The blog title says it all really… this was my second trip to Amsterdam (August 2015) and I was determined to remember it and experience all the things I missed the first time around!
Friday night – Flight to Amsterdam and cute B&B at Amstelveen!
It was Friday after work and we decided to travel separately to the airport due to peak hour and not having time to meet up beforehand. We eventually made it onto the same train and arrived at Heathrow, pumped to be on our way to Amsterdam! We had a little complimentary snack on the plane and Harry was stoked with his free beer (we flew KLM). It’s a very short 45 minute flight so before we knew it we were there!
We had been given instructions by our host in Amstelveen to catch the bus for about 10 minutes and then walk for 10 minutes to get to the Bed and Breakfast. It was super easy and we enjoyed walking past the beautiful houses, even though it was getting quite late at night! Johan our host welcomed us and he was so friendly we felt like we had met him before! Our accommodation for the night was an old station turned into a Bed and Breakfast. When we climbed the many steep stairs (as per most dutch houses!) our room had ‘Welcome Jodie and Co’ written on the chalk board on our door. The room was so beautiful and the furnishings were of the highest quality! We thought about moving in permanently and wondered how much it would cost to live there. The only down side was it was around 27 degrees and we were melting. No air conditioning. So a cold shower, a glass of cold water and no bed sheets necessary! One of the most comfortable beds I’ve slept in too.
Saturday – Leidseplain, Canal Cruising, Anne Frank House and even the cheesy Sex Show!
Johan continued his amazing host work by cooking us a very tasty omelette and making us a fresh fancy latte each. We also had meats and cheese on the table and freshly cooked bread. Still warm. Yep – still want to move in permanently. He then gave us all the tips on where to go today and how to get there as we hadn’t quite worked it out yet! Johan – ”are you catching the bus to the city”. Jodie / Harry – ”don’t know”. Johan – ”you’re catching the bus there”. Jodie / Harry – ”ok”. Our research and thoughts up until this point had been, well, it’s about 2 hours to walk into the city and maybe it would be nice to make our way in slowly and see all the sights worth seeing along the way. I’m glad we took the bus.
When we bought our tickets on the bus it was very obvious we were not from Amsterdam as I pronounced ”Leidesplain” instead of ”Leidseplain”. I thought I had done so well and the bus driver didn’t correct me – he just said ”where are you from – I thought you were dutch!” I said we were from Australia and I had a feeling he was going to call out over his speaker to us when it was time for our stop. My feeling was right… sure enough he announced ”the lady from Australia, come to the front please, I have a gift for you”. He made a joke about asking for my number then gave us a map of the city and told us which 24 hour bus tickets we should buy particularly if we were heading back to the airport. He gave us a big wave as we stepped off the bus at Leidseplain and wondered where to next.
Johan had told us about a 1 hour boat cruise that was worth doing so we crossed the road towards the ‘lover’s canal cruise’ sign that we could see on the side of the Amstel river. It was lovely and sunny and the stand out from the history for me were the ‘dancing houses’. They were crooked and it was because the city was built on water and some of the houses had become unstable. Amazingly though they have the means to get this fixed due to engineering! The other interesting thing about the houses was the hook at the top of each house. I remember this from last time too. They use it to hoist up furniture etc because the stairs are too narrow and steep!
We found a cosy place for lunch and tried some local dutch food. I had a dish with curried beef mince, cauliflower and cabbage. Harry had sausages with several types of sides including sauerkraut. We had a holiday beverage to wash it down and I tried Heineken Brown which was kind of like a caramel beer. Our waiter was so friendly and we wondered if everyone was this nice around here after having the pleasure of meeting Johan and our bus driver!
On the way to checking into our hotel, we had a nosey through the flower market where they had seeds to grow your own marijuana. Very different to Australia and the UK! And probably just about everywhere else. We made it to the red light district and got the first glimpse of the famous red curtains. It was Harry’s first time in Amsterdam (and pretty much mine too!) and we had a competition with each other to see who could spot the first woman in the window. I won, though I think Harry was letting me win. While it was fun to cruise up and down the streets, we were lost and needing to find our accommodation. We came across a door with the number on it that we were looking for, and we were in the right street, but it didn’t look like a hotel. Hmm. We buzzed the bell and thankfully a normal person answered the door and took us up to our room. Key word being ‘up’. It was overlooking the red light district and there were even red curtains across the canal that we could peer into from our room! That will be interesting to later! Luckily our room didn’t have red curtains too!
