For ages I’ve been wanting to set up a travel guide series, to chat about the locations I have visited and places I recommend going.. so what better place place to start than my first proper holiday, (excluding places I’ve been on school trips), to Amsterdam, The Netherlands!
We chose Amsterdam as my first holiday as I had never been on a plane before and for lack of a better phrase, I was shitting a brick. Luckily the flight there was only around 50 minutes long from Southampton Airport to Amsterdam Schiphol Airport and I only had one mild panic attack so it was all good! As soon as we stepped off the plane I was gobsmacked, the airport was HUGE, was basically like a London shopping centre in an airport. We got a little lost but all the staff there were so helpful and friendly and spoke perfect English. For a city it was relatively cheap to travel, it only cost us around €4 to get from Schipol to Centraal by train and then for a 72 hour pass on the trams it was only €17. In true Amsterdam style, we stepped out of Centraal and walked straight into the Sex Museum which is on the main strip, just a couple of feet down the road from Centraal. The Sex Museum turned us mid-twenty year olds into a teenage, giggling wreck, we just weren’t used to such a liberal display of sex in one place, I wouldn’t say England is a super Conservative country (apart from our Government) but we certainly don’t have Sex Museums next to sweet shops in the center of town!. All jokes aside, the Sex Museum was very interesting for how small it was, there were displays from ancient Greece, Egypt, China and Japan and even a small room which showcased all types of fetishes in Modern Day society… and it only cost €5 on entry. By far the most fun part of this Museum was the best photo opportunity in the city… a giant Penis you could sit on (I couldn’t resist).
After dropping our bags off at the Air B&B (look up Ilona if you are heading to Amsterdam to stay, she’s amazing!), we headed off to the Red Light District, we kind of had a running theme that day haha! One of the best accidental museums we went to was the Museum of Prostitution – Red Light Secrets, my friend’s ended up getting money off vouchers from their hotel so we got into the museum super cheap. The museums in Amsterdam are really good as they hand you a portable speaker that you can listen to while walking around and you tap it onto specific areas on the walls to hear the next segment of information that corresponds to the area of the museum. This museum really opened my eyes to the oldest profession in the world, it really gave a voice to the Women who work in the district and how tough their job is. There was even a memorial for the victims who have been killed and brutally attacked in the district. As the museum is a converted Brothel, there was even a red lit window where the women used to sit.. was surreal sitting in those seats staring out to the street below you. I highly recommend this museum if you are unsure on prostitution and want to know more facts.
We weren’t lucky with the weather on our second say in Amsterdam, it was absolutely pants but we still made the most of it! We had tickets booked for the Anne Frank Museum at half 1, so the morning consisted of walking around the back streets of Amsterdam going into all the shops we could and taking in the all sights of the canals. Again, we got relatively lost and made it to Prinsengracht just in time to try out the local pancakes (which were incredible and came in a million different combinations) before heading in to the Museum. The Anne Frank museum was something else, at some points I felt very emotional.. it didn’t help that I read her diary before coming to Amsterdam so was already very emotionally invested in her story. I didn’t know they built a museum onto the side of the house so we spent ages walking in circles trying to find the house when you have to go through the entrance to the museum instead. The house was so authentic, the museum really tried to keep any pictures on the wall and certain furniture in the exact same place it was while Anne and her family were living in the Annex. One thing to be careful of though is the stairs.. Christ were they steep! I’m only 5ft 2 so walking up those stairs was like walking up Everest, had to half go up on my hands and knees. Around the corner to the house is the Anne Frank statue, while we were there someone very lovingly put down some tulips in front of it.. I got a bit emotional at that too!
One thing we were all told to do while in Amsterdam was to go on a Canal Cruise. We went with Lovers Canal Cruises as they were right outside the Anne Frank Museum and was relatively cheap for what you get out of the experience. We travelled all along the canals, and stopped to see all of the sights.. from where the Mayor of Amsterdam lives to floating island of bikes. The cruise gave us headphones that we could plug into the boat and listen to while on route, this was really good as we got so much information out of the trip! We even managed to get in some geeky shopping that day by visting A Space Oddity and Henk Comics.
On the third day we ended up travelling outside of Amsterdam to see the beautiful Dutch countryside, and boy it did not disappoint! The Netherlands is a very flat country so the views when travelling are phenomenal, you could see the canals for miles and also the lovely dutch cottages in the distance. We travelled from Amsterdam to Edam, then to Edam to Hoorn and then back.. all for only €10! Edam is a beautiful, idyllic town just north-east of Amsterdam which is mostly famous for it’s cheese. The town was quite small and only took an hour or so to walk around but the views were incredible. Many canals run through Edam and there is many places to sit and look at the boats passing by.
Another thing I ticked off my bucket list in the Netherlands was seeing a windmill and we got lucky enough in Edam to see one! It wasn’t a working windmill anymore as the blades were all tied up and it’s now someone’s home but it was still awesome to see.
Next we travelled even further North to a town called Hoorn as it was a lovely day and it is located right on the coast. Hoorn has an amazing, long high street with many shops, cafes, restaurants and has a great view out to the Markermeer sea. We ended up sitting at a little beach just outside of the main high street for a couple of hours as the sun beamed on us.
It only took about 45 minutes to get back to Amsterdam bus terminal from Hoorn and as it was our last day and night we had one more tourist thing to complete from our list… the I Amsterdam sign. Whenever I have stalked Amsterdam hashtags on Instagram, I have come across people sitting on the sign and as someone that can’t say no to a good photo opportunity we ended up staying there taking photos for an hour. The sign is located outside of the Rijksmuseum in Hobbemastraat next to a giant fountain and a huge park. There is a little play park for children (or for adults if you are like us haha) next to the sign too. The visit there really rounded off an already amazing day! That evening as it was our last night, we accidentally found a tap and dine bar to have some celebratory drinks. Honestly I recommend everyone should go to The Waterhole Tap & Dine on Korte Leidsedwarsstraat, the food was lovely and there was beer on tap that you could pour yourself. The bar was decorated beautifully with music legend’s portraits hanging on the walls, but the best thing about this bar was the wonderful waitress Jolanda. She was so friendly and interested in our lives and even requested that we get a free shot each downstairs in the club.. what a legend!
Amsterdam was the most wonderful city and was perfect for a first holiday, it has really ignited a passion in me to travel more and see the world.
“I left my heart in Amsterdam, where I could dream and nights were long” – Nothing But Thieves.
I hope you enjoyed this little guide, if you have any questions about Amsterdam or can recommend other places to visit in the Netherlands then please comment below!