Amsterdam has become a popular post a-level holiday destination. As we were in fact both on holiday and of the post a-Level variety we decided it was only right to add the Netherlands to our route around Europe.
Unfortunately as you may have read in my Brussels post, there were no seats left on the Thalys service from Paris to Amsterdam. This meant that we were effectively slumming it on the regular national train across the Dutch, Belgian border. When I say slumming it I mean it was not on the same level as Thalys but equally it is no northern rail, she types in the waiting area of Hebden Bridge train station waiting for, you guessed it, a cancelled northern rail service! Anyway it took us around 4 hours, which is nothing in the grand scheme of things.
We arrived in Amsterdam at around 21.00 after a quick change in Rotterdam and headed for our hostel. We were a bit concerned by our hostel to begin with as it looked little more than a glamourised Chinese take away. But once we headed upstairs it was more than suitable. This was the first time that we were staying in shared accommodation on our trip. At first we worried because our roommates seemed shy and unfriendly but by the second night we were chatting to some nice girls from Austria. We stayed at Hostel the Globe in Amsterdam Central and it was perfectly located and provided pretty much everything we needed.
Having already eaten, we had a wander along the street we were staying on and headed to bed. The next morning, we woke up early and headed out to find something to eat. Our meals generally consisted of supermarket croissants and a piece of fruit. That’s what it’s like on a budget ladies and gentlemen! Amsterdam was one of the first places where we were genuinely at a loss as to what to do. We weren’t interested in then ‘local’ activities if you know what I mean and equally the museums were out of budget.
Eventually after wandering around a little, (word of warning Amsterdam doesn’t wake up until late, which is not great when you’re a morning person like me), we decided to go on a river cruise. Much like Copenhagen, Amsterdam is a harbour city and has a network of rivers and canals. We concluded that this would be the best way to orientate ourselves and pinpoint some of the things we would like to see! The boat tour really didn’t disappoint. The tour was in German so we got some practice in before we headed to Germany and Austria next.
Cycling & Vondel Park
From there we decided to rent bicycles because when in Holland. That became our mode of transport for the day. We paid €16 each which is dearer than the tram, but for the flexibility and enjoyment it was worth it. Cycling in the Netherlands is also incredibly easy because of all of the bike lanes. Our first port of call was Vondel Park where we spent the the morning chilling. We also grabbed a bite to eat in the cafe in the park which does THE best pizza! A well needed rest after a busy couple of days exploring Paris and Brussels. After that we cycled over to the flower market, which unfortunately had no real tulips but did have some fake ones. I also managed to buy a book in an English language book shop, as I had forgotten mine!
The bikes came in handy over the course of the day as we cycled here, there and everywhere. Our next stop was Anne Frank’s house. We didn’t go in mainly because you have to book well in advance. But also because of my crippling claustrophobia. At least we can say we have seen it and maybe that’s one for next time. After a long day of cycling, we decided to head to Wagamama’s as a nice treat. Amsterdam is full of cute little places but we were really craving some veggies. It was also quite entertaining watching Sarah attempt to use chopsticks!
Ferry & Noord Amsterdam
After dinner we stocked up on some little snacks for the hostel and took the ferry across to Noord Amsterdam. This was honestly one of the highlights of Amsterdam for me. The ferry is completely free and takes less than 5 minutes. From the other side there is a viewing platform with swings that hang over the edge that you can try! Not for the faint hearted, or those on a budget because the tickets were on the pricier side. Other than that there are cute bars and cafes to enjoy and even just sitting on the harbour is nice. I dropped my earring sitting on the bridge so if I have any Dutch followers and a cute little star earring washes up please let me know! We watched the sunset from there and waited until it was dark before heading back to the hostel to freshen up.
Red Light District
We quickly got changed and headed out to experience the red light district. Every site tells you that this is not a tourist attraction, but if we are honest you can’t go to Amsterdam and not even have a look. If anything it was cultural experience gathering. We grabbed some Dutch chips and sat by the canal. Our hostel was actually at the end of the street where all of the red light district activities take place so our walk back was relatively easy.
Our stop in Amsterdam was definitely the most chilled stop on our interrail trip. If I am totally honest it was slightly underwhelming just because of how much people hype up the city. Amsterdam is a nice city break and excludes the hustle and bustle of mega cities like Paris, London and NYC, which meant it was a welcomed break.