So this is my second part of my Holiday blog, talking about places where I have been and loved.
We (my parents, myself and the man) went to Amsterdam to celebrate my mum’s 70th. I’d been before as a child but this was my first time there with family and the man I love so I was really excited, we were flying from Southampton – so local and we would be in a turbo-prop (which I love) so I was really looking forward to it.
The other half is less of a seasoned traveller than I am and I could tell as soon as we were boarding, that this was not a pleasant experience for him, which is a shame as it was a great quick flight and I had hoped he’d find it easier – sleeping pills for next time I think!
Unfortunately as my camera died on day 1 of the holiday, I have basically no pics from this holiday. I will upload those I do have though so it won’t be totally dry! 🙂
As we were in Amsterdam for my mum’s birthday, we were in a really plush hotel, the NH Dam Square.
Honestly, the poshest place i’ve ever stayed, it felt a bit pretty woman to be honest as was certain we would be looked down upon! Our rooms were stunning, massive and with a lovely bay window over the street to the right of the hotel. Check out these bathrooms too!
We arrived, wandered down the main drag and went to go get changed/settled. The man and I wanted to get out and have a walk around as we’ve never been there before. We just had a wonderful evening walk which we finished off by getting frites – I always travel with a list of foods I want to try and one of the first on the Dam list was frites with peanut sauce…..which most certainly did not disappoint.
I also managed at this point to find a shop (literally right under our hotel) which sold fresh Stroopwaffles……..oh my word, best thing ever!
We were very close to the centre and whilst it was bitterly cold, it was also fun to explore and nip into cafes for coffee or the like. I didn’t enjoy the Red Light district to be honest, I’ve nothing against that if people wish to do that but it was the only place I felt the Tourist vibe and it just wasn’t as comfortable as the rest of the city. I think it was filled with drunk english people and a lot of drug dealers, which surprised me given the nice atmospheres we’d encountered in all the cafes.
We managed to find a great little cafe (when in Rome and all) which was wonderful, warm, inviting, gay, full of music and lights. We spent about 5 minutes looking at the drinks menu awkwardly when the staff pointed us to the special menu, basically once you’ve bought that, then you can stop etc for a drink. We got supplies and purchased a little summin summin for our days there. The bar was wonderful though as they were happy for us to play games like Sushi Go and Love Letter whilst we sat and enjoyed the area. Once we’d had some time, we went further afield and found a gorgeous little square where we sat and put the world to rights, seeing some of the Blue light area, which was much more secluded but more fascinating to us.
The square itself is beautiful but also has it’s dingy side, the student hostels that we were overlooking reminded me of previous travel fun, I recommend it if you’re sociable and want to travel with new friends but if you want to sleep properly/have some privacy, it’s probably worth spending a bit more to get proper accommodation! The bikes which were frankly zipping dangerously all around us was something we had thought about hiring to have the proper experience but seeing some of the mad people riding them, the last thing I wanted to do was join in!
The next day we all met up for breakfast before we went to see the Rijksmuseum and the Van Gogh museum. both of which were stunning. I’d been waiting to see the Van Gogh museum for years so was really pleased to get in (with no queueing – thanks I amsterdam card) and see the wonderful pieces and learn more about the man behind them. One of the bonus’ about the man is that he is very knowledgeable about art and the like so it’s always interesting to see art with him as this means I learn more. We saw one of the copies of the Sunflowers, which is beautiful to behold. It was also very interesting to learn more about his mental illness. It cuts deep to hear about it and to see the beauty that madness can cause.
One of the nicest little things from the Van Gogh museum was the temporary exhibition downstairs about Monet and Manet and even included a copy of Monet’s boat, where he would live/paint for weeks on end to watch the world pass by. Really beautiful to see.
I’ll be honest, there were some negative points to this day, my other half was in an awful mood and this did mar the day somewhat, and unfortunately due to the stress, when we entered the Rijksmuseum, he disappeared and I had a panic attack which pretty much ruined the day for me. I had wanted to see the real Night Watch – an obsession since the Pratchett book but I really didn’t see it. I spent most of the couple of hours alone in the museum and am not sure I could return – I would like to, and as a note for those who get panic attacks, the toilets in the Rijks are lovely.
The next day was my mum’s birthday. She had plans for the day but we were due to meet friends for dinner so the man and I went a-wandering again, seeing the Diamond museum and taking a boat cruise.
We were lucky enough to see friends on the day of her birthday for dinner, these are a lovely woman who lived/worked in Competa when we moved there and her now husband and child (who we’d not met previously), they were waiting in the lobby for us and a great evening was had. There was a lot of wine drunk and some of the nicest food the man has ever had (honestly, he is now obsessed with onion chutney in his search for the holy grail of yumminess!). The meal was lovely and we managed to get some great family shots afterwards as well – which given the man’s social anxiety was proof that much wine had been had!!
The day after our wonderful meal, we had I think so far, my favourite breakfast ever. The room was an old swimming pool which has been refitted and the room is massive, airy and very plush. There was omelette stations, fresh baking, meats, cheeses, fruits (and freshly squeezed fruit juice – try courgette and carrot juice, they are stunning) and unlimited bubbles and pastries to help you wake up. My mum didn’t want any fuss but I ignored that so told the waitress it was her day (well, they noticed her presents on the table) so she was “thrilled” when they sang and gave her cake! I think we could have stayed there for hours just chatting and snacking but the plan had been to again go exploring and the man and I decided the day would be ended with space cake – well, you’ve got to really haven’t you?
Amsterdam zoo was on the cards first though. As previous readers will know, I love zoos so longs as the animals look happy and safe and Amsterdam, whilst small was full of fun things to see – including a bat house, which was great but for some odd reason has toy bats hanging from the ceiling – which we did not at all take 10 minutes to work out that they were not real!
The penguins and monkeys were definitely my favourite, it was bitterly cold and there was a lot of work being done so am looking forward to seeing the changes that are done within the next few years/months.
Although we’d found the nice cafe on the first night, it had taken another couple of days to re-find it. We eventually did and purchased a couple of slices to enjoy later back at the hotel. We wondered back, stopping off in funky little shops and seeing wonderful sights – there was a really lovely places just to sit and enjoy the view and put the world to rights. It was in December so a lot of pretty lights and decorations in shops and on the streets.
Amsterdam was a wonderful place to spend some days, I wouldn’t want to be there for long, there’s so much else I want to see elsewhere in the Netherlands but was great to be there, see the sites and tick off somewhere else with the man.
So dear reader, what do you think? Have you been and have great stories from the area or are you looking at exploring a new place? Would love to hear your views. have a great day 🙂