What better way to spend your 22nd birthday than in Amsterdam, where everything around you looks like something out of a postcard. Going away for my birthday has become somewhat of a tradition, with my 21st being spent in the beautiful Paris last year, I’m really appreciative that I’ve been able to spend my birthdays in places like these. With this being my third and unfortunately second last day in Amsterdam, we had a busy day ahead filled with fun activities to celebrate another year being added on to my life. However, you can’t start your day of turning 22 without a good old birthday breakfast, so this was the first of many plans we had to tick off our ‘to-do’ list that day.
Before I go anywhere I love reading people’s posts about places they visited in order to find out where is good to go. Through doing some looking around I’d come across a little cafe called Sticky Fingers and I instantly fell in love with it, from the decor to the gorgeous goodies it had on offer, it was what you would call “Instagram worthy“. With it being stuck in my head since the day I discovered it online, it was only right to start my birthday off with a nice little breakfast from here. When we got there I felt like I had just walked into all the Instagram pictures I had hit the like button on of this place, it was so pretty with its pastel pink decor going down well with me. For sweet treats they had a range of different tartelettes on offer at a reasonable price, so I chose the forest fruit tartelette and a hot chocolate, whilst David went for a fresh orange juice, croissant and hot chocolate. The forest fruit tartelette was heavenly from the moment I sank my fork in to it and transported it to my mouth (it reminded me of some of the cakes that were in that swanky restaurant Matilda and her family went to when her mum won the Bingo). If the forest fruit tartelette wasn’t enough, the hot chocolate was even better, it definitely was up there for being one of the best hot chocolates, it was so chocolatey and creamy, it was very like a hot chocolate milkshake. We chose a table by the window which made it lovely sitting eating our breakfast all whilst watching the world go by. The visit to Sticky Fingers completely met my expectations, I can only hope that they branch out and open a Sticky Fingers in Scotland one day (a girl can dream right?).
After what was a very picturesque breakfast we headed to Amsterdam Central to get the ferry over to the EYE Film Museum, a place loved by film fans internationally, as well as locally. This very museum presents the history of film, from the very beginning to the present, allowing you to see the development of cinematic history through the years. What I loved about this place were the cosy digital booths you could sit in, pop on some headphones, do a little movie quiz or pick out a movie to watch. We chose The Wizard of Oz and had we not been limited to the time we could spend in here we’d have been in there all day having a movie marathon.
In addition to buying the IAmsterdam card for our trip, we also purchased a Rock the City ticket, costing us 25 euros each. This ticket includes entry to the A’DAM lookout and the Heineken experience, along with a 45 minute canal cruise taking you from the first attraction to the other. The A’DAM lookout was something I was really looking forward to, a 22 floor building opening in 2016 following a very expensive refurbishment, and home to bars, restaurants (including a revolving restaurant), and a rooftop with the most incredible views of the city. The lift which takes you up 20 floors in less than 30 seconds is not just a straightforward elevator, it’s an experience, with sound and lights capturing your attention and making you feel like your in Willy Wonka’s glass elevator. Stepping out of the lift you are met with panoramic views of Amsterdam with floor to ceiling glass windows, which would be a nightmare for anyone with a fear of heights. This building is really unique, from its shape, to the features inside, so it was only right to head up to the observation deck on the roof.
If you don’t already know, the A’DAM lookout is home to the Over the Edge Swing, Europe’s highest swing, which has you swinging over the edge of the building, literally. For an additional 5 euros each we purchased tickets for the swing, and at the time of booking this I was super excited and getting all cocky about how it would be fine, let’s fast forward to the actual day though. After seeing the height of the tower on our canal cruise on Friday, by the time Sunday came around I was absolutely terrified about doing this and the closer it got to us going on it the more I began to feel slightly nauseous. After taking our seat on the swing and being strapped in, we were lifted up and began to swing forwards and backwards, with each swing making us go further over the edge. With it being rather windy up there that day this only increased my nerves, and David who’s usually the one that’s bad with heights was fine, it was as if we had switched roles for the day. After a minute or two on the swing I started to realise that everything was okay and began to not only enjoy it but take in the absolutely incredible views of Amsterdam, especially all of the water that was below us. I can only imagine how much better it would look on a clear Summer’s day. I’d highly recommend doing this if you’re a thrill seeker as it really does test your nerves, but is also a unique way to view the city.
After my appetite had returned following our experience on the Over the Edge Swing, it was lunch time. Due to our Heineken canal cruise meeting point being round the side of the A’dam Lookout we had to find somewhere to eat on the same side of the river, or we’d have had to get a ferry back over to Amsterdam central, which would have been too much of a hassle. I had noticed Cafe De Pont when we stepped off the ferry so we ended up heading here for some food. With it being too wet and windy to sit outside in either of their two riverside terraces, we opted for a nice cosy seat inside and the atmosphere inside didn’t disappoint, it was both busy and lovely inside. We got straight on to ordering and I went for the soup of the day (I honestly can’t remember what soup it was), and David got a ham and cheese toastie. I don’t know what it is about Amsterdam but the soup there is just delicious, I had soup on 3 occasions and I wasn’t disappointed in the slightest. After our light lunch we decided to share some cheesecake, and believe it or not this was my first time trying cheesecake, De Pont certainly made it a good experience. When it comes to David and I, sharing can be a bad thing, we both love dessert and this cheesecake was exceptional (note to future self, order a dessert each). So yes, De Pont was delicious and it may have taught us a lesson.
