A lifestyle blog all about Birmingham, UK.

Monday, 14 March 2016

My time in Amsterdam...




I couldn't go to Amsterdam and not write about it could I?! After all, when me and my friends were planning our few days away there, I checked out a whole range of impressive blog posts about what to get up to in the city. If you're heading there anytime soon and want to know what it's like, the prices of things and what we found most enjoyable, or just intrigued, then here is just a snippet of what I got up to in the three days I was there...

Me and my friends decided to head there during the week (Monday-Thursday), therefore we would save a huge amount of money on flights and accommodation. When we originally booked it at the beginning of the year, I did panic thinking that weeknights were going to be a bit boring compared to if we had gone later in the week and over a weekend, but I couldn't have been more wrong! It's actually cool to go to Amsterdam any day of the week, as it's always super busy and there is still a real atmosphere in bars and snazzy areas at night.

On our first day in the city, we headed to our hostel. We stayed in a boutique hostel called CocoMama; I couldn't recommend this place enough! It was in a beautiful location (Westeinde 18, 1017 ZP Amsterdam) a little out of the city center but only a 20 second walk to the tram stop which got you to Amsterdam Central within 10 minutes. All the rooms at the hostel are different themes, which makes it quite fun, and the living space and kitchen, which are open to everyone staying there, are designed in a cool, Scandinavian style. We had breakfast each morning at the hostel after we picked up some food from a supermarket just over the road, which saved a lot of money. The best thing about CocoMama though was the staff! They couldn't do enough for you and were there to answer any questions. 

I would really recommend getting around the city via trams. You never have to wait longer than 5 minutes for one and all stops are placed conveniently close to any tourist destinations. For a 1 day tram pass it cost us €7 and for a 2 day tram pass it cost us €12. Getting the tram everywhere not only saved a lot of time and meant we could squeeze even more into our days, it also saved a lot of foot pain and aches! Another tip, make sure you have a map of Amsterdam! If you don't want to pay a huge amount for 4G over there, not everywhere has WiFi, so it's definitely worth making sure you can read a map (fortunately, I was with two others who were much better at this than myself) and keeping it on you at all times

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On our first afternoon, we decided to hop on a canal cruise! This was gorgeous in the sunshine and a perfect relaxing thing to do after the stress of flights and finding our way around the city. We went on the Lovers Canal Cruise and it cost €11, which got us an hour long cruise with headphones, meaning everyone could listen to all the interesting information about the area and little stories in their own language. We went at around 2pm on a Monday afternoon and it was full, but enough room to sit at a table with others and enjoy the views. I would definitely recommend the canal cruise as it gave you a real insight into how local people live and it meant that we already knew a fair amount about the city within a few hours of being there.

On our second day in Amsterdam, we headed to the Sex Museum! This is placed just down the road from Amsterdam Central and although it was popular, we walked straight in and didn't feel rushed at all. It was also only €4 and actually really interesting! We went at around 11.30am and although there are parts of the museum which are a little, lets say, "out there", it's all fun really...

 

We then headed to the 'I Amsterdam' sign; this is definitely worth heading to! It's completely free and actually hilarious watching people climb all over the letters and trying to get the best photo's. It's also in a lovely area where you can just walk around and appreciate the sights of the Rijks Museum and Van Gogh Museum.

 

On the Tuesday night, we headed to the Red Light District. We were all really intrigued about what it was going to be like, but it was so much more interesting than I ever expected! Before we looked around and headed to a few bars, we went to Red Light Secrets - The Museum of Prostitution. We purchased tickets earlier on in the day for €9. I am so, so glad that we went there before looking around the area, it was so interesting and an absolute bargain for everything you learnt there! There were short videos about how everyone in the area works together as well as hearing stories about the 'girls in the windows' and how their profession really works. We pretty much learnt everything you would need to know about the area and the girls and it made you approach the area very differently and see the girls in a completely different light! I very much recommend going there to get a real sense of the area and the rules you also have to stick to there. The Red Light District itself is a really lovely area with lots to see and plenty of bars to work your way around. We ended up spending our Wednesday night there too, we loved it that much!

 

On the Wednesday morning, we made our way to the Rijksmuseum. This was a real treat for the eyes! There was just so much to see for around €15. We booked in advance and managed to go straight in, so I would definitely recommend going online beforehand. From beautiful pieces of art and huge life size doll houses to an incredible library and impressive exhibitions, you would be missing out if you didn't make the trip to this breathtaking landmark! I would also highly recommend the 'Catwalk' exhibition, it was stunning and put together so well. It was very busy but not overwhelming and we were there for a few hours from around 11.30am-2pm so it's definitely worth the money.

After spending a few hours at the Rijksmuseum, we headed to Anne Frank's house and museum. If you're planning on heading there, I strongly recommend booking in advance! We did and we jumped the queue, which was at least a two hour long wait. This was more than just having a look round, it was genuinely an experience. I read Anne Frank's diary when I was younger and have always admired her, but seeing it all in the flesh was breathtaking. It was quite a chilling time being in the rooms where the families hid for so long and seeing for yourself what it would have been like. I liked how it hadn't been changed as you could then see what it was really like for them all. Seeing marks on the walls tracking the children's heights brought tears to my eyes and nothing could have prepared me for how emotional it would actually be. It took around an hour to make our way around and there is also a cafe and a gift shop to spend time in too. It cost €9.50 in advance online. You cannot miss this place if you go to Amsterdam, you need to see it for yourself.

 

On our last day, we decided to have a ride on a bike, when in Amsterdam right?! We did some research and found MacBike, a bike rental company just around the corner from Vondelpark. For three hours we were able to rent the bikes for €11 and it was fantastic! It was so much fun to ride around the bike with hundreds of others taking in the fresh air and lovely atmosphere. We attempted to hit the road with the locals, but quickly turned around! Unless you understand the roads very well, I would highly recommend just sticking to parks because it's actually fairly dangerous and I think we almost died at least 5 times in the space of 3 minutes.

We were fortunate enough to go to some lovely little cafe's and bar's during our time in Amsterdam, but if there is one thing that I suggest you try in the city, it is the fries with lots and lots of mayonnaise! I'm a big fan of mayo here, but you've not tried mayo until you've had some from The Netherlands. Do not let the opportunity pass, if you see a fries place, do it - you will not regret it.

If you want to know anymore about mine and my friends experience in Amsterdam, get in touch and I will help where I can!




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