After a good night’s rest, day two in Amsterdam started out bright and early with a morning run past some of the key landmarks in the city. I had tried to do this loop the day before, but it gets a little tricky navigating a map and riding a bike at the same time. It’s much easier on foot and also better for stopping to take photos. So, with map in hand and Fuji x100s in my running bag, I headed out for a fun trot. I know I keep raving about the weather, but it was truly perfection on this day. Crisp, cool and super sunny.
The first major stop was the Magere Brug (Skinny Bridge) over the Amstel River – you may find it familiar as it has appeared in some films, including the James Bond flick Diamonds Are Forever. The bridge is said to have been built – at least an earlier, much skinnier version of it – in 1691 by two wealthy sisters who lived on opposite sides of the river and wanted to be able to visit one another every day. It’s definitely a super pretty sight looking across from one bank to the other.
From the bridge I headed to Waterloo Plein, where people were just beginning to set up their stalls for the day at the Waterloopleinmarkt. The huge daily flea market is one of the city’s many street markets, which I planned to explore later in the afternoon. A short jog away is De Waag, a 15th-century building on Nieuwmarkt square in Amsterdam’s Chinatown that was originally a city gate and part of the walls of Amsterdam. A run through the adjacent Red Light District brought me to Dam Square, the city’s town square. The square is bordered by the Royal Palace, the 15th-century Gothic Nieuwe Kerk (New Church), Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum and the National Monument, a white stone pillar designed by J.J.P. Oud and erected in 1956 to memorialise the victims of WWII.
From Dam Square I ran through De 9 Straatjes, so named for its nine alleyways of shopping, back to Leidseplein where my hotel was. I highly recommend Hotel Freeland, by the way, which for 45 Euros a night was a great price for a clean, cosy and comfortable accommodation in an excellent location. The room comes with a great breakfast – eggs, ham, cheese, toast, yogurt, jams and spreads, all sorts of tea, juice and some other nibbles like rice cakes and ontbijtkoek, a traditional Dutch breakfast spiced cake.
After a hearty breakfast I checked out and hopped on my bike for the day’s adventure: market hopping. First stop was Dappermarkt, considered to be the most affordable and multicultural of Amsterdam’s markets. Getting there was simple enough – a straightforward ride along the Singelgracht, through Oosterpark (where I couldn’t help but stop for a photo) and then you’re there.
At the Dappermarkt I picked up a couple of blocks of Gouda cheese as gifts, one with nettle and the other with olives, tomatoes and garlic. I also bought a pair of Birkenstocks for a steal. Most of the stalls sold clothing and handbags and accessories, or local food like fish and cheeses and bread. I was tempted to buy the whole bread stall!
The next stop was the Albert Cuypmarkt at the very hip De Pijp district. Compared to the Dappermarkt there were more stands and a better mix of stuff for sale, from shoes and luggage to fresh vegetables and fish, to typical Dutch treats like raw herring or warm, freshly made stroopwafels. I bought more gifts here: another slab of cheese, this time Old Amsterdam, and a bag of stroopwafels in a Delftware tin. I also had my lunch – a couple of sticks of super yummy satay chicken and the most amazing froyo I’ve ever tasted!
The final stop for the day was De 9 Straatjes. I tried on a couple of pieces from a local designer but it was useless trying to buy with the bump. I did however come away with a very cute bee print swaddle from one of the shops called Mint Mini Mall.
In fact, save for a pepper mill, the Birkenstocks and a couple of magnets, I haven’t bought anything else for myself the entire trip. I’ve bought lots of cheeses, chocolates and waffles as gifts. And I finally started buying clothing and toys for little M. Picked up a bunch of local Dutch branded things you can’t find in Asia: adorable onesies, a lazy goose stuffed toy and this super cute Delftware edition Miffy!
When little M can finally understand me, I’ll tell her of all the adventures I had while carrying her for 10 months. Being half-German, hopefully this trip has also acquainted her a bit with some German food and language!
The day was rounded off with a quick ferry ride across the water to Amsterdam Noord. A quick snap of the sun setting on central Amsterdam, and I was back on the ferry to Central Station for my train back to Cologne. Thirty-three hours in Amsterdam is way too short – I’ll definitely be back!