On our first day, we walked the five minutes from the station to our hostel (I'll have a post soon with more details on where we stayed) before catching the tram to Leidseplein for the Hard Rock Cafe. It may not be particularly cultured but, after visiting the restaurants in Berlin and Vienna, it's become something of a travel tradition for me. Besides, if I get the Local Legend burger it's almost- almost- like eating local cuisine. Here in Amsterdam it consisted of a Dutch beef burger topped with slices of braadworst and caramelised onions. Yum!
48 hours in Amsterdam
When Ami suggested we go for a European mini-break, I immediately thought of Amsterdam. I'd been before (a couple of months before I started blogging) and wasn't particularly enamoured with the city but it was very cheap, so seemed like the perfect place. In the end, I had a much better time than I'd anticipated, perhaps because I went with low expectations following my last, rather disappointing trip. We managed to have a great time and spent very little doing so. Bonus!
We ate leisurely, enjoying our waterside table and waving to the boats sailing up and down the canal while trying to find Ami a Dutch date on Tinder. After we'd been chilling out for a good 90 minutes or so, we decided to spend the rest of the evening taking a casual stroll around the canals. We meandered towards Rembrandtplein and stopped off in a pub for a drink before catching the tram to the Red Light District. This was every bit as surreal and interesting as you'd imagine, and we came away with a thousand questions about prostitution in Amsterdam. What did we do before Google, eh?
Returning to our hostel around midnight, we settled in for the night and ended up sleeping in fairly late in the morning. I was keen to try one of the pedalos, or canal bikes, as they're known. Since I'm the eldest, and the only one who can drive, we naturally both assumed that I would be in charge of the steering. That was a mistake! After 10 minutes of going round in circles, bumping repeatedly into the wall and being laughed at by the people sitting outside the cafe on the canalside, Ami took over. Although she was also partial to a bit of crashing (including bumping into a man while he sailed his boat through a junction, much to his displeasure!), she was far more accomplished than me and we managed to actually start making progress!
Pedalling along Amsterdam's canals on this beautiful sunny day was the most enjoyable experiences. We had a beautiful view of the distinctive architecture on each side of the river and were witness to hidden wildlife including ducks building nests and a huge family of fluffy yellow ducklings chilling out on a boat. The map on the boat was a little unclear but Ami was great at decoding it and guiding us around without any disasters.
After an hour, we were back at the pier and, after a quick dinner, caught the tram to the Heineken Museum. Although I'm not a drinker, it was still really interesting to learn about the history of brewing Heineken in Amsterdam and I particularly enjoyed the second half of the experience, where there are photobooths galore! Not to mention the huge, darkened lounge where you can put your feet up on squishy footstools and make the most of the free wifi! If you like lager, you'll love the three complimentary glasses of Heineken! (Small glasses, but free beer all the same!)
Nearby is a cafe called The Carousel and we took full advantage of the warm evening by sitting on the patio until closing time, scoffing waffles and giggling at the loudest nose-blowing we've ever heard in our lives! When it started getting chilly, we took the tram back in the general direction of our hostel, taking a leisurely stroll through the city centre and stopping off for a McDonald's on the way.
Our final day was mostly spent on the patio of Dan Murphy's Irish Bar in Leidseplein although we loved the canal bike so much that we couldn't resist going back for another hour! This time we were served by a lovely young man who gave us a canal map free of charge and lots of tips to make the experience easier. It would have been great to have that information on our first journey but was very much appreciated nonetheless! This time we took a different route and paid attention to the significant places that we passed, such as Anne Frank's house.
All too soon, it was time to pick up our luggage and head back to the airport. I had such a wonderful time and, contrary to what I believed before, I will be returning.
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