I had never been to Amsterdam before. In my mind, the city was associated with coffee shops and the red light district. Not really a place of interest. Now that I have been, I should apologise. The 5 days I spent there were absolutely wonderful.
Amsterdam is a remarkable city
I’m not writing a paper for tourist guide. However, walks along 17th-century canals are just awesome. Wherever you look, on foot or by boat, everything is great. Amsterdam is also an extraordinary artistic place with astonishing museums like the Rembrandt’s museum, the Rijks museum that rekindled my interest in Dutch paintings, the canal-house-turned museum Willet-Holthuysen recreating high society life in 18th century. I preferred this one to the museum Van Loon, another canal-house but a bit less impressive. Let’s not forget the Het Scheepvaart museum. For anyone who loves ships it’s worth a visit.
I was less convinced by the Van Gogh museum. Yes, it is unmissable, yes the collection is remarkable but frankly the layout is dreadful, looking more like an immense hangar than a museum. One feels lost and bewildered. Finally, if you have time, a little excursion to Haarlem will be a delight and especially a little visit to the Frans Hals museum. So yes, Amsterdam is a remarkable city.
But Amsterdam is not so vegan-friendly
I can’t stand explaining that I’m a vegan in restaurants that don’t label diet options. It’s a fact that in Holland most people speak English but all menus are written in Dutch with no indication of the ingredients. It is just impossible to check by yourself if some dishes suggested in the menu could be suitable for a vegan. Therefore, when I’m not sure to find somewhere suitable to eat I prefer to book an apartment hotel rather than a classic hotel. This makes my stay easier. It was particularly wise and relevant for Amsterdam.
However, you can manage just fine to keep a vegan lifestyle
For this getaway to Amsterdam with my husband, we chose Luxury suites, a new apartment hotel located in the heart of Amsterdam. The 70 m2- suite offers a splendid view onto the “Oudeschans”, one of Amsterdam’s impressive and picturesque canals. The decoration doesn’t feature leather. Not a vegan choice for sure but much appreciated anyway. The suite is very close to an Albert Heijn supermarket where Tofu and alternative diary products are available. Just a little point, it’s not possible to pay with a classic visa card in this store. Cash or Maestro, that’s it. In the suite we had kitchen facilities including a fridge, a microwave and 2 hotplates. Somewhat spartan but good enough for cooking our basic vegan dishes.
We had the good fortune to find a small vegan grocery and teahouse: Vegabond. A cute location managed by a friendly team of girls. Raw cakes and vegan wraps were delicious. We found some amazing food to take home as well. The second place I can recommend was the cafeteria La place where everyone can find a little something to eat. Tomato soup, salads, grilled vegetables and fruits. Fresh and good food prepared for you on the spot. It’s just a little bit noisy and overcrowded during peak hours. The third place is the Japanese restaurant Sumo. There are two or three locations in Amsterdam and one in Haarlem as well. Sumo is the only restaurant with a menu presenting vegetarian options. Generally speaking, Asian restaurants represent a good option for a vegan. It seems there are two or three vegan restaurants in Amsterdam but unfortunately not located in downtown so we didn’t try them.
It was not possible to see everything in 5 days. I feel a certain desire to come back soon.