January may not seem like the ideal month for a city break in Europe, because COLD COLD COLD. However I had a work trip that coincided with the opportunity to see a little bit of Amsterdam, and I wasn’t going to turn that down in a hurry. So a few weeks ago I set off to lovely Holland to see the delights it had to offer.
I spent the first couple of days in The Hague and Wassenaar, a little town that I can only describe as perfection and maybe a toy village, and then stayed in central Amsterdam for the rest of my time. My first impressions of Holland and the Dutch peoples were threefold:
1. They never shut their curtains. Apparently if curtains are closed it means that dodgy dealings are going on inside…
2. They are mostly all beautiful, blonde and tanned.
3. They are the most polite, most friendly people ever.
Seriously, I ran a training session whilst I was out there for some volunteers and they were so keen and polite it was almost unnerving. They all lined up at the end of the event to shake our hands and personally thank us. I don’t think teenagers in the UK are quite on that level… We managed to make time to explore Wassenaar and the highly expensive selection of shops, had some lovely Pinot Grigio and a fabulous spread of Turkish food.
The Hague also came through with a good night out in the form of ‘Rootz’ club. After some €2.50 wines and great ska music we headed to this establishment where the first thing we did was ask for a typical Dutch shot. Error. The barman was obviously playing a trick on us and gave us the most disgusting beverage called ‘hot and sweet’. What even is that. Nonono. A few free beers later we ended up deciding the dance floor was too busy so found a space near the smoking area to interpretive dance. Because that’s how we roll.
Next stop, Amsterdam. I had been given lots of activity recommendations but sadly it was far too cold and windy for some of them (i.e. I’m not going to ride a bike around a park on a freezing wet afternoon when I could be eating waffles. Soz not soz). Our first afternoon was just spent wandering, finding our way around the tram system (before I had an epic fail moment), and eating hot waffles with ice cream. We then went out for an all-you-can-eat sushi and asian foods, followed by Guinness at an Irish pub. Because that’s oh so Dutch. No regrets.
Saturday afternoon was spent walking through the market, which was a bit of a disappointment, but had some amazingly good smelling stroopwafels. I almost bought the greatest pink glittery shoes known to man but sadly they were a size too big. One of the best decisions we made was going to the Heineken experience. They take you on the journey of brewing beer, put you in a simulation machine and then get you to pour your own beer. I did a perfect pour, just saying. There’s also lots of activities like a dance mat type thing and a cycle game. At the end of the tour you get a free beer that you can take up to the roof terrace bar which has a great view of the city!
For some reason I imagined the coffeeshops in Amsterdam to be like cosy little cafes with lovely decorations and chilled vibes. Silly naive me. The ones we saw were like skanky dens or warehouses. We wanted to leave pretty sharpish especially as it was virtually impossible to breathe. Ah well, ticked it off the list… We did a little bar crawl across the city and visited a wide variety of bars. Having got a tram to the other side of Amsterdam for a bar we’d heard about, we discovered it was the size of my living room and full of old man. However it had a juke box and mojitos, so all was not lost. We then found a weird cowboy type pub, and a pub called Regular Jack with the best music but no dance floor. Serious why? All a girl wants to do is dance once she’s three cocktails down.
After a brief stop at Chipsy King (great name but far too much mayonnaise, vom) we finally found the central bar area, which was rather like how I imagine Magaluf but without the beaches. Everywhere was neon and packed with 18 year olds (apart from the odd group of cougars). Club Nasty gave us glowsticks and lured us in with Sean Paul and Justin Bieber but then proceeded to play reggae and afrobeats whilst the DJ said ‘naaasty’ into the microphone every two minutes. After that we found a Walkabout-styley bar called Outback which was perfect vibes and lethal cocktails, and full of Irish people, obvs.
On our final morning we decided we had to try Bakers and Roasters after it had been recommended highly, so we waited an hour for a table (must mean it’s good) and had the best brunch of life. Sweet potato, chorizo, sour cream and poached eggs. All the yes. The only thing left to do before catching our flight was to visit the I Amsterdam sign. I don’t think you’ve really been to Amsterdam if you don’t have a picture with the sign… Oh and buy some cheese. Green cheese to be precise, because pesto, and why not.
Thanks Amsterdam for a fantabulous time, and I’ll hopefully see you again in some sunnier weather.