A perk of having friends who live in different cities, is that it gives you the perfect excuse to have a weekend break away! Amsterdam has quickly become a very popular and need I say – an insta famous city. Posing by it’s many bridges or cycling around the city whilst hoping not to get hit by a tram, it’s an easy choice for any 20 something to go visit. Although proceeded by it’s reputation of the red light district and coffee shops, there is so much more to discover. With art, history and culture at it’s core, this picturesque city is a gem in the European crown.
Paying for only a £50 flight from London to Amsterdam, I travelled with another friend who conveniently lived nearby the airport, meaning that waking up at 5am ready for our 7am flight wasn’t so bad after all. By 9am we were in a new city reuniting with one of our oldest friends in a running, jumping and high pitched squealing hug. Meeting at Amsterdam Centraal Station, I took the city in whilst being nearly ironically knocked down by an ambulance. We began the morning by having breakfast at my friend’s home which was located by The 9 Streets, before taking a stroll around the city. I’ve heard it said before, but I can now confirm that Amsterdam really is a great city to just simply enjoy walking around. If you like to potter around little European cities, it’s a must visit!
I wanted to do something true to the city and by true no, I did not mean the coffee shops! Unfortunately with little time, we decided not to tour Anne Frank’s house but paid tribute with a moment of reflection whilst passing it by. My best friend a.k.a. tour guide for the weekend, showed us the highlights of the city. Passing through Rembrandt Square we headed towards Rembrandt Museum to enjoy a bit of art. But with many museums to choose from, Van Gogh being the most famous, we opted for the Banksy Museum which scratched the cultural itch without the hefty price tag.
Later that afternoon we enjoyed the novelty of drinking some Dutch beer inside a windmill called Brouwerij ‘t IJ, followed by having a spot of some of the best pizza in Amsterdam in La Perla restaurant. Afterwards we took one last quick walk passing through the Red Light District. To be honest, this left me with mixed emotions. With burger bars and regular city life buzzing away just the next road along, it seemed so alien to me that the two could coexist.
We returned back to my friend’s apartment and somehow all still had so much to talk about; I suppose that is the magic of true friendship! But soon enough the combination of chatting with my oldest friends for hours and walking thousands of steps across the city, meant that I was out like a light as soon as my head hit the pillow.
On Day 2 of our trip we decided to conquer the rest of the Amsterdam streets by bike. Although I had not cycled for 10 years and felt very nervous, it was how they say – just like riding a bike! Nonetheless, I was unable to master the classic backpedal, so I chose to rent a standard bike for the day instead. Word to the wise: I would suggest that if you haven’t visited the city before to stick to cycling around a local park for a stress free experience. There are a lot of cyclists, mixed with trams, pedestrians and buses which can be very intimidating and scary if you’re not careful!
We began with a cycle around Vondelpark and then followed my friend as she took us on a tour of the city, stopping at various other parks along the way. We also enjoyed a coffee and cake (just a regular coffee shop to clarify haha, not the Dutch kind) for a break at Blond Amsterdam Café. That evening we caught a train outside of Amsterdam to Leiden to attend a Eurovision party, which was a very European celebration! After a few hours and a couple of drinks it was time to head home. However it seemed somewhere along the line of the Netherlands winning the competition, we underestimated the distance back to the station and had to sprint at Usain Bolt speed in order to make our train. Although we each felt like throwing up as a result of the run for our lives, we had a great night!
During my short visit to Amsterdam, I learned that the city has something for everyone, even though I only really touched the surface. Whether it’s window shopping and browsing Amsterdam’s pretty jewellery shops, admiring it’s traditional pottery, or enjoying a Stroopwaffel – this little city as a whole lot of personality!
Have you been to Amsterdam? Let me know in the comments! Which cities should I add to my list?
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