Amsterdam’s Oude Kerk, Dam Square, Begijnhof and an evening stroll around the Red Light District

With my birthday coming up in a few days we decided to celebrate it in the Dutch city of Amsterdam. On our first day we visited Oude Kerk, Dam Square and Begijnhof.

I’d been looking forward to return to this fantastic city after my last visit in 2014. But when the alarm clock woke us at 2am, I still had the worst case of man flu since records began.

Heroically though, I managed to get ready and eventually stumbled onto the mini bus to the airport.

At the airport we made full use of the Aspire Lounge before boarding our flight destined for Amsterdam.

In’t Aepjen

In’t Aepjen

After checking into the hotel and getting the bus into central Amsterdam, our first destination was of course to visit one of the city’s famous brown cafes (pub) – In’t Aepjen.

We sipped on a nice cold pilsner in this 16th century bar, mainly for medicinal purposes for my lingering man fever.

The pub was awesome with wood panelled walls, flickering candles and chandeliers. Legend says that this pub was once frequented by sailors from Asia who traded monkeys, hence the name of the place. Oh and obviously why there are different monkey ornaments, artwork and sculptures on display.

Oude Kerk

Oude Kirk

With the beer ingested we then walked through the eearily quiet Red Light District to Oude Kerk. When I say it was quiet, I mean it was literally deserted, I can only assume that demand for services in the Red Light District is quite low at 1:35pm on a Thursday.

Anyway I digress, Oude Kerk is in fact Amsterdam’s oldest building and it was founded in the 13th century.

It is quite ironic that a place of worship is surrounded by the absolute debauchery of the Red Light District. We will have to investigate more when it’s not so quiet.

Dam Square

Dam Square

We then walked across the Damrak to Dam Square. This is the most central point of Amsterdam and home to the iconic Royal Palace and Nieuwe Kerk. The National Monument dominates the other side of the square. It was constructed in 1956 to memorialise the victims of World War II.

We successfully managed to avoid the people dressed as Darth Vader, Spider-Man and Sponge Bob Square Pants. We also kept well clear of the Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum.

With the amount of people in Dam Square it seems that it is a meeting point for travellers, locals and failing superheros alike. 

Begijnhof

Begijnhof

With it starting to get dark we made our way to Begijnhof. This is one of Amsterdam’s hidden treasures. It is a courtyard full of beautiful old houses and a central green. This area was once home to Catholic women who didn’t want to become Nuns but were still dedicated to undertaking good deeds.

There are also two churches here, the Roman Catholic Begijnhof Kapel and the Engelse Kerk.

With Amsterdam being famous for its canals we nearly forgot we were in the city. Maybe it was the ‘Grade A’ man flu, but I also seem to remember Hayley wanting to sign-up as a Nun.

China Sichuan Restaurant Amsterdam

The poor parents and in-laws were starting to get tired, so we put them on the bus and sent them back to the hotel in disgrace.

Once ridden of the fatigued ones, we set off to get our evening meal. Since Amsterdam is famous for its Chinese food, that’s what we decided on.

The restaurant we chose was China Sichuan Restaurant. We ordered a platter consisting of spring rolls, Peking soup, Peking duck, chicken and cashews, Mandarin beef and fried vegetables. An absolute devine feast I must say, even if the pints of Heineken were actually cans.

An evening stroll around the Red Light District

You cannot go to Amsterdam and not walk around the Red Light District at night.

It was much busier than it was earlier in the day with elderly American gentlemen particularly interested in the offerings of the local trade.

Having been awake for just over 20 hours and absolutely still smothering in the dastardly man flu, we decided to head back to the hotel. We are looking forward to spending more time in Amsterdam tomorrow.

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