A Trip To Amsterdam

Last week Dan and I took a trip over to Amsterdam for a few days away to get a much needed rest and do some more exploring. It’s a place neither of us had been to before and with Amsterdam’s culture and history and places to go, it sounded like a great get away so we got it booked and off we went! We weren’t sure what it’d be like but the city does have quite the reputation as you may know.

It lived up to the reputation. Straight out of the train station in central Amsterdam we could smell the ‘coffee shops‘. They were everywhere. Although it lived up to the reputation of drugs and the infamous red light district the city is also really pretty, from the moment you stand outside the train station.

We didn’t realise just how modern and lively the city really is. Everything from the trains to the shops and city centre layouts. Overall it seemed very Americanised and had a lot of shops and similar culture-type things that you’d expect to see in America. It was quite an eye opener really to see how developed it really was. One thing that surprised us was the train system. The scanning on the tickets on metal bollards dotted randomly around the station and the super modern double decker trains with screens giving you live updates on where you are and where you’re going with expected arrival times.

Despite the city being full of things to do and things to see, for one of the days we decided to take a trip 45 minutes into the countryside to Keukenhof, Lisse. We saw the Tulip fields and a couple of traditional windmills. It was really pretty and was a nice place to have a walk around and explore in the gardens and see some animals along the way.

As well as a trip outside of the main city, we also decided to fill a day of tours by going on a bus tour and two boat tours that took us around the entire city and showed us where pretty much most landmarks were which proved very helpful when we explored in the late afternoons and evenings when we were left to our own devices. We saw the Artis Zoo, the I Amsterdam sign and also the Vondelpark area which is perfect for walking or cycling around (the latter we didn’t dare try and take part in because it was so dangerous!).

The city is full of museums, which we don’t tend to go into often. We did, however, go into the Anne Frank House and the Red Light Secrets (prostitution) museum. They were both really interesting for very different reasons. The Anne Frank House still has all the original features and house parts with the original diary and photos from the family; it’s a very surreal experience. The Red Light Secrets museum tells the story of the history of prostitution and the facts relating to it. It was really interesting to hear the real story of the industry rather that the stereotypes you hear being thrown around and what it’s really like to work in the area.

We also learnt about the dangers of cycling through the busy streets of Amsterdam and why it’s best to just explore it on foot. None of the road signs appeared to be in English, very ignorant, we know. But we thought there would be translations but literally everything was in Dutch, although all the locals are happy to speak English. Not only that but we managed to get lost of what must have been the same streets each day. I’m not sure how we managed it, but we did!

It was a really nice city. It’s hard to say if we prefered it to Venice, they are so different. We had an amazing time in both cities and now it’s time to plan the next one. Hopefully we’ll have just as much fun wherever we end up as we did in Amsterdam!

10th April 2017

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