I have been to Amsterdam many times in the last five years, in fact I was just here a couple months ago. Though this was my first visit in the winter.
The crowds are a bit lessened and maybe more subdued with the chilly days and nights. I arrived fairly late at night, checked into my hotel , grabbed a bite to eat and headed to out to down a couple of pints. At pub inside the RLD, De Stoof , displayed some incredible stained glass works of Amsterdam squares and churches circa. 1748. Here I met two beautiful young women who were tending bar. It is a slow night and the two of them are talking away in Dutch. Despite not knowing anything they are saying, it is nice to listen to, since Amsterdam is heavily visited by foreigners I usually hear English spoken and hearing two people converse in Dutch is a welcome change. As I lazily down a pint of Heineken a black cat ( cats being common residents in pubs ) sitting atop the bar and it checks me out with its yellow eyes. The cat then poses for a picture for me, eyes glowing from the flash.
After a day of traveling I was too tired to make it a late night and crashed early. I awoke in the morning and my room was still pretty dark and thought I got up too early. I walked to the window, the sky was grey ,it was snowing. I am used to the snow but for as many times as I have been in Amsterdam , it was a first for me here. Judging from the amount of tourists wearing cheaply made “Amsterdam” winter hats I don’t think it was an expected snowfall. Although not cold enough to have frozen the canals (this is a spectacular view that I’ve only seen in pictures). There is something about a fresh blanket of snow in a city that seems to calm it. It’s a little quieter and looks a bit fresher. It continued to snow lightly all day and into the night. Not much of an accumulation, but enough to put a new aura on the city.
The old houses and churches with their roofs frosted with white powder had an entire different feel. Don’t get me wrong , the coffee shops are still bellowing out the smell of weed, women are still engaged in the oldest profession, cyclists are cruising by ringing their little bells and hardened souls sip espresso outside. An elderly couple window shopping at a sex shop and eyeing a large fluorescent pink vibrator and smiling, thumbs up to them! Everything is still the same but with the snow, I have a different filter on my mental lens.
I lucked out when I stopped at The Metropolitan chocolate and coffee shop. Best Coffee Maker ever. Today there is a film crew doing a documentary or some kind of tv clip on the chocolatier/pastry chef and I am able to view a bit more of the behind the scenes making of these confectionaries . Yes, the sweets here are extravagant, all made on site and will please everyone. The aroma alone when you walk in is enough to warm the soul. If that’s not enough, eyeball the chocolate fountain.
Amsterdam has become somewhat of my adopted second home ( though I have yet to pick up any of the Dutch language, it is difficult for sure ) I have lost track of the many days and nights I’ve spent here and the people working at my favorite restaurants and cafes are starting to become familiar faces. I’ve wrote about Amsterdam a few times before and I worried I may have nothing new to report, doubtful in this city. I suppose a few question the idea of traveling around Northern Europe in January and on days when it’s sub-zero, I understand why. But Amsterdam is even more beautiful covered in snow and you are not navigating the crowded sidewalks as much. There is so much to see and do just on foot when you are here . Just stay in Central Amsterdam to be close enough to everything .
If you can tolerate a little bit of cold ,I can tell you that Amsterdam is a city to see and enjoy no matter what the season may be.