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  • Writer's pictureManuela Lenoci

Amsterdam, 10 must-do things you can do by bike between museums and Coffeeshops

Updated: May 14

It is considered by many to be the Venice of Northern Europe because of its canals. For me it is a city of character, gritty. Vibrant, entertaining but at the same time also intellectually stimulating


Amsterdam at last! I have left my heart in this city! Modern, Vibrant, it never sleeps while keeping its history.


A trip to Amsterdam I had long wanted to do, but this time I didn't fly there from Bari, (read on to find out the airlines that fly from Puglia). I was in Germany, near Stuttgart, and from there I crossed the whole country by train, la DB tedesca the German DB, has crazy connections and modern trains with wi-fi on board. I made a stop in Frankfurt am Main. a German city in the heart of the state of Hesse, Germany's fifth largest federal state by population, has 700,000 inhabitants, is crossed by the Main River.

In my column  "A portata di Manu" I share with you ideas, experiences and itineraries as also things to do if you come to these areas whether you are a foreign visitor or a tourist at home. In the article (next to each experience) are all references for booking tickets or excursions or guided tours in the area .


I loved it and appreciated its ability to blend modernity and tradition with a skyline dominated by imposing skyscrapers as a testimony to its role as a financial center, while in the old town there is an atmosphere of the centuries past. We had time to visit the majestic cathedral see the Romer the City Hall located in the heart of Frankfurt, one of the city's distinctive historical symbols, with its famous three-gable façade and appreciate the picturesque half-timbered houses, stroll along the picturesque riverfront, have a coffee and a slice of the famous cakes in the bakery Coffe House to the Golden Scale  oltre che salutare Monica, una nostra amica di nazionalità rumena che dopo aver vissuto 20 anni a Bari vive qui a Francoforte

dove ha aperto il suo ristorante  Power food Earth che vi invito a provare se venite da queste parti. Promuove la Puglia In Germania Il  giorno dopo sempre in treno eravamo pronti per proseguire il nostro viaggio nella città dei tulipani.

Ovviamente dalla Puglia ci sono voli diretti, che ti ho riportato



HOW TO REACH AMSTERDAM

At last, even from Bari, several airlines are offering direct flights: ITA Airways and Transavia. Schiphol is the nearest airport, around 20 kilometers south of Amsterdam, well connected to the city by train, which leads into the center in twenty minutes.


Public transportation works very well. The subway, which is partly underground and partly above ground, has four lines (green, orange, yellow and red) and operates until just after midnight. The main station is the Central Station, from which also run buses, streetcars and trains. It is located inside a beautiful building built in 1889 in the center of the Dutch capital, designed by Dutch architect Cuypers, the same designer of the Rijksmuseum.



Visiting Amsterdam by bicycle

Amsterdam means bicycles. Getting around the city by bike is the only way to discover this city even if you are a resident but also a tourist

As soon as you arrive at the Central station, you will be impressed by millions of multi-level parking dedicated to bikes and as well the street corners drowning of bicycles it will seem impossible to you to park because of they are overflowing with bikes with chains locked anywhere. We spent the whole weekend strolling by bike among the canals but also opted for an out-of-town cycling trip to the Village of Mills, Zaanse Schans, 20 kilometers away from Amsterdam, a good walk, however, we went back by train, taking the bike by train and only after having a cheese tasting.

Stopping to take pictures in the hidden glimpses visible only if you're on a bike, giving each other a kiss on the canals, making a wish whenever you use the lock to secure your bike, was perhaps the most beautiful adventure that allowed me to fully enjoy this experience. Amsterdam has more than 150 canals and about 1,300 bridges.


We rented bikes here from Holland Rend a Bike at a really good daily cost.


Beware, most bicycles have foot brakes, which at least us italians are not used to and is very common, however, in Amsterdam.

Where to sleep in Amsterdam: Experience a "Dancing House"

To fully experience this city, you need to take an apartment on the canals, overlooking the canals, maybe not one of the super famous cross streets, but you need to move around on foot or by bike. We had a great time, especially in the morning, for breakfast time. I loved to go for my continental breakfast in a robe, preserving the casual chic style typical of us Italians.