After settling the bill we headed to the riverside to hop on the Heineken canal cruise which takes you on a 45 minute interactive cruise, dropping you off directly across the road from the Heineken Experience. I’m certainly not a beer lover but this is a place not to be missed so it was on our list of places to visit. You can take a walk through the history of Heineken beer, and get to see what a brewery looks like, ending with a tasting session of the beer itself. Despite my dislike towards beer, I got fully involved in this tour and soaked in all the beer knowledge you could ever ask for. With the ticket including a beer at the tasting session, and then 2 beers at the end of the tour in the cool Heineken bar, these went to waste with me, but for any beer lover it’d be beer heaven. My step dad who is a beer fanatic was in his glory when we got home and he received lots of Heineken souvenirs, it’s fair to say it probably made his year. After celebrating my 21st birthday in Paris with dinner at the Hard Rock Cafe, it was only right to keep up the tradition and celebrate my 22nd birthday at the Hard Rock Cafe in Amsterdam. The Hard Rock Cafe do VIP packages so we booked the ‘I Want To Ride My Bicycle’ package, which included a welcome cocktail on arrival, 2 drinks each, a starter, main course and dessert. I was so looking forward to this as my birthday meal the previous year at Hard Rock didn’t disappoint, so I had high expectations for the Amsterdam Hard Rock. We both chose a Bahama Mama as our welcoming cocktail, which went down a treat, followed by 2 extremely large glasses of rose wine, when the glass of wine arrived I thought it was our 2 glasses in one but turns out it wasn’t (welcome to adult life). Our starter was the appetite platter to share, which included chicken tenders, hickory-smoked chicken wings, onion rings and bitterballen, which are a deep-fried Dutch meat-based snack. Apparently bitterballen is pretty popular in the Netherlands and Belgium so this is a food item I can tick off my foodie list, I enjoyed them so much that I ended up eating David’s too. For our main course we both went for the burger and chips. We asked for our burgers to be well done but unfortunately when it came and we had bit into it, it was what I’d call medium rare so that put me off. Had I not have taken a couple of bites out of it I’d have sent it back but I didn’t want to cause a scene so I ate what I could and left the rest. Finally was the dessert, and we both got the brownie and ice-cream but as dessert arrived so did all the waiting staff who asked me to stand and hold some sort of ice-cream whilst the whole restaurant sang ‘Happy Birthday‘ to me. With all eyes on me I laughed nervously, waiting for the serenade to end (so I could eat my dessert), but happy that David was thoughtful enough to organise it for me. I skipped giddily out of Hard Rock Cafe following my birthday dinner and drinks and headed to the next location to continue the celebrations.
One thing I’ve never been to is an ice bar so a trip to XtraCold Icebar Amsterdam was definitely on the cards. We got our tickets at a discounted price with our IAmsterdam Cards so again, the cards are worth purchasing. I’d also recommend booking a time slot for the ice bar, you can if you wish turn up and pay on the door but to avoid disappoint due to how popular this place is, I’d purchase them in advance. The ticket includes a welcome cocktail in the bar whilst you wait on your time slot, and then 2 drinks when you’re inside the ice bar, and let me tell you the drink in the ice bar is good. With the bar bustling with individuals drinking their welcome cocktail to try and build up a heat for the -10 degrees temperatures, David and I got a Sex on the Beach and chatted with another couple who were away for the kids for a few days and exploring Amsterdam. Not long later the pirates entered the bar, ringing the bell and we were ready to start our voyage in what felt like a giant fridge freezer. With the oversized coats draped round us, we headed to the ice bar where all the glasses are made of ice and ordered the recommended ‘Nougat vodka’ (or nutella vodka). Believe me when I say this, it tasted like pure nutella, my tastebuds were so confused, was I drinking alcohol or sat with a jar of nutella and a spoon because it sure felt like it. I’ve now found out that you can order this on Amazon so I’ll be buying this for the next special occasion. The ice bar was really brilliant, and the pirates were so interactive, even stopping for a selfie with me and David (one of them was really like Jack Sparrow). Once the cold got too much we headed back to the hotel for some cocktails at the sky bar, but I’d go back to XtraCold Icebar in a heartbeat, it was well worth the money and an amazing experience.
My 22nd birthday celebrations were one to remember and I really wish I could do it all over again. There’s nothing I love more than making new memories in new places, but part of me was sad that the following night I’d be heading on a flight back home.