Whilst on my solo trip to Amsterdam I did something I haven’t done in about 10 years… stayed in a dorm room in a hostel! The hostel was Clink Noord which is situated just across the River Ij from Centraal Station next to the A’Dam tower. The rooms were small but clean with plenty of power/ USB points and we had a shower and ensuite toilet in our 4 person room. There were plenty of activities provided in the bar downstairs for the evenings and every morning there was a free walking tour that set off from reception at 10:25. There was also the option to pay a little extra for a buffet breakfast every morning but I was keen to try out some food places around the city so didn’t take advantage of that. Clink Noord is certainly not high end, but for a budget traveller is a great place to stay.
My morning started by taking the free pedestrian/ bike ferry across the Ij towards the centre of the city. This ferry runs every 3 minutes so is incredibly convenient and means that staying over the river really isn’t too much of a bother. After a quick search on the internet I decided to find a place called Omelegg which calls itself an “Omeletterie” located on Nieuwebrugsteeg. This cosy little place is an egg lovers paradise and I had an amazing breakfast this is definitely worth searching out for great food.
My route then took me south past Nieuwmarkt where there were some street vendors selling smoothies, then along beside Zuidekerk until I reached the Botanical Gardens. I paid for entrance and spent a couple of hours wandering around the plants. There are a couple of large, humid greenhouses full of huge tropical plants. There was also a palm house, a butterfly house and an outdoor park area. The outdoor area was just beginning to show signs of waking up after winter and in the warm February sun sitting on a bench and watching the world go by was an absolute delight.Following this I continued on my route out past the zoo to Oosterpark which has a central lake and even though it was a Monday there were plenty of people wandering round, taking their dogs for walks and cycling along the pathways. Not far from here was the Dappermarkt which I had read was one of the best markets to visit in Amsterdam however when I reached there I found it to be a long road full of stalls selling things you would find at your local market albeit with more than the usual number of cheese vendors. I didn’t linger here long because this was the first place I had been that didn’t particularly spark my interest and instead tramped back towards the city centre past De Gooyer, the only windmill in the city itself and the Nemo science museum that juts out over the water covering the car tunnel entrance where you can drive across to the north bank of the Ij. I stopped for a quick snack in a place called the sweet bakery (clearly a healthy choice) whilst deciding what to do next with day.
I settled upon the plan of getting the free 15ish minute ferry (picked up just next to the one back towards my hostel) across to the NDSM area. This was the old ship building part of the city that after the trade died out became a squat but has been transformed to a hipster hangout. There are a number of trendy cafes and food joints surrounded by a backdrop of derelict structures covered in street art and graffiti. There is even an old crane that has been converted into a luxury hotel complete with a rooftop jacuzzi although a quick google of the prices put off any ideas of actually being able to afford to stay there. As I was there after many people had finished work for the day there was a chilled out buzz to the place with everyone enjoying the unseasonably warm, sunny weather. Just back from the waterfront was a large warehouse building full of shipping containers that are now creative spaces for local artists to work on their installations.
After this I decided to get the 2 ferries back towards my hostel but instead of heading straight inside I took the opportunity to sit outside on the waterfront with a few others who had obviously had the same idea to watch the sunset over the rooftops of central across the River Ij. This was a stunning end to a long but chilled day wandering the streets of Amsterdam, letting myself be distracted by alleyways and veering off course because I had no fixed itinerary and this is the perfect way to explore the city because there are so many exciting things around every corner there.
What are your favourite things to do in the Southern side of Amsterdam? Can you recommend any hipster areas like NDSM in cities that you have been to before?