An Alternative City Guide to Amsterdam

The wonderful city of Amsterdam is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world and this is for very good reason. It seems that everybody has been and has their favourite places to go, but there are a few fantastic alternative places that tourists or newbies to the city are not so familiar with. These hidden gems show the real heart and soul of the city and are, typically, much quieter than the busier areas.

Whether you’re a tourist or an adopted local, there are plenty of “best-kept secrets” dotted around the city for you to uncover.


Food is a key part of any vacation and Amsterdam has many great eateries. Here are a few of the best spots in town.

Mazzo – Head here for the best authentic Italian food in Amsterdam. It has a relaxed and cool vibe inside with a stylish interior, but it is also affordable too. In addition to the food, this is also a great space for drinking in the evening.

The Butcher – You can’t beat a good burger and the burgers at The Butcher are the best in the city. It may not look like the best, but this place stays open late and has a high-end speakeasy cocktail bar at the back – but shh, don’t tell everyone!

Rotisserie – This Brooklynese bar serves up tantalising chicken dishes and delicious burgers in a friendly and welcoming setting. They also have take-away if you want to enjoy your meal out in the streets or settle in for a cosy night at your hotel.

Food Hallen – A converted tram shed with dozens of cool food stalls and bars – Food Hallen is one of the newer and trendier places in the city and is extremely popular with the locals.

The Sea Food Bar – Craving seafood? The Sea Food Bar is the best place for fish and there are 2 restaurants in Amsterdam (you may want to book in advance, or have a drink at the bar whilst you wait).

Omelegg – Head here for breakfast. They only serve omelettes, but they are the tastiest omelettes you have ever eaten! Well worth the wait.


Amsterdam is famous for its brilliant nightlife and there are many excellent venues no matter what type of mood you are in. Generally speaking, the Leidseplein and Rembrandtplein areas are the most fun and have a handful of vibrant and fun pubs, bars and clubs. De Kroon in Rembrandtplein is a local favourite and free to get in, whilst Jimmy Woo is a swanky place if you are out for a fancy evening.


Beer lovers will adore Troost, which serves amazing burgers along with its very own craft beer. There are two places, both in the city centre.


Part of Amsterdam’s charm comes from simply wandering the streets and popping into the local stores and cafes. The best neighbourhoods to do this are the very picturesque Jordaan, and the trendy De Pijp neighbourhood where there are plenty of vibrant bars, cafes and restaurants – this is authentic Amsterdam. Gerard Doustraat is a street worth visiting with a number of cute shops and a friendly atmosphere. To get the most out of your trip, it is worth booking into a hotel near the city centre, like CitizenM, which allows you to get out and explore the neighbourhoods each day.


The city is well-known for its thriving art scene, but it doesn’t stop at just Rembrandt and Van Gogh. A great way to discover some of the alternative masterpieces on show is to take the Street Art and Alternative Walking Tour, or by checking out the independent art galleries, like Aschenbach & Hofland. You should also keep your eyes peeled for any art exhibitions happening during your stay, as this is a terrific way to immerse yourself in the local scene.

Can you add to this list?  Please comment below!

This is a guest post by Alexa Cobbold.  Alexa lives in a little village just outside of York, England and works in PR and Digital Marketing with a number of brands across the globe. Outside of work she loves photography (Instagram has become a little bit of an obsession…), getting out in to the countryside, buying way too many housewares and spending far too much money on photobooth photos.

2017 ANZAC Day Ceremony The Hague

Each year, the Australian Embassy and New Zealand Embassy in The Hague organise an ANZAC Day ceremony. I’ve attended several of these now, and they are always special:

The ceremony has additional meaning for me as both my parents served in the Australian navy (before I was born).  I’m very grateful that I have the opportunity to observe this day with fellow Antipodeans in the Netherlands each year.  I came prepared with my traditional poppy and rosemary (from my garden, which happened to be in bloom).  The scent was beautiful and stayed with me all day.

The 25th April 2017 was a cold 5 degrees, with intermittent rain and hail.  With an 8am start, the sun did make an effort to join us at the Commonwealth War Graves section at the Westduin Cemetery, The Hague.

Each year, the increadibly beautiful haunting tones of a Karanga, by Ms Kylie Martin always gives me goosebumps.

I also enjoy seeing several of the same wonderfully charismatic faces each year of the service men and women in their smart uniforms.

Below is a Facebook Live Broadcast I shared.  When watching it back though, I realise you can’t hear very much, especially due to the rain on my umbrella.  Also a bit shaky as I had freezing fingers – but you at least get the idea of what it was like to be there.

The program follows a similar format each year, with a solemn ceremony of prayers, readings, hymns and the laying of wreaths.

A traditional “Ode of Remembrance” was read by Wing Commander Ruth Elsley of the Australian Defence Force:

“They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old; Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.  At the going down of the sun and in the morning, We will remember them.”

