Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Amsterdam, The Netherlands


Oh hai!

I've been away for a little while as I've been what I can truly say was the most hectic time in the year for me so far. In a nutshell, I've been busy because of a few things: C's sis came to London and stayed with us, I also handed in my notice and started a brand spanking new job (!) I've been doing the usual travelling around to see my family (this time for a v. important occasion as my aunty got ordained!) I also spent most of the last week celebrating my birthday and had a very ill-fated trip to Latitude festival and ended up coming back to London way earlier than planned (I basically missed out on Saturday AND Sunday...ugh).

A lot has happened but I think I'll do a catch up in my next post.

One of the things I did do a few weeks ago that also kept me busy was visit the beautiful city of Amsterdam.

Here's the story, Lauren was dying for a quick getaway. Cool cool...I'm down with that.

Next thing to decide on though, was...where.

Problematic.

Both Lauren and I have visited lots of different cities and we were trying to visit somewhere where neither of us had visited.

We trawled through the internet, flicked through my copy of the The New York Times 36 Hours in search of European cities and then I turned to her and said, 'Amsterdam?'

L turned to me eyes wide: 'No, I haven't actually been...'

And like that, done. Amsterdam: chosen.

Fast forward to a few months to June and we met up at Tottenham Hale, ready to board the ever so 'trusty' train to Stansted. (When I say trusty, the train had a fault at Bishop Stortford which meant we were running 25mins late and almost made us miss our plane...)

 I don't think we stopped nattering once from the time we met up, to landing at Schipol airport.

Once we met our AirBnb host (Hugo, lovely chap) and dropped off our bags (we stayed near Wibaustraut station which is a bit out of the center), off we went to pound the streets of Amsterdam.


We were starving when we arrived so we decided to stop off at a local restaurant for some local grub: bitterballen and poffertjes, before exploring the streets and coming across the delightful cheese museum:




(L bought £30 worth of cheese which we will not mention she was quite pleased about!)

 The cheese museum wasn't too far from Anne Frank house (we tried getting tickets a couple of months before we were due to fly out but ALL the tickets were sold out. Hmph.) which we had tried to queue up for 3 times but just didn't manage it. A reason to come again, right?

L decided that the best way to see the city was by booking onto a canal cruise.


We normally pride ourselves at being quite organised generally, but on holiday mode?
That totally seems to go amiss when we are together!

When it was time to actually get to our boat, we totally got the boat company name mixed up, going to the wrong canal to be picked up, and running like maniacs across the city to try and make our timed slot...ahem. We didn't make it.

I was a mess - sweaty and out of breath...we caved and very sheepishly told the lady at the booking office who was SUPER nice and told us she could book us onto another cruise.

YESSSSSSSSS


We bummed about for an hour or so, made it to the right boat this time, and we were off! Captain also let L have a go at driving...





(We totally thought we were on the same boat with the actor who plays Neville in Harry Potter...we're still undecided about that but we had a good crack trying to guess!)

Of course we had to get in some selfies:


Amsterdam has some great, great foodie places. We went to Foodhallen for a bite to eat (frozen yoghurt and strawberry jam is the ONE).




We explored De 9 Straatjes (The 9 Streets) for some window shopping.





In the evening, we checked out a restaurant called Arles, based in trendy area, De Pijp. (Food was yum, everything was kinda deconstructed if that floats your boat).



We also checked out the flower market to buy some souvenirs to bring home...


...and checked out the goodies (nothing bought from here though, damn that 100ml liquid rule)!


Mostly I just got house envy:


We did visit the red light district, in the day and also at night, and you aren't allowed to take pictures of the booths, (hence why I don't have any pics to share!)

Even though I don't think I enjoyed walking through the area at night, it certainly was interesting to walk through and to feel the 'vibe' of the area. At night it can be very pushy and way too busy, so I'd suggest going in the day time to walk around if you don't like crowds.

On our final day, we went to the Van Gogh museum and sadly, I don't have any pics of the artwork as you aren't allowed to take pics inside. I will however though (consolation pic) will share this pic of the beaut waffle I had before we went in...it really was that good. 

Pour more of that syrup on, will ya?



Finally, one thing we crossed off our list? Riding a bike in Amsterdam.

Well...the plan was for both of us was ride to De Gooyer Windmill.

What we didn't anticipate was the seats of our freebie bikes that came with the Airbnb were WAYYYYYY taller than hip level.

Lauren could just about get on the seat of one. Me? Imagine me stepping onto the seat and then legs flailing around desperately trying to reach the pedals and then almost crashing down onto the pavement because there was no way tI could touch the pedals?

Yah. I'm suave as f, me.

Determined to have our bike ride to the windmill, Lauren suggested giving me a backie on the bike. O...k. Apart from she's never given a backie, and I've never been on the back of a bike before.

First try of practicing riding down the pavement = crashing on our sides whilst both trying to get off the bike. (This is where a local dude crossed over to our side of the road to get to his bike, pissing himself from the sheer comedy of two girls battling with this bike.)

Sheer determination got us through it, and we made it!
Soz to everyone stuck behind us on the bike path who was dinging their bells because we were so slow....

(You may have caught me snapchatting, if you don't follow me yet, hit a girl up: joieandthevivre)

   
We cried with laughter riding there and back (although the story doesn't end here, on our way back from the windmill, the bike chain decided to give up on us and we had to wheel the bike back to the flat and poor L got covered in oil).

This trip gave us 1000 laughs, and I'll never forget it.

I can't stress how good it is to spend time traveling with your best friend, you know you have a keeper when every second of the day and night is spent clutching your side because you've laughed so damn hard.

(Also, as a final note, we totally saw Neville again at the queue on our flight back to London and when we were disappointed when he wasn't on the train back to Tottenham Hale with us. We were walking to the tube when Lauren said 'ah, he's probably back at Hogwarts' and a randomer, way way behind us started whistling the Harry Potter theme tune. One final laugh for the road...)

Love you lots, Loz

F x

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