Travel Review: Amsterdam

25 Apr

Oh hey there fellow internet person! Welcome back to the blog and thanks for sticking around if you’re a familiar face and hello to anyone new who might be seeing my blog for the first time! Let me just recap a little about my blog… you have basically entered the weird world of Meg that includes all things media,baking and adventures! My last few blog posts have been a bit scarce I admit but finally I have gone on another adventure (woo go me!) and am now here to let you know all about it! Hopefully you’re a budding adventurist (is that even a word? idk.) and traveller like myself and can relate to this blog so if that sounds like you then woooohooo, let’s high five!

Ok enough blabbering. So basically I went to Amsterdam guys. Yep, that’s a thing that casually happened. I can’t really remember the reason why me and my friend decided on Amsterdam but it’s a decision we came to a while back and about a week prior to our leaving date it dawned on me… “holy effin crap! I’m actually going to another country in a weeks time!”. Like what? I definitely freaked out a tiny bit. I am usually the most organised person on the planet but now that I’m actually a real life adult working a real life job, I started to learn that time is not a thing anymore. So yeah, I kinda didn’t pack until the night before but hey, new experiences and all(!)….

Anyways, so the day came, April the 12th! It had been on a countdown in my phone for a while and so when my alarm went off in the morning to remind me I got that excited feeling in my tummy like christmas as a kid. I’m secretly pleased that that feeling doesn’t actually go away as an adult and that you get it from other things instead like holidays! Yay rejoice!

Excitement!

Excitement! … although you wouldn’t think it by going off of my facial expressions.

The travelling part to Amsterdam wasn’t too horrendous from ‘lil old Wales. We got the train from Cardiff to Bristol train station and then hopped on an airport express bus to Bristol Airport. I maaaaaaay have overestimated the schedule just a little when I realised we had to actually hang around the airport for about 5 hours. (oopsies) BUT, one would rather be safe than sorry. Life tip kids: OVERESTIMATE YOUR TIME. You don’t want to be the tit who’s running late and everyone on the flight is waiting for you to get on the darn thing. Thankfully there were no train delays or travel disasters so we got there safe and sorted. The flight was possibly the quickest flight I have EVER been on. I was gobsmacked! Within half hour of the flight the captain already made his announcement to the cabin crew that we were preparing for landing. YASSS!! I was a little tired at this point but too excited to finally be there. Oh, also, Amsterdam airport has like the craziest, longest runway in the world. Even though we had landed, it took about 10-15 minutes just to move around to the correct gate until the plane came to a stop so be prepared for that if you ever fly there.

Insert generic airport photo...

Insert generic airport photo…

The most artsy photo of a drink in the airport you'll see all day…. #justsayin

The most artsy photo of a drink in the airport you’ll see all day…. #justsayin

So fast forward half an hour or so, we had got through customs, picked up our bags and got in a taxi on the way to the hotel which was about 15 minutes from the airport in a place called Zaandam. 70 euros later (ouch) we were a little bummed that a huge chunk of our spending money had already gone in the first hour but never the less we were just glad to be at the hotel. (p.s- taxis apparently don’t normally cost that much in Amsterdam. I think we got ripped off by the airport ones.) Oh, that was until they announced to us that we had a further 20 euros to pay for ‘city tax’?! Errrrrm whaaat? Where did that come from?! With no more fight in us, we gave up and handed over more of our hard earned cash. (le cry.) RIGHT, let’s just get to the damn room. In goes the key, swoosh goes the door. Right, we made it. “Awwww cute hotel room!….. loving the funky green colours, yep, ok so there’s the mirror, there’s the TV and there’s the– uhhhhh, wait..hang on, is that the shower IN the room? Like actually INSIDE the room and not in a separate bathroom!? Like what even? Hahahaha! All I could do was laugh at the crazy design of this hotel room. It dawned on us that we were going to have to leave the room for eachother every morning in order to shower and change which was a tad awks but hey, we had a bed to sleep on so all was swell!

The weird shower inside the bedroom…..

The weird shower inside the bedroom…..

