Yesterday I arrived back from a mini-trip to Amsterdam. We spent four days in the crazy city and had a lot of fun...
We traveled by boat from Newcastle to Amsterdam as a certain someone is terrified of flying. Although it took a lot longer than flying it was definitely an enjoyable experience. The weather was lovely so we spent the beginning of our journey out on the deck sunning ourselves. We had our own little cabin and spent the night in the on-board 'nightclub' which was cheesy as anything but hilarious at the same time. One niggle was the crazy price of everything on-board. We were starving and longing after some hot food after eating snacks all day so we went to get a portion of fish and chips and it was £18!! I nearly died.
Anyway we went to sleep on our fold out bunks and in the morning when we woke up we were in Amsterdam!
The next mission was to find our hostel. We stayed in 'The Heart of Amsterdam' hostel which for the price wasn't too shabby. We had a private dorm for the four of us and it was Men in Black theme haha. The place was a bit grimy but the beds were comfy and the free breakfast was good. The location was right in the centre of the 'Red Light District' so on one side was a live porno show and the cannabis college and on the other was a late night pub. So if you're after some peace and quiet this is definitely not the place for you. Although I wish someone had told the couple with the baby next door that!!
We decided to buy one of the IAmsterdam cards, which for 62 EUROS paid for the majority of the main attractions and free public transport for 72 hours so we thought these would be worthwhile for our stay. The cards were great and definitely saved us a lot of money. I would recommend planning which attractions you want to visit beforehand as when it came down to it there was so much we wanted to do but we ran out of time :(
First visit was to the Artis Zoo which was huge! It's one of Europe's oldest zoos and it took us a good few hours to see everything. I think my favourite animals were the sealions, they were so cute & playful. As is the case with many city zoos some of the animal enclosures were pretty small and that made me a bit sad.
We also visited Blijberg aka 'Happy Village' which is a man-made beach just outside the city. By the time we got there it was a scorching 29 degrees-perfect beach weather! We actually walked down the wrong side of the beach and ended up in a really secluded area with no-one around (apart from a totally naked man!) but it was great just to doze around in the sunshine and dip our toes in the sea. We then walked to the main bit of the beach which is amazing. It has a great atmosphere, a line of Buddhas doing peace signs top the buildings and there is amazing graffiti everywhere. We didn't venture into the beach bar but it looked like a cute tiki-bar. It was boiling so we got an ice-lolly and sat on the beach. They hold festivals in this spot and at the weekends they have beach DJs. I'd love to visit again.
The next morning we visited Zaanse Schans which is a pretty area that preserves the traditional Dutch life. It has many old style windmills that are still working today that produce paint, oil and spices. They also had a cheese factory and a traditional clog making shop. It was a great glimpse into the old style Amsterdam and very informative too! It was a very windy day perfect for windmills not so much for my hair!
That afternoon we hopped on a tram to the 'Museumkwatier' to check out the galleries and get some culture in our veins! We first visited the Van Gogh Museum, it was great to see his work up close but he isn't really an artist whose work I really love. We then went to the Stedelijk gallery next door which had a lot more contemporary art which was more enjoyable but again absolutely huge. We didn't have time to explore it all before it closed.
Nightlife was a bit difficult for us as we'd all been up early to go and visit the attractions and we didn't have time for powernaps before going out again as the nightlife ends at midnight/1am during the week. Also another thing was the prices (again) As you know I'm a cheap, bargain-lover kinda gal and when you don't drink beer all the other drinks are crazy expensive. My drinks of choice would be Passoa or Rum with a mixer and that averaged out at about 9 EUROS everywhere that we went so I didn't really drink.
On the last day we didn't have much time as we had to get the bus back to the ferry at 3pm so we decided to go on a canal boat trip showing the '100 sights of Amsterdam'. It was boring. Very boring. Luckily we got it for free with our Amsterdam card but if I had paid 15 EUROS for it I would've been very disappointed.
The weather had been lovely for our visit until we set foot on the bus home and the heavens opened! We then got on the ferry back to Newcastle with intentions to nap for a little bit and then get up and go to the awful nightclub again but we must've been pooped as none of us woke up until 7am the next morning after a good 12 hours sleep!
I'd definitely visit again as I love the city and there are just so many things to do. All the people we met were very friendly and everywhere you turn there is something photo-worthy!
Have you been to Amsterdam before? What attractions would you recommend?
Thanks for reading :)