Queen's Day in Amsterdam

This journal describes Amsterdam during the last week of April, when the Dutch celebrate the Queen's birthday. The main dam turns into a carnival, the streets are closed off from traffic, and the entire city turns into a big party.


Queen's Day in Amsterdam

Member Rating 0 out of 5 by quirine on January 5, 2005

Amsterdam is a city full of historical monuments, buildings, museums, and neighborhoods; however, this journal mostly focuses on a few of my favorite places and what it's like there during the celebration of the Queen's birthday.

The dam, where you'll find the palace of Queen Beatrix, turns into a traditional Dutch carnival with a ferris wheel, rides, Olieballen ("oil ball", a traditional Dutch version of the beignet"), and Euro music pumping from the speakers.

Every neighborhood has its own celebration, and you should feel free to walk the city during this time. There will be DJs and bands playing every few blocks, and on Museumplein is a hosted concert. Boats are backed up into each other in the canals. You'll hear more music and see people drinking and dancing. We even saw a makeshift boat made out of paddle boats, string, plywood, and a couch floating through the canal.

During the day, people put their "goods" on the street, and the whole city becomes one big garage sale. Walk around early if you want to buy anything good.

You won't believe what you see on this day--and you certainly won't forget it, either!${QuickSuggestions} The "VVV" is kind of like a welcome center and has two locations that I know of: Centraal Station by the canal and the Leidseplein (by the Leidsestraat). Here, you can get free maps, coupons, and information on lodging, touring, etc. You can also purchase a card for the tram or day trips outside of Amsterdam. I highly recommend finding a VVV to make your trip cheaper and more enjoyable.${BestWay} If you can get a bike or rent one, this is the best form of transportation during this time. Taxis are a great way to get around; just know the prices are a bit steep. Ask approximately how much it will cost to get wherever you need to go.

Trams are also a great way to get around the city if you're traveling long distances. Otherwise, it might just be best to walk. The city center is quite small, and you should be able to get around quite easily.

If you're only there for a day, you might want to go to the Leidseplain and buy a day ticket for the canal taxi. It's a great way to see the city by canal boat but also offers you the convenience of hopping out at different locations. There are three different routes the boats take, and they are color-coded. You'll never see as much on foot or on the bike.


Febo

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by quirine on October 18, 2005

In a drunken stupor, you too will be mesmerized by the big yellow sign that claims Febo is "de lekkerste", or "the tastiest". A vending machine wall is filled with various deep-fried delights that cost only 1.50 euros.

If you prefer something fresher, go to the counter and order from a human. They'll not only make it to order, but they'll throw your tasty kroket into a white bun. Fries here also come with a variety of sauces, including Fritesaus (mayo), curry ketchup, peanut sauce (Indonesian-style), and many others you may want to try out. I am a big fan of the Fritesaus, which is the original topping.

Whatever you do, don't order ketchup--you're eating fries in a foreign country, so at least put something funky and strange on top to make the "dish" more... foreign!

I will admit that there are fancier krokets (a deep-fried, meat-and-gravy piece of heaven) in better restaurants. Look for brands like kwekkeboom or van Dobbel for the best-tasting krokets. They usually come with with a slice of white bread or in a roll with mustard, or with fries on the side. Whether at Febo or any traditional Dutch restaurant, you can't leave the county without having eaten one. Just please don't make it the McKroket!

Febo
Damrak 6
Amsterdam, Netherlands
(020) 638-5138

Simpel

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by quirine on September 4, 2006

Simpel is a modern restaurant in a very hip part of Amsterdam called de Pijp. The decor runs slightly more expensive-looking than Ikea with clean lines and materials ranging from plastic, wood and metals. The result is a surprisingly cozy restaurant.

The dishes combine dutch simplicity with a touch of nouveau such as ham filled with potato and quail egg. Old stand-bys are available for the comfort-food fanatic looking for a top quality beef carpaccio with parmesan or steak with pepper sauce and french fries. For those more adventurous, try the catfish filet or the Guinea foul fillet with potato pie and balsamic sauce. Being in Holland for such a short time, I opted for more dutch-style food including the Potato mustard soup and the steak with fries. It was cooked to perfection at a reasonable price for such a nice restaurant (17 euros for the steak).

