Amsterdam, the city of indulgence! The city of beauty and culture! The city of so many, many bicycles! Amsterdam is known for tulips, history, clogs, pancakes, sex, red lights and coffee shops. Obviously no trip to the Dam would be complete without ticking all of these boxes, right? The first stop of our great European adventure. We flew in and as soon as we touched down I couldn't wait to get going. Shout out, The Hans Brinker Hotel which in my opinion is freaking awesome. So, if your looking for really shit accommodation check it out! We freshened up and went on the prowl for food. Unfortunately, most restaurants were very tourist orientated and served standard burgers and chips. (Chip portions are HUGE! Which may explain my bloated holiday belly. sigh)
Going for an Après dîner stop at a coffee shop is welcomed. If your a tourist its practically expected! I looked around and made eye contact with another traveller, we both cracked a smile of mutual happiness and sipped our coffees. Let me tell you, coffee in Amsterdam are awesome. There are so many different types, flavours and strengths. Most coffees are served the usual way, but there are some edible coffees too! If you like to enjoy the occasional Starbucks or Costa, then your gna have a good time. But hey I'm no connoisseur!
Electric Ladyland museum is a psychedelic nature and art museum. Best enjoyed immediately after a coffee. (I heard about this on Anthony Bourdains Layover series, a brilliant watch and quick guide to Amsterdam by the way.) The museum is fairly small, but the tours run hourly. So make sure you time your coffee break justtt right. Entrance is 5€ totally worth it. We were greeted by a small, head strong, Asian lady. She explained the tour to us and like a little school girl, I did tiny claps of excitement. The lady gave us slippers, so shoes changed we descended into the basement which had an enchanting glow. Downstairs an even more chilled out gentleman, the ladies boyfriend as we were informed, guided the tour. There's an amazing display of fluorescent rocks, paints, artwork, monies and antiques. He does a brilliant explanation of the items and welcomes chats with everyone. It was really nice to talk to him about his relaxed lifestyle, working with his partner and spending lots of time just living. We talked about the artworks, there was an amazing piece of forest landscape, under different lights you would see the same forest in a different season. As I stood there in my new comfy footwear, I gazed around at Ladyland in awe, my travel friend caught my eye. Her face was awkwardly unimpressed, "I dunno, this isn't really my cup of tea." It was an awesome day trip out.
We toured the city the only way we knew how... by boat of course! oh la di dah! Yes darling, naturally. 20€ gets you a cushy 24 hour pass. Honestly? I wouldn't bother. Don't get me wrong, cruising around the canals was a lovely experience. But listening to the electronic tour guide continuously, in 7 languages no less, was borderline torture. Plus, the tram is so much faster, you can buy tickets by amounts of time. Which is pretty useful. You could even cycle. Yes, cyclists as I was told, rule the road! They even have their own symbol on the traffic lights. Talk about respect! Bikes are really cheap to rent in Amsterdam, your talking 10/15€ day hire at most rentals.
Anne Frank's house was much anticipated on our list and clearly everyone elses. Advanced tickets were sold out a month in advance. So, we chose a day to wake up with the bloody sun, just to beat the queue! We got there 30 minutes after they opened but it was already around the block. We didn't think it'd be so bad, but after them closing 30mins, "We have a VIP guest!" Yayyy! Then again for 20mins, "We're sorry, we're a bit too full." We finally got in 3 and 1/2 hours later. It was well worth the wait though. The walls seeped with an eerily prominent tension. One of much respect, tragedy and admiration. We were very cleverly lead around the house with noted points to stop and take in information or look at important features of the room. There are video interviews to watch, documents to read and background stories. A truly humbling experience.
Werck Restaurant and bar, just next to the house is a great stop for lunch. The salads are enormous. The tuna steak cooked just seared and medium inside. The bread is fresh and fluffy, with a generous crunch from the seeds. Slightly slow service, but made up well with quality food and bevs.
Vondel Park is a serene wonderland of luscious grass, herrings feeding in the fountains and families eating ice-cream under the beaming sun. We sat for hours each day soaking the rays, drinking coffee and winding down with a good book, until we fell asleep.Van Gogh done. Eating shamelessly from a vending machine restaurant, drunk, done. Red light district visited, drinking coffee check! I love you Amsterdam. The snacks are great, the people are lovely and the city is beautiful. So much so I'm already planning to go back.