I think I’d been in Amsterdam for all of 5 minutes before I nearly got run over by a bicycle. Andrew just managed to pull me out of the way, but with all the trams, cars, people and bikes whizzing all over the show, in what feels like a very random pattern I decided I had to be a bit more careful where I stepped, and clearly I wasn’t being careful enough!
To be fair I still wasn’t feeling that great after contracting a tummy bug a couple of days beforehand. Lets just say I was feeling a bit nervous about my choice of window seat and distance from the facilities on the plane. I’ll spare you the gory details but thank goodness for Imodium…
It is thankfully only a short flight from Edinburgh to Amsterdam. We flew in on on EasyJet for around £65 per person one way, and had also pre-purchased our train transfers from the airport in to the city, which saves a lot of stress and hassle when you arrive.
We’d chosen a hotel really close to the train station. Just a short 5 minute walk along the cobbled streets and in to the fringe of the red light district, is a little oasis among all the craziness called the Hotel Luxer which is a great central location, close to all the action and around NZD$330 per night.
The red light district might seem like a strange place to choose to stay, and to be fair if you aren’t too keen on loud nightlife, unusual shops, smoking in certain bars and some very interesting people watching, you might prefer to stay a little further out of town. But the Luxer was great for us. We had a nice quiet room, there were heaps of different restaurants and cafes nearby, and just a short walk to the station where you can catch a tram anywhere in town.
For some crazy reason I’d booked us in to the Heineken Factory Experience on the day of our arrival and thanks to the delayed flight, we had to race to get there. After buying the wrong ticket at a ticket machine at the train station, we eventually figured out that you could easily use credit cards on board the tram itself.
Its been about 20+ years since I was last at the Heineken Factory and it has changed considerably in that time. It isn’t actually a factory now at all, but almost like a wild theme park ride through the beer making process. It was packed with people and full of loud interactive displays. Not quite what I was expecting but lots of fun all the same. Book your tickets before you go here for €18 per person.
Apart from all the rubbish, and crowds of people, Amsterdam is a gorgeous city. Apparently there was a tax on the width of buildings, so that is why they are all so narrow. The city began in the centre with a moat around it, and as the space was filled, they expanded out with another moat, and another – so there are circular canals all through the city. Many of the buildings have subsided to precarious angles, and lots of money has been spent re-piling and preserving them, although many look like the neighbouring buildings are all that is holding them up. The narrow roads make driving and parking difficult, and so cycling and walking are the preferred methods of transport. Lots of people live on houseboats tied up alongside the canals, and there are lots of locals cruising around in little dinghies & classic launches and of course the hoards of tourist boats too.
We were of course keen to get on the water, so we turned up to the Flagship operation located just outside Anne Frank’s house. They have boats leaving every 15 minutes and are stocked with chilly bins full of cold drinks too! So we sipped on a prosecco while cruising around the canals, getting a great commentary along they way. A fantastic way to spend an hour or so and just €15 per person.
We had been keen to go to the Anne Frank House as well. But we sadly hadn’t booked tickets in advance, and it was fully booked. So my advice is book well in advance and well before you travel as otherwise you just simply can’t get in!
So instead we found a gorgeous sunny spot overlooking one of the pretty canals and settled in for some lunch and one of our our favourite past-times – people watching. There are plenty of really interesting people to watch in Amsterdam too..!
One of Andrews friends from high school was now living in Amsterdam. Andrew and Kathryn hadn’t seen each other in over 20 or so years, but had kept in touch via Facebook. So he sent her a message and we were able to meet up and get a taste of what life must be like here as a local. She took us to some of her favourite bars, bought us some Dutch delicacies such as Bitte Balls, and then we went to a fantastic restaurant along the river side for dinner. It was lovely to catch up and hear about her adventures around the world, and reminisce about old times.
We also visited the Maritime Museum which was fantastic. We spent ages wandering around all the various exhibits. Model yachts, ancient maps, art, and a full size replica vessel of one of the Dutch East India Company ships. It is well worth a visit if you are interested in all things maritime like us.
There is also great shopping in Amsterdam. Heaps of great clothes shops, including my favourite Desigual, and lots of very cool mens jeans shops. We both had a bit of a splurge before partaking in a bit of people watching and soaking up the atmosphere at a lovely canal-side restaurant.
After four fabulous days of soaking up to all the Amsterdam atmosphere it was time to move on. We went to a local cafe to get some nice sandwiches for the train journey ahead, dragged our suitcases down the cobbled streets and across to the train station, and jumped on a train to Paris. There are a number of departures during the day. Our tickets were about EUR€121 or NZD$200 per person.
Check out the rest of our Europe Trip here!
We recommend you book your next trip with Michelle Moore from NZ Travel Brokers.