Amsterdam is such a beautiful city and I fell in love with its uniqueness. It was the last stop on our interrail trip so by the time we arrived, I was exhausted from travelling. Due to this and a number of other factors, I was stressed the majority of the time and that perhaps prevented me from appreciating it as much as I could of. It wasn’t until after I got home that I realised how much I enjoyed my time there and I wish it hadn’t been spoiled by my mood. However it does mean I have a reason to go back as well as all the foodie places that I already dearly miss.
Sexmusuem de Venustempel
The sex museum in Amsterdam isn’t necessarily on every tourist’s list but when you’re a group of young adults with childish mindsets, it was a fun outing for our wee group. Now the thing with the sex museum is everyone says it’s a laugh and with the entrance fee only being 5€, why not? It is a laugh for the most part, I was amused when I jumped at an animatronic penis that “ejaculated” in my direction but there are also interesting things about how sex has been portrayed throughout history. There was a specific room that was most definitely not amusing, so much so that there was a sign in the doorway essentially saying “enter at your own risk.” I did enjoy it overall but obviously it’s not a museum for everyone.
The Red Light District
We did have a walk through the red light district out of curiousty especially after reading about it in the sex museum. There wasn’t much to see on a Monday especially at midday but I didn’t take any photos, for obvious reasons. It may sound a bit naff but I didn’t realise how much of a “thing,” it actually was in Amsterdam. I’m not judging in the slightest, I was just a bit surprised by the whole area and how on display everything was.
I grabbed some chips for lunch, unbeknownst to me that it was such a popular food in Amsterdam and sat on the canal. I had a lot of fun playing Sweet and Sour with all the people who passed on boats and may have gotten very happy when people waved back at me. I also got very sun burnt during this hour so even if though it’s cooler in Amsterdam, remember to wear sun cream.
The Anne Frank House
Ursula and I hadn’t managed to get tickets for the Anne Frank House in advance of our trip so we were up and on the website by 9am to queue for tickets. Despite being beyond number 500 in the queue we secured tickets for the late afternoon. It was top of my list for Amsterdam and perhaps for the whole trip. I’d read about Anne Frank since I was about eight years old and to stand where she stood is a completely surreal experience.
The audio guide around the exhibition is really informative but a little temperamental as you have to scan a code thing in each new room you enter. When you approach the actual attic space where they lived, the original bookcase still stands at the entrance. As the guide stops for this part of the tour everything becomes quiet. Everyone talks in whispers as you see some of the old possessions and walk up the steep, narrow staircases. The exhibition ends where you can view the original diary. It sounds strange but I never thought about seeing the it until the pages were right in front of me. I have my own copy at home and I’m still a little bewildered to think that I’ve seen Anne’s own handwriting from all those years ago.
Bulls and Dogs
Why is it the rule that when you are on holiday you find the best places to eat at the end? Bulls and Dogs was the main reason I was excited for Amsterdam because I knew I was going to get a freakshake. The selection was wonderful but it did mean that I had a very hard time choosing what to have but I probably would have been exceptionally happy, no matter what I chose.
When in doubt, I always choose chocolate so I had the most amazing “Insane Chocolate Devotion,” freakshake accompanied by a “Funky Fresh Dog.” It was a pork hot dog with lemon and thyme and topped with tzatziki and spring onion so it was probably the healthiest hot dog I’ve ever had as my freakshake was anything but. I’ve always preferred hot dogs to burgers so Bulls and Dogs was my dream restaurant as it combines my favourite drink and one of my favourite foods.
Joe, Ursula and I had already decided that we wanted to go for Dutch Pancakes but it was me who persuaded them to go to De Carrousel because as soon as I found out about the interior I really wanted to go. I’m sure my love of carousels has arisen in other blog posts and if not, you now know of it. The food itself was fine but we were a bit disappointed to see that prices on the menu were cheaper than what appeared on our bill.
Instead of the traditional smaller pancakes, like those I see at the Edinburgh Christmas market, we all had the larger crepe style. I had mine with strawberry, chocolate sauce and whipped cream and washed it down with a chocolate milkshake because I have no self control. I enjoyed it but was rather bloated afterwards. If it wasn’t for the carousel themed interior I’m not sure if I would have gone because I’m sure you can get better pancakes elsewhere in Amsterdam.
Whilst it is possible to get the Metro up to Noord we got off at Amsterdam Centraal Station and took the ferry instead. The ferries run every few minutes because it takes less than two minutes to get from one side to the other. As with the rest of Amsterdam, beware of the bikes as there are a lot of them that just shoot of as soon as the ramp is lowered so it can be a bit hazardous for pedestrians. But that’s the general vibe of Amsterdam so what’s new?
