Amsterdam – The Netherlands

I have been to Amsterdam twice both times were during winter, the first time was in February 2014 and the second time was in December 2014. Therefore this post includes my experiences from both trips, I will try where possible to specify which trip I am referring to.

How long I stayed
February 2014– 1 day
December 2014– 2 days

Cost of Trip
February 2014– The trip cost £79 for two (£39.50 per person) people sailing from Newcastle, England to Amsterdam, The Netherlands. As I live in London also paid £30 for a return train ride from London to Newcastle.
So all in all I paid £69.50 for accommodation and travel, this cost included the coach ride from IJmuiden habour to Amsterdam city centre.

December 2014– My Trip was part of a Topdeck Winter Express mini Europe tour, therefore I do not have the costs for my time at Amsterdam as it was all wrapped up in the overall tour price. I will be writing a post about my Topdeck Winter Express trip soon.

The weather
The weather in February and December was cold as is to be expected. I needed gloves and a scarf but not a hat.

How I got around
I walked everywhere in central Amsterdam but took the tram to get back to my hostel. You can also hire bikes, this is a really good way to see Amsterdam, with the provisions for cyclists in Amsterdam being second to none.

Where I stayed
February 2014- DFDS Segway Ferry
I booked a cabin as we sailed over night to Amsterdam. We left Newcastle at 5pm and arrived at Amsterdam at 9.30am.
Whilst the cabin was basic and small, it was clean and the bunks were surprisingly comfortable. The ensuite however was so small that as I showered if not careful I could touch the toilet bowl, with only a shower curtain to separate the toilet and the shower area, showering was done hurriedly. However do not let this deter you, it is a worthwhile experience which is value for money.  For couples there are also cabins with double beds but they cost more money to book.

The ferry was pleasant with lots of amenity space however the price of food on the ferry is astronomical, for  example  the cheapest meal of burger and chips cost £18. I had viewed the menu before boarding so, I bought my own food (Chinese takeout) on board which the staff at the canteen of the ferry were nice enough to warm up for me. I recommend taking your own food and drink on board as this is allowed.

On the DFDS Seaway Ferry
On the DFDS Seaway Ferry
This is the cabin we stayed in on the ferry
Example of the cabin we stayed in on the ferry
View of Newcastle habour from the ferry
View of Newcastle habour from the ferry
Me on the ferry at night
Me on the ferry at night

December 2014-  Stayokay Amsterdam Zeeburgh
The hostel which was only a 10mins tram ride from the centre of Amsterdam. The hostel was nice, clean, safe and in a pleasant residential area too. I shared a 6 bedroom dorm with 6 other girls and there was enough space for all of us, our dorm had the shower and toilet in the room which was a big plus for me.

Stayokay Hostel Amsterdam Zeeburg
Stayokay Hostel Amsterdam Zeeburg

What I did

Anne Frank House
I am not going to go into the history of who Anne Frank is. I just recommend going to the house to learn about her and engage with the not too distant past atrocity that was the holocaust that made the tragic story of Anne Frank a reality.

Anne Frank House
Anne Frank House
Me outside Anne Frank House
Me outside Anne Frank House

Canal Cruise
I love river/sea/canal cruises any mode of traveling on water is right up my street. You would assume coming to Amsterdam by ferry I would have had enough of the water.
I don’t know the exact number of canals there are in Amsterdam, I just know there are loads and I enjoyed travelling on them.  The price of the canal cruise was about €13 for an hour.  I went on a canal cruise during both my trips.

Me posing by the boat that took us on the canal tour
Me posing by the boat that took us on the canal tour
Views from the Canal cruise
Views from the Canal cruise
Views from the Canal cruise
Views from the Canal cruise
Views from the Canal cruise
Views from the Canal cruise
View of the Eye Film Institute from the Canal cruise
View of the Eye Film Institute from the Canal cruise
Bridges and Canals
Bridges and Canals
View from the Canal cruise
View from the Canal cruise

De Simonehoeve – Clog/Cheese making factory
We visited a farm on the outskirts of Amsterdam and we were taught by a husband and wife tag team on how to make cheese and clogs.
The cheese making was first, all I can say is brace yourself for the smell. It was pongy but after a while my nose adjusted and I was able to listen to the process and it was actually interesting, plus I got to sample free cheese.
The clog making demonstration  was a little more exciting than the cheese making. Mr farmer was engaging, funny and a little naughty.
The farm also had a souvenir shop where I was able to buy good quality souvenirs

De Simonehoeve Farm
De Simonehoeve Farm
De Simonehoeve Fram rear entrance
De Simonehoeve Fram rear entrance
Example of childrens clogs
Example of childrens clogs
Me trying on clogs
Me trying on clogs

Shopping
Amsterdam has some of the best vintage cloths shops of any city I have been to, I and my pal spent ages going through one particular store for bargains.

