This capital city of the Netherlands is just like any other famous capital cities in Europe, busy all year long. Those hustling and bustling of the pedestrians, cyclers, scooters and cars; that iconic and classic sounds of bicycle and tram’s bell and the breeze of the coastal wind just at the corner of the canals makes a visit to Amsterdam at any time of the year seems to be inevitably mesmerizing.
Why visit Amsterdam in autumn? You may ask. Well, because you can see and feel the romantic aura of Amsterdam. The cold wind breeze mix with the smell of cookies shop a long side the canals just makes you want to stop for a while and enjoy Amsterdam over coffee, hot chocolate and off course loads of cookies. While sipping your hot beverage, enjoy the view of orange pumpkin coloured leaves falling down, lovers exchanging romantic kisses on one of the classic bridges while the tourist boats sliding through the bridge underneath it. A perfect postcard view.
Canals in Amsterdam
Most of the time I avoid crowded streets such as the Damrak, Kalverstraat, Rokin or Spuistraat. I prefer to walk through the small streets adjacent to the Herengracht, Keizersgracht and Prinsengracht. Please be aware that these grachten or canals are quite long. Take a look at the map of Amsterdam city centre and you will see that those canals form an U-letter around the city centre.
Don’t let the long distance walk discourage you. If you are tired you can stop whenever you like and have that good cup of coffee or hot chocolate. There are lots of trendy coffee bar or small lunch room around the canals in Amsterdam. For example Screaming Beans in Hartenstraat or Van Stapele koekmakerij which situated near the trendy Spuistraat.
My two days visit this time was for the food. “Oh, really?” you wonder why. Recently food has become a trendy cultural happening in the Netherlands. In the last decade the Netherlands has become a country of international food heaven. From banh mi from Vietnam to crunchy fried chicken waffle from the USA, you can find them all at the many new food scenes in this small country. One of which is the Foodhallen in Amsterdam West.
When you live in the Netherlands you will know that driving in Amsterdam is… well… just crazy! Thinking about it now, I did not know why I drove to the foodhallen while I could just park my car outside of the city at one of the P+R’s (parkeren en reizen à park and travel) available or just left the car at the hotel (when you book a hotel room outside of the city). I guess I was kind of l-a-z-y.
Hostels in Amsterdam
I stayed this time at my aunt’s house in Amstelveen. It is a nice little town outside Amsterdam where they also have many hotels with valuable price. However, if this is your very first time in Amsterdam and you travel on a budget, why not stay in the hostels that are recommended by Hostelgeeks? They are rated five stars and having seen it myself (not staying, just checked it out for a couple of minutes) I would recommend it. Both hotels are situated at the centres of the city. Everything you need is on walking distance.
OK, back to the main topic: the foodhallen. If you ask me, I would rather bring my sleeping bag there and just… well… stay there like, FOREVER! At the exactly two seconds after my arrival at the foodhallen I could not help but just follow the smell of the food. I let my nose lead the way. I could even just close my eyes and let it guide me, seriously!
The menu was diverse: from Banh Mi to burger, from sweet Cannoli to Korean fried chicken. Another uniqueness of this place is that almost every dish cost under the €10. They taste good and easy on the pocket as well. The setting was urban and industrial, which for most people think as a hype, nowadays. The atmosphere was dynamic, international, but on the same time informal, cosy and comforting. It is the place to be where the locals of Amsterdam go after work. This place is packed with after six o’clock. On the weekend it is packed with young trendy adults with or without kids, city dwellers and foodies.
If I were you I basically would start with some sweet treats at the entry of the hall. I walk around the hall and return to the front side and order some delicious burger from the Butcher. I will go sit down near the podium where the local bands and singers perform, so I can be very close with the vibe. Having digested the burger I would walk again and buy some Korean style Fried Chicken. I then would order a few drinks on the bar, chat with some people or just enjoy the music. About 30 minutes later, when I would be able to stand up again, I would order the Banh Mi from Viet View. Then I would just crawled back to my car and try not to fall asleep on the way home.
We basically already know this food hall concept. In Asian countries such as Indonesia or in the United States they call it food court. In Singapore it is Hawker Centre. But in the Netherlands this concept was not popular, well not until the last 10 years. Nowadays you can find it in many big cities in the Netherlands, such as Fenix Food Factory in Rotterdam or Vershal het Veem in Eindhoven.
So worry not, when in the Netherlands you could not only eat those nostalgic dishes every travel book tells you to try, but also the new food scenes and enjoy same old brand new burger, Amsterdam style.