I recently went to Amsterdam for the first time. I know, right?! Late to the game though I may be I made damn sure to make the most of the 48 hours I had in the city!
You know what the hardest part was? Packing! Amsterdam was the first stop of the holiday and it was forecast to rain for our entire visit. Easy peasy … NOT. Our second destination was Barcelona who are STILL going through unusually warm weather for the time of year. (Wah! Take me back!) There’s a blog post on the way about packing for two totally different holidays.
We didn’t travel until after work on the Thursday night. Minimal time at the airport, great flight and checked in within an hour of landing. Winning! Our hotel, the Steigenburger, was right by the airport – ideal as we were flying back out again in 48 hours! – and it’s only 15 minutes on the train into the city centre. So, naturally, we took the midnight train (yes really) into Amsterdam to explore the city at night.
We sat in the rain on the steps of this building listening to a bunch of stoned hippies singing and getting stoned in the square. As I’d never been before I didn’t know what building I was sitting on … turns out it’s the palace. Yep. Just chilling at 2am on the steps of the palace. No biggie. We came back here on a tour the next day and it was all fenced off – the king was home!
After a rip off of a taxi ride (don’t EVER get into a taxi that isn’t at the official taxi rank at the airport. They are most definitely still licensed taxi’s and are totally safe but will most definitely overcharge you!) and a few hours kip we dived out of bed to just about made it for the start of our walking tour; the only thing we got round to booking before we left Manchester.
We booked ours with Freedam Tours – a free walking tour run by a local student who works off tips only – and it was absolutely brilliant. Apart from being really knowledgeable, genuinely enthusiastic and incredibly witty she introduced us to the most heavenly treat I’ve ever tasted in my life – Stroopwafels. No tip was big enough to repay the favour, I’m telling you! Much to my delight I’ve found that you can buy them in the UK (I’ve since seen them in Sainsbury’s and Tesco). Grab a packet of these beauties and a coffee and read the rest of this blog.
You. Are. Welcome.
We grabbed lunch at the first place we could find (a steak house, there’s LOADS of them all over the city) because we’d skipped breakfast and then headed over to the museum quarter. We figured we only had time to do one so after taking obligatory photos at the I-Amsterdam sign (of course) we headed into the Van Gogh museum. It had topped my list of things to do and I can safely say it lived up to my expectations and SO MUCH MORE!
I certainly didn’t expect to spend 3 hours there but the art work is truly breath-taking in person. You’ll have to just trust me and go see it for yourself.
We explored the Red Light district in the evening. That, rather surprisingly, is EXACTLY what people tell you it’s like but much smaller than I had imagined. The city is just as beautiful at night as it is by daylight so we were quite happy strolling around uncovering beautiful new streets and having a wander round the Sexxmuseum. All that walking had us knackered though so it was an early night knowing that tomorrow was going to be a long ass day!
Our second, and last, day in Amsterdam got off to a cracking start with a gorgeous omelette. Now I’d love to say I’m sorry for the terrible pun but, quite honestly, I’m just not. Bad puns and dad jokes are the absolute one for me! We found a beautiful café (not one of those types) for a good bit of fuel and a lovely coffee and decided to head back up to the museum quarter.
As we weren’t flying to Barcelona until late that night we figured we had enough time to head back and do the Moco museum. We’d seen it the day before and knew it was smaller so we couldn’t possibly miss our flight because of all the pretty art but we were both really looking forward to this added bonus – a Banksy exhibition. Not just Banksy, although the majority of the museum is currently given over to an incredible extensive collection, but tucked away in the basement is also a Salvador Dali exhibition! I remember studying Dali in school and being amazed by his idea of melting clocks; how he perceived time to be fluid and irrelevant to him fascinated me and still does to this day. Such unbelievably different artists both under one roof?! Yes!
Undoubtedly there is SO much more to do in Amsterdam and I’m already looking forward to my next trip back there. It’s a friendly, bohemian city full of creativity, tolerance and all the sweet stuff! I’m already taking recommendations for the next time I can get there – food in particular as I struggled to find good restaurants – so comment below with where you’d suggest I visit.
And on to Barcelona!