycles - the boat is the easy way to get around Holland's top city destination

I have never got on with bicycles anyway so in my opinion the "Venice of the north" is a city that I think is best enjoyed from the water.

This was our third trip to the Dutch city so we felt under no pressure to cram everything in, therefore the Amsterdam Canal Bus (+31 20 6239886; www.canal.nl) network of hop on–hop off routes was the ideal way to get around and leisurely take in what we wanted to see. Day tickets costing €20 cover three routes and are valid till noon the following day. The ticket also entitles you to discounts at many of Amsterdam’s leading attractions but do make sure everybody in your party gets a coupon book.

Hopping aboard the green route from the Central Station jetty, we settled into our seats and enjoyed Amsterdam’s fabulous architecture as we cruised past the Anne Frank House and the Rijksmusuem before disembarking at the stop for the Rembrandt House. Here at De Sluyswacht (Jodenbreestraat 1, 1011 NG; +31 020 625 76 11), we gorged ourselves on bitteballen (spicy meatballs), tasty mature cheese and necked a kopstoot (headbut) - lager with an oude jenever (local gin) chaser. This pub used to be a lock keeper’s house that was painted by local lad Rembrandt.

The Rembrandt House (Museum het Rembrandtthuis, Jodenbreestraat 4, 1011nk; +31 020 5200400; www.rembrandthuis.nl; €8 admission, €6 with canal bus ticket) is a couple of minutes' walk from De Sluyswacht. An essential port for any art lover. Fortunately for us, in 1656, when the painter was declared bankrupt, a detailed list of the house contents was made by the administrators. From this the museum curators have returned the house to a fashion that Rembrandt would have felt familiar with.

A short hop on the green route took us back to Central Station and our hotel for a wash and brush up before setting out for our evening meal. Funny thing was it was a remark about the quality of Amsterdam’s Indonesian restaurants made over an indifferent London rice table meal that had brought us back here. The Tujah Maret (Utrectsestraat 73, 1017 VJ, Amterdam, tel. +31 20 427 98 65) didn’t disappoint. Twenty-four tasty dishes of rising heat, together with wine, beer and coffee came to €120 for the three of us. We left the restaurant completely stuffed and waddled back to the hotel via some of Amsterdam’s excellent pubs.

On the very edge of Amsterdam’s notorious red light district we found T'Apjen (Zeedijk 1) - it's the city’s oldest wood-framed inn dating back to 1551. The name relates to the fact that sailors returning from Africa and the Far East often paid for their stay here with monkeys. This is reflected in the interior décor where a number of monkeys are concealed amongst the inn’s eclectic clutter. It can get quite rowdy.

The following day we used the remaining time on our canal bus ticket to explore the blue route. From Central Station this took us out to the Cruise Ship Terminal. We got a good look at the magnificent Renzo Piano-designed NEMO Science Centre that dominates the waterfront and the replica of the East Indiaman Amsterdam on the way. On the return we passed Artis Zoo and the Tropical Museum before disembarking at City Hall.

A short walk took us to Hoppe (Spui 18, Amsterdam), a traditional brown house inn - so called after the wood panelling disguising the tobacco smoke stains. Of course no one smokes inside any of Amsterdam’s bars any more except for the cannabis cafes! At Hoppe we tried the raw meat sausage, which turned out to be exactly that, raw minced beef rolled into a sausage. It went down surprisingly well with mustard and jenever.

The afternoon took us to the AmstelkringMuseum (Oudezijds Voorburgwal 40; +31 020 624 6604; admission €7), otherwise known as Our Lord in the Attic. This 17th century house has been restored to look as it did when the Roman Catholic merchant Jan Hartman lived there. In Reformation Amsterdam Catholic worship was banned so many people built secret chapels in their attics. This is the only surviving example so well worth a visit.

Our final Amsterdam evening was spent at Brouwerij de Bekeerde Suster (Kloveniersburgwal 6-8; +31 020 423 01 12; cash only no credit cards), or the Brewery of the Bearded Sister. The nuns who used to brew beer here are long gone but great beer is still brewed on the premises and they do a good steak too. Three steak and chips plus several beers came to €86.70.

We flew Easyjet (Ibis Amsterdam Centre above Amsterdam’s Central Railway Station. Tickets to and from Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport are €3.80, but use the coin-operated machines as credit cards are surcharged by a whopping 50 cents per ticket. Journey takes about 20 minutes.

 

Shipscook

I'm a middle aged bloke, married with one daughter at university and a bunch of like minded middle aged pals. A former editor, copy writer and corporate PR manager, I'm now determined to grow old disgracefully getting around all of those places that I should have been to as a student, but never had enough cash for until today. I like art, culture, food and rock n roll. I have been around the globe, swam with dolphins, watched the Sun set and rise over Uluru, been caged with wolves, kissed by a super model and licked by a lion. Hear me roar!

I have been appointed by the Simonseeks editorial team as a community moderator, to review and rate guides on a regular basis.