I love to travel, to try new places, to get away and escape reality for a little while (who doesn’t?) So a regular hobby of mine is looking up cheap flights and hotels… all of which lead me to Amsterdam!
My main issue usually is finding someone to jet off with! With my other half being too money sensible for spontaneous trips I turned to my pals and luckily my wifey was game! (also a great excuse to catch up and spend some time together seeing as she lives in Manchester.) Flights/Hotel booked and we eagerly awaited our trip! We flew with easyjet for around £56 each and the hotel was found on booking.com costing £90 each plus tax. (BARGAIN!) – see here for hotel details.
We flew from Southend airport on the Friday and it was an absolute dream, I love this airport SO MUCH. It’s ridiculously quick and easy!
Arriving in Amsterdam around 17.30 we set about finding our hotel. The free Amsterdam guide from booking.com told us that our nearest station was Amsterdam Rai so we bought a return ticket here. However, when we arrived we quickly realised we were nowhere near our hotel and would in fact have to get a further metro to our actual stop! Trying to figure out the ticket machine was slightly challenging but with some persistence and ALOT of nervous laughter we managed to get an hour ticket for around 2 euros each.
When we got to our actual stop we learned that we were not far from our hotel, using google maps as our aid we stood around baffled for a good 10 mins alone trying to figure out what direction we were going BUT eventually we nailed it!
It was dark as we arrived so we couldn’t take full advantage of our surroundings but it still looked so cute! The bridges, the fairy lights, the water. Tip number 1 for Amsterdam though – watch out for the bikes!
We reached our hotel, with all our limbs intact, and hurried to reception for check in. First impressions of the hotel were YAAAAAS! The décor was great, exposed brick, cosy fire, plush furniture, pictures of half naked people on the walls, a magazine rack. Very modern and chic! Also the guy at reception was SO CUTE and we instantly felt at ease. He was really helpful showing us where everything was on a map that he gave to us, even pointing out the best places to eat. If this wasn’t enough we were also being serenaded by the sounds of fergalicious!
All checked in we made our way to the room, this was just as impressive if not more so. I exclaimed in delight over the exposed brick theme running through the hotel (“I’ve been dreaming of inside brick for ages” I think were my exact words and I even hugged the wall lol awks.) The room consisted of, the most comfortable bed I’ve ever slept in, a flat screen tv, plush chair, desk area, bed side tables, clothes hanger, safe, sink, toilet (with glass front door – If you aren’t that close things could get awkward.) and a shower which happened to just kind of be round a corner with no door. Oh and of course towels and free toiletries BOOM.
After we had got over the delight of this beautiful room we started making plans for our trip. With a short time span it’s always best to have a plan so you don’t waste time aimlessly wandering – this is great if you’re there for a while but you don’t want to miss out on exciting things due to bad planning!
First stop on the Friday eve was a sweet little authentic Italian restaurant. Obviously family run, we were attended to with a friendly smile and a bit of food related banter – this is what we like! We were given some home made garlic bread to start which was delicious! And ordered a litre of red wine, cause obv! We’re on holiday! And we finished this all off with a spag bowl each that was absolutely perfect! (and of course smothered in parmesan cheese on my part.)
Once we were sufficiently full we moved on. Walking further down the street we passed many busy bars until we hit a square. This square was full of places for us to try and we were a little overwhelmed! Where do we start? Are they all for drinking or are some just for smoking? What do we do? SOMEONE GUIDE US. In the end we opted to start with an Irish pub… stick with what you know! We had one drink in here wrapped in blankets in the chilly Feb air and it was SO CUTE! We then decided we were ready for something a little more decadent and headed to smokeys. The music was great! A real mix of stuff from old and classic to new and fresh, it was quickly evident that this was not a place for drinking as beer and water seemed to be the only beverage on the menu, not being a beer fan I opted for a water. However, what seemed to be a lot busier was the weed counter (which still seems like a strange concept to me.) Not wanting to go too crazy I opted for a muffin – playing it safe, considering the stories I’d heard from other people who had been before. I scoffed the dry chocolate muffin and waited………. and waited……… and waited, nope nothing! So i opted for something pre rolled and barely managed any of it because smoking is actually gross and my poor feeble throat couldn’t take it! We left smokeys around 1am when the barman walked around turning all the music off.
On the way home we stopped at another small bar, one for the road! Be rude not to really.
Things we learned about Amsterdam that Friday: Doors there are really heavy! All the toilets smell amazing (seriously what are they using?) Some bars are not for drinking. People watching here is the best.
With a free fruit and tea from the hotel lobby we made our way to bed with a crazy early alarm set for the morning to ensure we got the most of our trip.