Amsterdam Central Bus Station - with a beautiful waterfront view,  very similar view to the Thames!

Amsterdam Central Bus Station – with a beautiful waterfront view, very similar view to the Thames!

A couple of hours kip in the can and it was up and at ’em for our adventures. I have to say at first, I was bloody terrified of the city when I nearly got run over by a tram 5 minutes in. I was also flabbergasted by the amount of cyclists everywhere. Honestly, I cannot put into words HOW many bikes there are. More bikes than people!!! It wasn’t long though until we saw the first of many beautiful canals and buildings. I must say, I very much admired the architecture and surroundings of the city. It felt like I was in a rural french village. When you got out of the crazy roads, the rest was beautiful. I also noticed how peaceful and quiet it was in those areas too. I kept thinking about where all the people were and then 5 minutes later when we got back into a central square, it was like being back in London with hundreds of tourists and people for miles. There was quite a lot to see in Amsterdam and here are a list of the attractions we personally went to see and a couple of others that are of interest:

– Anne Frank Huis: A very very interesting experience. It was incredible to see the original house and the contents of it that were still there, like the original book case that acted as the door to the secret annex that Anne Frank lived in. In one of the rooms, they also had original markings of Anne Franks height as she grew in the 2 years she was there. It was a very small house understandably but was easy enough to navigate around. I was very impressed that the price for this was only 9 euros but the only downside was having to queue for an hour to get in. I’d highly recommend pre booking tickets if you go! (fun fact – I TOTALLY had a nose bleed when I was nearing the end of the house. Seriously, of all the places in the world, how did I get a nosebleed in the Anne Frank house!?!!?!?!? Fail.)

– Van Gogh Museum: Another interesting museum attraction that portrayed the life of the famous painter, Vincent Van Gogh. I found this very insightful due to my lack of knowledge about Van Gogh so was very keen to learn! The museum holds a LOT of Vincent’s original paintings, like his many self portraits and his well known still life work including the sunflowers picture. In fairness, there were about 4/5 floors so there was plenty to see. My only criticism would be the price of the museum at 17 euros which I think is a little pricey for a museum myself.

– Madame Tussauds: Not exactly the most cultural thing to do I admit BUT it was fun! If you don’t know about Madame Tussauds, it’s basically a museum full of weirdly freaky and (some not so) accurate waxworks of celebrities and influential figures. I’ve been to the one in London, which, if I’m honest isn’t all that great. I was much more impressed by Amsterdams version. It was a veeery big madame tussauds that included all sorts from Beyonce to Angela Merkel. The ticket came to about 17 euros but we got a pretty alright deal with a tourist company so we could combine our ticket with another attraction which leads me onto the next place!…

– Body Worlds Exhibition: In all honesty, I don’t know what to say about this place. I understood the concept, I really did. It’s basically an exhibition of human body pieces/organs that are all individually dissected and analysed. It was a very ‘artsy’ exhibition and included displays of human hearts and lungs and bones. I can see why people go to the attraction as it is very interesting delving into the science of the human body but I’ll be totally honest… it was NAAAAT for me! I felt very queasy throughout because all I could think about is the fact that they were real human body pieces. Not fake, not plastic, REAL! I wouldn’t go back there in a rush myself but if it interests you then you’ll love it!

– Dam Square: Not exactly an attraction, more of a location. It’s the big central square of Amsterdam. It reminded me a little of Covent Garden in London. Quite a few street performers and entertainers. Lots of beautiful buildings and statues and generally just a place to take lots of pretty photos and admire. When we were there, they had just began setting up a massive fun fair with a ferris wheel so plenty to do and see there.

