Flying High in Amsterdam
Now I’ve been to Amsterdam once before in 2019 with a group of girls, we had so much fun, tried all kinds of food and activities but this time heading to the city with my boyfriend it was a truly amazing experience.
We kind of booked the trip last minute, deciding after all the stress of covid and not being able to visit each other that much, that we wanted a bit of quality time and a change of scenery. So, I flew out to Belgium, to stay with Tjay, on the Saturday evening and by the Sunday morning we were on our way to The Netherlands. It’s only a 2.5-hour drive from Tjay’s place in Belgium to Amsterdam so we grabbed some pastries and set out on the road.
A short while later we crossed the Netherland-Belgium border and started to pass rolling green fields and lots of windmills. It was stunning scenery along the way. Last time I flew into Schiphol and headed straight into the city, so it was nice to enjoy some new views along the way.
Easy like Sunday Morning
It was a Sunday morning driving into the city and so the roads were nice and quiet, While T drove, I searched for parking that was somewhat reasonable. After a lot of research and only finding car parks costing around 50 Euros per day, I decided the P&R was the best option. We chose the P&R RAI which usually cost around 25 euros per day but if you bought the public transport ticket into the city (which was 5 euros for 2 people) the parking was reduced to 1 Euro per day. Now we didn’t even use the public transport tickets as we prefer to walk and see everything but it made it a lot cheaper.
The parking wasn’t that far from our hotel “The Easy Hotel Amsterdam”. So, we picked a hotel just a short walk out-side of the centre. We decided we would rather pick a budget hotel and have more money to spend on activities, as we didn’t intend spending that much time in the room. The Easy hotel was such a great deal, we had a cute clean room with a double bed, a large window looking down onto the street and small bathroom with a cubicle shower. It was clean, comfy, very orange but we were happy as it only cost 40 Euros per evening to be a 20-minute walk outside of the city.
When we arrived, we were too early to check in but our hotel provided the use of luggage lockers for just 4 euros which I thought was really good, as last time I stayed in Amsterdam it cost 20 Euros to leave my suitcase for the day.
Everywhere is in walking distance, if you simply have the time
So, no matter where we go or what we do me and T always choose to walk, I just feel like you see and experience so much more of your surroundings if you’re taking the time to do it. But even for us over the 3 days we were there, we may have just over done it slightly! We walked over 65 km in 3 days, averaging around 30,000 steps per day, safe to say we were glad to give our feet a rest during the car ride home. Saying that, I still wouldn’t jump on a tram or bus even when our feet were aching, we wanted to walk, especially as we were so lucky with the weather and had 3 blue skied, bright, sunny days.
Day 1 – Flowers, Canals, Boat rides and lights
By the time we’d dropped the luggage and headed toward the centre we were beginning to become a bit peckish so stopped for lunch at the flower market. The flower market, is the only floating market in the world and as you can imagine the most fragrant place in Amsterdam. The market was started in 1862 and still to this day hosts an array of beautiful, colourful flowers. You can buy single flowers, bouquets or bulbs to take home and plant.
Half way down the market stalls, we found a cute little corner bistro/café where we decided to grab a little table in the sun and order a beer, or in my case cider ( I just fancied something nice and refreshing) and to accompany that a chicken club and a chicken supreme sandwich. The food was nice, nothing amazing and I suppose for the location wasn’t too badly priced.
We walked off our food afterwards, that’s for sure, walking in circles, just enjoying the views of the beautiful canals and coloured buildings lining them either side.
After a few hours of walking, we decided to take a canal boat tour. We headed up to the harbour of water, near to Centraal station and chose a tour that was just filling up a boat. There were multiple different ones that we could have chosen, but ultimately, we went for the one we could pay in cash for. For an hour tour it cost us 13 Euros per person and for that we had a lovely canal cruise in the sun, a comfy bench with a little table and foot rest and an interesting commentary (which was done in Dutch, English, French and German). After our ride we saw a boat that did the same tour but had a bar equipped with ice cold wine and beers in the middle, we said next time we visit we will be jumping on that one.