Up bright an early with a fuzzy red wine head but ready to explore! We had breakfast at the hotel which was delicious (albeit a little pricey). Pancakes, bacon, croissants and syrup YESYESYES! Just what we needed to set us up for the day.
We found a small tour shop and purchased some tickets… first stop, the body worlds museum. I had read about this place in Scarlett Londons blog and was so curious that I just had to see it for myself. The museum is filled with the actual bodies of people who had donated themselves, these are made plastic to stop them decomposing which enables you to get a really good look at how we are made. I found the whole thing to be fascinating! The exhibition is actually based around happiness, why we strive for it, what makes us happy, what stops us from being happy etc and focusses on some real key issues as well as teaching you about the body and how it works. I would highly recommend this to anyone! It’s always good to know about your body. We came out of there with a definite sense of needing to exercise more and eat better.
Amsterdam in general is a beautiful city with so much to see. We passed the flower markets, crossed over the canals and looked on lovingly at the many many cheese shops!
Dam square, although surrounded by beautiful architecture, didn’t really do anything for me though? I much preferred where we were staying and would personally recommend staying a little further out. Everywhere is in walking distance so there’s no worries on that front.
Next stop was Blue, a café/restaurant our hotel receptionist had told us about. It was situated on the top floor of a shopping mall with panoramic views of the city from above. It was a little grey but still beautiful! I had a home made lemonade which was SO refreshing! and a bowl of chips to get me through till dinner.
Whilst at our pit stop we decided that next on the agenda would be the red light district and in particular the red light secrets museum.
You could definitely tell when you were approaching the red light district as everything got a little bit naughty. Sex shops started popping up and then oh hi lady in a window how’s you? It’s a little unnerving but also a lot more normal than I was expecting! From what I’d seen on tv I assumed that the whole thing would be more of a spectacle and that all the doors would be together. I was mistaken!
The red light secrets museum was €8 entry and started off with a short film. This played on a loop so once you had caught up with yourself you were free to roam the rest of the exhibition. I actually found this place to be really interesting if not a little depressing. The museum was filled with facts and figures regarding prostitution in Amsterdam as well as mock up rooms, including a torture chamber. You also had the chance to sit in a window yourself (both real and virtual) and let me tell you it is not fun!
My favourite part of the museum I think was the confession wall. Guests are encouraged to write down their sexual confessions which are then stuck to a big wall for all to see. They’re also published into a book and a calendar (which I totally would have bought if they weren’t so over priced.)
After leaving the museum we went on a mad hunt for waffles. I’d seen so many people walking around with them and they looked delcious! Considering they are bit of a Dam delecasy we couldn’t not! After what felt like forever we finially found a place that matched our criteria and we were not dissapointed. I opted for white chocolate and strawberries. (Which, if I do say so myself, was a fantastic choice … I can literally taste it now just thinking about it mmmmmmm)
With happy waffle filled tummies we headed back to the hotel to freshen up and rest our weary legs.
We then ventured back out in search of the Heineken experience. Wandering the dark streets we passed a few buildings that looked as though they might be it, all of which looked closed! Having paid already we grew slightly nervous. But EVENTUALLY we found the actual building, all lit up in green and surrounded by people – yep it was definitely still open.
Not being a massive fan of beer this wasn’t my favourite excursion but it was still fun! There was a small simulator in which you became beer and were “brewed”… when you’re not expecting this it becomes strangely, confusingly hilarious! There was also beer tasting (obv) and ponies!!
After this final sight seeing stop we hunted for a place to dine on our last night. We came across a fancy looking place and with money still to spend decided this was it. With fake log burning fires and fish tanks we instantly relaxed. The food was so delicious but the best part of the whole place was the handles to the toilets … they were hands!!! Just genius and I couldn’t resist taking some snaps.
After dinner we hit up a cocktail bar, millie had a pina colada which was served in an actual coconut! You even get given a spoon to eat the innards afterwards – I so wished I liked coconut cause this looked seriously cool. I, on the other hand, opted for a rum and ginger number (seeing as the place was called ginger I thought it would be a good choice …. and it was!) We were given free “crisps” by what I assume was the manager (although these were way to spicy for me… they kind of looked like mini prawn crackers).
Leaving the cocktail bar we decided to make one final stop back at Smokey’s (mainly because the music was great and the people watching was even better!)
One last night in our super comfy beds and a 6am alarm set for the journey home!
I cannot fault Amsterdam, I absolutely loved the city and am definitely planning to go back. I’d love to visit in the summer and ride bikes around the park <3
Have you been to any of the places I mentioned? Let me know what you thought 🙂
Peace and Love xoxo