When you walk around your own hometown, it is hard to see why people find it special. Why would tourists come here from all over the world?
I live in Amsterdam. Home of canals, the Heineken Brewery, weed (which is the reason the whole world knows exactly where Amsterdam is) and Queensday (now Kingsday). Last week, I took a friend of mine, who is from Belgium, on a tour through Amsterdam. Of course we could have gone to the Rijksmuseum but that is one of the things every tourist does when they visit Amsterdam.
So what do you do to entertain yourself and your guest? You become a tourist in your own town. What is typically Amsterdam, without going to all the cheesy overpriced tourist-friendly area’s? Well, for starters: you skip the Red Light District. Yes, I know it’s famous. But we are truly not the only city in the world with a district filled with prostitutes! But if you want to talk to real ‘Dutchies’, go to the Albert Cuyp market. It is located in the old part of the city, pretty close to the citycenter and it has a market six days a weeks. Herbs, waffles, chocolate, vegetables, fish, cooking equipment, clothes. You name it, they sell it!
Are you into organic foods and you have an appartment in Amsterdam? Visit the tiny Rondeel in Amsterdam-Zuid. It is rather well hidden but here, over a hundred chickens are living a happy life and their eggs are for sale! And after buying that, why don’t you just walk through the Churchilllaan to the city center? You’ll see all the old canals, walk through the heart of Amsterdam and see some historical sites where all the people from Amsterdam try to run you over with their bikes (I can’t help it, it is our national sport…). Of course you could have a bite at the NRC Restaurant, right under the editorial office of one of our biggest newspapers. But even better, you could just walk around the canals and invite yourself into one of our smaller ‘brown pubs’. They usually don’t have a large menu, but what they serve is simple and good food. And you’ll be surrounded by locals. As on Amstelveld in Amsterdam. They serve great hamburgers at Nel.
I took my friend on a bikeride around town. It was funny to see my city through her eyes. As if I was seeing the canals and bridges for the first time (we have so many!). Picking her up from Central Station was an adventure on its own! That could also be because I couldn’t find a parking spot… Do NOT go to the city centre by car!! It is suicide!! We couldn’t see everything I wanted to show her, but now we have something left for next time. Like our China Town (which is the place to eat Thai food), or for a walk through the Vondelpark to just watch every runner in Amsterdam cross it. Or maybe cross the IJ and go into Amsterdam Noord. Which is still an almost forgotten part of town but it is starting to bloom.
As you can see, being a tourist in your own town gives you a certain few of what or what not to do and see. But if you’re not walking around with a tourist, you wouldn’t even think about these things! I almost never go to the Albert Cuyp, but I had so much fun visiting it with my friend. I also never stop on bridges to look at the few and take a picture of it! If she returns same from Japan, we should definitely see more! If you want to know more about that: you can follow her adventures in Fukuoka here.