Exploring Venice of the North with 360 Amsterdam Free Walking Tours
When a friend invited me along to take part in a free walking tour of the city with 360 Amsterdam last week, I didn’t think I’d see much I hadn’t already seen. After three months in the city, I was even a little insulted he hadn’t asked me to be his tour guide!
But I went along anyway – the sun was warming up for a heatwave that would strike Amsterdam the following day, and joining a friend on a free tour seemed like a better option than sitting inside a shaded apartment catching up on emails.
Turns out I really didn’t learn much at all. Apart from the location of the smallest house in Amsterdam. And I finally found out the story behind a statue I cycled past to and from work for the past 90 days. Oh and there was the secret behind why a successful cheese-makers still trade on the local markets.
Fine. I guess I learnt a lot… Most importantly I learnt that 360 Amsterdam rocks. Seriously. Plus… doesn’t their reception look welcoming!
The smallest house in Amsterdam
Can you spot it in the picture below? When our tour guide Eden began to explain the reasons for the existence of such tiny canal houses we were all craning our heads left, right, and centre to be the first ones to spot the smallest house in Amsterdam!
I’m ashamed to say it took me far too long from our viewpoint on the widest bridge in Amsterdam to spot the smallest house in Amsterdam. Smallest, widest… I’m not describing Oompa Loompas here. Although they are also orange and the Dutch love their orange.
Back to the house… below is a close up. Not only is the width of the house shorter than my stunted growth of 5’2” (that’s xx for you metrics)… apparently the residents have to sleep in bunk beds as a double bed wouldn’t fit!
We all know how much I love bunk beds but I’m smiling because the arch of flowers is full of the infectious burst of spring. Not because I’m imagining a hostel behind that door. I swear…
Eduard Douwes Dekker… aka Multatuli
Let’s be honest, the bust below is pretty impressive. This statue can also be found on the widest bridge of Amsterdam (I’m not telling you the actual locations by the way because you should totally take the tour) and after months of wondering I finally found out that the man the bust represents is Eduard Douwes Dekker.
What a cool name. And nope, that’s not what’s inscribed on the front. Multatuli is actually the Latin for “I have suffered much” and is the name Eduard used for his writings. His writings however were not about his sufferings, but the sufferings of those at the hands of Dutch colonialism.
Defending the rights of native Indonesians who were exposed to brutal conditions in the colonies, his work was widely oppressed by the Dutch government until in 1860 he published the novel, Max Havelaar: Or the Coffee Auctions of a Dutch Trading Company under the Multatuli name.
The semi-autobiographical novel’s publication exposed much of the cruelty of Dutch colonial rule throughout Europe, and in 2002 the Society of Dutch Literature named Eduard Douwes Dekker as the “most important Dutch writer of all time”.
The secret cheese story
I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that I still prefer French cheese over Dutch. In fact… I think the Dutch are better at marketing their cheese than making it (sorry guys!!).
But I will say this, the secret cheese story that Eden shared with us is not only a staunch example of Dutch loyalty, loyalty that is echoed in every friendship I’ve had with a Dutch person. Neither does the secret cheese story involve bad cheese. To the contrary, the secret cheese story is about my favourite cheese store in town – Reypenaer Proeflokaal.
I bet you really want to know what the secret cheese story is now?
Well, in short, it’s about a family promise, and the long-lasting dedication to acting out that promise generations after it was made. For more I’d go ask Eden, she’s much better at story-telling than me.
Highlights from 360 Amsterdam Free Walking Tours
If I could share with you all that I learnt with 360 Amsterdam I would, but there just isn’t enough room in one post! So instead, here is a mini photo journal so you can sample a few other sights on the two-hour tour.
If you recognise any of the spots, let me know in the comments!
Tips for taking 360 Amsterdam Free Walking Tours
- The Amsterdam free walking tour takes place three times a day, every day: at 11am, 1pm, and 3pm
- The meeting point is located next to the Dam Good Coffee store on Dam Square – look out for the orange umbrellas in front of the Royal Palace, or check the map below
- Make sure to wear comfy shoes and whilst you should be fine in the summer, a rain jacket is highly recommended the rest of the year – Amsterdam’s weather is too unpredictable to be trusted!
- 360 Amsterdam post group pictures taken at the start of each tour on their Facebook page so make sure to check it out and tag yourself
- Each person on the tour receives a handy discount card at the end, to be used on other tours such as their great Red Light District tour (€12.50 or €10.50 with the discount card) and at the cheese store!
- The tours take place in Spanish or in English – look out for my favourite Spanish tour guide, Vanessa, on the left in the blurry photo below. This was taking at the end of the Red Light District tour – the end bar serves the best bitterballen in town so make sure to check it out!
This tour was a free walking tour and not sponsored in any way by 360 Amsterdam. As always, all opinions are honest and my own!
Lots of love,