At the beginning of December 2016 we travelled to the city of Amsterdam in the Netherlands. It was a present for my 30th birthday, I have never been to Amsterdam before and was looking forward to exploring this artistic, canal saturated city.
I’d looked at travel guides emphasising how beautiful this city was but it exceeded my expectations and more. From the buildings and canal walks to the talkative jolly locals my stay in amsterdam was amazing and I want to share it with you 🙂
We stayed at the Amsterdam American Hotel and up until recently I didnt realise that this was used as the exterior shot for the hotel in The Fault In Our Stars and also Sam Smith stopped here. In a nutshell this hotel was luxurious the hotel staff were pleasant and helpful and the rooms were awesome. The hotel was centrally located so we were able to walk every where without having to pay for taxi fees ! It was also pretty handy for canal rides as some of the many canal touring companies stopped right outside!
The first night we arrived we decided to seek out a coffee shop and see what all the fuss was about. It soon became apparent just how relaxed and easy going life is in the Netherlands the locals were carefree, laidback and the coffee was great….. we were also very hungry when we left the coffee shop but decided it would be safer to navigate our way back to the hotel avoiding death by pushbikes.
After reading the inspiring diary of Anne Frank it would have been rude not to visit Anne Frank’s house during our stay. We booked our tickets online prior to the trip. I highly suggest doing this to avoid the long queues. Before our visit we sought out somewhere to have breakfast. The hotel staff recommended the Pancake Bakery just up the road from Anne Frank’s which was ideal. We found the bakery and from the outside it didnt look to be anything special, I soon came to realise that this was one of the many hidden treasures Amsterdam had to offer, and we had a couple of breakfasts in there. Ranging from Prosecco breakfasts to savoury or sweet pancakes and lovely coffees it was a lovely way to start the day!
After breakfast we walked down to Anne Frank’s house and thank god we had bought a ticket because the queues were long and it was cold. The house wasnt what I expected and I found it anticlimatic. The groups were big and we were basically pushed through the whole museum therefore we couldnt really soak up the whole experience . Still I’m glad I got to experience this.
Next stop was the cheese museum right across the road from Anne Frank’s house. This was a little different and very quirky and best of all free !!! Firstly if you love cheese you’ll love this simply because you walk into a shop full of cheese and cheese tasters …. Did you know you could get blue cheese??? No neither did I and it tasted yummy!!
We also visited the Tulip museum next door I love flowers and I was in heaven. Dedicated to Amsterdams national flower and one of my favourite flowers too. We didn’t venture into the museum itself but the shop was lovely. I think it was about 5 euro to enter which isn’t bad at all !!!
The next visit took us to Westerkerk church just a few steps down from Anne Frank’s house. This is the church Anne Frank wrote of hearing the church bells whilst confined in the Secret Annex. Designed by Hendrick de Keyser and built between 1620 -1631 this church boasts stunning interior and is said to be the largest church in Amsterdam.
We ended the day with a Lovers canal cruise showcasing the Amsterdam Light festival . This was very romantic showing various spectacular light sculptures in and around the canals of Amsterdam.
As a lover of street art especially a lover of Banksy’s work, I was able to visit the Modern Contemporary Museum (Moco Museum ) situated near the Rijksmuseum in the museum quarter. This location is playing host to the street art collections of Banksy and the pop art artist Andy Warhol. I was looking forward to the Banksy: Laugh Now exhibition and viewing this collaboration of art certainly lived up to its expectations with plenty to see. Costing around 12 euros, if your visiting Amsterdam this is definately a must visit.
Whilst in the museum quarter we visited the Rijksmuseum one of the most popular museums in Amsterdam, which houses some of the most well known peices of Dutch Art. It would have taken days to view everything in the museum, so we took some time beforehand to observe the map deciding what parts of the museum interested us the most. The areas that took our fancy were the Middle Ages and Renaissance, The Great Hall, The Gallery of Honour, The Night Watch -Rembrandt and works by Vincent Van Gogh, Vermeer and the 20th century section of the gallery. Such a thought provoking afternoon was had and another positive highlight of the trip.
Day 3 was mostly spent hanging around Dam Square and the Red Light District visiting various coffee shops and cafes whilst sightseeing around this area. Dam Square is pretty impressive with the Royal Palace at one side and The National Monument at the other with beautiful horses and carts, pigeons, bikes and trams. Teamed with a few shops and cafes Dam Square is the perfect place to people watch and relax.
Curiosity got the better of me and I wanted to go and see the Red Light District. I wasnt sure how I would find it and if I would feel uncomfortable. For this reason we visited during the day. We had a stroll through the alleys of De Wallen which are lined with sex shops, peep shows, sex theatres, sex museums and a cannabis museum. There were only a few girls in the booths at this time so the area wasnt in full swing yet. We decided to go into the sex museum (just so we could say we’d been!!) It was fun !!! I would reccomend it if you want a laugh !
Finally we ended the day by dining at the Sea Palace which is a chinese and Europes first floating restaurant. If your in this area you should definately try it the service was impeccable and the food delicious. The menu is quite pricey but it was almost certainly worth it !
The last day was dedicated to getting lost amongst the canals and in search of some street art. Unlike anywhere else map reading was about searching for the canals and not for the streets. We were walking around for hours but there was always something to see I was fascinated by it all. I suggest a good pair of walking boots and good map reading skills.
Our last supper (excuse the pun ) was recommended to us by a friend. An unusual quirky restaurant called Moeders (Dutch for Mothers). We were warned that it would be fully booked and that if we had not booked prior then we possibly wouldnt get a table. Sure enough we hadnt booked but we thought we would try our luck and as soon as the doors opened at 5pm we would ask politely if they could squeeze us in. Luckily for us they said we could have a table but we would have to be finished by 6:30pm.
The walls are adorned with pictures of mums creating a friendly warm ambience. Great service and delicious food and it didn’t break the bank ! WIN ! That’s the end of my four day itinerary for Amsterdam. 🙂 If you get the chance to go do it!!!