I’m back from Amsterdam! And it turns out I went at one of the best times of the year.
Amsterdam in the winter is beautiful, albeit cold. The patron saint of the city is St. Nicholas (in case you didn’t know, that’s the man behind the story of Santa Claus.) And they definitely go all out for the Christmas season. Many of the shops and cafés are decorated beautifully with fairy lights, some with a more Seasonal theme than others.
I managed to make it there in time for the lights festival. The city and canals are temporarily illuminated by many light displays, many of which are light installations designed by artists. There’s even a canal boat tour specifically for viewing the lights, where you can plug in some headphones and hear the stories behind the artwork as you pass by them. (In my photos above I included one light display, Souvenir by Eric Kessels)
The main issue I had in Amsterdam was the food, as we had no kitchen in our hotel room and most of the restaurants are steakhouses or serve burgers/pizza/pasta, and although there are sushi /Japanese grills they are expensive. The food was very tasty everywhere we went but we did struggle for variety and fruit/veg portions. I would suggest if you are planning a trip to Amsterdam, bring some dried fruit…
Another thing I found out was they don’t seem to really drink black coffee out there aside from espresso shots, and if you have issues with milk or cheese you will have a bit of a hard time. (Starbucks will be your saviour if you are a milk-avoiding coffee addict like me, it feels somewhat unauthentic on holiday, but necessary.)
Back to the pros, The museums are fantastic, if a bit pricey. As a Londoner I’m used to free museums and galleries, and it definitely made me appreciate my hometown more in that aspect. Rijksmuseum, Bodyworlds, The Secret Church of Our Lord in the Attic, and the Van Gogh museum are all worth visiting, and you can usually find discount vouchers at your hotel or one of many attraction booking shops around the city, you can also do money saving deals when you buy tickets for more than one attraction at a time.
Price wise it’s very similar to London, especially since the Pound and Euro evened out.
If I were to go again I’d like to visit in summer and do some cycling, It’s generally cheaper (and more comfortable in cold winters) to get the tram around the city, but there are some fantastic cycle routes around Old Holland for those who enjoy a more active approach, and I’d love to check those out.
On to the photography: I wanted to capture my own personal experience of the atmosphere surrounding Amsterdam. There are definitely multiple sides to the city, and I would have needed to plan a much longer stay to fully appreciate every aspect of the city and what it had to offer artistically. Because of this, I focused on the aspects I did have time to enjoy. The city is architecturally one of the prettiest places I’ve visited. The canal houses and boats are for the most part decorated intricately, and if you’re nosy like me and enjoy looking through windows in the evening you can see that design, art and creativity are at the core values of many residents. Amsterdam is crawling with live music, book markets, galleries, the world famous flower market packed with nature, and plenty of street art; providing a rich culture and liveliness to an already active city of cyclists and pedestrians. The city also has a cosiness to it, with cafes and bars on every corner, usually full by lunch time (it’s common to see people out having a beer with lunch even on weekdays) and despite this, it remains a fairly calm and serene atmosphere up until later in the evenings. I’ve drawn out these themes further in my images through light and warm filters, using colour and composition to reflect the busily creative and active yet peaceful mood of Amsterdam. For my subjects I chose objects and areas that were interesting and relevant to the prevailing themes and culture of the city (relating to art, architecture, nature, history, transport and design.)