Hello lovelies- I’m baaaack!
I really had no choice but to take a break from blogging this past month- it has been so busy and eventful that sadly one of my favourite hobbies has had to take a back seat. It’s all good news though, and you guys are definitely overdue a life update post which will be coming very soon!
As some of you may know, last month I went to Amsterdam for a little break. I didn’t take a huge amount of photos as we were in a big group and I’d get left behind if I stopped to photograph everything I wanted to- it is such a beautiful, blog-worthy city! However, I wanted to share my experience with you all through my iPhone over the 3 days we were there and give some recommendations of places to visit if you’re planning a little city break anytime soon.
We flew to Amsterdam from Manchester, and arrived early in the morning. After getting off the train at Centraal Station, we went out of the completely wrong exit and ended up walking miles to get to the centre where our hostel was! There were so many bikes outside the station, I couldn’t get over it!
On our massive trek through Amsterdam, we came across this gorgeous little shop Stach. George bought some natural tortilla chips from here later and they were incredibly tasty- the whole shop is filled with health food brands like Rude Health, as well as their own fresh and tasty food- I wanted to buy everything there!
When we found our hostel, we dropped off our bags and headed for the nearest eatery. The boys had a full English breakfast and the girls all had toasties or paninis at The Grasshopper– it’s a great building right by the waterside overlooking the canal boat station near Centraal Station. The service was great and we were the only ones in there- it wasn’t even 12 o’clock but due to our hideously early start it was time for lunch and our first pints of Heineken! We picked up a strawberry and banana iced waffle from the shop next door afterwards, which was warm and served with cream- so good.
Our hostel was ideally located for the Red Light District, Dam Square and Centraal Station, and I was actually really impressed with our room and the facilities there considering it is a 2 star hotel/hostel. There were 9 of us in the same room, which was literally 5 sets of bunk beds side-by-side with bedside tables in between, and thankfully we had two showers which saved a lot of time getting ready in the mornings! The bedding was clean (the floor not so much, but I expected much worse!) and so were the bathrooms, and I slept really well the first two nights safely on the bottom bunk (all the boys were forced onto the tops!) There was no noise from outside or downstairs- only when people passed our room in the hallway- apart from the snoring in our own room!
Behind the hostel, there was a street full of coffee shops, bars, restaurants and fast food eateries. BABA is a very popular coffee shop which was literally 2 minutes around the corner, on a street that gets incredibly busy on Friday nights! The boys loved it in here (for obvious reasons if you know what the purpose of coffee shops are in Amsterdam!) but you can’t hang around unless you buy a drink- the staff came round and harassed us a few times!
After a whistle-stop bar tour of sorts (strolling around and stopping for a pint every time we got tired!) we were ready for some food. With a day as long and tiring as ours, all-you-can-eat ribs were definitely a priority! I think I ate around 20 ribs in total, but the guys had even more than that- we were desperate for meat! We carried on our walk and went to the Red Light District to take in the *ahem* interesting sights- I found it pretty fascinating how prostitution and sex shops are just a part of everyday life there, whereas in England it’s all very hush-hush and hidden away.
Ice Bakery was my favourite place to get sweet treats whilst in Amsterdam- there are a few branches throughout the city. I was thrilled to see so many different macaroons in the window, and tried out a strawberry cheesecake flavour one for myself- it was delicious! After a final drink, we headed back to the hostel as we were all so exhausted- adjusting to sleeping in a room with 8 other people was no problem as I dropped off as soon as my head hit the pillow.
After a well-deserved sleep, we woke up to a beautiful morning in Amsterdam. After grabbing a quick breakfast from various places along the main street near our hostel (some people wanted KFC, but the only thing I could stomach at that time in the morning was a croissant!) we headed to the Body Worlds: The Happiness Project exhibition. Unfortunately we couldn’t take any pictures, but it was a really interesting experience that I would highly recommend. The exhibition is split over 6 floors, and each of them shows a different aspect of the human anatomy and why it is important for each element to be healthy in order for a human being to be happy. All the exhibits are from real human bodies, and there are some full bodies used- it was fascinating reading about how they preserved them for the exhibition. If you’re visiting Amsterdam any time soon, I’d definitely suggest a visit as it’s worth the money and you can get discounts from some places, including the hostel we stayed in.
