Amsterdam Adventures

Around 4 years ago, being the wonderful gf that she is, Tara organised a surprise trip for my birthday. Part of me loves surprises and the other part of me got very nervous about what she was planning. She eventually revealed where we were going as we parked the car at Manchester Airport. Amsterdam! I was beyond excited! Neither of us had been before and we’d heard amazing things about this wonderfully vibrant city.

(Copyright : Mouth Watering Travel)

The first thing you need to be aware of once you land at Schiphol Airport is the hair-raising experience of the plane taxi-ing over the A5 motorway… It’s one of those moments where you think “Surely not!” and in the next moment, you are!

We travelled to our hotel – near to Amsterdam Centraal Station – on the train which took about 15 minutes and cost around €5 each. The train we took was a double decker which – coming from the UK where these don’t exist – was a great novelty and fabulous start to the trip.

(Image: Arcadis.com)

Amsterdam Centraal Station is a beautiful piece of architecture in its own right. There is a shopping centre with shops open from 7am to 1am daily along with Travelex offices, cafes and fast food restaurants. Of course there is plenty of space to store your bicycle too.

We stayed in the Hilton Doubletree hotel about 5 minutes walk away from the station. If you’ve never stayed at a Doubletree, you need to know that as part of their customer service, they give you a warm chocolate chip cookie when you check in! I played the “it’s my birthday” card to claim possession of it and it was delicious! They also do a mean hot chocolate at the end of a long day of walking!

(Image: http://www.doubletree3.hilton.com)

Once we unpacked, there was a sinking realisation that in Tara’s haste to pack me a bag in secret, she had neglected to pack me any underwear… Just in case you find yourself in a similar situation, there’s both a C&A and a Primark near Damrak!

So once I had a full complement of underwear, we went exploring to work out what was where in our immediate vicinity.

(Image: Wikipedia)

Dam Square is a 5 minute walk down Damrak. It was created in the 13th century when a dam was built to prevent the Zuiderzee Sea from flooding the city. There are food stalls, restaurants and shops including the Amsterdam Diamond Centre. Around Dam Square you will also find the Royal Palace, Madame Tussauds, New Church (used for art exhibitions) and Beurs van Berlage (used for concerts and an exhibition space) (source: http://www.amsterdam.info)

As you may expect, there are lots of cheese shops too. This one was on Kalverstraat where you will also find an unusual number of shoe shops.

(Copyright: Mouth Watering Travel)

On one of our wanders we accidentally came across the red light district. Coming from a country where prostitution is illegal, it was odd to see women sitting in glass cubicles selling themselves. Amsterdam laws mean these women are protected from the sometimes idiots that walk the streets. We witnessed a drunk lad hitting one of the windows, harassing the woman behind the glass, and heard the siren go off to alert security to her plight. We’ve never seen anyone run as fast as that lad did from the burly security guy!

(Image: http://www.getyourguide.com)

My favourite part of the trip was when we visited the Anne Frank House on Prinsengracht. First tip – buy your ticket in advance! Tickets cost €10 for an adult plus a €0,50 booking fee but when you see the length of the queue, you will thank me as pre-bought tickets can skip the wait and go through a different door. No photos can be taken inside. You get a guided tour via a headset which explains which room you are in and what events happened in her life. You even go into the secret annex where Anne and seven others hid from the Nazis during WW2.

(Image: Destination 360)

Of course Amsterdam also has an amazing canal system. We hopped on one of the sightseeing barges for a relaxing trip around the city when our feet started to hurt so much from walking everywhere!

(Copyright: Mouth Watering Travel)

Of course we had to sample some small fluffy pancakes known as poffertjes, made from yeast and buckflour and served with melted butter and sieved powdered sugar. Yummy!

(Copyright: Mouth Watering Travel)

Final tip for anyone wanting to visit Amsterdam in February- take plenty of warm clothes! It is freezing!!

(Copyright: Mouth Watering Travel)

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