Amsterdam Local Custom Tips by leics
Amsterdam Local Customs: 405 reviews and 377 photos
Seriously wonky chimney
I'd noted on my first visit that many of the older buildings in Amsterdam's historical centre were 'wonky': slightly out of true. That is hardly surprising, given the city's high water-table and resulting soft soil plus the fact that many (?most?) of the older buildings were constructed on wooden pilings.
But those buildings are historically important and, I suspect, there are rules and regulations about exactly what can and cannot be done to them in terms of modernisation and general building work. I'm no builder but I imagine there are times when under-pinning the foundations with concrete has been essential. That is probably what keeps those buildings which are very 'wonky' still standing.
I noticed that the very impressive gables ..built simply towers of brick with nothing supporting them...are now often tied to the building structure by metal rods.
The most extreme example of 'coping with wonkiness' that I spotted was the chimney in the main photo. It's amazing that it's still standing at all but the network of metal strips and rods is presumably holding it safely in position. I hope!
When you think about it, building in stone on such land (from the late 1500s onwards) is pretty impressive engineering, as was the draining of so much land by the use of dykes and ditches. The Dutch had a very good reputation as land engineers. That's why so many...including Cornelius Vermuyden....were involved in draining the Fens in East Anglia (UK) during the mid 1600s.
It's clear they are still equally adept at stabilising buildings and structures on land which is prone to subsidence.
Dutch Pantry uitsmijter
I didn't have this Dutch staple on my first visit in 2010. But, having seen it served to a friend in Leiden, I decided to try it. It was absolutely delicious and I ended up eating it on two occasions...and I'm very tempted to try making my own version now I'm home.
'Uitsmijter' , it's said, used to be served to cafe (i.e. bar) patrons just before closing time (uitsmijter means 'bouncer'). It's still a popular dish for breakfast or lunch, although it's served at any time of day in cafe/bars.
There are different versions, of course, according to where you are eating. but the basic ingredients are fried eggs, ham or bacon, cheese and bread. My first version was fried eggs on ham on bread, my second ((cooked to order in the really excellent 'Dutch Pantry' in Schiphol airport) involved the eggs being fried, turned over, slices of cheese laid on them, then the ham ..forming a sort of omelette which was placed on the bread.
Both versions were absolutely delicious although I found that the second, with its egg yolks fully-cooked and being much more solid, benefited from the addition of some tomato ketchup.
Uitsmijter may not be particularly healthy but comes very highly recommended as real comfort food, excellent in cold weather, easily available and very reasonably-priced indeed.
There are thousands and thousands of bikes in Amsterdam. I knew that before I visited.
But I hadn't realised quite how many bikes would be standing (or lying) around, everywhere. I suspect many no longer actually belong to anyone, but have simply been abandoned when a new bike has been purchased. Huge numbers were left near my hotel, day in, day out......and the bike racks at Centraal station are simply amazing (see photo)!
So there are thousands and thousands of bikes in Amsterdam......and most are the same style (what we in the UK call 'sit up and beg')...how to know which one is yours amongst the hundreds in the bike racks?
I was fascinated by the twiddles and fiddles people added to their bikes, to make finding them amongst the thousands of others a little easier. Boxes and baskets, stickers and banners and flags, coloured sticky tape, beads on the spoke, feather boas, trolleys in front and behind (for children as well as for shopping).
I especially like the customised paintjobs, and the twining of plastic flowers around the handlebars (as in the photo).
Do spend a bit of time bike-spotting whlst you are in Amsterdam....it's fascinating!
Just in case one is desperate.....
There clearly is (or has been) a problem with men and their bladders in Amsterdam.
Whether this is linked to inebriated gentlemen falling into canals whilst obeying a call of nature I cannot say.
Nevertheless the city has provided metal 'pissoirs' at strategic points.
It is thought so important that gentlemen find the appropriate facilities that it is necessary, on occasion, to signpost them.
I have to say I noticed no such signs (or conveniences) for ladies anywhere I wandered, other than within the station and cafes/bars/restaurants/museums etc. What this tells us about male and female continence or incontinence I would not like to say.
*A further warning for ladies*: If you are wandering along the canalside, enjoying the view, and you suddenly hear the sound of trickling water do not, as I did, look around to see where it is coming from. You may (as I did) get quite another, and entirely unexpected, view! :-)
Look up to spot the mirrors!
Thanks to Swanet, I started to notice these....and to know what they are for.
Amsterdammers mostly live in apartments/flats. So they often have a small mirror near the window, angled so that they can see who is knocking at the door or ringing the bell. It saves going all the way downstairs only to find that the person at the door does not want you.
It also lets them know exactly what is going on in the street without making it too obvious!
My Dutch companions looked somewhat askance when I ordered bitterballen.....I don't quite know why, and I didn't like to ask.
Basically, bitterballen are a minced beef stew mixed with flour and seasoning, allowed to firm in the fridge then coated with egg and breadcrumbs and deep-fried.
You eat them by themselves (most often in pubs, I believe) dipping them in mustard as you go.
