We went for a stroll along the Kloveniersburgwal with the gelato in our hands, a few licks later and we found ourselves outside the Oost-Indisch Huis (East India House). This structure is of particular importance to us as it used to house (pun intended) the Vereenigde Oostindische Compagnie (Dutch East India Company). Why so? Because they used to have a base in Malacca, trading in South East Asia in the early 17th century.
The smallest house in Amsterdam lies at Oude Hoogstraat 22
“Come. Look here at Oude Hoogstraat 22,” I pointed. “This is the smallest house in Amsterdam.” We crossed the canal and walked along Nieuwe Hoogstraat. Admiring the shops as we walked past their storefronts. It was late afternoon when we arrived at Museum het Rembrandthuis (Rembrandt House Museum). All we did was to take photos of the place.
We also walked past Waterlooplein. People were in the process of dismantling their portable stores and packing it in. We were probably a day late to whatever fun fair that was held here earlier. “What is that funny smell?” asked the wife. “I think that is the smell of hash or marijuana,” I replied.
What is that funny smell? I think that is the smell of weed
“I have absolutely no idea of making sure. Unless we go try it out.”
After a short banter on the pro and cons of smoking weed, the cons won. Crossing the Staalstraat, we found ourselves back on Kloveniersburgwal. The advantage of visiting Europe in the spring and summer is the amount of daylight available. Although the museums and shops are closed, we can still spend the rest of the evening walking around, just like what we did right now.
We are here to visit Oudemanhuispoort — a second-book market. It opens till 6pm, so we had about 15 minutes to glance around. Located on a narrow alley, this dimly-lit place is a favourite of the students. Halfway through there is a courtyard garden with a statue of Minerva. Best place to sit down and read your newly bought books. It will take some time to find bargain buys and if you are looking for specific books, it is better to just inform the seller. He who sells, know what he sells.
Find the House on the 3 Canals at Oudezijds Voorburgwal 249
Exiting the area, we will come to what is known as Huis aan de Drie Grachten on Oudezijds Voorburgwal 249. This redbrick gabled house is also better known as the House on the 3 Canals. This is the only structure in the whole of Amsterdam that has windows facing 3 different canals. “Quick, grab a photo of this unusual find!” I told the wife. “Done.” came the reply. Someone seems to be quite quick to the trigger ever since we started on the journey.
At number 231, we came to a stop outside Agnietenkapel. This was once the St Agnes Chapel, but is currently the University of Amsterdam’s museum. Nothing much to shout about unless there is a special exhibition on show.
We spent the next one hour walking along the canals, enjoying the nice weather or rather the ‘golden hour’ that all professional photographers love. Try to get comfortable shoes as you will be walking on cobblestones some of the time and prepare for a change of pace when you hear the ‘ding’ of the cyclists’ bell. Our little sojourn brought us back to Warmoesstraat, which is at the outskirts of the Red Light District. Here we found the Condomerie. True to its name, on display were rows and rows of condoms in all shapes and sizes. A few white-haired old ladies giggled and pointed as they walked past the shop. Probably it reminded them of what they did when they were younger.
A few white-haired old ladies giggled and pointed as they walked past the Condomerie
Kam Yin (Warmoesstraat 6)
At the end of Warmoesstraat or rather at the front, depending on where you start off, lies this Surinam-Chinese-Javanese restaurant which I found on Tripadvisor. The wife was already clamouring for something that is closer to what can be found back home. Upon entering the restaurant, we were greeted by a few Chinese looking waitresses in Cantonese.
“Finally, this feels like home,” the wife beamed. We were darting glances at the other tables and their dishes. It was a boisterous environment, something that is quite common in Chinese eateries. We found a place by the window, no reservations required. The menu is quite extensive and because of the cold weather outside, we ordered a few of the spiciest dishes available. After being away from the comfort of the home, the Cantonese and Mandarin conversation among the staff were like music to the ears, since we could understand what was being said.
Maybe someone could help out with the translation, we ordered a Pikante Bami Vlees and a Rijst Klein Garnale plus 2 drinks. The price? €25 in total. A decent price for a very spicy meal. I was basically sweating inside the restaurant. Around us were either Dutch locals and other Europeans, some were struggling with the chopsticks, some were having difficulty with the spicy food and some were just enjoying it. A truly international experience.
Manneken Pis Vlaamse Frites
We had one more agenda before retiring back to our hotel and call it a day. Located on the busy street of Damrak, you won’t miss this shop. Say bye-bye to the mediocre fries served at McDonalds or Burger King. The famous Manneken Pis Vlaamse Frites is larger than their counterparts and come with more sauces to choose from. In order to taste the ‘original’ flavour, I ordered a small version with salt (€2.50). Surprise surprise! A few words with the server and I had mine upgraded to a Medium at no extra cost. This goes to show that a couple of smiles and a short exchange of greetings go a long way. Thanks Mannekin Pis!
A couple of smiles and a few words with the server, got my small fries upgraded to a medium-sized at no extra cost!
Amsterdam Day 1 Verdict
Amsterdam is a mixture of different cultures and their open minded attitude towards the sinful is somewhat admirable. We did not feel threatened at all when walking along the Red Light District. The demanding cyclists were also avoided by observing a couple of safety rules. The smell of hash/marijuana/weed is surprisingly quite tolerable. It seems like the number of shops have also reduced in number since I last visited 10 years ago. Maybe due to the new ruling governing them.
This is definitely a walkable city as long as you are up for it. We timed our schedule to include stopping by a few cafés along the way, to give our weary limbs a rest. Try to get yourself a map of the area and make sure you know a few of the landmarks to orientate yourself. It can be quite confusing as you criss-cross the canals to and fro.
If you are an architectural buff, take note of the various gables along the rooftops. I could only identify a few, such as the point, the step and the cornice due to my limited building knowledge.