– Leidseplein: The weirdest name for a place. I can’t help but think of the word spleen all the time lolz. Never the less, I did enjoy hopping on the tram and visiting this place. It was like a smaller version of Covent Garden with street performers (we saw some awesome dancers) and generally and a shit ton of shops and pubs. I was loving the vibes when we visited. It was an incredibly sunny and beautiful day and everybody seemed to just be LOVING LIFE! The bars were rammed at about 5 in the afternoon and the sun was blazing. We popped into a nearby Starbucks because we are clearly SOOO cultured. (In all seriousness though, fellow tourists…Starbucks is like a HAVEN when it comes to needing power for your phone, familiarity and WIFI!!! Good god, thank you Starbucks for free wifi.) Leidseplein felt like it was the place for students and young people. We headed to the Hard Rock Cafe restaurant in the area which was nice and all you seemed to see were young folk everywhere so I’m guessing that’s the party place to go! It’s also the place to go for the Heineken Beer experience at the Heineken factory.

– Canal River Cruise: So in Amsterdam, they basically have canals EVERYWHERE! It’s practically a form of public transport and a lovely one at that! The main hub for canal cruises was near Amsterdam Centraal Train Station. As you walk outside, you are greeted with a huge tourist information centre and there they have options galore for you to choose from. We chose a random boat cruise and off we popped. In hindsight, we probably should’ve done a little more research into the best ones instead of what was cheapest. The official Amsterdam City Tour Guide one (the big red one!) looked a bit better than the one we went on but regardless it made for a lovely 1 hour boat journey. It was so relaxing sitting out in the sun filming and taking photos of the beautiful scenery. The boat takes you around a giant hexagon sort of route of the Amsterdam canals, passing by the Anne Frank house and other areas.

– Red Light District: Wow. That is the only world I can think of to describe the Red Light District. Just crazy. I cannot get over the fact that prostitution and sex is just such a casual thing over there. The walk there felt dodgy enough going through interesting streets full of sex shops and marijuana shops and then getting onto the main strip (no pun intended hehe) was so mad! “Free porno – live sex show!!”, “Sex museum!”, “Erotic show!” was all you could see. It was a brightly lit area and every two minutes, there was an awkward stare off with a very much naked woman trying to entice you to come in. I didn’t know where to look! I was fascinated though by the normality of it. Certainly a very interesting sight to see and definitely something to tick off your list if you go to Amsterdam.

So those were basically the main things that we got up to amongst many other things (ahem *don’t do space cakes kids…… just DON’T… *ahem) but there were probably a lot of other hidden gems that we didn’t know about. Other big attractions that were advertised was the Rijksmuseum, The Amsterdam Dungeons, Sexmuseum, The Diamond Museum and The NEMO Science centre. We couldn’t really afford to do every single tourist attraction and weren’t that bothered to see the other stuff, although we were quite gutted that the Sexmuseum was shut due to refurbishment. I think that’s the one thing I would’ve been interested to see!

My verdict on Amsterdam is a solid 7 out of 10. I thought the people of Amsterdam and all of the staff you came across working there were absolutely delightful. (Although there was this one crazy dutch lady who stared us up and down as we sat outside of a cafe trying to plan where we were going to next. She hovered over us rudely expecting us to order a drink, and swiftly shooed us away from her establishment. RUDE.) They were all really friendly and I was so impressed with their English. I felt SO guilty not knowing any of their language but they didn’t seem to be bothered. The weather was bloomin marvellous when we went there so I’d highly advise going in April as it seems to be the perfect spring weather. The city itself is very lively and there’s plenty going on but there’s also a lot of peace and quiet in parts of it. A nice balance. I was actually pleasantly surprised by the cost of Amsterdam. (minus the stupid taxi on the first evening..) I didn’t think it was as horrendous as people made it out. Food was decently priced (and made!….. Try their delicacy, Vlaams Frites, yum!) , public transport was about 10-13 euros a day for 24 hour passes that were valid on pretty much ALL public transport which is great when you’re a tourist and haven’t got a clue where you’re going! (oh yeah, that’s another thing, Amsterdam/Netherlands have got it DOWN when it comes to public transport. Everybody needs to take a leaf out of their book!) Tourist attractions were decently priced with a lot of good combo deals. There were a lot of tourist attraction centres that offered cheaper, discounted tickets aswel which was a massive money saver. I think the only thing that probably costs a bomb in Amsterdam is alcohol. I think a pint was approx 5-7 euros in some places but thankfully I don’t drink so that was not a problem for me! (Ha! Yay sobriety!!) The only reason why I wouldn’t give Amsterdam a 10 is because personally, I couldn’t handle the craziness of the cyclists after a while. It can be a little annoying when you’re having to look everywhere about ten thousand times because you’re in fear of being ran over by one! They don’t really have consideration for pedestrians which sucks! I also wasn’t a massive fan of the constant smell of weed. Like,everywhere. All.the.time. I found Amsterdam to be a place that was very doable in 2-3 days. I don’t think it’s somewhere I’d rush back to as I feel like I’ve experienced it and ticked it off my list. I think if I went back, I’d find myself a little bored because I’ve already done all of the main things there are to do there. I understand why a lot of people would go back though because of the weed thing but that doesn’t really appeal to me. It’s somewhere that I’m very pleased I have visited now. It was a nice trip and I’d highly recommend it as a cheap and easy city break.