Readings were given by Lieutenant Commander Tony McCall from the New Zealand Defence Force, His Excellency Dr Brett Mason, Ambassador of Australia and Her Excellency Ms Janet Lowe, Ambassador of New Zealand and Ms Ozge Demirkurt Atahan, Counsellor of the Embassy of Turkey.

I always find hope each year in the words of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk (1934), which to me represent how it is possible for nations to go from being at war to acknowledging that essentially, we are all one:

Those heroes that shed their blood and lost their lives…You are now lying in the soil of a friendly country.  Therefore rest in peace.  There is no difference between the Johnnies and the Mehemets to us where they lie side by side here in this country of ours…you, the mothers, who sent their sons from far away countries, wipe away your tears; your sons are now lying in our bosom and are in peace.  After having lost their lives on this land, they have become our sons as well”

The national anthems of the Netherlands, New Zealand and Australia were sung beautifully by Emma Brown and the ceremony was officiated by Reverend Paul Falke of the Church of Our Saviour.

Beautiful wreaths were laid at the memorial by representatives from a number of embassies and organisations including the OPCW, Kiwis in The Netherlands and The Australian and New Zealand Club.

The Last Post, this year with bugler Corporal 1st Class, Patrick van Leeuwen, Fanfare Corps National Reserve, is always a very special part of the ceremony, and is followed by 2 minutes silence.

After the respectful ceremony, the mood becomes lighter as we all enjoyed a delicious breakfast together.

There was even some Australian Bundaberg Rum to warm up after the cold outside!

I thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to talk to a number of men and women in active service. I love that the spirit of ANZAC Day encompasses both remembering those who have lost their lives, but also recognises the talent, dedication and importance of those who serve in the military today.

You can view all of my images and short videos over at my Google Photos album:

Click to visit my Google Photos album

New to the Netherlands / Net in Nederland

In April of 2016 the New to the Netherlands website was launched. This is a website from the Dutch Public Broadcaster NPO where you can watch popular Dutch television programs and the daily Dutch NOS news all with Dutch, English and Arabic subtitles. By using a selection of on-demand media, New to the Netherlands wants to offer refugees and immigrants a guide to Dutch society and a unique way of learning Dutch.

New to the Netherlands is a so-called ‘experimental channel’ from the NPO and is financed with the own funding from the participating public broadcasters. An independent editorial staff selects videos from the existing programming from the participating public broadcasters. There are programs for all ages. One of our most popular programs is the NOS News which is posted on our website every weekday. The website is updated on a daily basis and we also offer a great Facebook page with lots of useful information including short original in-house clips and numerous interesting links in Dutch, English and Arabic.

In November of 2016 there were 5 internship positions created at New to the Netherlands for refugees with a media background. Since that time these five colleagues, who come from Syria, Iraq, Iran and Somalia, have been gaining practical work experience in the Netherlands which will help them secure other work later on. This group is very motivated and have proven themselves to be hard working and inquisitive. They often make short videos about their experiences here and other subjects of interest which are posted on the New to the Netherlands Facebook page.

New to the Netherlands is an initiative of the public broadcasters AVROTROS, BNN-VARA, KRO-NCRV, VPRO, EO, MAX and HUMAN and is supported by the NPO, NTR and the Dutch Institute for Image and Sound.
This platform has proven to be most successful and I wanted to share this information about our website with you are your readers. Being able to watch more than 25 shows for all ages with Dutch and English subtitles offers a rare opportunity to get a taste of home for the Dutch living abroad. The concept of our website has also had great success with Dutch people who want to learn English.


European Summer Time starts Sunday 26th March 2017

This Sunday, at 2am, clocks in the Netherlands will “spring” forward one hour to 3am.  So if you are in the Netherlands, your digital clocks will probably automatically adjust, but you’ll need to change wall clocks.  If you’re in Australia and keep in contact with family or friends in the Netherlands, you may like to keep this change in mind.

Growing up in Queensland, Australia, I still remember the referendum for Daylight Savings Time in 1992, after a three year trial.  The proposal to continue with daylight savings was defeated with 54.5% where observations were made such as “the cows will get confused” and “the curtains will fade” though I sometimes wonder if the media made that up!

Here in the Netherlands, I like the change to summer time – firstly, it makes me feel like I have officially survived the winter!  It also heralds the start of the longer summer evenings, which I love.  The warmth is also on its way.

Clocks are moved an hour back again in the last weekend in October.

