29 January 2017

A girls weekend in Amsterdam

I recently spent three fabulous days in the beautiful and buzzing city of Amsterdam.
My friend Courteney, who I've mentioned before here, was working in Amsterdam, and with another friend of mine, Nicola, we decided to join her once she had finished....Why not!
As Amsterdam first-timer's, we had no idea what to expect – especially with its wild reputation. Being the event planners we are, we arrived with an itinerary in hand and the majority of our activities booked in advance.

If you haven't read my previous travel post about Paris, you can read that here. If you have, you'll know that these posts can get quite lengthy so feel free to grab yourself a cuppa and get comfy! 

We had done a lot of hotel research before hand and ended up booking the Novotel in Sloterdijk.

We had a lot of comments from various people saying that although we might have thought we had found a bargain, it might be expensive travelling around the city. In what can be an expensive city, we found that our hotel was actually right outside Sloterdijk rail and tram station so actually, it wasn't bad at all! A tram ticket was about 7EUR a day, which considering how much we used it was a bargain. Even if you were staying in the city centre, you'd need to get the tram at some point because the city is quite spread out. (Before you say the obvious, we decided against cycling this time round for various reasons!).

By the time we met up with Courteney, got our barings, the sun had gone down. 
Our first stop was the Sex Museum - "When in Amsterdam...!"
Surprisingly, I didn't take any photographs so none to show on here! 

After that, it was a perfect opportunity to grab a drink! We fell in love with a beautiful champagne and wine bar, 'Bubbles & Wine' which you can read more about here.

We weren't too sure if they just hadn't taken the Christmas decor down yet but these lights in the area just made it super sparkly. 
We travelled back to the station and got the free ferry over to the other side of the canal to go up the A'Dam Lookout Tower.

We bought a combo ticket from the Heineken Experience website, which included A'Dam Lookout, a canal cruise and a visit to the Heineken Experience (obv). It was such good value and there isn't any limit as to when you need to do each thing. Just turn up and go for it. We chose to do the A'Dam Tower on the first night and have a drink at the restaurant/bar at the top.

If you have a quick look out on the towers website (here), you'll see that it's famous for having Europes highest swing. Yep I went on it with Nicola and we (I mean me) screamed and screamed from the moment our feet left the ground, up into the sky and over the building ledge. It was worth it though! Such an experience.

The pictures are a bit of a shame, but you get the gist! 

The next day we woke up early and caught the tram over to Anne Frank's house. There is so much to see and do in Amsterdam that I would recommend planning your time well; to make the most of every moment.

Amsterdam is also home to some incredible museums. Although they aren't my favourite thing to do, it was worth visiting Anne Franks House and museum, if only to soak up the atmosphere of the house and its abundance of history and stunning local area. We pre-booked so went straight in with no bother. The website advised that queues to get into the museum can be super long so it's worth getting there early to avoid the busier periods or pre-booking online. 

I actually only took one photograph when we visited. As I've mentioned before, I find places of death etc. such a strange concept and area to be taking photos of.

When looking for something to eat, there was no shortage of restaurants or cute cafés lining streets and canals. For us, there was nothing better to do after the Anne Frank museum than to cheer ourselves up and reflect on how fortunate we are over some utterly gorgeous pancakes.

Looking at this menu is making me hungry again! We found a perfect pancake restaurant (Sara's Pancake House) and kicked off our day with lashings of maple syrup on savoury pancakes (what even is a diet?!). 

We got into the café just as it started hailing, then snowing! By the time we had finishes, the weather had picked up again and brought some blue skies along... perfect as this was the time we had planned for our canal cruise.

A must-do is without a doubt, a canal tour. They provide sensational views of the beautiful city in a spectacular array of different coloured lights. Because we booked our cruise via the Heineken website, we obviously enjoyed a lager on board!

Heres a few pics...

De Pijp was next on our itinerary to visit the famous markets they have there.

How funny are clogs. Do people actually wear them? 

Tulips are by far my favourite type of flower and they were so cheap for such a big bunch!

I almost bought a bunch just to keep in our hotel room but the girls persuaded me not too.

A most do when in De Pijp - eat fresh Stroopwaffles! They are filled with fresh gooey caramel and ohhhh emmmm geeeeee - SO GOOD!

After we had fed our sweet tooth addition a little more we hopped back on the tram and went to the 'I Am Amsterdam' sign in the centre of town. I can quite honestly say that this felt the most touristy part of town on our entire visit. But hey, we're tourists so obvz got the cheesy pics that everyone does while they're there!

Saturday night and the city was buzzing with locals and tourists alike, drinking, dancing (and the odd few getting high) in the frosty air. I would definitely recommend a visit to the well known Red Light District. It’s quite a shock to system when you first see a half naked woman dancing in a shop window, however, it is part of what makes Amsterdam the city it is. Once you get past the stag do’s and ‘lads on tour’, you’ll notice that very ordinary people, young and old are all curious to take a look at the main strip. Every window has young to old ladies in nothing but skimpy underwear on. There are numerous lively bars on the strip as well as numerous other shops and museum types too.

Sunday, our last day was padded out with a trip to the Heineken Experience. 
The Heineken Experience is a huge tourist spot, much like the Guinness Factory in Dublin. 
They don't actually brew Heineken there anymore but it now serves as an experience to showcase how it's made. 

There was lots of self learning stations and speakers throughout to learn about the ingredients that go into the lager. There was even areas where you could get stuck in! Here is Nic absolutely loving life mixing the mixture up. HA.

A few flights of stairs higher and you go into a taster room. Here we learnt how to say cheers in dutch and why froth is important to the drink itself.

The tours ends at the rooftop bar and you can trade the two drink tokens in from your wristband. The views up there were gorgeous and perfect opportunity for a few snaps and updating our snapchats!

I think the Guinness factory tops it slightly, but overall, the Heineken Experience was a good laugh and really informative.

That concludes it for the Amsterdam trip with my two lovely friends! I had a super time with them and can't wait to get cracking with planning our next venture. 


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