Fixed date from Caffe Hoppe a good cafe with great intercontinental breakfasts, we went here every morning


The first 3 nights of the vacation we slept in a Dancing House, an apartment inside an historic canal-view building (Singel) of those tall, narrow, sloping, wooden ones with over 200 steps to get to the rooftop that we had booked from an Apulian friend (from Castellana Grotte, near Bari, in the south of Italy, Puglia Region. This city is famous for the CAVE) who moved to Amsterdam for work, where he runs some of the most beautiful canal houses. If you decide to come to these parts, write to him at this address davidesecundo@icloud.it his name is Davide Secundo and greet him for me.

These colorful, crooked houses, without elevators, look like an optical effect but they are not. All I know is that getting to the top floor by foot was really "badass". The houses were purposely built that way to facilitate the custom of hoisting food and raw material supplies transported by water with ropes into the house.

For the rest of our stay, we decided to change the area to experience the other side of the Amstel, the more than 30-kilometer river that flows between the provinces of South Holland and North Holland and runs through the city of Amsterdam, to which it also gave its name. So bike in tow we took the ferry that offers a "free" taxi boat service to go to the other side and takes a few minutes.


Welcome to Amsterdarm Noord. It is a lively and exciting neighborhood, full of cultural points of interest. There is also a pretty good nightlife, mostly unknown to tourists. St. Rita's Church has always been a gathering place for residents of the area. In here today is the BUNK Amsterdam, the cool hotel where we stayed. An old monumental building with 106 rooms and 50 private bunks (we slept in one of that) eight communal dining tables and and a kitchen/restaurant among the best found in Amsterdam.


Must-do activities in Amsterdam

If you are planning a long weekend from this neck of the woods, I invite you to read some tips related to places and Experiences that I have done, little suggestions for your trip. Of course, time is never enough to do everything, and especially Amsterdam is a city where you need to make reservations online before getting here, otherwise it is impossible to get tickets in the museums.


Among the best known attractions no doubt Red Light District (but only to be seen once and no more than one evening) the Rijksmuseum, the Royal Palace, the best coffeeshops (I had one under my house). I will tell you everything you need to know to have a great stay!

Amsterdam is one of the most modern and fun capital cities in Europe. It is ideal to be visited in a long weekend, because the city is not very big. But it is Is always a good idea to spend even more than one weekend there. It is very expensive unfortunately. We were amazed day after day at the crazy prices for everything.


Anna Frank House


Cell phones are prohibited. Rule No. 1

As soon as we planned the weekend in Amsterdam a couple of months in advance, I immediately bought tickets online from the official website. Eighty percent of the tickets are sold online 2 months in advance otherwise it is impossible to get a seat.

The tickets sell out very quickly. Amsterdam also means discovering an obscure part of the city's history. That is why we were particularly keen to visit the Anna Frank house. Today the house has been turned into a museum, where we walked through the different rooms that contained excerpts from Anne Frank's diary, photos and objects. Anne Frank is famous for her personal diary that tells the story of her family who hid in this house for 2 1/2 years to escape the persecution of the Jews during World War II. For a few months and for reasons still unknown today, they were discovered and taken to concentration camps. The museum shows the living conditions in which the family lived, helped by friends who supplied provisions. The hidden house. I was particularly touched by the attachment to life and the fear of dying that drives one to resist. An incredible emotion.


Transgressions: red light district and coffeeshops

(Photos of the storefronts were taken from the internet)


As soon as you arrive in Amsterdam, the first thing you want to do after renting a bike is to want to visit De Wallen, better known to everyone as Amsterdam's red light district. Characteristically it certainly is.

Seeing women in shop windows is one of the most talked tourist attractions. (At least in the common immagination). You are immediately struck by these alleyways with so many rooms with clear glass windows (there are apparently 300 of them), rented by female prostitutes (and also transgender women), who offer "sexual services" in the back room, lit by the typical red lights.

