I’ve only ever been to Amsterdam twice in my life (so far!) and both times I have loved every minute of being there. The first time I visited was with my family about 9 years ago in February, it was bitterly cold and a bit of a culture shock as I didn’t really know what Amsterdam was all about. The second time I went was with my boyfriend, Ben, in June last year as a surprise Birthday gift. The weather was warm and sunny and we had a nice lazy weekend wandering around the canals and many cobbled streets of the city. We always tend to fly out either around mid-day Friday or late Friday evening for our weekend breaks, arriving back late Sunday. With Amsterdam only an hour away by plane it’s virtually a hop to a whole new adventure.
We arrived late on Friday night and got the train from the airport into the city. From here we walked to our hotel located at Westerdoksdijk. It was called the Good Hotel which was a temporary floating hotel in the city (I’ve just researched it again and believe it’s now in London!). It was an impressive, reasonably priced hotel which was only a 20 minute walk to the city centre. There are a lot of hotels in the city centre that are reasonably priced but be sure to book early as the prices in Amsterdam can increase quite a lot if booking last minute. Once we dropped our bags off we headed into town to grab some food and then went to bed. All in all a very eventful day.
The following day we decided to head to the city centre. Walking back towards the main train station, we headed down Damrak, the main street in Amsterdam. At the end of the road is Dam Square, an iconic area in Amsterdam known for hosting a variety of events and the location of de Bijenkorf; a large department store. We spend a couple of hours wandering round here and managed to do some shopping too.
As Amsterdam is unlike anywhere else you will go, you end up with a lot of photos of canals as they all look so beautiful. Around each corner is another tree lined street which you can’t help but photograph. From Dam Square we wandered over towards the Anne Frank House, the queue was huge and as we only had two days to explore we decided against visiting. I would highly recommend a visit as it is a very moving place, just be sure to book ahead as it is one of the most well known places to visit in the city. We continued on and headed towards the Van Gogh Museum. Neither Ben or I are massive Van Gogh fans, but there is a large park area here and it’s the location of the famous ‘I Am Amsterdam’ sign so we stopped for a couple of photos. It’s more like an adults climbing frame than anything else as everyone clambers over it to get a photo!
After hours of wandering around the city, we decided to have dinner at the Sea Palace, a floating Chinese Restaurant located near the Central Train Station. It’s usually very busy as it’s quite a popular place to visit with tourists. We waiting about 20 minutes for a table but was worth the wait as the food was really good. If you’re near the window, you get some great views over the river. It was an amazing experience and it’s in the style of a traditional Chinese pagoda!
After food we headed to the Red Light District, it’s not a place you would automatically gravitate towards but curiosity got the better of us. It’s quite a culture shock really as you wouldn’t find anything like this in the UK. We wandered up both sides of the canal and even visited the Red Light Secrets museum. It was a really interesting place to visit as it told you all about the industry and how it came about, it was quite staggering to see how much some of the girls earn during there time here.
The following day we decided to take a boat tour around the city. The tour starts near the front of the train station and takes about 2 hours. As we were flying back that afternoon, it was an ideal activity to spend the morning without worrying about walking to specific places. The boat went past numerous sights and made a great way to see the city from a different perspective. It’s €16.00 per person which was good value for money in our eyes as we really enjoyed it.
For more information about the Good Hotel, a not-for-profit hotel helping local people get into work, click here:
Photos taken and owned by Amy.