So you want to do Amsterdam like the locals do it. Good for you. Why fall into the tourist trap when you can crank things up a notch relatively easily and have a way more authentic experience?! Here’s a few of my favourite Saturday hangouts.
-One of the best Amsterdam streets to relax and enjoy a spot of retail therapy is the Haarlemmerdijk. It is a foodie’s mecca, has quirky art shops, photography outlets, vinyl record stores, bookshops, health food stores, juice bars, all appropriately interspersed with the necessary fashion boutiques. Towards the very end, it houses The Movies, Amsterdam’s oldest cinema, and also its best. When you search online for photos of this street, you will see beforehand that the shops are housed in wonderful old buildings. They might not lean that much, but this street really is among the most photogenic in Amsterdam. Definitely taste the freshly roasted coffee at 2 For Joy!
-Not far off the Haarlemmerdijk, in Zeedijk, is Skek a restaurant where uncomplicated, big meals are served and which is very popular with locals. Don’t expect the finesse of three lettuce leaves with garnishings. Skek attracts an eclectic bunch of customers and does not seem to be geared up for tourists in the slightest, although there is a piano. When you are in need of a square meal and miss you mum’s cooking, this is the place to visit.
-For those who really want to meet and dine with the locals, make your way to MKZ on a Tuesday, Thursday or Friday. MKZ is a neighbourhood house where you can eat a vegan meal. In case you feel like chipping in with the cooking, give them a shout beforehand and they might let you in the kitchen. A lovely three course meal is dished out for you for just a fiver. And on top of that you will meet friendly people and make friends. This is a very popular ‘restaurant’, so you are advised to call the cooks in advance and make a reservation. Find the details on MKZ’s Facebook page here.
-Also very popular with locals is OT301. Located on Overtoom 301, this is a cultural center with off-the-beaten-track performances and exhibitions of all kinds. You will hear the latest underground music and OT301 also houses an independent movie theatre whilst it frequently stages experimental plays. On a typical day, expect to find anything in Amsterdam’s subculture that is politically radical, experimental and non-commercial. With a great in-house kitchen which rustles up yummy vegan, organic meals against bargain prices.
–Episode is a shop that you could hold responsible for the way your typical Amsterdammer dresses – I myself can’t get enough of this place. It is a second hand shop which you don’t go to because it’s cheap (it isn’t), but because you find spectacular clothes. When you need something really special, you should definitely give Episode a try. It is located in De Negen Straatjes, near the canal belt. If you are not successful in this shop, do not despair and just head for the Jordaan, where there are many vintage clothing stores, although Episode beats them all in my opinion.
-Lastly, there’s a blues cafe called Maloe Melo on the Lijnbaansgracht which is relatively undiscovered by crowds and tourists alike. The place does not look top notch and the look and feel of most performers is worn and somewhat weary. There’s live blues music every night and bands come from all over the world. Drinks are cheap. This place with its rough edges and 80s feel is utterly charming. It is here that there that you can unexpectedly have that ‘wow’ moment that you will remember your 2014 trip to Amsterdam by. The establishment has a website, so you might check out who’s playing.