Red light district
For those who didn’t know prostitution is legal in Amsterdam, the girls pay taxes like with a normal job and in some sense they are better protected that other sex workers who operate under the radar. I walked through the district as I had heard so much about it, it didn’t feel seedy, dark or gross, it was just fascinating.

Coffee shop/weed shop
Believe it or not I actually went into the coffee shops and ordered a lemon tea to go. I was rather  unwell,  self inflicted I might add therefore any drugs or alcohol would have killed me off.
Back to the main goods sold in coffee shops. I was amazed at how relaxed and easy it is to buy marijuana. There is menu, you select what you want, pay and you are handed your goods, which you can either smoke in the coffee shop or on the street. You can also buy marijuana muffins or brownies if smoking is not your thing.

Walking Round
Just walking around, getting lost and finding new and exciting places is one of the many things I do on a trip. I did this whilst in Amsterdam and it was amazing, dutch architecture is splendid and Amsterdam has such a nice chilled and relaxing vibe.  See below for some of the things i encountered as i wandered.

Dutch Architecture
Dutch Architecture
On a bridge with a Canal behind me
On a bridge with a Canal behind me
Looking down a Canal
Looking down a Canal
Amsterdam Tulip Museum
Amsterdam Tulip Museum
A cheese shop
A cheese shop
Dutch Cheese
Dutch Cheese
Rijksmuseum
Rijksmuseum
I am Amsterdam sign outside Rijksmuseum
I am Amsterdam sign outside Rijksmuseum
Hermitage Museum
Hermitage Museum
Dam Square at night
Dam Square at night
Lights on Lake IJ
Lights on Lake IJ

Party
Being with 47 other people during the December 2014 trip at Christmas time there was a natural party atmosphere within the group. Some of us went out Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Christmas Eve was weird due to the place we found ourselves in, partying with old ravers (60yrs +) is not my idea of fun, also one Dutch local took too much of liking to all the ladies in our group.
However Christmas Day was much better, we didn’t have to pay an entry fee to get into the bar we stayed in, we partied until 4am and the vibe was all good. The drinks were also very responsible priced at £4/5 for a bottle of beer.

What I ate
I cannot tell you what Dutch food is, I guess I should have sought it out but  as I walked round there were many generic restaurant.

Dutch cheese on the other hand is really good, I spent nearly an hour in one shop sampling cheese and deciding what to buy.

February 2014– I found a nice Turkish restaurant and had an amazing meal that was every in expensive. I think I paid £10 for my meal.

December 2014– For lunch I had sushi, it was really good and reasonably priced, my meal and green tea cots £15 (if you continue to read this blog you will notice that this will be a trend).

Sushi lunch
Sushi lunch

For one of my dinner, I eat at a Thai restaurant, I had a King Prawn Thai green curry and it was really good.  The restaurant was tiny and cosy but the food was really good and cheap at £12 for a two course meal.

I was in Amsterdam over Christmas and for Christmas dinner we had a Chinese buffet at the Sea Palace (a floating pagoda-style restaurant on Lake IJ) , the food was incredible.

Sea Palace Restaurant
Sea Palace Restaurant

My Ratings of Amsterdam

My ratings are out of ten and are my own personal views therefore feel free to disagree.

Culture = 7/10
Amsterdam has loads to do with many museums and activities a three-day weekend trip will be jammed packed with activities

People/Friendliness = 9/10
Dutch people are the friendliest of all the  people I have met on my travels. It felt very easy approaching strangers for help and I  was able to converse with several locals and it was very nice. Dutch people speak perfect English (I am not saying all people should speak English), which removed the awkwardness of trying to communicate.

Attractiveness = 7/10
Amsterdam is a hipster city. Its just a cool city with its canals, awesome architecture, bicycles and barges.

Food = 7/10
I ate loads of good food in Amsterdam but none of them were Dutch meals, still good grub is good grub.

Affordability = 6/10
Amsterdam is affordable my benchmark is London and I did not feel I was paying more that I would pay at home.

Vibe = 8/10
Amsterdam has such a good vibe, so far it is the only European country I would consider relocating to. It just seems that the Dutch have the perfect work life balance, I like their lifestyle.

Overall = 8.5/10
I truly enjoyed my visits to Amsterdam and I would definitely be going back to visit. The say that a people makes a place and the Dutch people certainly made both my trips to Amsterdam very memorable and special.

If you’ve enjoyed my review or not leave a comment.
Or if you want any advice for your trip leave a comment and I will be sure to do my best to help you.

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