Clogs and Canals: Highlights of Amsterdam

It’s hard to believe that already two months ago two friends and I were in Amsterdam for a New Year trip. It only takes a couple of days to fall in love with this small and charming city, which has much more to it than hash cafes and sex shops…

Vondelpark

A large public green space in the west of the city,  this is an ideal starting point for your first day. Cyclists and joggers abound, there was a sense of youth and vitality in the crisp air; no lethargy from the end of another year. Blauwe Theehuis (The Blue TeaHouse) serves hot chocolate with rum and is a good place to get the map out…Fireworks would blast off in the distance while we sat planning our day – the party starts early in Amsterdam!

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Cultural Mixes

Leidseplein was a hub of human activity. Conventional Christmas carols were swapped for pumping latino beats at the ice rink that sat surrounded by beer houses, with people milling around laughing in their snug winter coats. The non-stop chatter of people as they swarmed the streets was only occasionally interrupted by the clang of a tram gatecrashing the party.

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Tasty Bites

The smell of sizzling onions lured visitors to the bratwurst stalls. I followed it up with an Olliebollen – a Dutch doughnut with raisins inside, dusted with icing sugar. Somehow I managed to avoid the fudge stall, but pancakes would come the next day…

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A City of Canals
Reflections from the street lights dazzled off the calm water of the canals, creating sparks of romance as we followed the crowds on our pilgrimage to the city centre, with beaming lamps showing us the way.

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Dam Square

Even the rain shower failed to dampen the glow over the central square from the festive lights, as people wandered around for the last few hours of 2013 with open minds and open wallets.

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Bars and Banter

Many choices for drinking, but we chose the Irish bar ‘Yip Fellows’ for its free entry, fair-priced drinks, old-school music and welcoming atmosphere. We met no Irish, but a bunch of Austrians instead, who were just as fun-loving…

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Street Celebrations

Huge crowds filled the Square ready for the countdown, with fireworks shooting off in all directions and beer cans clinking. We managed to make out an ‘eight’ and were on our way.

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My friend Alice took this great photo below – it almost looks like Amsterdam has been struck by anarchic riots..!

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Bloemenmarkt

A lovely way to welcome in the New Year was to stroll down the Singel to the flower market. If you manage to come away without buying a souvenir, you’ve done well.

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Aesthetic Architecture

The crow-stepped and clock-gabled buildings are a defining feature of Amsterdam, complemented by the trendy gangs of bikes huddled nearby and boats dozing at the sides of the canal. It’s no surprise that the Canal Ring is classed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

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The Bloemgracht below is one of the prettiest areas of Amsterdam, oozing peaceful tranquillity.

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The Red Light District

The next day we followed a red dragon to the Red Light…an area which is, sadly I think, one of the reasons Amsterdam is so popular with foreign visitors.

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But this aspect of the city fails to tarnish its overall class and beauty.

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Thanks for a lovely stay!

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For thoughts on New Year’s Eve in general, click

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