Whenever I want that amazing buzz you have when you’re travelling I just pop over to Amsterdam. I think Dutch is the least spoken language in the capital of the Netherlands. Expats, tourists and day trippers fill the streets. I have to say I do have a bit of an ambivalent feeling towards Amsterdam. If I meet people on the road and I tell them I’m from the Netherlands they often say: ‘I’ve been there. I’ve been to Amsterdam.’ But Amsterdam is so not the rest of the Netherlands. However it is a special place with a lot of things to see and do. I’m not going to give you the mainstream highlights. You can work them out for yourself. But here are five things to do in Amsterdam, slightly of the beaten track.
Stroll around in the Vondelpark
The Vondelpark is the place where you still will find some locals; going for their run or getting drunk on a bench next to one of the ponds. The park is just behind the city center, a stone’s throw away from the Rijksmuseum. There are different ponds and some nice fields to sit by and on. If you like to go for a run or skate around there is a track of 3.3 kilometers you can take one, two or more times. Just beware of all the tourists who cycle around, but don’t precisely know how a bicycle works.
Get some RAW Food
Amsterdam is full of restaurants selling crappy food for way to much money, snackbars and of course the McDonalds restaurants which sell food that comes closer to poison than to something eatable. But it has some amazing restaurants, salads bars, soup and juice shops as well. I like Zest for Life, which sells some yummy RAW food and incredible juices. You’ll find it a block away from the Concert Hall, just behind the Rijksmuseum and Van Gogh museum.
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Dance bare feet
If you’re the first Saturday of the month in Amsterdam, you’re lucky. Every first Saturday there is Chocolate Club in Club Lite: dancing on your bear feet, having amazing raw food snacks, all kinds of chocolate milk, often chocolate ceremonies and no alcohol or drugs around. So turn inwards, let your feet go and let the music and chocolate take you away.
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Smoke a joint
This is probably the most mainstream one off all. I always get questioned about the Dutch drugs policy. It’s pretty strict actually, but you can smoke a joint. The funny thing is: I have more friends outside the Netherlands who smoke marijuana than in the Netherlands. Because it’s not prohibited it doesn’t seem interesting for a lot of Dutchies. I hope the French government will finally understand that one day and keep their nose out of our business.
If you’re in Amsterdam you’ll find coffee shops on every corner of the street. In the rest of the Netherlands it’s going to by a lot harder to get a joint, but in Amsterdam it’s a big tourist thing. If you really can’t find any, just put your nose in the air, sniff around and ask the person with the sweet smell around him/her where he/she got it.
Take a yoga class
Want to do some more healthy stuff than just walking around the city from monument to monument and museum to museum? Amsterdam is the place to be for yoga in the Netherlands. You’ll find schools all around, teaching different styles, hosting some great teachers. My favorite one is Rasalila just West of the City center, run by the sisters Floortje en Willemijn Laan. They have an enormous variety of workshops. If I’m in the Netherlands I’m teaching there sometimes as well, together withe the flying acro yogi Esther Hertog. If you go, try to take one of Floortje’s classes and give her a big hug of me.
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