Our mission for 2018 was to see more of Europe. It’s been a long time coming and with having to save for a wedding (unbeknown to me at the beginning of 2018) it seemed the perfect year to explore Europe and do city breaks.
Amsterdam has been pretty high on my list for a while now so when we wanted to go somewhere we knew that this had to be next.
We flew out on a Friday to make the most of the long weekend and started our Amsterdam experience with a Canal Cruise. I would highly recommend doing this on your first evening as it gave us some good ideas of where we wanted to visit throughout our trip.
The captain took us to the main spots in Amsterdam and gave us an overview of what to expect for the next few days. It was lovely to see everything at night because there are lights everywhere!
The Red Light District is probably the area that makes Amsterdam famous and riddled with stag and hen dos. It is the strangest experience especially when you are taking a stroll at 10am and there are ladies in the windows. We didn’t have time to go back in the evening, as I’m sure it is much busier but lets say it wasn’t exactly empty at 10am on a Saturday morning.
I have been to Dublin and loved doing the Guinness tour so before landing in Amsterdam we were debating whether to do the Heineken Experience. As we had time to kill due to our Anne Frank mess up (you will read about this in a minute), we booked to go to the Heineken Museum.
As someone who enjoys the odd pint of beer this was a really interesting tour. You can learn about the Heineken family and of course how they create the famous Heineken beer drank by many nowadays. You can personalise your own bottle, which we did and ended up having to pay for luggage on the way back just to bring it home! Then once you are finished with the tour you can go grab a drink in the bar before walking through the gift shop to exit. We used all our tokens before we spotted the pouring station! Make sure you save one token to complete the pouring challenge because once your tokens are out you cannot buy more.
One thing I knew I wanted to do was the Anne Frank Museum. Growing up learning about this tragic story meant it wasn’t an option to miss it. A word of advice, do not do what we did, book in advance and by that I mean months in advance. I went to book it the week before we were going and all tickets were sold out. If you do run in to this problem, don’t worry, you can go on the website and look for more tickets as they release 20% of their tickets the hour before the entry. We managed to get some late Saturday afternoon for the evening tour.
It was enlightening and humbling to walk around a place that harboured a normal family like they were criminals. It certainly made me reflect how lucky I am to be able to lead a free life. The house was actually larger than I thought it would be but again thinking that these people spent around 2 years in the same three rooms was shocking. It wasn’t something I would ever go back to see and you can’t take pictures so it was a definite must-do for our first visit to Amsterdam.
If you have been reading my posts for a little while, you will know I am a complete foodie. Amsterdam is famous for many delicious creations, one being the Dutch Pancake. We ventured out on the Sunday morning to grab a pancake at De Carrousel Pannenkoeken. I have never seen anything like it, it was a HUGE pancake with banana, nutella and whipped cream. It was safe to say that I was taking a break from my usual sugar-free diet and I really wasn’t disappointed.
After attempting to eat a pancake bigger than my head we decided to rent some bikes and work it all off. The best (and cheapest) way to get around Amsterdam is by bike and after walking for hours the previous day we wish we’d done this sooner. You can get to most places pretty quickly and the bike lanes are easy to use. There are only a couple of areas that you aren’t allowed to ride a bike so we just jumped off, parked up and walked it.
We biked over to the Brouwerij’t IJ Brewery which looked like a cute pub but instead was an amazing brewery. We of course tucked in to a few local beers before heading back in the the city. Don’t worry though you can get small tasters rather than a full pint! I would recommend making your way over there if you have some time.
All I can say was Amsterdam is an interesting and cultured place. Bring trainers and walk or cycle everywhere. You can come across some diamonds if you just explore.
Have you been to Amsterdam? What did you do?