Technically we were in Amsterdam for 36 hours but still…a city break is a city break right?
It took just under an hour to get there from our nearest airport, Southampton with Flybe and was easily the most hassle-free flight we’ve taken. Equally straightforward was the train into the city centre which was around £4.50.
It took even less time to fall in love with Amsterdam; a foodie’s paradise with stunning architecture and an easy going feel about it, we quickly felt at home. Normally I’d say it was laziness on our part to take advantage of people speaking such amazing English but we learnt that the Dutch jump at the chance to speak English. Still, makes you feel slightly ignorant.
We stayed at the Waldorf Astoria Amsterdam, which was incredible. Made up of six townhouses this canal side hotel is a cut above. We were asked to choose a signature scent for the room and I was hooked, I didn’t want to leave. Rates are expensive but we got a free night certificate earned from the Hilton Honors VISA card.
After being persuaded to leave we started to explore. I don’t mean to assume but I think everyone knows what Amsterdam is famous for…the canals…which are the map and heart of the city. Wide canals are flanked by narrow streets and even narrower houses with architecture so beautiful it’s hard to take it all in. On one hand the city is so small even I managed to start recognising where I was, or so I thought! The main canal ways get extremely busy, we visited when Pride was on so it was even more crowded, so try and escape to some of the side streets/canals.
As usual, we did a walking tour and despite some eye rolling from me I can’t deny it’s the best way to take in a city, especially when you’re only there for a short amount of time. We used Sandeman’s but there are plenty of options. They’re free but etiquette dictates you should tip the guide, we’d suggest £20 each. Our guide explained the difference between coffee shops and café’s, an important description and confirmed that despite the ease of availability of marijuana most locals haven’t actually tried it. After skirting round the red light district, which is fascinating by the way, we did some shopping in nine streets. Later that night we went to The Lobby Nesplein for dinner, the food was outstanding and the cocktail list impressive.
The next day after the best brunch we’ve ever had at Dignita, we spent some time in Vondelpark, an oasis away from the crowds yet still bustling with life. We also managed to catch some of a fee classical concert that was playing whilst sampling a Heineken. This was a bit of a last minute trip for us so didn’t have time to book the Anne Frank museum – booking is a must! I have never seen queues like it and I frequent a theme park regularly. Tickets can be bought in advance via www.annefrank.org/en/
We had some time before heading home and true to form we spent it eating. The Foodhallen in Amsterdam is incredible and suited us well as we fancied different things. A really bustling vibe, huge amounts of different food styles make up this popular food hall. Try the burgers at The Butcher.
In honesty, Amsterdam has more to offer than we took advantage of but sometimes it’s nice to just relax and wander your way around a city. We definitely got a feel for the best of the city but left enough off the list to warrant another visit.