Many of the women are plastic surgery and extraformed; they deserve to be looked at. And if you look closer, you realize how some men look like losers as they come up to ask the price by knocking on the door.

Amsterdam's Red Light District, a free zone for prostitution since the 14th century is now a tourist-only area transformed into a theme park about transgression.

Coffeeshop, fresh air in Amsterdam

Another very interesting topic is Coffèeshops.

In Amsterdam Cannabis is legal, and this I assure you this fact does not create any disconfort to the normal course of life outside the Coffèeshops (there are more than 250 of them). Entrance of course is prohibited to minors. No alcohol is served so if you want to try this experience, you can smoke while sipping mint flavored boiling water. I drank a lot of it.

I had never been to a coffeeshop but I will try to tell you what I was faced with as soon as I entered. Intimate little coffeeshops with little sofas and seating stations. Normal people (about normality we could for hours) like us, sitting and chatting. Of all ages, that's what struck me. As if people my parents' age were just sitting there relaxing like everyone else.

I mean, you walk in and like in a real Italian-style tobacco shop, there is a wall specifying the qualities of marijuana and hashish available, with prices and quantities, divided by sativa or indica. While Cigarettes are displayed in the tobacco shop, here you find marijuana .

You approach the cashier and you choose before to sit down. There are products that are sold by the gram and weighed at the time (usually the cost for 1gr of hashish is around 12 euros) and those pre-packaged in joint. Cartridges and filters are free and available on the counter, and ready-made, ready-to-use joints are also sold for inexperienced smokers. Since 1976, it has been possible in Amsterdam to legally sample marijuana and hashish exclusively on the designated premises.


Musei

Purtroppo non sono riuscita ad entrare nel famoso e bellissimo Van Gogh Museum che come vi suggerivo, va prenotato con largo anticipo e online. Di seguito vi scrivo alcuni dei musei che ho visitato e altri che tornerò a vedere. Potete cliccarci sopra per acquistare i biglietti. Ma Amsterdam è una città piena di musei di tutti i tipi. Dai più stravaganti a quelli più seri e importanti per grandi e piccini. Alcuni imperdibili o altri che si possono trovare in altri paesi del mondo


Rijksmuseum è il più importante museo statale dedicato all’arte e alla storia dei Paesi Bassi. Famoso per le sue collezioni d’ arte. La collezione comprende dipinti di Rembrandt, Vermeer, Jan Asselijn e Van Gogh, tra molti altri, ma anche lavori di artisti internazionali, tra cui Goya e il Beato Angelico.


Museo Della Casa di Rembrandt ad Amsterdam, la casa di proprietà del famoso pittore olandese Rembrandt, dove ha vissuto tra il 1639 e il 1659.


Heineken Experience per gli appassionati di birra e non, è un viaggio incredibile in chiave moderna, con illustrazioni 3d e giochi di luci. Purtroppo dura troppo poco e la visita è serrata, non ti permettono di stare più del tempo dovuto 2h. Ti offrono 3 pinte di birra a fine tour in una location al piano di sotto dell'edificio, che sembra un disco bar. Carina.





Madame Tussauds, se non ci sei mai stato a Londra e non conti di andare a Londra a breve, allora sei autorizzato a visitarlo ad Amsterdam


Tropenmuseum un museo etnografico di Amsterdam, inaugurato nella sede e nella forma attuale nel 1978 e dedicato alla cultura, all'arte e all'economia delle ex-colonie olandesi e di altri Paesi dell'area tropicale e subtropicale. La collezione del museo si basa sui reperti raccolti dagli antropologi che lavoravano nelle ex-colonie olandesi.


This is an example of an "underground church." E' il nome di una ex chiesa cattolica di Amsterdam, fondata nel 1663 e nel 1888 trasformata in un museo. La particolarità della chiesa di Nostro Signore nel Sottotetto, a cui essa deve il suo nome, è di essere stata ricavata negli ultimi piani di una casa privata in modo tale da rendere del tutto impossibile riconoscere dall'esterno la presenza di un luogo pubblico di culto in quello che ha l'aspetto di un normale edificio residenziale.


It was love at first sight with this market.


