Entrepreneur, lawyer, lecturer and Canal House Ambassador, Stëffan de Jong, gives us an inside look at his Amsterdam ...
Where do you live / describe your neighbourhood?
My mother's side is from West Amsterdam, my father's side from the East. I work in the South and live in the small village of Durgerdam, which is North. The (mostly) small wooden houses in Durgerdam have been built on the dike overlooking the water, with green lawns, cows, geese and pheasants at the back. There are no shops, however, it does have one church, a football pitch, tennis courts, beaches and three marinas. More and more tourists are discovering Durgerdam (tip: rent a bike, take a ferry and dip into the picturesque old Netherlands). It’s a wonderful place to come home to after a busy day at work.
What do you do on a Sunday afternoon in Amsterdam?
I read the newspapers whilst drinking a cappuccino. In nice weather I’ll enjoy it on a bench outside and in bad weather I’ll stay in and sit by the wood stove. It’s also nice to take a stroll along the canals on a Sunday morning. When it’s still quiet you can hear the quacking ducks in the canal (tip: start with having breakfast at Canal House). If AJAX plays on a Sunday, my friends and I are at the Amsterdam Arena cheering for our favourite team.
What do you love most about the city and people?
Amsterdam has it all. Quiet places full of history, a variety of architectural styles, activities, the reflecting water in the canals, small concert halls, world artists, museums, etc. Sometimes it can get a bit messy (for example on King's Day, April 27), but nevertheless orderly. If it gets too much you can go to a park, the beach or be at Schiphol in only a few minutes. People from Amsterdam are proud of their city. Straightforward, cheeky but with a wink.
Best way to relax?
Biking through Amsterdam and stopping for a coffee to people watch. Also, seeing the lively penguins at the zoo or getting a massage at Leelawadee. The salon doesn't look that pretty on the outside, but you get a treat indoors (at least, if you can take a beating!).
Favourite cocktail bar?
Besides Mexican food, Rose's Cantina serves some solid cocktails. And what's nice is you're just around the corner from cinemas, clubs, cafes and other restaurants.
Favourite restaurant, café?
Old time favourite and numero uno is Thaicoon on the Beukenplein in Amsterdam Oost. There is no other restaurant in Amsterdam that serves better Thai food. For an authentic Amsterdam atmosphere try Elsa's on the Middenweg. For something more upscale go to Restaurant Lastage near the Nieuwmarkt. Hotel de Goudfazant in Amsterdam Noord is also well known and recommendable. And no, it's not a hotel but a restaurant.
Best places to shop?
The internet (jokingly). There was a time when I would find anything in the Utrechtsestraat, but as you get older, your style, interests and taste change (or rather, develop). For business suits visit the PC Hooftstraat. Gifts are easily found at the Haarlemmerdijk, close to Canal House. For everyday errands and organic goods visit the Landmarkt in Schellingwoude.
Describe your own personal style?
Opinionated, honest and full of ideas but with little time. A colourful sweater during the weekends. Cufflinks when at work.
Top 5 things you recommend to do in Amsterdam?
1. Check out the Amsterdam Historical Museum: it's old but modern and you'll learn everything about the city and its residents
2. Take a trip to the Hortus Botanical Gardens
3. Be sure to watch AJAX play in the Amsterdam Arena
4. Rent a bike but stay away from the centre (unless you are an excellent biker). Take the ferry and visit the beautiful and countrified Northern part of Amsterdam
5. Visit a lawyer ;-)
Recommend something off the beaten track / lesser known that tourists don’t know …
Visit one of the Netherlands oldest law faculty houses in the 'Oudemanhuispoort'. It was a retirement home for men a very long time ago. It's located in the centre of Amsterdam, hidden behind an alley with a gate from 1601 where old books are sold. It smells old too but you can drink a coffee and sit in the courtyard overlooking Minerva.