The ride was beautiful, it was 4-5pm and so the sun was perfectly reflecting onto the water and it was shining in, just warming our faces. We saw bridges and houses and were told some really interesting facts. I’d definatly recommend it if you visit the city.
After a quick pit-stop back at the hotel we headed back out to enjoy some more of the sunshine and found ourselves in Vondelpark. I loved the vibe here, even at 7pm there were so many people just enjoying and taking part in different activities. There were groups of friends chilling in the grass on picnic blankets enjoying a beer and nibbles, couples doing workouts and yoga, People riding around on their bicycles and even a group of maybe 30 people listening to music and playing a game that involved beer bottles and a football (I have no idea what it was but I kind of wanted to join in). Vondelpark is huge and we just enjoyed walking around, seeing the sky change from blue to vibrant orange colours and noticing all the different wildlife, more impressively hundreds of bright green parrots in the trees. It was a Zen, beautiful, happy place.
After a bit of time walking around the lakes and various grass verges, we decided to look for a place to grab some dinner. After some time, walking, we came across a corner restaurant that looked warm and inviting, there were little bistro tables and grape vines outside and when we saw the name “Piccolino” and realised it was Italian, we headed inside! It was a lovely atmosphere; we were seated on a romantic table right by the window where we could watch the different people pass by the place. We ordered some house red wine, which I really enjoyed and also the ‘bread and dips’ to start, fresh warm baguette arrived with olives, truffle mayo and garlic butter, a perfect starter for us
For mains, T went for the ravioli which he said was delicious and I was tempted by a pizza, as it said it was an old family secret recipe for the dough. I picked a Bolognese pizza for a change and it was lovely, just massive…. I didn’t even manage to polish off half of it! Considering this restaurant that was in the centre of Amsterdam, was so lovely, welcoming, had great staff and delicious food it was so reasonable. Tjay’s ravioli only costing 5 Euros and my pizza 10. For a nice Italian I would 100% recommend.
After the meal we went for another drink and walked around some more just enjoying the breathtaking views of the city lit up and the reflections casting on the water of the canals.
Day 2 – Wax people, Swings in the Sky, Parks and Passing out
Our second day we got up early enough to enjoy the full day and so grabbed a little pain au chocolat from the bakery next to our hotel and walked up to the main part of the city. We decided to start the day at Madame Tussauds, from all the places we’ve been neither of us had ever been to one so thought we’d give it a go. We both really enjoyed it and laughed the whole way round. Of course, I had to go that extra step and put on the Marilyn Monroe dress and stand next to her on a fan, and put the black blazer on for my pic with James Bond. It was a fun morning and was done really well.
After a morning of trying to figure out who was real and who was not, some of them creeped me out I kept thinking they were gonna jump up and say ‘surprise’, we headed over to centraal station.
At the back of Centraal is a free ferry to take you over to the other side of the of the Het IJ and more specifically to the A’DAM lookout tower. The A’DAM is a 100-meter-high observation deck with a panoramic view of Amsterdam. For the thrill seekers, and the main reason I wanted to go is due to its “over the edge swing”. Europe’s highest swing, where you dangle 100 meters above ground and swing back and forth over the edge of the tower, Amsterdam below your feet. I had seen the swing on an episode of ‘travel man’ a few years ago and so actually first rode the swing back in 2019 but so badly wanted Tjay to experience and to go on again. It was only 6 Euros per person to ride the swing (after paying 14 euros to come up to the observation platform) which for the few minutes you’re up there, swinging free, with stunning views, its’ so worth it!
