Over some coffee and cake with my friends I was reminiscing about how much fun I had in Amsterdam the year before on my cousins hen. It was coming to the 1 year anniversay of the fun filled weekend and my friends Nat,Nina & Jas just dropped in the conversation that they had actually booked and were going back in a couple of weeks and whether I’d like to join them! Would I! I was so excited about this idea, but was it even possible? Well the room they had booked was for 4 people so there was space for me and I wouldn’t need to book another room… could I still get tickets for the flight? I didn’t want to travel by myself…. As it was yup tickets were available and reasonably priced for the flight. I tentatively asked Dee, how would he feel about me going on another holiday, without him and Dylan and at such short notice? Would I be able to make all the arrangements in a short space of time? I had only been back 3 weeks from Turkey. After we spoke it was only Monday I needed my mum to pick Dylan up as we were flying early Saturday and coming back late Monday. So I booked and started packing!
It was the first week of June and as we left rainy London in the dark I was crossing my fingers hoping the weather in Amsterdam was better. The flight from Luton with Easy Jet was short and sweet and before we knew it were on the train to our hotel. We had bought the Amsterdam 3 day travel card as we had found it really useful previously. The travel pass lets you use the trains, trams,buses and some of the ferry’s to travel around the city for free.
Last time we had stayed at the Mercure Hotel in the Sloterdjik area a short train ride into the city centre. This time we were booked into The Westside Inn A more student/budget hotel in the Southwest area of the city. This was also only a short tram journey into the city centre and trams were only a 5-7 minute walk from the hotel. The hotel was going under refurbishment and although we had read that on the website we didn’t expect to see a whole side wall missing. The room was basic and in need of an update there was a small TV and dressing table and a cupboard for clothes.We only intended on sleeping here and it held 4 single beds comfortably so it would do. Lunch was approaching and I was already salivating at the thought of our lunch. We were going to Bakers and Roasters a brunch spot with exceptional food. Since our last visit they had added another branch but we were off to the original in De Pijp. I had been dreaming of this place since I had booked my flight! The restaurant is always busy so after a short wait we were tucking into our dishes. I had the Huevos Rancheros and the girls got a variety of delicious dishes. My favourite was Natasha’s Banana Nut Bread French toast which I ended up having a good chunk out of along with my own food! With our bellies full we walked to the famous I AMSTERDAM sign. The sign is in the museum quarter, very close to the Rijksmuseum.
We decided to follow a side street (reguliersdwarsstraat) down and saw loads of bars and people drinking any having a chat. This looked like a nice place to chill, so we started looking for a bar where we could grab an outdoor table, the bars were all brightly decorated and the colourful flags added to the atmosphere and then we realised we had walked into one of the famous gay districts. We found a table at Pub SOHO and enjoyed a few G&T’s outside. The area is buzzing and you cant help but be happy. After a few drinks we went for a stroll. Amsterdam is famous for its relaxed laws and we couldn’t help but have a nosy into some of the ‘special cafes’. It was the curiosity which made us have a look at the different places, there are quite a few bulldog cafes around but it was the independent quirky ones which we peeked our heads into.
The next day, I had read about the the roof swing at the A’DAM Lookout and thought this would be a blast to do! But persuading the girls was another thing! The A’DAM lookout is a view point across the canal with exceptional view across Amsterdam. You can catch a free ferry with the travel card to this side. It was a beautiful day with the sun shining so we wanted to maximise our vitamin D intake 🙂 We decided to head to the NDSM wharf, again on the north side of Amsterdam. It used to be a disused wharf which has been revitalised by using shipping containers to house small business’s. There is also a bar with a large outdoor seating area. As the weather was so beautiful the bar was packed. It was like being at the beach! We ordered zesty white beers (Hoegarden) and spent hours relaxing and listening to the live singers and watching the boats go by.
By the time we decided to leave, we had caught a slight tan and the evening was rolling in. As this was Jas’s first trip to Amsterdam we had to take her to see the Red Light District. You can see the changes that are taking place here, the government is trying to clamp down on illegal windows with stricter checks and not renewing contracts ( a good thing) but in the year we had not been here the area felt smaller. The tourists were still out in full force and keeping together on those narrow canal paths is difficult. It is also notorious with pick pockets, not surprisingly, as you really are squashed together.
We woke early the next morning to make the most of our last day. We had a late flight home so checked out of the hotel and made our way into the centre. We could leave our bags in the hold room so that was handy. Our first stop was the flower market (Bloemenmarkt) along Singel Canal. It is the worlds only floating flower market! We stopped and chose pretty tulip bulbs to take home. There is also a wonderful cafe here that makes fresh stroopwaffels! we found it by chance, as we could smell sweet caramel in the air and we just followed our noses! We had read good things about a sandwich bar not far form where we were so headed to Piadina Bar. Its a short tram ride from the flower market. This wonderful venue actually serves fresh flat breads with a choice of fillings. we finished our meals off with the signature Tiramisu, it was devine!
We relaxed for or last few hours in a lovely bar near Piadina. We dint even catch it name and I really wish we had. The staff were relaxed and friendly and they were playing the best music… after a farewell cocktail to Amsterdam we headed back to get our bags and head for the airport. The weekend we had was fun, relaxed and very chilled. We had wanted to visit the Ann Frank Museum but that really needs to be booked in advance. As we had come previously we had seen a lot of the sites and Jas happy to be relaxing. I love this city and cant wait to return!