I can’t believe it was just in October that I ticked off another destination on my bucketlist…Amsterdam. Apologies about the lateness of these Amsterdam travel diary posts that will follow, I wanted to wait till I went self-hosted before posting them so here goes. After a classic breakfast at the airport, washed down with a good old cup of tea, we boarded our rather turbulent KLM flight and just over an hour later landed on Dutch soil. Weeks of planning all came down to this one trip, so upon arrival we headed straight to the information desk in the airport to pick up our 4 day IAmsterdam card, which cost us 87 euros each. I highly, highly recommend buying this if you’re thinking of going to Amsterdam, as it gets you into so many attractions for free or at a discounted price, it gets you free travel within the city, it includes giveaways, and discounts at restaurants, it definitely saved us a good few hundred euros so I’d buy it again if I returned.
After picking up our IAmsterdam cards our private transfer whisked us off to the Mercure Hotel at Sloterdijk train station and first impressions were certainly great, the hotel reception had a fake fire with all the noises to go with it, making it super cosy and like we were tucked away in a little log cabin. As we were far too early to check in, we dropped our bags in the luggage room and headed straight on a tram into Amsterdam Central (not before a little Starbucks to set us up for the day).
First stop was the Stedelijk museum dedicated to modern and contemporary art. If you were look at some of the work there I’d imagine some of you would hit out with the likes of “I could do this at home“, or “what even is this” but after visiting multiple art museums in Amsterdam I’ve come to the conclusion that art is what you make of it, and the meaning you give to it really depends on how you interpret the picture. My highlight of the museum was the room where you were free to pick up a keyring of 4 pens and draw or write whatever you pleased on the wall. It was pretty packed with illustrations so after finding a little spot we marked our territory. What was once a blank slate is now covered with a personal piece of individuals from all over the world. Things like this please me as you take so many memories away from a trip, but it’s nice to leave your own little memory in that place too.
Following the Stedelijk museum was a visit to the Diamond Museum, which was really interesting finding out the history of diamonds and seeing all the pretty sparkly jewels for my very own eyes. If you’re made of money you can even purchase yourself a diamond or two from the jewellers in the museum afterwards, but I have a funny feeling my bank account wouldn’t have thanked me.
When I could no longer look at another diamond it was time for lunch and we headed to Blue Amsterdam, which is a glass-fronted cafe/bar perched at the top of a shopping centre, providing 360 views of the city. It was absolutely jam-packed so you could tell this was a popular place for the locals, but after managing to squeeze in at a high table with swingy chairs beside another couple we were instantly tempted by the ‘Soup of Autumnal Vegetables’, code for pumpkin and sweet potato soup. In the wet and cold weather that weekend, which was a shock considering the weekend before we went it was 25 degrees, the soup done its job, heating us up as well as being exceptionally tasty. This was one of the places that done a discount with the IAmsterdam card so saved us some euros.
All heated up from our Autumnal soup (which I’ve not stopped talking about since), we headed back out into the cold in the direction of FOAM, a photography museum displaying all genres of photography. Located alongside Amsterdam‘s gorgeous canal, this was a lovely little museum displaying the many talents of photographers from around the world. This allows you to see the many different ways photographs are captured worldwide, making it a unique little place, especially for any budding photographers.
You probably all ready get the idea that Day 1 was the museum day as the next stop was the Rijksmuseum, located in Museum Square where the ever so popular IAmsterdam sign is proudly displayed. This was one big museum, taking up a good bulk of our time. My favourite part of it was the little library that we came across during our exploring, it was so magical and incredibly like something out of Harry Potter…I’d happily study in it. The picture doesn’t do it justice, and it was a quick bad quality snap because I don’t think photographs were allowed but I couldn’t miss an opportunity like that.
With a day packed full of museums and art work, it was only right to finish it off by giving the Van Gogh museum a visit before dinner. What amazed me was seeing how his art work transformed and changed throughout his life, with paintings depicting his moods at the time. Van Gogh really was a talented man and this comes through in all his work, which is on proud display throughout the museum. My favourite painting of his is Starry Night, which isn’t actually in Amsterdam, it’s in the Museum of Modern Art in New York, but I guess that one not being there made me appreciate the rest of his work (it looks like a trip to New York will need to be organised one day).
Let me tell you, from an early start of 3am and walking in the rain throughout the day, we were both tired and hungry so we headed off to a lovely restaurant called Amstelhoeck, which is perched beside the Amstel river, allowing for dinner with a view. With the insanely heavy rain not wearing off that evening, we couldn’t wait to get our jackets off and tuck in to a nice warm meal. The restaurant was buzzing with business so this gave off the impression that it was obviously good. We both ordered a burger and chips and when it came we got stuck right in, and boy, it was one of the best burgers I’ve had and the chips were so tasty. Our main was followed by a dessert and this was one I’ll be sure not to forget, we decided to share apple pie in a pint glass, yes that’s right, it came in a big pint glass. I’m afraid there’s no picture as it was a competition between David and I to get right in there with our spoons and eat as much of it as we could, it was delicious. I don’t think I’ll be able to eat apple pie in a plain old boring bowl in future. Again Amstelhoeck was a place that offered a discount with the IAmsterdam card so we took full advantage of this.
Now you can’t go to Amsterdam and not see the city by canal boat, yes you can sure walk over every canal bridge, but to get the true Amsterdam experience you have to take a canal cruise around this beautiful city. After hopping on a tram to Amsterdam central we headed to get two tickets for the Lovers canal cruise, which were free of charge with our IAmsterdam cards (can you tell how good an investment these cards were). Seeing the city by night was so different to during the day, you can’t help but fall in love with the canal bridges and their lights, the way the moon reflects on the unbelievably wonderful architecture of the buildings, it was the perfect end to our first day in Amsterdam, and I couldn’t wait to do it all over again the following day.