After hopping off the swing and taking in some more of the mesmerizing views, we decided to enjoy lunch up the tower. We picked a high table with stools and gazed out over the city basking in the sun. I had a lovely glass off Pinot Grigo wine and we ordered a chicken Cesar salad and a chicken sourdough sandwich. The food was lovely and the setting was stunning, however I am a little fussy on chicken and the meat used in both dishes was more the dark meat, chicken thigh type so I couldn’t eat it but everything else was fresh and delicious.
When we came back down to the ground, we decided to head back to Vondelpark for a little bit of an afternoon relax in the sun. This time we picked a spot in the grass and lay down to watch the birds fly through the trees and after a little relax played a few games of cards. We left after a few hours intending to walk back to the hotel to get changed but got distracted along the way by an Irish bar, called “Iran Irish pub, that had seating along the river right in the setting sun. We were pulled in and ordered a bottle of wine and some nachos. It was such a gorgeous spring afternoon, we had to make the most of it!
That evening after some TripAdvisor research we tried to find a high-rated restaurant for Mediterranean style tapas, but after walking 40 minutes there, we were told it was full and they had no table for us. We should have planned ahead and booked really. So back to the drawing board we went, where we decided to wing it and see where we came across while walking. After another 20 mins of wandering, we came across an Italian called ‘Del Postre’, even though we had had Italian the night before, we decided to go in as it was 9pm at this point and the place looked inviting! The owner was so lovely and also very grateful, he kept thanking us for visiting the city and his restaurant. We ordered a bottle of red merlot wine which was really smooth and enjoyable and for starters we had a gorgeous bruschetta, before going onto enjoy some pizza and spaghetti Bolognese.
After the meal we headed to a bar for another drink, we were sat up on high stools by the window and decided to play a game of cards. Bearing in mind we had walked 35,000 steps, sat in the sun, enjoyed a considerable amount of wine I had a strange feeling come over me almost like a fuzzy head and a loud ringing, followed by a moment of panic. The next thing I remember was the owner and my boyfriend holding me and trying to get me to drink orange juice. I have never fainted in my life so was actually so scared and confused but just have to say how lovely the owner was to get me the juice to up my blood sugar levels and within a few minutes I was up on my feet and wanting to leave out of pure embarrassment.
Day 3 – Cake for breakfast, Spinning tunnels of light and Bittenballen
Our last day in the amazing city, we got up early as check out was 10am and so we were up and out before that, using the lockers again to store our bags. And we headed for breakfast at a little bakery next door called “Kwekkeboom Patisserie”, we ordered drinks (chai latte for me and macchiato for T) and since it was our last day asked for cakes (Lemon Meringue and Apple). They were both delicious and the bakery itself was so cute, boasting so many different pastries, cakes and chocolates!
Later on, we headed to the ‘Ripley’s – Believe it or not’ and had such a laugh going around reading all the facts and getting involved with all the interactive activities, if a button said ‘press here’ I guarantee one of us, if not both, pressed it every time. The best part was the crazy spinning tunnel that led into the illusions section. The tunnel was filled with music and lights and when you walked across the little platform you swore you were being tipped upside down, we could hardly walk across, yet it wasn’t even moving! I felt so motion sick afterwards.
For lunch we went to the famous Food Hallen, where there was so much choice me and Tjay decided to take food from a few different vendors and share “tapas style”. We started with ‘JABUGO’ a Spanish style place where we ordered pan con tomate and Iberico ham, one of our fave snacks when we are in Ibiza, and it did not disappoint. After that we took a mezze board from a Greek vendor and then tried the Bittenballens from ‘De BallenBar’ – we took the five balls of different flavours to try (we had beef, truffle, spinach and cashew, a Thai inspired and a curry flavoured one). We had every intention of getting Taco’s from Lima, and a pita and even some pho or curry but we were so full! I just love the vibe in there, it’s such a cool, laid-back atmosphere with so much delicious food to choose from.
I loved everything about Amsterdam and we managed to cram a lot into our 3 days, while still finding time to relax. There are still a number of things we’d like to do there, but we will save those till next time.
Tot Ziens Amsterdam