Like all of us, there are things I cannot wait to do again in normal circumstances. In the meantime, it’s all staying at home with or without kids and that can be long and boring. Social distancing seems to be working for most people. We are all making an effort to stop the spread of the virus. Sadly, many families will have lost members and our hearts go out to them.
Hopefully, this situation will soon end and lead to more countries loosening up the restrictions. Things will never quite be the same again though. Lots of things like foreign travel and the arts all be in turmoil for many months or years to come. But even without foreign travel, there are a certain number of things I realise I really miss in Amsterdam. So I thought I would list them out. What do you miss ?
I am a museum addict, I always have been and I doubt that will ever change. I love seeing art, history museums, science centres, cultural museums and any others, the quirkier, the better. Amsterdam has an excellent selection of museums and I was often found at a museum before they temporarily closed due to the virus. Also, it is easily possible to visit the bigger ones several times a year. The permanent collections at the Van Gogh, the Rijksmuseum, the Stedelijk and the Hermitage are large and worth seeing several times. Then, there are the regular and excellent temporary exhibitions inside these museums all year long. There is something very refreshing for the mind and the soul to see more art and to learn new things. Some of the museums are I admit, quite expensive, but they do not need to be. If you live here you can get a museum card and that allows you entrance into 400 museums across The Netherlands. Access to see so much culture for under 65 euros a year for adults. Goed koep! Here are a couple of photos from some of my favourite museums.
Beers in Brown Bars
Who doesn’t love a beautiful old brown bar ? There is nothing quite like it. A nice evening with friends in a bar with so much history and character. Amsterdam has a huge selection of really classic brown bars and it is a real pleasure to keep discovering more of them. Sometimes, you can get some classic Dutch bar snacks that can help to soak up the booze. A plate of mature cheese, an order to two of red hot bitterballen or some frikandel. All marriages made in heaven. One of the best things I love about an evening at brown bars is that you invariably meet the locals. People are open and easy to talk to….yes they are, so strike up a conversation. My all time favourite brown bars are the Café de Doktor and the Café Chris. What is yours?
Going to the Cinema
I remember the very first time I ever went to the cinema as a little boy. I was really excited to be in the queue to see Star Wars in 1977. The queue was massive and we did not make it in. It turned quickly from a new hope to no hope. I was inconsolable as we ended up watching the film Bedknobs and Broomsticks instead. But the memory of that excitement is something I still get as I go to the cinema nowadays. The same feeling over 40 years later as I went to see the most recent and final film in the Star Wars saga at the Filmhallen. Now all the cinemas are closed for obvious reasons. Amsterdam has a wonderful selection of really fabulous cinemas.
Yes, there are the big chain cinemas like Pathé which regularly screens all the latest big budget blockbusters films straight from Hollywood and elsewhere. There are also a large selection of independent cinemas, many of which participate in the Cineville pass scheme. One low monthly fee allows you access to all the participating cinemas across the city. These are cinemas with character and history. I love going to De Uitkijk on Prinsengracht, one of the oldest cinemas in the country. Or the LAB111 in Amsterdam West that has the most varied schedule I have ever seen in a cinema. Then there’s The Movies on the Haarlemmerdijk which also has a wonderful bar and restaurant. All these places and so many more. Personally, I am really looking forward to returning to see films on the silver screen.
With all the restaurants now closed, I am really starting to miss a good meal out. I am not talking about anything particularly fancy either. In recent years, the cost of eating out seems to have gone up a lot. I think that of true of the middle and top end restaurants. However, there are still lots of places to get a great meal out without the need to break the bank. This is especially true if you opt for a lunch out rather than a dinner.
There are some really great places to go for a pizza. My favourites are La Perla and Pazzi because the are, to my mind the closest you can get to eating a pizza like you get in Naples. I also particularly love to go to restaurants where I can get a real old fashioned traditional Dutch dinner. My favourites for that are Moeders, The Pantry or the Haesje Claes (the last one being more touristy but still very good). I look forward to all the restaurants opening again and enjoying a lovely meal out with friends.
A coffee with Apple Pie
Another food related thing that I really miss doing with friends is apple pie when out and about it town. I love going for a coffee and an apple pie. When you find a place that does an really good slice of apple pie with that crunchy brown crust, it quickly becomes a go to place. I have two places like that and they are quite well known, so I am not sharing any secrets here. I love to go the the Papeneiland cafe near the Noordemarkt. Also, just around the corner is the Winkel 43 and there too they do a really good slice of apple pie. Not only does it taste really good, it feels like a really Dutch thing to do.
Live music gigs
All public gatherings are rightly suspended until further notice. So many of the Spring festivals have been postponed or cancelled. That also includes my favourite party of the year on King’s Day. Happy to miss all these large gatherings so that we can flatten the curve and get through this disaster as quickly as possible. I know it must be very difficult for all the artists and performers as they are taking a massive financial hit. As well as the big events, I really miss seeing live music as that is always a special and memorable event. I am not a fan of seeing massive converts at places like stadiums. I love the Paradiso in Amsterdam as the choice is so vast. There are also a really great selection of live music events at the Bitterzoet near Central Station. Another venue I really like is the Cinetol in Oost where the agenda is always really eclectic. I look forward to discovering a few places where I have not seen a gig before, like the Maloe Melo and the Q-Factory. What is your favourite venue to see live music in Amsterdam?
Theatre and Comedy nights
Another cultural event that I could honestly see every day is a good play at a theatre or a night out seeing some stand up comedy. When I lived in Paris I would see 4 or 5 plays a week as if was so affordable and the choice was endless. When I came to Amsterdam that more or less immediately stopped. Then, over time, I got to understand where to go and more and more theatre groups started to produce and perform plays in Amsterdam. 2019 was a great year to see theatre performances and 2020 was just about to get going with more, when the virus arrived. For theatre, I love to go to The Badhuistheater in Ooost or The Perdu or any of the other great places where plays are performed across the city. To be better informed about plays coming to town, check out the theatre companies that produce them such as these: Orange Theatre Company, Down Stage Left, the Queen’s English Theatre Company, the In Players . There really is something for everyone and you can also get involved, if you feel so inclined.
Amsterdam’s comedy scene literally exploded in 2019. There was more and more great shows and events. I love going to the great shows at Boom Chicago, The Comedy Café, Toomler and Nutty Anita’s. They all have shows and regular stand up comedy nights in English. Then there are also great comedy nights like The Ironic Curtain, Weird Uncle, Comedy Rave, That Comedy Thing and the English Comedy Show. All great fun too. All closed for the moment, but some have gone online, so check the links. I am really looking forward to the end of this virus, so that we can all go and see more live comedy. We will need a good laugh when this all end.
So there you have it. What do you miss ?
When the virus clears, check out all our listings for events in Amsterdam