I was feeling pretty tired by this point and hoping we could have a nap right this moment but there was a music festival on in Amsterdam this weekend and we knew the location and time of one of the gigs thanks for our boat driver from earlier. I was glad that we went to see it because the musicians were on a platform on the water with all their instruments and interesting attire. It was more classical music which is not really my thing but it was still great to see! Lots of energy!
We walked past a few interesting coffee shops and stopped to get a waffle and crepe to keep us going until after a sleep. I finally got my nap I so desperately needed then we were up and ready to go to the Anne Frank House! Since visiting Amsterdam last time and seeing the massive line, I have read the diary and also we had researched the best time to go to the House. During August it closes at 10pm instead of 9pm and the best times to go were either super early or very late. So it was 8pm and we were lined up to get in. The waffle and crepe were wearing off so Harry did a dash to a local grocery store to get snacks! Thankfully we were only lined up for 1 hour and we got through the house by 9:45pm. It was an amazing experience and our favourite for this trip.
Luckily we found somewhere still open and serving food. It was an asian place and the food was to die for. Actually the food had been really good here in Amsterdam so far. It seemed to be more fresh. We went to find a coffee shop for ‘dessert’ and found ourselves in a narrow laneway full of drunks. One guy blocked my pathway then when he let me by and Harry went through after me he got whacked in the back of the head! I was infuriated but we kept on walking. We felt like all day we had seen coffee shops and now couldn’t seem to find any! Or atleast one with the right vibe. Finally we came across ‘the coffee shop’ and there was a cat in there amongst the haze! Poor kitty! While we were inside, a massive leak start pouring out of the ceiling so we decided to leave before the place caved in, particularly seeing as we’d already had ‘enough’. All these inverted commas! And it’s so natural there for them!
We found a pub to have a drink in and while I was feeling normal, Harry – not so much. Let’s just say I could be friends with Snoop Dogg but Harry could not. I have no idea why it does not have any effect on me. But this is why I can’t remember the last trip because I went for the second heaviest option so it had some impact and that it did! It was getting late and we hadn’t decided on which sex show we were going to see and didn’t know how it all worked. Somehow we ended up in a peep show which was hilarious as Harry and I were both in a booth while he was in his state. Fail but funny fail.
Back up the road towards our accommodation there was a big line for a sex show so we figured it must be the real deal. It was 50 euros including two drinks and the show lasted 1 hour 20 minutes. For anyone who has been to Thailand, it’s just like their ping pong show in that there are different ‘scenes’ and it rotates around. So after a while it goes back to the start. It was a strange experience and there were all sorts of things being pulled out of all sorts of places. Harry was finally starting to feel normal and it was time for us to leave and go to sleep. What a day! To top it all off, while we were getting ready to go to sleep we could see the lady in the red curtains across from our accommodation and a bloke who went in!
Sunday – riding bikes through Amsterdam
It was great only having backpacks as once we checked out, we threw our bags over our shoulders and went to find breakfast. We seem to always find breakfast near a market so after finishing our food we had a look through. We never buy anything! Then we wandered around and came across some sort of chinese festival with big long tables in the streets and a large blown up pig! It brought us to our favourite men of the day – two chinese massage therapists with strong hands!
It was time to make our way to the bike rental store. Once we were sorted, we rode off towards Vondelpark. This is the largest city park in Amsterdam and there was another gig / festival going on here too! We kept on riding and stopped to marvel at the Van Gogh Museum. We also had a little rest on the grass! There was a market happening at the museum too with lots of trinkets and food which despite breakfast, we were ready for a little snack. You can always fit in delicious food from the markets! But, the lines were long and we needed to get the bikes back and make our way to the airport. So we left – minus snacks.
As we were heading into an icecream store after dropping off the bikes, a guy (Swedish appearance) approached us and asked us if we liked to ‘smoke’. We thought he was going to try and sell us some. Instead he told us a story of how he’d spent 2000 euros that weekend and just wants one more smoke. Funnily enough I had ‘a leftover’ in my bag that I needed to get rid of before our flight. Win win.
After an icecream we crammed onto the bus to the airport. We had plenty of time so found an Irish pub to play in and spend the rest of our euros before our flight. What a funny weekend. Amsterdam sure is an interesting place!