I recently escaped to The Netherlands. Read on to see what I got up to in this magical little country.
I last visited Amsterdam when I was about 6 or 7 years old, and whilst I have vague memories, it has long been a city I have longed to re-visit. Plus, it's a city a meres hour flight from my local airport so it's quicker for me to get to than Newcastle, crazy right?
Amsterdam is often referred to as the 'Venice of the North', because of its lovely canals that criss-cross the city and it's definitely an accurate nickname. Amsterdam also boats beautiful architecture and more than 1,500 bridges, wow! It is also a city to me that I feel every traveller's taste are catered for, whether you prefer culture and history, the nightlife scene, or just the relaxing charm of an old European city.
The best way to experience the city in all its beauty is of course my cycling. Amsterdam is one of my most well-known cycling cities in the world, so I must admit I was apprehensive at first to join the big girls playground! Thankfully, having a friend totally in-the-know meant I was able to score a perfect Georgie size bike (ie. minute!) from a off-the-beat bicycle store, and yes, it's actually for a child! But be warned: the bike's are huuuge! I'm about 5ft and the child's bike was perfect for me. After a shaky start I managed to become very attached to my little bicycle (named, Foxy Lady!) but do be warned that all around Amsterdam hapless bike-borne visitors can be seen wobbling into the paths of furious Dutch cyclists left, right and centre! So here's something I would recommend: if you're nervous try to steer clear of the obvious red tourist bikes!
In just one day I managed to pack in all the things I very much wanted to see and do plus a huge array of amazing surprises my friend introduced us to. You see, this is where visiting friend's afar is so fascinating to me. It really steers you off from the touristy things and it opens your eyes to the life of someone in a different country and culture to you.
I highly recommend the Van Gogh museum. I am a huge Van Gogh fan anyway, and to see such famous works in person is really special. His story has always saddened me and you get a real sense of his life here. As you would expect, it houses the largest Van Gogh collection in the world. I also visited Anne Frank's house which was deeply, deeply moving. Other things I really enjoyed was the courtyard, The Begijnhof, a quite little haven of the city which was very pretty indeed.
The food and drink in Amsterdam is also divine. I grew a huge obsession with the wonderful Bagels and Beans (and particularly so of their little love hearts- oh-my-word!) and on the Saturday evening we ventured across the waters a short distance to the other side of Amsterdam where we had a glorious meal in a converted green house and a drink in a hidden beach-but-not-a-beach bar complete with upside down wooden boats. If I can find the names of the latter I will definitely add them in because they are the epitome of hidden gems off the beaten track.
So overall it's safe to say I had a wonderful time in Amsterdam with my sweetest friends, in glorious sunshine and with lots of lovely treasured memories of the loveliest little city break I could hope to have. If you're after a mini-city break that's so very near, it really is a gorgeous place with so much to see and do.
Have you ever been to Amsterdam? If so, let me know your favourites places to go below. I'm going to write a separate post on the Hague because that's so beautiful too. I also have a bit more of Amsterdam to post. Oh, and bonus photo of me at the end ;).