So although I arrived back from Amsterdam on Sunday morning, that Sunday was my birthday, and I've been eating, and drinking, and pretty much just catching up on sleep since then. I've finally mustered up the energy to tell all you wonderful people all about my fantastic weekend away, and all the things to do in Amsterdam.
We opted to take the ferry to Amsterdam instead of doing the famous 'dutch dash' from Hull, as we realised that 5 hours isn't enough time to explore all the things that we wanted to, and that we wanted to stay over the night in a hotel to make the most of our trip.
Whilst my stomach isn't the best for travelling by sea, the copious amounts of wine and laughter distracted me, and before I knew it, I was fast asleep in my little bunk bed being awoken by the loud speaker to say that we had arrived in Rotterdam. We hopped onto the coach, and an hour and a half later with sleepy eyes and fuzzy heads, we were outside Amsterdam Centraal station.
Upon arrival, the main priority on all of our minds - FOOD. Whilst I'm a bit of a food snob when it comes to a breckie, and like to track down an idyllic cafe serving eggs benedict, this really wasn't the time to be on a breakfast hunt, so we settled for the closest cafe and ordered a big dirty full English. It wasn't the best, but it sure did the job, and we was set up for the day.
We had booked an Ibis hotel just out of the centre of Amsterdam, so we left the cafe and got a taxi to the hotel to check in and drop off our bags. Our hotel was Ibis City West, and was about a 10/15 minute drive out, costing approximately €15. This split between 3 of us wasn't too bad, however as we had only returned to drop our bags and were going straight back into the centre...this was a bit of a pain. Several times we got the local bus outside the hotel to the station, and the driver decided not to charge us as we only had change, not a pre-paid bus ticket. This saved us a bit of money, however just for ease in future, I would recommend just paying a bit more for a hotel more central. 10 minutes doesn't seem to far away, but it can be pretty costly when it comes to just wanting to drop bags or get a quick change and then back out again.
If you do decide to do the dutch dash and are just there for the day, or just for any time really - there are lockers in Amsterdam Centraal station which costs €10 for 24 hours to store luggage of a range of sizes.
Now we were bag free, we headed our to explore the beautiful city. Here's a few things that we got up to during our 2 day/ 1 night stay here in Amsterdam!
Whilst I always thought the obligatory tourist 'canal shot' was one particular canal, turns out Amsterdam offers beautiful bridges and canals around every corner. I know it sounds silly saying to explore this, but I feel like most people get so distracted in wanting to visit all the museums as a priority, when in fact allocating some free time to just walk around and admiring the beautiful views was one of my favourite things to do whilst here. We came across an array of cheese shops, gorgeous houses hidden away down under the pavement under big town houses, and picturesque street after street.
Anne Frank House Museum
I've always been interested in Anne Frank and her story, and have always dreamed to see in person what it truly was like, not just from my imagination when reading the book. Whether you know the story or not, this museum is a MUST. The whole experience is fascinating, sad, eerie and just full of disbelief. The feeling of walking through the small annex where Anne and others hid for so long is just something else. A heads up for this if you visit: the ques are long, however we had bought our tickets online beforehand, and were able to walk straight in.
Caffe Italia Restaurant
During our nights stay in Amsterdam, out of the vast choice of restaurant we settled for Caffe Italia restaurant. As a budget girls weekend away, we weren't looking for anything too fancy - just a good pizza and alcohol. This small, authentic little Italian restaurant lured us in with it's cute fairy lights, it's cosy vibes and the look of the pizzas through the window. This restaurant was very reasonably priced, and also very good food!
[gallery ids="1930,1934,1899" type="square" columns="2"]
The Red Light District
It's pretty much exactly what people say it is. A long street full of big windows, with half naked girls smiling, waving, and trying to entice you inside. It's got seedy written all over it, and it's pretty much uncomfortable the whole way down when you catch the girls eyes....HOWEVER, It's most definitely an experience, and when in Amsterdam, go to the red light district.
After our pizza, we took a walk down the red light district and a few bars, before stumbling across a bar called YIP Fellows. Similar to the restaurant, this bar was very small with approximately 6 tables and a small bar at the back, however the atmosphere in here was absolutely booming. The bar played fantastic music all night long, and everyone was in such good spirits. In other bars we found a gin sling was around €9! but this bar was reasonably priced, and the photographer in there walked around with a polaroid camera, and we took home some fantastic memories for €4 per print.
Floating Flower Market
I had heard so much about the floating flower market in Amsterdam, and it was pretty much what it said on the tin. All along one side of the canal was what seemed to be greenhouses full of shop after shop. Whilst the market sold more plant bulbs than actual flowers, this was still a very vibrant and popular place to visit. Whilst down here, we also discovered a Christmas shop about 1/3 of the way down, where I bought a gorgeous little decoration for my tree. I'm so excited to now get my tree up and use it!
Whilst we were in Amsterdam, the Moco Museum was displaying a Banksy and Roy Lichtenstein exhibition. I'm not sure if this is here all year round, or if we just got lucky, but Banksy is one of my favourite artists, and to see his work in real life was pretty surreal. At the end of this exhibition, there was a 3D room in the style of Lichtenstein's work, which was just asking for a photo opportunity.
Visit a Crepe/Waffle Cafe
Dotted around Amsterdam are plenty of cafe's selling crepes and waffles, so you'll never be stuck finding one of these. The selection of toppings and fillings for these are just amazing, so if you've got a sweet tooth, then trying one of these is a must. I ordered a crepe filled with chocoalte chip cookie, brownie and nutella, and then drizzled with salted caramel sauce. Did I feel sick? Yes, Was it worth it? Yes. Would I have another? Yes yes yes.
If you find the chance to hit the shops, then I would recommend this. Amsterdams shopping offers a variety of popular high street shops such as H&M, Primark, ect but also has small boutiques with some great stuff. I ended up buying this mustard fur jacket for €35 from Pull and Bear. I absolutely love it, and I'm really into mustard colour at the minute. It's maybe a bit out there, and I feel like I look a bit like a large chick, but it's also fab at the same time.
- Cats are everywhere (see photo above). In shops, bars, restaurants, cats just wander everywhere - and it's brilliant.
- Space cake is not supposed to be consumed whole by one person, in one go, trust me.
- You will almost get knocked over by a bicycle on every street.
- You can get a photo in a massive pair of clogs on pretty much every corner.
- Sex museums are weird things, but also hilarious.
- If you wear a dress and knee high boots on a night time, you will get looked up and down like you should be in the windows on the red light district...
- Drinks are expensive, but also strooooong.
- They sell hotdogs wrapped in pizza, and no, I didn't get chance to try one of these - oh well, I'll just have to go back...