After a dam-packed weekend, I’m back on British soil and ready to reflect on my Dutch adventure. A short city break from early Friday morning to late Sunday night, it was a coffee fuelled trip to Amsterdam with my housemates Nadia, Lucy and Ellie.
You know me, I love to explore and learn new things and Amsterdam seemed like an interesting city with a gridded canal system. Us Graphic Designers love grids, so I was hoping to fall in love with Amsterdam! Unfortunately we didn’t have much luck with the weather, but Nadia managed to capture this beautiful shot in a quick sunny spell:
(Photos stolen from Nadia)
Amsterdam is a small and quite traditional city, with a lot of interesting and original architecture. Around London there are buildings popping up left, right and centre but this is definitely not the case in the Dam. And the pace of life seemed totally relaxed compared to London too – although it is a bit weird that bikes take priority over people! Our host told us that there are more bikes than people in Amsterdam – crazy!
(Photos stolen from Lucy)
The Canon crew were out and about – Lucy was snapping away whilst I was attempting to ‘vlog’ the trip (that’s what I’m doing up there). It’s taken me 3 days already to try and edit all of the footage… I’m still going! Lucy will have some lovely photos up on her blog soon so watch out for those!
We took a ‘risk’ and tried out Airbnb, staying in a beautiful room with a fireplace. When I say ‘risk’ what I mean is that sometimes the reality is not as good as the photos but in this case it was 100% spot on and gorgeous. Our host, Jeroen, was brilliant – so lovely and helpful. He even bought fresh bread every morning for our breakfast – I’d definitely recommend his place if you’re headed for an adventure in Amsterdam.
That’s a loaf of bread btw – bread that is bigger than my head! Breakfast in the morning was interesting – it reminded me how, despite Britain being part of Europe, we are so different. I found myself describing things as ‘so European’ – what does that even mean?! Well, cups of ‘morning tea’ in transparent glasses (which I could totally get used to) without milk (which I totally can’t get used to) for a start – so European. Everywhere that we went, if we asked for tea they brought out these little tea selection boxes which were cute but like playing tea roulette ha
So naturally we did the touristy thing… Iamsterdam sign poses:
I had to make do with T for Tasha because there’s no N in Amsterdam – duh!
The cultured people that we are, we went to the Rijksmuseum for a glimpse of some Dutch originals – Rembrandt and Van Gogh:
(Photo stolen from Lucy)
Some other cultural things that we sampled included waffles (hot, with a variety of toppings and we walked about an hour & a half to find these!)…
(Photo stolen from Lucy)
And smelly, smelly cheese!
We visited Anne Frank’s House (you can’t take photos inside) which was quite eerie but interesting. Again, loving the architecture – all of these tall thin houses with the lights on are so dreamy:
Coffee shops, Flower shops, Sex shops… if it’s in Amsterdam they’ve probably got a cheesy fridge magnet for it! We ventured to the Vondelpark which was lovely – a bit like the Hyde Park of Amsterdam I guess.
(Photo stolen from Lucy)
We had planned to rent bikes and cycle the park (because it’s safer than the roads) but we had all of our bags with us so we just admired the bikes from afar…
Along one of the bridges we found this ‘book stall’ with books in all kinds of languages and genres – it was really impressive and very striking so of course it made my Instagram (and was pretty popular too!).
Let’s not pretend… of course we went to the Red Light District, but I just felt like too much of the tourism is built up around that sleeze and when I had gone to Amsterdam in search of a dutch experience, that wasn’t what I was really looking for. Sure, they had the wooden clogs and tulips but they also had McDonalds, Starbucks and a H&M on every road (or so it seemed!). Us girls had a great laugh and there’s no denying that Amsterdam is a beautiful city, but I just felt like everything was cheapened by the Red Light District. Googling Amsterdam prior to our trip I saw stunning images of shops, restaurants, streets and buildings – unfortunately I think the locals like to keep the real gems of Amsterdam to themselves! (And I don’t really blame them, who wants to be swarmed by pesky tourists!?) I think 3 days was a good period of time to explore and I’m not sure if I would go back to Amsterdam, but I’m definitely looking to explore more. I’m thinking Berlin, Budapest or maybe a Fred Olsen* Mediterranean cruises. (Don’t knock cruising until you’ve tried it – I loved cruising back in 2009 and 2011.)
Hopefully I’ll finish my vlog soon so you can see more of our experience. One thing I have learnt is that apparently I look Dutch…? During our stay I had a number of Dutch come up to me and start talking to me, for me to reply: ‘I’m English, sorry I don’t understand.’ Oh and another thing – us Brits say sorry a lot. #sorrynotsorry
Are you planning a trip to Amsterdam soon? Have you been before? I’d love to hear your experience and read any blog posts about it so feel free to share! Also share any recommendations for places to visit around Europe/the Med!
- This post is sponsored by Fred Olsen to raise awareness of their cruises. Honestly don’t knock cruising until you’ve tried it because despite the pre-conception that it’s for oldies, it’s a great experience for all ages (and I don’t even like water or boats!)*