Adventures in Amsterdam

Before I even left for my trip to Amsterdam, everyone kept saying the same thing, "Amsterdam is awesome! You're gonna love it!" 

This was my first proper trip outside of the UK into continental Europe and everyone's praises for the city made me even more excited than I already was!

The idea of bussing through the night and arriving at our destination the next morning was so good in theory. Not only is it cheap but it also saves us a night of having to pay for accommodation! In practice, however, we realised that the money saved by taking the bus opposed to flying was definitely not worth it. Six of us boarded a Megabus at Coventry bound for Amsterdam and were so ready to sleep throughout the night. We soon learned that it wouldn't go that smoothly... At the Port of Dover, we were made to get off the bus so we could go through immigration to enter France. We then had to sit on a ferry for an hour as we crossed from Dover to Calais. This was at 4am... The whole trip took 14 hours and it was impossible to get a solid hours sleep. Safe to say that I'll think twice about taking a bus anywhere far overnight again...

Snow covered streets in the morning

Zuiderkerk (with renovations happening on the side)

When we arrived in Amsterdam, the streets were dusted in a thin layer of snow from the night before yet the sun was shining bright. The weather was absolutely beautiful, albeit a little cold. 

We began our day in Amsterdam at a local restaurant, Cafe De Oude Wester, and ordered a traditional Dutch food, poffertjes. These are like pancakes but smaller and puffier. They were divine with syrup and icing sugar and if I hadn't just demolished a whole family sized bag of Doritos on the bus along with a plate of curry on the ferry over, I probably would have ordered seconds. I also tried out a rose beer which was incredibly good. As a non-beer drinker, it's something that I could definitely get into.

 Cafe De Oude Wester

Traditional Dutch poffertjes

Being in Amsterdam was my first experience of being in a European country where English isn't their first language. When booking my European travel plans, it never crossed my mind that most of the places I would be visiting wouldn't speak English as a first language, if at all.

As an English speaker, I feel like it's easy to get away with not needing to know another language. We just assume that anyone anywhere will know how to speak English, and that they should know how to speak English. Most of the people we interacted with did speak English but it was still tough not being able to read menus or road signs.

Two seater cars as small as bicycles are seen all over Amsterdam

The Royal Palace in Amsterdam

Burger vending machines?

We spent the majority of our day just wandering through the streets of Amsterdam. The city is so gorgeous with all of the canals that run throughout it. I feel like I could spend days just wandering through the streets and taking in the beauty. It was also interesting to see the contrast between the part of Amsterdam that was the Red Light District and the parts that weren't. The number of 'coffee shops' increased dramatically as soon as we ventured into the Red Light District...

The streets were littered with bicycles as the majority of people in Amsterdam ride bikes to wherever they have to go. Amsterdam is such a bicycle friendly city, with bike lanes on every road. I mistakenly walked along the bike lanes a few times which didn't make the locals very happy.. If the roads weren't so slick with the melting snow, it would have been so great to be able to explore Amsterdam on a bike. Definitely something I'm adding to my bucket list.

Parked bicycles scattered across the streets of Amsterdam

After getting a good feel of the city, we decided to stop by the Anne Frank House on the way back to our hostel. The line for it was insanely huge so we decided to give it a miss and find our way back. Tip: If you ever intend to visit the Anne Frank House, go early. Don't go in the afternoon like we did. The line stretched on for ages...

Trying to get back to our hostel was the biggest struggle. From not knowing what trams to take to being stuck on a stationary tram for 45 minutes, I was doubting whether we would manage to get back at all! I'm not sure how we even made it back to the hostel, I think we managed to get super lucky with the random trams that we were taking. 

This trip was the first time that I've had the proper hostel experience. Previously, I've either had a private room or have booked out a whole room amongst friends. This time, the three of us were staying in a 10 persons mixed dorm. Checking into our hostel room, I was immediately terrified of one of the ladies who was also staying in our room. She had to have been around 60 years old and had huge, billowing white hair that made her look like a witch. She kept climbing in and out of her bed that was on the top bunk and just pacing around the room continuously for no apparent reason. It was really unsettling and I was so scared that she was going to steal my belongings in my sleep... I'm hoping I have better hostel experiences from now on.

After a power nap to energise after a day of wandering around by foot, we headed off for dinner. Because it was raining, we decided to go to a burger joint near our hostel. That is definitely a decision that I'm glad we made. The fries were probably the best that I've ever had and the burger was filled with chicken kebab meat which was to die for.

Undoubtedly the best fries I've ever had

Amsterdam is one of the most gorgeous cities that I have visited, with the canals that run throughout it making it so picturesque. I could have taken photos of every single street corner, they were all so beautiful. I would definitely come back again because I feel like there is so much more of Amsterdam to see. I'm excited to return in summer when the weather is warmer, I bet the city looks even more gorgeous bathed in sunlight!


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