Perhaps the most famous thing in Noord is the “I Amsterdam” sign. It was bustling when we got there so we didn’t stick around for proper photos but instead wandered past whilst watching people ride the 360 degree swing at the A’Dam lookout. I would have loved a swing ride myself but the queue was incredibly long and I didn’t fancy waiting around or paying the entrance fee.
We continued to wander around Noord to places that weren’t as busy. We followed the water north until we reached Noorderpark, a lovely part of greenery that was really quiet compared to the rest of Amsterdam. There was gym equipment which we had a laugh on, especially because I have absolutely zero upper body strength and followed some of the exercise routes until we looped round the park and headed back to the metro station.
I’m a complete sucker for vintage shirts and jackets so was very keen to explore what Amsterdam had to offer in the ways of vintage shopping. One thing that was apparent when walking around the city was the sheer number of independent shops that lined the canals. Just a quick search on google maps showed about ten vintage shops around us but as it was the late afternoon we had limited time to visit them.
We tried out a couple of vintage stores, including some that specialised in vintage designer bags with large collections of Louis Vuitton Luggage. My favourite shop that we visited was called Episode. I picked up a new shirt to add to my collection with some of the best buttons I’ve ever had on a piece of clothing.
Vegan Junk Food Bar
Now continuing from the previous night of some of the most amazing food of the holiday was the Vegan Junk Food Bar. The place is very popular with all the outdoor seats being full when we arrived but there are also two floors inside. I’ve never had vegan food like this before, nor portions that huge. I was really torn between the loaded fries and the Daddy Mc Chick’n burger. I went for the latter which I kind of regretted afterwards but my side of waffle fries more than made up for it, not to mention the heavenly garlic mayo.
As the last meal that we all had together on the holiday it was the best way to spend it. There were so many laughs as we reminisced on the past two and a half weeks which were further encouraged by Joe eating many jalapenos at once.
Coffee and Coconuts
As the very last day of the holiday, we checked out and left our bags at the hostel and headed into town to make the most of our last hours in Amsterdam. The first stop was, of course, for coffee because there was a long day ahead including our flight in the evening. Coffee and Coconuts is like the ultimate boho cafe that just so happens to be larger than some museums I’ve been to. Based across multiple levels, the whole place is fabulous with tables hanging from the ceiling and bean bag chairs. Now Ursula and I are not necessarily the most graceful of people so the bean bag chairs might not have been the best choice for us but it was worth it anyway.
We only grabbed a coffee (or an oat hot chocolate in my case) so didn’t try any of their food which was probably also delicious but it was a place I could have stayed in for hours. I wish it existed in Edinburgh because it would be a prime study and chill out spot for me as it had all of my favourite things in a coffee shop, including many plants.
As we walked over to Musuemplein we stumbled on some sort of urban sport championship. We couldn’t figure out exactly what was going on but there were many things going on from skateboarding to maybe basketball? There were lots of workshops for kids dotted around too so the place was really busy, especially with some of Amsterdam’s “must-see” museums surrounding the public space.
Due to the fact that we were leaving Amsterdam in an hour or two, there wasn’t time to explore the Rjksmuseum, especially when you immerse yourself in exhibitions as much as I do. However as the garden was free to visit we stopped and watch strangers play giant chess and judged their moves despite the fact that I’m actually rubbish at the game myself. It was proper wholesome content seeing strangers bond like that but I was too chicken to join in knowing I’d most definitely lose.
Van Wonderen Stroopwaffles
With a wander through Spiegelgracht back towards Dam Square, there was one more thing that I really wanted to do before we left Amsterdam, have a stroopwaffle. You can buy them by the pack in supermarkets but I’m too basic for that and wanted a fancy picture of one as well for my Instagram. Van Wonderen Stroopwaffles seemed to be the place to do it with a queue out the door, one could only assume that they would be some of the best. I’m sure they were but I discovered after paying around 6€ for my waffle that I wasn’t particularly fussed about them. Mine was topped with milk chocolate and traditional speculaa cookies, half of which I lost when trying to take a bite.
I would absolutely love to go back to Amsterdam but I think it would have to be by myself. I enjoyed having walkabouts on my own but I was worried when my friends were at coffee shops. Going back as a solo traveller I think would help me put my mind at ease as I will only worry about if I’m okay. When I do go back, I will most definitely be visiting Bulls and Dogs again, I cannot explain to you how much I miss those hot dogs.
I’d also love to visit some more museums when I’m there. I’m at that age where I love museums and art galleries so I think it’s necessary that I fully immerse myself in Van Gogh and Banksy. Also on my ‘to visit’ list are the flower markets and the Hortus Botanics. At this rate I’ll have to go for a week to do half the things I want to but I know I’m guaranteed to return to the capital of the Netherlands at some point in the future.