We kept things "simpel" with the duo of white and dark chocolate mousse although if you're looking for a nouveau dessert for after your nouveau dinner, you might want to try the ice cream with strawberries and chili pepper jam or the tarragon parfait with coffee syrup. Dutch coffee is much better than standard american coffee. So stay and have a cup with a dessert. Portions are also smaller here so you can easily have the 3 courses and go out afterwards. I recommend getting the caffeine so you can party at the nearby bars until the wee hours of the night. The bonus is that the bars in this area are not touristy, so you'll get a real taste of the amsterdam social scene.

Simpel
Ferdinand Bolstraat 11
Amsterdam, Netherlands
+31 (20) 672-0672

Tujuh Maret

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by quirine on September 10, 2006

Tujuh Maret has got to be one of the best Indonesian restaurants I've ever been to in Amsterdam. Word on the street is that the best in Holland are actually in The Hague due to a high population of Indonesians. If you don't make it there, and you should try to, because it's a great city not far from the sea, you should hit Tujuh Maret in Amsterdam.

Please stay away from places in the Leidseplein area or Rembrandtsplein. You should walk up the Utrechtsestraat (which incidentally runs into the Rembrantsplein) for some great Indonesian. Utrechtsestraat takes you into a nice residential area with bodegas, flower markets (on every canal), and tons of little boutiques. Nestled in between is Tujuh Maret. The atmosphere is decent but definitely not luxurious, since it mostly is a takeout place for locals. Still, the restaurant is cozy and the wait staff is super-friendly.

If you're new to this cuisine, ordering rijstaffel (or "rice table") is a good way to taste many dishes at once. It consists of tiny portions of 10 to 20 dishes, from mild to hot. If you'd rather try one dish and you're new to Indonesian, a good choice is sate with spicy peanut sauce. It's a very safe dish, but incredibly tasty. You can get this in chicken or in pork. For those more adventurous, try the chicken roedjak, a spicy red pepper-and-coconut sauce, or beef rendang, a spicy sauce with stewed beef. Make sure to eat a lot of Krupuk (delicious shrimp chips) and a nice beer to complement the exotic flavors. Indonesian cooking is actually not too complicated, and if you choose a base meat that you're comfortable with, the sauces will not scare you off. I've been much more afraid of Chinese and Malaysian cooking!

I highly recommend trying this while in Holland, since you can't just survive off of Dutch pancakes and cheese sandwiches the entire time!

Tujuh Maret
Utrechtsestraat 65-73
Amsterdam, Netherlands
020/427 9865

The Night Before

Member Rating 0 out of 5 by quirine on January 6, 2005

On the eve of Queen's Day, everyone goes out to drink. I recommend going to a neighborhood called the "Jordaan". It's just west of the "Centrum" , or the center of Amsterdam.

The Jordaan was an area created for the poor about 400 years ago. Since then, it has become a really cute area that is inhabited by students and young professionals. The bars here are typically Dutch, with their wooden, small interiors and sometimes a few seats outside for a view of the canals.

You'll find lots of cute little flea markets and various other markets during the day. On Saturday, head over to the Lindegracht for a market offering food, clothing, and flowers. On Mondays, go to the Westerstraat for interesting fabrics and clothing. The Noordermarkt is the best of them all. Go early on Monday mornings to find amazing antiques, knick-knacks, Indian fabrics and pillows, vintage clothes, etc.

The eve of Queen's Day, this area along the Prinsengracht also becomes a major hot spot. The bars are packed with people, and the portable potties are lined up on the street. At its peak, you'll hardly be able to move. You'll see people walk out of the bar with a tray of six plastic cups.

Walk south along the Prinsengracht and you'll find some late-night "cafeterias" open. We were lucky enough to find sandwiches with sate and peanut sauce, a great fix when drinking. If not, you can always order some fries or a "kroket" (a croquette filled with beef and gravy--they're amazing!).

If you like partying in groups, this will be loads of fun for you!!
Jordaan Neighborhood/Markets
Jordaan
Amsterdam, Netherlands

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