We headed to Dam Square in the now boiling afternoon heat, and the other girls decided to go shopping. I don’t usually do much shopping on holiday unless there’s something I’m particularly looking for, so I headed off with the boys instead to find Vondelpaark, which is a huge, beautiful park on the other side of the city. It was a long trek, so we stopped off for some food and drink along the way- we went to a place that has self-serve frozen yogurt and they also sold poffertjes which I was eager to try- they were delicious, and served on a Paul Frank plate! George had some frozen yogurt in salted caramel, apple pie and strawberry flavours and it was so good.
By the time we got to the Vondelpaark area, it was time for happy hour at Hard Rock Cafe, so we headed for some cocktails! They were some of the best I’ve ever had- I love Hard Rock and even more so when there’s two for one cocktails on offer. We sat in the courtyard whilst the boys went to the park for a bit, and then when everyone was back we sat down to some pretty epic grub. I ordered my all-time favourite Twisted Mac ‘n’ Cheese, and for some reason decided a massive tower of onion rings was also a good idea- clearly my eyes were bigger than my stomach! Needless to say I couldn’t finish either, although they were both delicious as always.
After our food, we went to get some beers and then took them to the beautiful Vondelpaark to sit on the grass and enjoy the sunset. The atmosphere there is incredible- it’s like a party park except the police aren’t stopping it- they’re happily patrolling and no one is causing trouble, just having a really good time. It was the place that made me think Amsterdam is somewhere I could see myself living- imagine being able to go to the park whenever you want, sit on a picnic blanket and share a bottle of wine catching up with a friend- bliss.
The evening was pretty interesting, seeing the Red Light District in full swing on a Thursday evening was a real sight! I still can’t get over how strange it was, but it was a laugh nonetheless.
The next morning, it was even hotter than the previous day, but starting to get pretty muggy. I got a delicious waffle from Ice Bakery for breakfast- they gave me so many strawberries! After breakfast, the girls went to HEMA– it’s a bit like a department store that sells homeware, makeup, stationery and loads of different foods. So, basically heaven. I bought some cute little bits of stationery and homeware for myself, mum and grandma, but I could have bought the whole store! Definitely taking an empty suitcase on my next trip to Amsterdam… They also had a huge pile of Dutch waffles- my favourite snack from placement that the guys introduced me to- I hit the motherlode there!
We really wanted to go on a river cruise to enjoy the sun, but all of us had very limited funds, so we went on the cheapest one that had a plastic roof over the top. Melting is too nice a term for what we experienced on that boat, it was so incredibly hot that we all fell asleep! It was lovely to see Amsterdam from the water though- we saw some of the areas we didn’t manage to see from walking around, which were really beautiful. It was blissful to get off the boat and have a little breeze to cool us off, and we headed to a shop that sold Ben & Jerry’s ice cream opposite the boats. Guys, I had cinnamon bun flavour Ben & Jerry’s. It was awesome.
The weather quickly deteriorated after that, and it started to go pretty dark. After grabbing some fries with mayo from a shop called Chipsy King (hilarious name, but their fries were delicious!) and sitting with them in Dam Square for a while, I went to the souvenir shop to grab some little bits for the family. They had so much adorable Miffy merchandise- I wanted it all! We went to a bar to have a few drinks before finding somewhere for food, and that’s when the storm started- massive cracks of thunder and huge flashes of lightning for a few minutes- I used to hate storms but George’s influence has caused me to actually like them!
After wondering around aimlessly for hours, trying to find somewhere everyone wanted to eat, we decided to split up so the girls could get food and the guys could go for more drinks. I had a delicious slice of pizza in a place called New York Pizza (I think?) and then bought some churros covered in Nutella- Amsterdam junk food at its finest! We had another walk around the Red Light District, and then it was time to go back and pack whilst the boys stayed in BABA round the corner.
The aftermath of Friday night in Amsterdam at 6am the next morning was pretty shocking- rubbish was all over the streets and some guys on a bench tried to sell us cocaine on the way to the station- that’s exactly what you need at that time in the morning- NOT. My advice is to enjoy Amsterdam during the week if you can, then get out before the stag and hen parties arrive (unless that’s why you’re going, of course!)
I had a great time in a city that was fairly low on my list initially, but I’m so glad I agreed to go and it was such a bonus to enjoy gorgeous weather whilst we were there. If you’re on the fence about visiting Amsterdam, I would highly recommend visiting at least once. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but you need to experience it for yourself and you’ll probably find you enjoy it!
Have you ever been to Amsterdam? Did you visit any of the same places we did?