I took quite a few photos and videos whilst I was away and will be in the process of making a trip diary video in the next few weeks so look out for that. I hope you enjoyed my review of Amsterdam and please enjoy the photos I took! Let me know if you’ve ever been to Amsterdam and what you thought of it? Or are you planning on going there?! What are your plans so far? Thanks a lot for reading and ciao for now! xo

Day 1 - wandering the city. Oh hey! Spot the cyclist!

Day 1 – wandering the city. Oh hey! Spot the cyclist!

One of the many bicycle lines surrounding the pavements and walkways

One of the many bicycle lines surrounding the pavements and walkways

Guess who!? Oh, just another bike or two!

Guess who!? Oh, just another bike or two!

One of the many interesting and beautiful buildings - near the chinatown area of Amsterdam

One of the many interesting and beautiful buildings – near the chinatown area of Amsterdam

Part of Dam Square

Part of Dam Square

Trams galore!

Trams galore!

Very large Iamsterdam sign outside of the airport. Clearly the most important thing we needed to do was take a selfie with it...

Very large Iamsterdam sign outside of the airport. Clearly the most important thing we needed to do was take a selfie with it…

Amsterdam Centraal Station - the most beautiful train station you've ever seen!

Amsterdam Centraal Station – the most beautiful train station you’ve ever seen!

More of Dam Square - view from Madame Tussauds

More of Dam Square – view from Madame Tussauds

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5 points if you spot the coffee shop (there's about a million of them..)

5 points if you spot the coffee shop (there’s about a million of them..)

The Grip Reaper came to town..

The Grip Reaper came to town..

Madame Tussauds!

Madame Tussauds!

Chilling with some random dutch radio personality...

Chilling with some random dutch radio personality…

Anne Frank waxwork

Anne Frank waxwork

Werk it!

Werk it!

The next Adele...

The next Adele…

Too soon Madame Tussauds, too soon….. #RIPZAYN #1DFOREVER

Too soon Madame Tussauds, too soon….. #RIPZAYN #1DFOREVER

Tourist groups ahoy!

Tourist groups ahoy!

As I'm uploading these photos, I'm laughing to myself at how many cyclists appear in each one… Let's start a drinking game (hey!)

As I’m uploading these photos, I’m laughing to myself at how many cyclists appear in each one… Let’s start a drinking game (hey!)

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Canal cruise

Canal cruise

I kid you not, they have a multi storey CAR PARK for BIKES!!! Madness!!

I kid you not, they have a multi storey CAR PARK for BIKES!!! Madness!!

Anne Frank House

Anne Frank House

Queuing outside the Van Gogh Museum

Queuing outside the Van Gogh Museum

The beautiful Rijkmuseum

The beautiful Rijkmuseum

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Cannabis EVERYTHING!

Cannabis EVERYTHING!

Nutella Crepe…. yum!

Nutella Crepe…. yum!

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One Response to “Travel Review: Amsterdam”

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  1. Guess who’s back…! | Megan Wigley-Jones - January 21, 2016

    […] things during that year (remember the epic Florida adventure!? – Not forgetting fun times in Amsterdam!) but as usual, I think I got to about May and totally neglected my dear […]

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