We’ve done so many city breaks over the years but Amsterdam had never been top of our list. Not quite sure why? Maybe because it was super popular and everyone talked about it? (That’s usually a good way to put me off), or because the words that come to mind with Amsterdam are things like weed… or red light district… or that most Brits tend to frequent the city for hen-do’s or stag-do’s… ok so it seems there are a few reasons we’ve never been.
All that aside, as the time came closer to our 9 year wedding anniversary, Mo had booked us some time away in the Venice of the North. Now if you’re a regular reader of my blog, what I’m about to say, is probably going to make you roll your eyes and sigh at yet another declaration… of love for a new destination!
Amsterdam was one of the best city breaks Mo and I had been on for some time. Maybe because we reeeeally needed a holiday, or because it was our wedding anniversary and the first time in ages we’d spent some proper uninterrupted time together, or maybe quite simply, Amsterdam really is as good as everyone says it is. But there were a few things I learnt, which I wanted to write down to remind myself, and if you’ve not been before either, might help you out –
1. It’s so easy to get around
Our dear friends Brian and Shatha gave us a great tip to buy a four day travel card at the airport. It was reasonably priced and we used it loads, it got us everywhere. But even without public transport – it’s so easy to walk around the city and we covered miles on foot. Now I know it looks like I’ve just parked up my bike in the below pic, well I haven’t. I have to admit Mo and I didn’t do the whole cycling thing. We’re just not super keen cyclists?!? Also – it seemed pretty chaotic if I’m honest?!? Maybe something we’ll try out next time. (Maybe).
2. The art scene is excellent
Mo and I are both huge art lovers and there are some brilliant galleries in Amsterdam. When I first envisioned the Van Gogh Museum, for some weird reason – I expected an old, small, traditional looking building. I was not expecting the huge modern masterpiece that was the reality. I would go back to Amsterdam just for this and also thoroughly enjoyed the Troppen Museum too. Both were beautifully curated.
3. A coffee shop means something quite different
On the Friday Mo went for Friday prayers at the mosque in the city and I decided that whilst I waited I would go and find a coffee shop to relax and wait for him. Determined to find a really good coffee place for Mo to come and meet me at, I googled the best coffee shops in the area we were in. I walked up and down the streets visiting each and every one… and soon discovered there was no such thing as a coffee shop that simply just serves coffee, each one was very much a place for buying a little something else.
4. Red light district is not for me
I just don’t understand why this shows up as a ‘tourist’ thing to do. At the end of the today, I appreciate the reasoning behind the strip and I’ve heard all the arguments that explain it’s about being safer etc. etc…. but as a thing that shows up on a tour guide? I just don’t get it. Mo and I did walk past a number of times – during the day and purely because it was a quick through way to get to our metro stop. But we both avoided it after-hours as personally, it just didn’t feel right to just stroll down for a ‘look.’
5. The people are the BEST
We found Rotterdam was full of friendly people, but we realised it must be just how people are in the Netherlands as the people of Amsterdam were just as friendly. In fact, maybe even more so. For a place that was full of tourists, crashing bikes, getting lost, being loud… the local people were always friendly, helpful and full of smiles.
6. Avoid the crowds by avoiding the weekend
We were in Amsterdam from Wednesday to Saturday. And boy was there a difference between the week days and the weekend and I was so glad that Mo had booked for us to go from Weds as by Friday night – there was a massive difference in the crowd that were around!!! It got VERY busy.
7. Kinder ice cream is the bomb
Don’t ask questions, just try it. We were hooked.
8. The shopping is amazing
I mean this is more a Mo thing than a me thing, but I have to admit there were some very cool shops in Amsterdam.
9. Cheese, cheese everywhere
Yup there are many shops with loads of weird and wonderful types of cheese. Walk in, give them a taste there really is all sorts like lavender cheese, I mean whaaaat??? Also try the dips, we bought some amazing dips whilst we were out there. Just bear in mind if you’re on a weekend break and travelling with hand luggage only – watch out for the liquid limit.
10. Beware of fake fresh poffertjes!
If you know me, you’ll know that I absolutely love, love, LOVE poffertjes. The first time I actually had them was in Rotterdam and it was love at first bite. Since returning from Rotterdam years ago I have eaten at every opportunity so it was what I was most looking forward to eating. Could we find them?? No?!?! There were waffles and crepes… but we struggled to find poffertjes!! And the ONE place we did find them… well, it was a deja vu to our last meal in Spain as we watched the lady open a packet, put the poffertjes in a bowl and warm them in the microwave.
Not cool my friend. Not. Cool.
There is so much more to share about Amsterdam! Would we go back?
Well it’d be a shame not to… I mean it’s definitely the perfect place to chill 😉