So, here is the report of our trip to Amsterdam! Thank you so much for all your recommendations, they were awesome and really helped us out! Our main reason for going was to see a couple of gigs (LCD Soundsystem and Mayer Hawthorne: 8/10 and 6/10, respectively). Seeing the city was just an added bonus. I did enjoy soaking up the vibe of the place but it didn't have the immediate impact of say, Rome or Berlin. It was very pretty and lovely to cycle along the canals in the sunshine and drink beer. (I drank a lot of Heineken, I will admit. Well, when in Amsterdam...) Here are some photos. To start off with: the standard canal shot. It was nice to find a café at a quiet corner next to a bridge like this and people watch.
As I love water what captured me was how lucky people were to live alongside the canals. This was a houseboat with adirondack chairs on the roof for settling in to canal gaze.
Imagine living in one of these houses overlooking in the canal and settling in by one of the huge windows. All the buildings have furniture hooks on the eaves to swing in furniture, because the staircases are so high and narrow.
More chairs overlooking the canal.
OK, Dutch food wasn't the best. Our nicest meal was Indonesian; these Dutch pancakes looked promising but they were seasoning-free and greasy.
This classic Dutch apple cake with whipped cream was OK but I felt sick after eating it.
Plenty of beer made up for it, though. We drank these beers at Café de Doffer. You know that place when you're holiday that you accidentally find yourself in about three times? This was our place. It was a really nice bar. With extremely basic food. (I had a toastie the like of which I haven't had since I had a Breville as a student.)
The Jordaan district was our favourite hood. It was probably the most characterful, artistic hood we found.
I could just imagine a mouse in clogs standing on the stairs in this house. (I had that song stuck in my head the whole fricking trip.)
I have to shout out our hotel, CitizenM. It's a concept hotel where the rooms are small but very well-designed with everything you need (and for free - free wifi and films, etc.), with the lobby acting as a living area with bookshelves stuffed with interesting books, TVs, Macs with huge screens and gorgeous modern furniture dotted all over the place, such as this Vitra Marshmellow sofa.
And stumbling into the lobby one evening I realised I was staring at an original Warhol screenprint of Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands.
Plus there was a tram stop directly outside the hotel which had you in the Grachtengordel (the medieval canal district) within ten minutes. Only a 45 minute flight from London, Amsterdam was definitely a great place to just get away for a few days.