AMSTERDAM… WHAT A STORY!
There’s nowhere else in the world quite like Amsterdam. Frozen in time, Amsterdam is known for a love of life, freedom, the arts, nature, technology, and riding bikes to the cafes to enjoy a cup of solace (coffee) and a Dutch treat.
THE MOST EXCITING CITY IN THE WORLD
The story of Amsterdam is a story of innovative and determined people who dammed the Amstel River to create a city of water canals (Amste(r)-Dam). Amsterdam became the trading capital of the world, and in doing so, brought together countries and cultures encouraging the open exchange of ideas, innovations, free thought, and the acceptance of cultural differences. It is a story of a society who encourages independent thinking, supports multiculturalism, and practices the Dutch spirit of tolerance: “live and let live.” Amsterdam is considered to be the birth place of “liberty” where the rights of individuals are sacred, free thinking is enshrined in law, and where citizens pushed back the dominance of rulers and monarchs. Amsterdam, a haven for free thinkers, is famous for rebelling against the “status quo.” Many of the colourful gabled buildings on the canals continue to operate as global trading warehouses. Amsterdam stretches everyone’s imagination.
THE COAT OF ARMS OF AMSTERDAM
Amsterdam’s Coat of Arms dates back to 1280, and was part of the city’s original flag. The black stripe, in the middle of the red shield, represents the Amstel River, and the 3 X’s represent St. Andrew’s cross, the patron saint of fishermen. The two golden lions symbolize courage, strength and valour; the Imperial Crown of Austria was added in 1489. The motto of Amsterdam: Heldhaftig, Vastberaden, Barmhartig means “Valiant, Steadfast, Compassionate.”
CAFES AND DUTCH TREATS
Amsterdam’s long history with cafe culture played a critical role in the birth of individual freedoms. The koffiehuis (coffee house) was considered as a safe comfortable place to gather and exchange ideas. Renowned for their coffee, Amsterdam’s cafes also offered a tasty Dutch treat (koekje/koekie) with a hot drink. As a global city of trade, especially spices, the Dutch mastered the art of baking, and named their “little cakes” koekies (cookies).
The cafes of Amsterdam offer unique insights:
- Authentic Experience: The menu is based on what Amsterdamers like to eat and drink. The interior decorations, dishes, music, furnishings, language, fashion, and behaviour, all provide an authentic experience with the culture.
- Make a Connection: Cafes are social places where locals and tourists meet, without getting in each other’s way. A place to feel part of the crowd, and interact with customers and staff.
- Ask for Recommendations: Cafe staff and locals are seen as trustworthy sources to ask what to see and do, in a friendly and casual atmosphere.
- Take a Break: Unwind from being a tourist and watch the world go by.