Last weekend, I went on my first trip away in nearly three years. Yup, for the past three years I’ve stayed firmly on British soil, with my only glimpse of new destinations coming from purposely getting lost on road trips in West Wales (getting lost is always the best way to discover hidden gems!). But as much as I love exploring my homeland, the need to be immersed in a new culture was growing and so, in the midst of wanderlust we booked a spontaneous trip to Amsterdam.
Like Paris and Rome, it’s one of the cities that you just have to visit. Its renowned culture and iconic canals have drawn in tourists and travellers for years, offering an escapism and a place like no-other. It’s a city with endless character and colourful tales and one you should definitely add to your list of go-to places.
For us, it was the perfect destination to hop off to for a long weekend. In just 40 minutes, we’d escaped the hustle of London and landed in a snowy Amsterdam – that’s about the same time it takes me to get to work in the morning!
Here’s a little breakdown of our trip for you. I took so many pictures in the three days we were there so, on Thursday there’ll be another post on Amsterdam for you with all of my favourite snaps of the city. Anyway, here’s what we got up to:
Where we stayed
– Hotel Piet Hein – Vossiustraat 52-53
We decided to go from Thursday to Sunday, and booked to stay in the trendy Hotel Piet Hein in the Vossiusstraat area. The hotel is situated in an old townhouse overlooking Vondelpark, which looked gorgeous covered in snow. But I must admit, I was slightly disappointed with our room, which ended up being a ground floor (basement) room, meaning we missed out on lovely view and our room was a little dark and gloomy.
The hotel itself was situated near the theatre area and 30 minute-or-so walk into the centre of the city. But when our feet were a little tired, we used the tram which took around 20 minutes to get to Centraal Station.
Where we ate
– Bakkerij Simon Meijssen – Van Baerlestraat 162
Obviously being the huge foodie that I am, this trip was always going to be about the food. On our first morning we headed to the bakery we’d passed on our way to the hotel the night before, purely because I couldn’t resist the rainbow of cakes and pastries in the window! I picked out a gorgeous little oliebollen, which is basically a round doughnut with dried fruit in it. Needless to say, it was heaven.
– Mem’s Amsterdam – Eerste Jacob van Campenstraat 27-H, 1072 BC
I don’t think I knew what good coffee was until I came to Mem’s. This gorgeous little café is situated on the corner of a residential street and boasts a Mediterranean menu full of treats. I was swayed by the chorizo and goat’s cheese toastie, which was amazing. I completely fell in love with the deco too.
– Toastable – Singel 441 Sous
This quaint little cafe serves triple-layered deluxe toasties! (Bit of theme going on here!) We both chose the chorizo (yes I’m a fan) with gouda cheese on brown bread. It was melted cheese heaven and came with a sticky, sweet sauce which tasted a bit like HP, but more home-made. All washed down with one of Amsterdam’s beautiful coffees of course.
What we did
– Anne Frank’s House – Prinsengracht 263-267, 1016 GV
We booked tickets to Anne Frank’s house before we went, so luckily didn’t have to queue for hours like everyone else. Definitely worth a visit – words can’t describe the emotions you’ll feel walking around her hidden annex.
– Heineken Experience – Stadhouderskade 78, 1072 AE
Obviously, this was more Aaron’s thing, but even though I don’t drink beer or lager, I really enjoyed this museum. There’s lots of things to see and do here and they not only teach you about the history of the taste, but also give you plenty of opportunities to try it for yourself. You also get the chance to brew your own bottle and take a few pictures in the photo booth.
– Canal Boat Trip
If you do visit the Heineken Museum, then you can get the free Heineken canal boat too, which picks you up just across the street to the museum.The boat sells some beer and other drinks, and you’re also treated to a tour guide who points out some interesting sights as you bob along the canal.
- Bloemenmarkt -Flower Market – Singel canal
You can’t go to Amsterdam without seeing a tulip. We headed to the market to pick up a few presents for people at home. The street is completely lined with tulips, bulbs and other flowers, which makes it smell beautiful. Definitely worth going to if you want to pick up a few keepsakes for yourself.
So, what are you waiting for? Be a little spontaneous and book that weekend away you’ve been debating about since Christmas. Life is far too short not to explore.
Where are your favourite places to go in Amsterdam? Tweet me @MiaHolt