Recently, the Story Terrace U.K. team flew to Amsterdam to visit our Dutch counterparts and boy are our arms tired! In between many important meetings, PowerPoint presentations and frenzied tram rides, we took some time to appreciate the finer things that this historic city had to offer.
- Hanging out with the Story Terrace NL team – We love seeing the Dutch team on Skype during our weekly meetings and they proved to be great hosts as well! The gals were able to quit plugging their government-appointed dikes long enough to give us an amazing tour around this colourful, historic city and the country hadn’t even fully flooded before we left. What luck!
- Leaning Row House Hooks – Due to their narrow hallways and staircases, most row houses have a large arm and hook which sticks out from the top of the building that the Dutch use to hoist oversized objects up to the top floor and in through their large bay windows. These can also be conveniently used to carry your flatmate up to his bedroom after he’s spent too much time at the nearby coffeehouse.
- Houseboats – Though they have become an iconic part of the residential landscape, these charming little floating abodes were only adopted within the past 100 years! In a city full of canals, the opportunity to stay in one of the bed & breakfasts or even renting for a longer stay is one to be sure not to pass up. Just make sure you are securely anchored before you go to sleep because, trust us, you do not want to wake up in Rotterdam!
- Gouda – First of all, it is pronounced ‘HOW-da’, not ‘GOO-da’ and is best when paired with a hoppy, pale beer. This pungent, semi-hard cheese is much stronger and harder in its homeland than it is in other countries which not only surprised us but also the airport security guard who found them taped to my torso. I’m still not sure whether I had to declare it at customs.
- Gevulde Koeken – Literally, it means ‘filled cookie’ which may, literally, be the least creative name for one of the nation’s most popular treats. The simple name hardly does justice to this sweet, crumbly, almond-filled cookie, but, considering Dutch is a very straight-forward language that calls gloves ‘hand socks’, we gave them a pass for creating this delicious confection in the first place.
- Bikes – You may be seeing bikes everywhere now that cycling has become this generation’s aerobic jogging, but you’ve never seen quite as many as you will in Amsterdam. With over 1,000,000 bicycles either in motion or locked-up, you have to be constantly alert to the possibility of one flying towards you from either direction. Look out! These cyclists are really moving and they won’t be the first one to get out of the way. The Story Terrace bike is another story, though, and has never hit another person since its adoption.
- Brown Cafés – From the name alone, brown cafés don’t sound like a must-see stop on a visit to Amsterdam but these cosy wooden pubs might be the closest a tourist can get to strolling into a Dutch living room without being chased out by the person living there. The walls are decorated with kitschy artwork and mementos from the bygone era they were originially built in hundreds of years ago and the grizzled owners step out every ten minutes for a hand-rolled cigarette (though the walls are often stained from nicotine, smoking has since been banned indoors).
- Oudemanhuispoort Book Market – The Old Man’s Port Gate is not your average used book market. The arched alleyway that hosts this hidden gem is a display of red-brick architecture that harkens back to the olden days and the books found within range from famous philosophical and critical art theory texts and to classic novels. Finally, a used book market that isn’t glutted with cast-off copies of the Shades of Grey series.
- Tiny Vehicles – Look at this tiny little vehicle! At just under two meters high, this maneuverable, three-wheeled mini-truck doesn’t look like much but the sight of them brings joy to tourists from all over the world (except for Japan and India where they are also quite common). They can be found all over Amsterdam carrying everything from prepackaged lunches to, I assume, miniature construction supplies and dry goods.
- Van Gogh Doppelganger – Despite his total lack of both art experience and ability to differentiate between irises and tulips, our US editorial intern Jake was turning heads in Amsterdam due to his uncanny resemblance to famous Dutch artist, Vincent Van Gogh (pictured below). Well, not really, but the team felt that there were at least enough similarities to warrant the constant badgering that led to this picture (left ear conveniently not pictured below).