More information in Dutch:  and in English:


Meet Dutch Australian Lesley Weston

My love affair with the Netherlands started 6 years ago, when I went to Europe from Australia for the first time – on a Contiki tour! My first stop was Amsterdam, before Berlin, Prague, Rome, Florence, Venice, and London. I can remember immediately liking Amsterdam, and that it was much more beautiful than I had imagined! My time was short, with a whirlwind 2 days participating in super touristy activities from riding bikes in Edam, visiting a Clog maker, eating cheese, sampling Heineken and sampling more Heineken in the Red Light District. After these 2 days in Holland, where I also ate the best fries in a cone of my life, I hoped in the future I could return for another much calmer visit.

Fast Forward to 2014. I had moved to London a year earlier to work and travel Europe on my weekends. On my first bigger trip (6 days in Morocco) with friends, I was fortunate enough to meet 2 lovely Dutch blokes over breakfast in my hostel. As hostels are the easiest places in the world to make friends (even if only for a day), my group of 4 friends and the 2 Dutch blokes decided to hang out for the day and sight-see Marrakech.

By dinner time that day, one of the Dutch blokes and I had become quite friendly and it was here, in the Jemaa el-Fnaa night market, that I realised I’d be going to Amsterdam again very soon!

And so 3 months later I flew to Amsterdam to visit my new Dutch friend and love blossomed. We embarked on a long-distance relationship between London and Amsterdam, exploring each-others cities on our weekends, or meeting up in new European cities in order to travel and see each other at the same time. Many of these travels feature on my travel blog Everywhere Bucket List.

Eventually, the discussions came about “Where are WE going to live?”. With my parents in Australia and his so close in Amsterdam, we made the decision that I would move to The Netherlands, where I didn’t speak the language, or have a job, or friends. Sounds like a good idea right?!

Well, it was the best idea ever! I love exploring my new city, and finding ways to feel at home even though things are more foreign to me here than in London. I love riding my bicycle to get around and enjoy how funny it still is to me when my bike is loaded up with groceries, plants, and even pots and pans! I have fallen into a deep love with Bitterballen that not even my fiercest new year’s resolutions can tame, and I’ve become part of a Dutch family that welcomes me into all of the interesting and quirky Dutch traditions.

I miss Australian weather and the ease of watching any television station and know what is going on immediately. Being able to pick up a newspaper, and listen to the radio djs discussing newsworthy topics (I’m taking more Dutch lessons soon though!). And I miss my family. We keep in touch regularly via whatsapp and we have a Skype date every Sunday, which keeps me connected so I don’t feel as far away as I am.

My Dutchie and I also live quite close to Drovers Dog – the Australian café – so when I’m feeling particularly needy for a dose of Aussie food and an accent, we head there for brunch and see if we can score a homemade lamington!

I don’t know what is to come for us or where we will settle down and have a family. We both enjoy living in Europe and having taken my Dutchie down to Australia last Christmas – he likes it there too! With positives and negatives for both places, I think that when the time comes to really decide where we will end up – that is not going to be easy! I love living in The Netherlands and feel privileged to be able to call it my home, and also call Australia home! Being in a two-nationality relationship gives us Australia and Holland as both of our homes forever, and I am alright with that!

Dutch Minister Ploumen launches global fund SHE DECIDES, Dutch government makes first donation

Dutch Minister Ploumen (foreign trade and development cooperation) was inundated by responses to her call for a fundraising  initiative for family planning programmes. She received thousands of messages from over 150 countries in 23 languages through both social and traditional media. The vast majority of responses were positive, with many indicating a desire to donate to a fund. To meet this demand, the Dutch ministry of foreign affairs, in cooperation with Dutch NGO Rutgers, is launching ‘SHE DECIDES – Global Fundraising Initiative’. Minister Ploumen: “The response to my call has been beyond expectation, with many positive reactions from around the world. It is heart-warming and inspiring that so many people from so many countries are standing up for the rights of women and girls.”

SHE DECIDES is a response to the Global Gag Rule; the decision last week by the American government to suspend annual funding, causing the closure of a range of family planning programmes that benefit many millions of women in developing countries. This could amount to $ 600 mn per year. The programmes offer a broad range of services: sexual education, birth control, maternal care and safe abortion for women who are forced to undergo the procedure. “This causes a huge funding gap that can only be filled by a strong international response from governments, aid organisations, businesses and individuals. We cannot let women and girls down. They should have the right to decide if they want to have children, when they want to have children, and with who they want to have children.”


More information, such as a video message from minister Ploumen and general information on the aims and methods of the initiative are posted on the website The website also provides details of two bank accounts (a Dutch and international one) for those who wish to make individual donations. More information will be added in the coming days.

10 million

Last week minister Ploumen worked hard to involve other countries and organisations in SHE DECIDES and will continue to do so the coming week. Several countries and organisations have already responded positively. Awaiting an initial assessment of support for the initiative, the Dutch government pledged €10mn to the fund. Ploumen: “We obviously need far more money. Judging by the signals we have received so far, I trust we will come a long way towards safeguarding essential provisions not just for women, but for society at large.”