An impromptu city break trip to Amsterdam booked during a catch up night with the girls led to a weekend of the best apple pie, phallic museums and almost getting run over by trams and cyclists in this bike crazed city.
It was booked through Hertfordshire university through a company called Invasion to Amsterdam through Erasmus Student Network, they work through many different universities so it was aimed at university students. This said, it included a ferry from Dover to France and a coach drive through Belgium return, accommodation in the Stayokay hostel next to Vondel park from Thursday to Sunday and we included a bar crawl night out, all for a total of £144 for the 4 days. Our ferry from Dover to Calais on the 6th of March departed at 00.50am, and returned on the 8th of March at 16.05pm.
The hostel was super easy to locate as Amsterdam is a very small place and everyone knows Vondel park so if you ever get lost just ask for directions or use Google maps to find the park (doesn’t require internet). Breakfast was included in our stay in the form of a continental buffet. The hostel had Wi-Fi although it could only be accessed in the lobby and not the rooms. It also had vending machines and a games room to pass the time. The staff spoke great English and were very helpful, we bought a 48-hour tram pass from the front desk, however if you don’t mind walking, the city is a very scenic place, riddled with canals, and everything is relatively close to each other. They also provide various leaflets and cards for the tours and sites you can see, not to mention a funky wall of messages from people’s time in ‘Dam from all around the world, that you can leave during your stay!
Our ferry ride was in the early morning, so we arrived in Amsterdam by the early afternoon. Check in wasn’t until 3 or 4, so after storing our luggage we had a little wander about. We found a cute little café by the river and had lunch. During our wander we came across many of Amsterdam’s Coffeeshops, so of course we had to give it a try. Since none of us smoke we opted for an edible form. We were told there were two types; a brownie or a space cake. After asking what the difference was and being told “brownie is more uplifting and elating whilst space cake makes you more stoned” we opted for the brownie and shared one between the three of us. The Coffeeshop we chose was a bit odd, it had various levels so we went upstairs, got a drink (as was required to stay) and sat and watched the hobbit in 3D. It was very bizarre. As we waited for the brownie to take effect, an hour passed and still nothing. So we decided to buy another slice and head back to the hostel so we didn’t miss check in. Following check in, and still feeling nothing, we continued with the second brownie. Another 30 minutes passed and still nothing. We got hungry and decided to head out for dinner, finding an inviting Mexican restaurant. During which the brownie began to hit. What a comical dinner that was, never has ordering a meal been so difficult, who knew guacamole could be such a funny word? Upon retuning to the hostel and messing about on our bunks,we thought, since we’d had such a long day and were hoping to go out that night to a bar and grab drinks, we’d squeeze in a nap. About 10 minutes in, the second brownie to full effect. My experience was quite trippy, I felt like I could really see inside my mind and it was all in like 4K high definition, like I was having a lucid dream, and I could also physically visualise my brainwaves and activity, it was all very vivid. Victoria experienced a similar effect, and had a crack at being the sandal detective. Since we were sharing a room with 3 other people and couldn’t work out if they were men’s or women’s sandals. My best friend Alexia on the other hand did not, her happy faze quickly ended along with my attempt at a nap when all of a sudden, as were lying there in the dark room trying to nap, I hear “No, I don’t like it, turn on the lights, quick”, followed by sobbing. So we turned on the lights and I popped my head down from my top bunk and asked what was wrong. “I feel like everyone is getting old except me and they’re all going to die”, this too was followed by some tears and the urgent need to go to the lobby and FaceTime her boyfriend. Victoria was very sleepy and said she’d rather just stay in the room and sleep, at which point Alexia proceeded to instruct Vic not to leave the room under any circumstances about 5 times in a row. After we established by the 6th attempt that Vic was already asleep we headed to the lobby for Wi-Fi. After dinner we headed back to the hostel and relaxed in the lobby. Following an exhausting day of travelling and sightseeing and the fact after 3-4 hours the brownies still hadn’t worn off, we headed to bed for an early night.
The following day we began with the Anne Frank house. We queued for about 45 minutes which wasn’t too bad, despite it being very chilly they made up for it by having Wi-Fi in the queue. I highly recommend the Anne Frank house museum, whether you’re a culture nut or not, it has such an incredible story to tell and you get to live it. We then ventured to the flower market which despite the fact it wasn’t the season for tulips, and therefore lacked the vast majority of flowers, it was still beautiful. Opposite was just store after store of cheese shops with an abundance of free samples of cheese with various incredible infusions, along with stroopwafel tasters in every store, these are the delicious Dutch waffles. After filling up so much on tasters we decided to head out to find the infamous sex museums of Amsterdam. A little fight with Google maps and we managed to find one and had a right laugh. Entry was fairly cheap at around 6 euros. We then tried to find where the red light district was for future reference but in doing so ended up finding a multitude of comical codom shops instead. We wondered through ‘Dam square with its host of street performers and exceptional architecture. We then found a cool juice bar and made friends with the owner, Jay from Aruba. Shortly followed by a mini adventure to find Winkel 42, the acclaimed ‘World’s best apple pie’. Other than the lack of seating because it was so busy, the pie (more of a cake actually) was absolutely delicious!
Short of time, and with limited choice for food in close vicinity of the hostel we opted for a little crepe restaurant and squeezed in an odd dinner of one savoury crepe and one sweet. After wolfing them down, we headed back to the hostel and started getting ready to go out. That night we had our bar crawl which was good fun, although I will warn you; drinks in Amsterdam are EXPENSIVE! A double vodka Redbull will set you back around 14 euros.Luckily enough for us, we had free drinks at our first bar. On our way there we walked through the red light district. We managed to see a pimp in his full get up- flashy purple trimmed suit, gold jewellery and all. We also found the ‘blue light district’ as encouraged to see by one of Alexia’s friends. This is the transgender street of the red light district, also a somewhat interesting walk. On the main strip we passed various flashy and attemptedly inviting signs featuring ‘Live Sex Shows’ , but unfortunately we didn’t actually see all that many ladies in their lit up red booths that it is so famous for. Following our bar crawl’s end, we had an interesting trek home considering me and Vic are hopeless at anything to do with directions. But surprisingly in a city that too never seems to sleep, we felt safe walking in the early hours of the morning and it was easy to work our way back home.
The next morning, we packed up, checked out, had a couple hours to have lunch and walk about. We had a relaxing last meal at the hard rock café, with a view of overlooking the canal and then grabbed the coach home bound.
It was short but sweet, until we meet again ‘Dam.