When I was 19 I travelled with a Contiki tour around Europe. One of the final stops of the trip was Amsterdam. Out of all the wonderful places I visited on the tour, Amsterdam was not up there with my favourite locations. Whether it was the fact we spent a lot of time in the seedy tourist areas of the Red Light District, or whether it was because of my 19 year old lack of interest in the history, architecture and natural beauty.
Despite this, I decided to give Amsterdam another go. And I’m more than happy to say that this blog post will give you all the reasons you need to make Amsterdam the next weekend city break on your bucket list. It’s a MUST.
Accommodation: Hotel V Fizeaustraat
Firstly, the accommodation played a huge part in my love for the city. Located just a 20 minute cycle outside of the centre, Hotel V Fizeastraat was like a made.com advert. It was modern, stylish and welcoming. The staff, the room and the breakfasts were outstanding – no wonder it’s got 5* ratings on tripadvisor. On our first night I decided to stay in, order room service dinner and watch movies in bed. It was heavenly.
After a glorious nights sleep I enjoyed a delicious breakfast of eggs benny and a huge stack of banana pancakes. And obviously after such an indulgent breaky the only way to work it off in Amsterdam is to hop on a bike and go for a cycle. I grabbed a bike from the hotel which was around £10 per day and headed on into town along the canal. Views for days!
I was amazed by the architecture of the buildings on my cycle. It, again like the hotel, was so modern and stylish. There was a lot of Viennese-style influence going on.
The weather wasn’t entirely sunny and clear like the weatherman predicted. It was more of a moody mist. In England I find any grey weather makes everything look dull. Whereas the misty vibes around Amsterdam made it look even more mysterious and bloody awesome. I just had to beg my boyfriend to take 10 million photos of me posing in front of it all.
After reaching the outskirts of the town, bikes were locked up and we headed on in. Before the trip I googled ‘walking tour of Amsterdam’ to save us some bucks instead of paying for a guided tour. I’ve always found walking tours tend to have a big section where I’m completely disengaged and day dreaming about why the sky is blue – maybe that’s my short attention span or my desire to explore and get lost. Anyway, I found the self-guided tour here was a great start to rediscovering the city.
We went slightly off piste (because that’s the point of exploring, right?) and ended up at a wonderful row of flower stalls which blew my mind. ‘OMG flowers, OMG quirky hanging plants, OMG I just love tulips’. Seriously though, the Dutch know how to curate a truly magnificent and instagram-able florist stall.
After that, we made a beeline for the Reypenaer Cheese Tasting Room, a short walk from flower stalls. I’d booked ahead of time to go here as the reviews were great, and I love cheese. The masterclass I’d booked was cheese tasting of 6 Reypenar cheeses, paired perfectly with white wine, red wine and port. The cheese expert that took us through each cheese was funny and knowledgeable on the history of the cheeses. We left full of cheese and wine, merry and that little bit more in love with Amsterdam.
After a busy day of getting well and truly lost, we went back to the hotel and dolled up for an evening of seafood at The Seafood Bar.
A fish lovers nirvana, this restaurant is the place to be. The location, similar to that of Bond Street in London, along with the copious amounts of reasonably-priced fish and seafood was a fantastic way to spend Saturday night.
On Sunday, we checked out of the hotel and got a metro into town with our luggage. We did a bit more exploring of the area (Anne Frank’s house and the museums), and spent the afternoon at RIJKS restaurant.
RIJKS restaurant was hosting a 2 day collaboration event whilst we were there called RIJKS x L’air Du Temps. Chef Sang Hoon Degeimbre is from the 2 michelin star restaurant L’air Du Temps in Belgium, and each course was a creative masterpiece which exploded with flavour and originality. The dishes ranged from snail dumplings to jerusalem artichoke desserts. Deliciously elegant.
Unfortunately, as we headed to the airport, my health took a turn for the worse and I ended up regretting indulging in 7 oysters on Saturday night. Nevertheless, I left Amsterdam with new wonderful memories of beautiful architecture and an admiration for a place that I once didn’t rate.
Have you been to Amsterdam? What’s your top things to do there? If not, is it on your bucket list? I’d love to hear from you! 🙂