Back in May, (how is it mid July already?!) G and I ventured to Amsterdam with some friends for a 2 day mini break. The reason for the trip was to surprise the boys with a trip to a computer game music concert, but we decided to add some sight seeing in their too. AKA BIKE SPOTTING IN AMSTERDAM 🙂
Firstly, I love that you can fly to Amsterdam in just 35 minutes from Stansted airport – that’s quicker than getting to London on the train! We flew with Easy Jet and stayed at the Radisson Blu Hotel at Amsterdam Airport. I can’t rate it highly enough (thanks Laura for finding a fab place!). Our room was delayed and we ended up with the entire mini bar for free. The boys were celebrating their birthdays and the staff went above and beyond for our stay. With shuttle buses to the airport for train connections, it was a great find.
Disclaimer – this is a photo heavy post! As we only had hand luggage I didn’t take my DSLR camera. I also couldn’t find my charger for my point and shoot, so this post is a mixture of phone photos and some great ones that Laura and Scott managed to snap on their camera. Laura has recently started her vintage blog/Instagram Lula Prima so do go and check it out!
We spent a lot of time walking around the beautiful canals taking in the city scenery and spotting bikes. You know true friends when they point out the best bikes for you and wait patiently whilst you take photos. Laura had learnt lots about the construction of all the skinny houses in Amsterdam and told us that people paid tax based on the width of their homes. I think this was once the widest house in the city.
One of the beautiful things about visiting during May was that the blossom had fallen like a carpet across all of the canal streets. It felt a little magical and when I turned the corner to discover Wisteria too it was the icing on the cake.
We enjoyed pancakes (an absolute must when you are in the city), had hipster coffee shop breaks and found sweet shops full of liquorice and chocolate. We spotted the Cheese Museum, some fantastic shops full of designer maker goods and bike shops on every corner.
Our concert was out at the formerly named Heineken Music Hall which was easily accessible by train. In fact, all of Amsterdam has brilliant public transport with affordable double decker trains (novelty!) and trams galore. We didn’t have time to explore on two wheels, but I definitely would if we went back. I did notice that whilst everyone cycles there, not one person wore a helmet.
At my request we wandered through the red light district briefly during one afternoon – I was genuinely just curious as to what it was like. A surreal experience to say the least and one I shall not forget. This was the one area of the city that did smell of pot, but we otherwise didn’t smell it that much.
On our second day in Amsterdam, we took a bus 35 minutes out of the city to Keukenhof tulip fields. I was thrilled to be their during the season (late March – mid May) as I had seen and heard so much about it. It was BEAUTIFUL. The pictures probably can’t capture how vast and colourful it was. It even contained a petting zoo and more types of tulips than I ever knew existed. The bus and entry was about 25 Euros for a combo ticket which I thought was excellent value. You could spend an entire day there just enjoying the blooms and soaking in all the floral delights. Laura sat in a giant wooden clog, we saw a windmill or two and did some tourist shopping too.
We were in Amsterdam during Rememberance day (occurs every 5 years), so there were lots of free music festivals around the city, which made for a great vibe. I wish we had more time as I really wanted to explore the museums – so I think we will go back next year at some point. I definitely need to stock up on Tony’s Chocolonely which is bloody amazing Dutch chocolate.
We ended our trip with more canal walking and bike spotting before catching the train back to the airport. One of the things I noticed most, is that Dutch people are so happy and friendly! I really enjoyed our brief visit to Holland and would love to explore more.
Have you ever been to Amsterdam?