Wiki says they are eaten in the Netherlands, Belgium, Surinam and nowhere much else.
I found them rather bland (the mustard was appreciated) and (obviously) thoroughly unhealthy, but filling and warming on a freezing day.
Worth trying if the weather is as cold as it was when I visited!
Very useful piece of metal
It seems that many gentlemen still fail to spot either the pissoirs or the signs pointing them out (see tip above).
This must cause them some difficulty, but causes far more difficulties (and annoyance) for the owners of properties with convenient recesses.
I spotted the metal shielding in the photo in more than one location. By creating a 'splashback' effect, I am sure they prove an effective deterrent to phantom wee-ers.
Mind you, that might mean more gentlemen fall into the canals..........
More Reviews (19)
leics' Related Pages
Amsterdam Travel Guide
Member Travel Pages
- "MY BIRTHPLACE"
- "Amsterdam - I love it!"
- "God made the Dutch, but the Dutch made Holland"
- "Amsterdam, is it real?"
- "Amsterdam, where the Dutch money is spend"
- "Amsterdam! The most liberal city in the World"
- "dila's new Amsterdam Page"
- See All...
- Things to Do in Amsterdam
- Hotels in Amsterdam
- Transportation in Amsterdam
- Nightlife in Amsterdam
- Restaurants in Amsterdam
- Shopping in Amsterdam
- Warnings and Dangers in Amsterdam
- See All...
Explore the World
- Lago di Patria Hotels
- La Seu d'Urgell
- Lombok Hotels
- Antipolo Hotels
- City Island
- Koblenz Hotels
Badges & Stats in Amsterdam
- 26 Reviews
- 137 Photos
- 318 Forum posts
- 10 Comments
- See All Stats
- See All Badges (608)
Have you been to Amsterdam?Share Your Travels
Latest Activity in Amsterdam
Top 10 Pages
- Krakow Intro, 49 reviews, 234 photos, 10 travelogues
- Top 5 Page for this destination Bergamo Intro, 39 reviews, 222 photos, 9 travelogues
- Athens Intro, 36 reviews, 200 photos, 10 travelogues
- London Intro, 33 reviews, 168 photos, 10 travelogues
- Riga Intro, 31 reviews, 170 photos, 5 travelogues
- Florence Intro, 44 reviews, 155 photos, 6 travelogues
- Top 5 Page for this destination England Intro, 62 reviews, 127 photos, 4 travelogues
- Top 5 Page for this destination Kaunas Intro, 35 reviews, 153 photos, 5 travelogues
- Top 5 Page for this destination New Haven Intro, 32 reviews, 133 photos, 1 travelogue
- Amsterdam Intro, 26 reviews, 137 photos, 7 travelogues
Latest Amsterdam hotel reviews
- Hotel Titus
- 64 Reviews & Opinions
Latest: Nov 16, 2013
- Yotel Schiphol
- 450 Reviews & Opinions
Latest: Dec 6, 2013
- Quentin Hotel
- 179 Reviews & Opinions
Latest: Nov 20, 2013
- Hotel De Koopermoolen Amsterdam
- 139 Reviews & Opinions
Latest: Dec 4, 2013
- Flying Pig Downtown
- 312 Reviews & Opinions
Latest: Nov 28, 2013
- Hotel Abba
- 127 Reviews & Opinions
Latest: Nov 29, 2013
- The Monk Amsterdam Apartments
- 28 Reviews & Opinions
Latest: Nov 1, 2013
- Hans Brinker Hotel
- 295 Reviews & Opinions
Latest: Nov 25, 2013
- Hotel Keizershof
- 181 Reviews & Opinions
Latest: Nov 27, 2013
- Hilton Amsterdam
- 848 Reviews & Opinions
Latest: Dec 4, 2013
- NH Doelen Hotel Amsterdam
- 257 Reviews & Opinions
Latest: Dec 5, 2013
- Quentin England Hotel Amsterdam
- 173 Reviews & Opinions
Latest: Dec 2, 2013
- Hotel Tamara
- 25 Reviews & Opinions
Latest: Oct 7, 2013
- Ajax Hotel Amsterdam
- 93 Reviews & Opinions
Latest: Dec 3, 2013
- Falcon Plaza Hotel
- 164 Reviews & Opinions
Latest: Oct 28, 2013
- Red Light District - De Wallen- 143 Reviews, 163 Photos
- Anne Frank House- 241 Reviews, 252 Photos
- Sex Museum- 49 Reviews, 59 Photos
- Coffee Shops- 123 Reviews, 132 Photos
- Rijksmuseum- 208 Reviews, 342 Photos
- Canal Boat Tours- 189 Reviews, 307 Photos
- Heineken Brewery- 98 Reviews, 139 Photos
- Dam Square- 89 Reviews, 164 Photos
- Van Gogh Museum- 165 Reviews, 174 Photos
- Flower Market - Bloemenmarkt- 65 Reviews, 101 Photos
See All Amsterdam Things to Do