I finally made my way to the Canal Capital of Europe! I traveled with my pal Daisy who had once had a romantic encounter in her early teens and was nostalgic to the city and its sights.
We flew into Amsterdam main airport and caught the 397 straight to Vondelpark. Honestly, I have never been flown off my seat so much on a bus ride, the driver was off the rails! Cases where flying into old ladies laps, I phones were falling into coffee cups dogs were sliding to the other end of the carriage, it was carnage. Surprisingly we arrived unscathed to the infamous Vondelpark ready to drop our bags and explore!
We had one full day in Amsterdam and I am still impressed with what you can do in that time, the city is full of adventures.
Our hostel was top notch- Stayokay Vondell Park. Check in was easy and it was a pretty cool set up. The main foyer had lots of box seating and cushions to hang out, charge your phone and connect with fellow travelers. The staff where smiley and helpful and gave us maps and recommendations.
Quick outfit change and we were off to re tread the path of the early teen love birds who drank one pint of cider and were the riff raff of the streets back in 2009.
We walked up to Amsterdam Centrum which is near the main station and it took us 10-15 minutes- our hostel was right at the front point of the park so if you are staying at the end of the park it would take around 25 minutes to walk. From here we walked, oh how we walked!
It takes some getting used to checking the roads for cars, motorbikes and all the bikes! SO MANY BIKES. Everywhere I turned a cyclist was about to charge into me. Everyone keeps cycling no matter what so you have to take extra care at all times not to waltz into them. Its a great vibe to see everyone cycling from one place to another, pitching up their bike then hopping on again later.
I was instantly taken in by the calm of the city, although 27 zillion cycles are flying past you at speed and are stopping for no one! I still felt so rested and serine- and I had yet to even had any calming cake yet!
We wondered into Binnenstad through to Burgwallen Oude Zijde and Burgwallen Nieuwe Zijde and had many selfies before every canal. We stopped off for some wine on the water edge and drank alongside humus, olives and bread that we had bought from the supermarket in the station. This was bliss. The weather was light jacket appropriate and a warm, calm evening settled upon us. We spent a few hours laughing and chatting on the waterfront, observing the boats passing by. Next, we found a lovely pub in the Jordaan suburb recommended to us by Daisy’s friend Robyn called Cafe ‘t Smalle, Egelantiersgracht 12, 1025 RL . The pub was full of locals enjoying a half evening pint and was very relaxed and settling. I had an apple tart which was extremely enjoyable and we had just the one half there before heading back to the hostel.
The next morning we joined a free walking tour by Sandemans. Our Guide Alex was great-he was an actor, typical! We walked for 2 and a half hours with a nice break in between. The tour meeting point was at the National Monument in Dam Square.This particular tour also started at the Stayokay hostel at 10am (but we were you know still in bed and stuff) We had not realised that we were meant to book online so joined a waiting list that was first come first served basis. After nipping to get a fizzy orange juice and nip to the loo we were successful in joining on to the tour. Alex had created this tour himself which is really cool for the company too as that means they have hundreds of unique tours for guests all tailored by different personalities and interests. He told us about the history of the Dam, the fires, the floods and the conspiracies! We wondered into the Jewish Quatre which had extremely unique architecture to the rest of the City we had seen. Then into the old Centre and Medievel Begijnhof. The Begijnhof is a quaint courtyard that was founded in the 14th Century by a Catholic Sisterhood and consists of old chapels, churches and houses. The Begijnhof also stands 1m below the rest of the old City Centre and is a calming retreat away from the hustle of the neighbouring Kalverstraat shopping street. We finished the day on the Prinsengracht canal, close to the Westerkerk Church and the famous Anne Frank Museum. We did not go into the Museum but you can see the building in which Otto, Anne and the family were in hiding in until they were found by the Germans in 1944. The tour ended in thanks and an exchange of monies- the value of your choice as it was a freeeee tour after all. We then sat for a while to get our thoughts together and wondered off to get a bit to eat from the supermarket.
After the tour we hit up one of the exclusive Cafes that offer Amsterdam’s finest ambiance, decor and of course cake! I am not a smoker, nor do I partake in any forbidden activities..but the thing is the law in Amsterdam is pretty chill! We scouted out a cool place called Cafe Paradox where the trendy young things of the City sat smoking, relaxing and working on their laptops. We looked at the menu and jackpot! Cake! The owner chatted to us about the strength of the cake and recommended amounts to take and what to do if you take too much. Everyone is very open and helpful and it creates such an inclusive atmosphere which is what I loved most about the City.
We strolled back to our hostel though the Museumplein and past the Heineken Brewery and made a decision which is very much out of our character to include ourselves in a pub crawl that evening. What better way to explore the night life we thought!? Cut to the chase, after getting our free T Shirts and seeing 3 sports bars we went our separate ways and bit farewell to the guides.Throughout the evening I was just extremely happy to be where I was and Daisy wouldn’t stop labeling me a stereotype for my love of the world after cake. We wandered through the red light district and took in the City by night together. I can honestly tell you that on this evening it was the most at pure rest and contentment I had felt in years. I was ready to move there ASAP.
The next morning my stomach was slightly worse for wear but we managed to pull ourselves out into the new day. I fell asleep in a cafe while Daisy got me painkillers and the cafe owner slammed on the table to wake me up and laugh at me. We walked around again and headed to the Albert Cuyp Market where I bought some tasty chicken and Daisy had a vine and olive roll. Last strolls down to the canals on the main stretch and on our way back towards the hostel before getting the bus back to the station.
So in summary!…………..
Stayokay Vondell Park
397 Bus from Amsterdam Airport Schiphol
Places to go
Cafe t’ Smalle
Red Light District
Albert Cuyp Market
Every Canal for photos
Bloemenmarkt Floating flower market
Prinsengracht canal, Westerkerk Church
Binnenstad through to Burgwallen Oude Zijde and Burgwallen Nieuwe Zijde
ENJOY AMSTERDAM !
I will be going again!!