Monday, June 29, 2009
Amsterdam for romantics
Dudes are more romantic than us lady-folk.
The greatest operas have been written by men, and the troubadours, harbingers of modern romance, were undoubtedly male.
Derek, a smitten man, recently asked me asking for tips on romantic Amsterdam for an upcoming trip with his girl. He had seen my piece from last year, "10 Things to Do in Amsterdam Without Smoking Pot," and wanted some insider info from a real former inwoner (resident).
Interesting to note that the article received over 1,000 Diggs and continues to receive comments. Many were positive, but even more folks said great, but you can do these things high.
I totally agree. You can do all those things I mentioned high as a kite.
But the point is this: for us inwoners (former and current) and for Dutch folks, the coffeeshops are incredibly passé. They're not gezellig (cozy), lacking in class and taste and they don't reflect the romantic spirit of the city. So hit the coffeeshops if you must, but just realize that you'll be typical touristy for doing so. That's just my two cents.
Yes, it's true, Amsterdam is an incredibly romantic city. Probably the most romantic city in the world, but then again, I am biased. I came of age in Amsterdam. Fell in love. Rode my bicycle happily through the rain. Shared conversations with lifelong friends in a cozy cafe over coffee while watching the low sky descend upon us. Dutch brown cafes are a hell of a lot more romantic than coffeeshops, I must say.*
So for someone seeking romance in Amsterdam, I hope these tips inspire. They are from the memory vault.
1. Magere Brug
Lovers canoodle at this famous bridge that hails back to 1871. Surrounding area is perfect for a romantic stroll.
2. Island of Texel
In addition to little adorbable Dutch villages there's beautiful beaches where swimming in your birthday suit is totally cool. Need I say more?
A less exciting beach than Texel, but still worthy of a swim and a walk around afterwards to explore surrounding village and eat herring and fried cod from fish vendors. Close vicinity to Amsterdam makes for solid day trip material.
4. Vondel Park and Film Museum
Park is good for lounging on the grass with a picnic. But Film Museum is one of city's artsy treasures. Expect Wim Wenders, Bertolucci and other European cinema kings.
5. The Balie and Movie Theaters
The Balie for coffee or beers with bitterballen (and films), Cinecenter for arthouse Euro flicks and lounge slick atmosphere, and Kriterion for documentaries and good taste in film overall, a nostalgic student haunt of yore.
6. Vegetarian restaurant Golden Temple
A place locals frequent for Indian thali and zen-like healthy consciousness.
7. Café Het Smalle and brown cafes in the Jordaan
Medieval stained glass windows and apple pie to remember.
8. Cafe Zeezicht (Hoofdweg 456)
Coffee and cake make for lovely afternoon companions. Terrace in summer makes for day-long people watching.
9. Saunas and Foto Museum
Full Monty in the sauna is the only way to go in Amsterdam. Keep your suit on and expect a tongue thrashing from the proprietors. Foto Museum I've never experienced, but seems to encapsulate the unabashed love of the arts in sin city. Going to the museum after the sauna, or vice versa, just sounds like the Amsterdam I know.
10. Kalvertoren & Metz & Co.
Top floor cafe of Kalvertoren mall provides escape from throngs of people in the busy shopping street of Kalverstraat, not to mention pretty city view. Also, Metz & Co., corner of Keizersgracht and Prinsengracht, boasts lovely cafe on top floor with vision of rooftops and canals.
*If you want the low down on the city's best coffeeshops, check out Matt Kepnes's great article. He mentioned Rokerij first, which I'm totally down with. It's a funky little place that besides the green goods, sells yummy fruit juices like pineapple and banana. And you can chill out on throw pillows on the floor in laid-back reggae atmosphere where Bob Marley would feel very much at home.