L'Albert Cuypmarkt is a district market in Amsterdam, located along the Albert Cuypstraat in the De Pijp neighborhood of the Oud-Zuid district. The market began as a spontaneous gathering by street traders and hawkers. In 1905, the city government decided to establish a market, to be held initially only on Saturday evenings. In 1912, the market became a daytime market open six days a week.

Various kinds of products can be found in the market: fruits and vegetables, fish, cuisine from other countries and nations, taste from the world, as well as clothing and cameras. Products of interest to residents of Surinamese, Antilles, Turkish and Moroccan origin are also sold. The market, named after the 17th-century painter Albert Cuyp, is the busiest in the Netherlands and is considered the largest daytime market in Europe as well as a major tourist attraction.


The Bloemenmarkt is the only floating flower market in the world. The market was founded in 1862 is located on the Singel Canal between Muntplein and Koningsplein south of the city. There are 15 florists and garden stores in the Bloemenmarkt, and the goods are displayed on floating barges, a legacy of a past when flowers and plants arrived on barges.

I bought some beautiful blue tulip bulbs for my mother that she may plant in our countryside someday, hoping to see them bloom in the spring.

And then we decided to stock up on cheese, my traveling mate was crazy about it therefore during the trip to the Mill village from Zaanse Schans, we tasted every kind of cheese of every color through free samples: and then we bought goat cheese, our favorite.

We also bought a very special mustard cream that was really very good.


Cheese stores are scattered all over the town, Some little info about this village that we reached by bike (but it is tough if you are not trained it is 20 km). Here you will find small traditional houses now become museums or stores and the mills can be visited for a small fee you can enter and climb up to enjoy the breathtaking view.


Piazza Dam o semplicemente "il Dam" è la più famosa piazza di Amsterdam. Il Dam si trova all'interno della Nieuwe Zijde della capitale olandese nella parte centro-settentrionale di Amsterdam, tra le vie Damrak, Rokin e Kalverstraat e a circa 750 metri dalla Centraal Staation. La piazza è sorta intorno al 1270 come piazza-mercato e il nome fa riferimento alla funzione originaria del luogo dove, tra il 1204 e il 1275, venne costruita una chiusa sul fiume Amstel. Oggi si affacciano sulla piazza alcune delle principali attrazioni della città come il Palazzo Reale, il Nationaal Monument, la Nieuwe Kerk e il celebre museo delle cere Madame Tussauds. La piazza è di forma quasi rettangolare e si estende per circa 100 metri da nord a sud e 200 metri da est ad ovest


Dove mangiare

In Amsterdam every place is good to eat at all hours nonstop from simple fast food to oriental cuisine to takeout to starred. We are Asian food lovers and we tried several, between lunch and dinner


- Wok and Walk - fabulous. It's a franchise there are several in Amsterdam and almost a hundred. The combination is simple. Open kitchen. Everything very fresh. You choose the type of Noodles and the ingredients and they make you the dish of your dreams. I discovered it by accident and fell in love with it.


- Bird Thais Restaurant - very good. It is a very good Asian quality. The chicken and vegetable pad thai is really good. Stir-fry good and light. Soups are mild and tasty. Rice Good. Cozy environment. There is always a wait. If you find a table sit down


- Caffe Hoppe a good cafe with excellent intercontinental breakfasts, we went there every morning


- BUNK - Is a breakfast bar that is the end of the world. We had really special hummus and eggs benedicts.


- Albert Cuyp Market - I'd go there every day


- Thai Phutakun - simply delicious, very good pad thai


- Wagamama - always a good choice


- De Silveren Spiegel - Inside a beautiful period building in downtown Amsterdam, a Dutch dinner between traditional and revisited, carefully prepared and graciously served. The ambiance is intimate you will feel like you are in the home of a Dutch friend. Try the soups, they are fabulous and in winter they will refresh you from the cold of the city!






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Welcome to my world

I am an Apulian journalist, 

A little travel, a little fashion and a little FoodLover, this blog is definitely full of many contents that talk about my thousand adventures in Puglia and its surroundings.

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