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A Flashpackers’ Guide to Amsterdam

A new monarch, a famous birthday and the reopening of one of the most famous museums in the world, 2013 is surely Amsterdam‘s year. While the locals will be welcoming you to toast the new King, the 400th birthday of their beloved canals and if you’re still sober enough take a tour of the famous Rijksmuseum, we strongly advise you save a little energy and time to explore the Dutch capital in another way; a flashier way.

5160998598_6991f5f138_bImage by Amsterdam PhilDutch.

Among those in the know, to “flashpack” is a well-established new way to travel. It involves contemporary accommodation, pop-up shops and restaurants and quirky corners of a destination that the guidebooks ignore. It’s not budget but it’s not quite luxury. It’s about quality, not quantity. It’s more design and detail than museums and must-dos. And yes, it is about flashing the cash but also about getting A LOT for your money. Still confused if you’re a Flashpacker or not? Perhaps it will help if we follow some Flashpackers in action and highlight why Amsterdam is a dream destination for flashpacking.

flashpack boat

Flashpacking in Amsterdam would definitely involve a Luxury House Boat.

The Suburbs

While the centre of Amsterdam – the Red Light District, Damrak and the three ring canals of Herengracht, Keizersgracht, Prinsengracht – calls all travellers of all persuasions, Flashpackers know that there is still magic to be found in the suburbs. Flashpackers are most likely to be seen wearing vintage biker boots and with digital cameras hanging from their necks as they hop on their hired bikes – “When in.. er, Amsterdam” and setting off in the opposite direction to the tourists.

They can be found in De Pijp, a once working class and gritty area that is now home to young professionals and a mixing pot of multicultural families, where they descend on the lively Albert Cyup market to soak up the atmosphere and affordable groceries and street food, before stopping at De Fietsfabrik where they indulge their dream of one day owning a custom made bike. They can be found cycling through Vondelpark and through the mansions found in the Old South or heading west to find ARI at the top of the Overtoom – a treasure trove of vintage goods or a crazy and disorganised junk shop depending on how you look at it. They stop for lunch – twin burgers at Cafe Parck or an Ethiopian feast at Abyssinia – and then end their tour by cycling past the craft and clothes shops of Rozengracht and into Jordaan where they’ll find a spot along the canals to rest their legs.

6710921771_0c7dcd4872_bArtsy & offbeat De Pijp. By melita_dennett.

The Alternative

As we’ve said, don’t expect Flashpackers to tow the tourist line when it comes to things to do.

Flashpackers don’t go to the Heineken Experience, they pop into Brouwerij’t IJ  – a friendly microbrewery found in Zeeburg – that offers tours on Fridays, Saturday and Sunday afternoons.

flashpack amsterdam

Luxury apartment in Zeeburg.

Flashpackers don’t just go to the Van Gogh and Anne Frank Museums, they learn photography tips at FOAM, marvel at the world’s largest collection of handbags in the Tassenmuseum and finally have a good giggle in the Sex Museum.

Flashpackers buy, eat and drink local, from the organic farmers’ markets in Noordermarkt and Niuewmarkt to the all-Dutch beer bars like Arands Nest and home cooked food as their imaginary Dutch mothers would make at Moeders.

3072451406_5017f1cd8a_bIn the Tassenmuseum. By mooste.

The Flash

Here comes the flashy part, the thing that separates Flashpackers from backpackers and your average tourist.

Did you know that Amsterdam is home to a luxury spa and sauna completely decorated with art deco features shipped from a Parisian 1920s department store? Well, it is and you’ll probably find a Flashpacker or two inside Sauna Deco.

Did you know that Amsterdam has four easily accessible city beaches? It’s true and you can bet your bikini bottoms that a Flashpacker will beat you there on a sunny day.

7916767992_ae0d2aa77a_bZandvoort. By EyPeeet.

And did you know that it’s free to take the ferry across to Amsterdam Noord where you’ll find a thriving art gallery scene and funky canteen style eateries? You’ll probably pass the Flashpackers as you board the ferry and hear their stories of spending an afternoon in Tolhuistuin, a converted warehouse space that is used for free arts and culture events.

And as night falls don’t think for a second that this is the Flashpackers’ turn to sleep and rest up for another day of Flashpacking. This is their favourite time of day when they go from drinking luxurious cocktails at Momo, to eating delicious Indonesian food at Blauw or filling their plates with Spanish tapas while ear-piercing reggaeton music plays in Pata Negra.

flashpack loft

Loft apartment near to Hobbemastraat and Momo.

If you’re feeling like you need a lie down after just reading this we should perhaps explain that the beauty of flashpacking is not to do every single thing on this list, it’s about taking the time to pick what you want and about doing what you enjoy. It’s not about exhausting yourself as flashpacking is as much about feeling flash as it is looking flash. It’s about letting Amsterdam show you what it’s got as much as it’s about showing off how much you enjoyed this flashpacking-friendly city. Happy flashpacking in Amsterdam and beyond!

4565900446_600f713543_bImage by Werner Kunz.

 

Featured image by Pooj@.