JC Travels: A long weekend in Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Following on from my post about the Dutch food tour, I though I’d chat about what else we got up to on our long weekend in Amsterdam. One of the best bits about Amsterdam is just how close it is, the plane barely even gets up high before coming into land, which is exactly what I like in a flight. There are a heap of flights each day and they are a total bargain on Easyjet, making it an ideal city break for when you need a bit of a different culture!
We stayed at the Element Amsterdam which was a little outside of the city near the Zuid station. It was only about 10 minutes on the train but it did remind me a little of staying in Canary Wharf – more of a business district. That said, it was really easy to get into the centre of town on a tram. The hotel itself was lovely! It was a little studio equipped with a giant waterfall shower and the best little reading nook. It had a load of really thoughtful features too including universal plugs and usb chargers everywhere!
We got the early flight over meaning we made it to the hotel around 11am, giving us the day ahead. We decided to do the traditional Dutch thing of hiring some bikes! Paul loves to cycle and I don’t mind either, even if I am a little slow and uncoordinated. We got giant black shopping bikes and got cycling into the centre – Amsterdam truly is the city of cyclists and the bike paths are great throughout the city. If you are a pedestrian be sure to keep an eye out as honestly, the bikes rule the road here! We locked the bikes up on one of the canal bridges and went for a wander.
I love how the city looks and the lovely, relaxed vibe. It was chilly but not wet and we had a good walk up and down the canals, stopping in the squares. We wandered over the West which is my favourite bit of Amsterdam and found a little cafe to stop in and have a lunch. Do be careful on all those cobbled roads though, I may have had a bit of a slide and ended up busting my knee – I feel like it’s only just stopped feeling bruised!
My friend Caitlin just happened to be in Amsterdam when we were there, over for a conference all the way from New Zealand! So we headed back to the hotel and met up with her before heading back into town for dinner that evening. We did have a little wander round the red light district as I feel like you have to at least once while you are here. It’s one of those odd sights that always makes me feel a little uneasy. However, it is regularly policed and regulated so you just hope that all the girls are there because they actually want to be!
On Saturday we woke up to blue skies and still had our bikes so jumped on and cycled back into town. I really wanted to go to the Van Gogh museum as last time I went I couldn’t go and I really enjoy his work. We headed to the museum and saw the biggest queue for the ticket office I think I’ve ever seen. I was convinced I wouldn’t stand in that so grabbed my phone and bought our tickets online in about 2 minutes. So top tip is to buy them online before hand! With that, we wandered inside. The museum is run really well, with several floors mixing many paintings with lots of information about his life. I learnt a lot more about his life and really enjoyed seeing the evolution in his painting style. I do recommend giving it a visit if you go – though it was very busy so if you went during the week I bet it’s even better!
In the afternoon I had booked Paul and I into a cheese tasting! I actually went last time I was there but really enjoyed it so wanted to go again. The Netherlands is quite the home to loads of cheese so a cheese tasting is a must do. We did the Reypenaer tasting which included 6 different types of gouda cheese along with some wine and port to go along. You get a cute little cheese chopping machine and learn all about how they are made. It’s only about £15 each for a literal ton of cheese so I highly recommend. All the cheese is vacuum packed too so we ended up buying quite a bit to take back to some of the fam as souvenirs.
By the time that was finished, we rolled back to the hotel and dropped off the bikes. We were pretty tired that evening so ended up eating nearby at my new favourite, an Asian tapas place! On Sunday we went and did the food tour before having another little wander and flying home that evening. With the time difference, you land at the same time you leave which makes it really easy to come home.
Overall, we had an awesome time in Amsterdam – it’s honestly somewhere I could easily see myself living. If you need a little city break then I can’t recommend it enough. Take a day off work and head over – you won’t regret it. I really want to go back next year when it’s warm to see all of the tulips!
Have you been to Amsterdam? What’s a must do?