Falling in Love With Amsterdam
Every now and then you have to accept that your travels may not go to plan. Despite having an amazing 2 days in Amsterdam, this ended up being one of those trips where I wished I’d planned more and relied less on spontaneity and tourist attractions. Predominantly, our issue was with the budget we had set, and the fact that Amsterdam turned out to be more expensive than we’d thought it be, which often made us feel restricted in what we could do. So whilst I share my experiences in Amsterdam, I thought I’d also share what I learned on this trip, and what advice I’ll definitely be taking the next time I visit Amsterdam (because there will definitely be a next time!)
- Start planning early. This is a very obvious first point, but it’s a piece of advice my friends and I did not take when planning our trip to Amsterdam. It was quite a last minute decision to go, and we hadn’t appreciated that this would mean the accommodation options would be drastically reduced and also quite significantly more expensive than we’d hoped. In the end we stayed at the Stay Okay Zeeburg Hostel. The hostel was was nice and clean, the room was an ok size and we got a breakfast included. However, it was quite far from the city centre, and as it was a refurbished school it was huge, which I’m not a fan of.
- So if we’d have taken that first point into account, we probably wouldn’t have had to get a €10 travel card each day we stayed. Because our hostel was further out, we did have to rely on public transport. However, once you are in the city centre, walking is a much better way of getting around, and you might only want to get a tram to the Museum District, and of course from the airport.
- Another dent in our budget was the cost of museums and attractions – a particular shock coming from London where most museums are free. There’s no real way to avoid this cost, but I would suggest prioritising in advance, what you particularly want to visit. We ended up splitting the group, four of my friends going to the Heineken Experience and my other friend and I going to the Van Gogh museum. We decided against the Heineken Experience purely because we don’t like Heineken, but it got glowing reviews from my friends, who said it was really fun with lots of interactive sections. I really enjoyed the Van Gogh museum, there was lots of information, and if you’re fan of art, or especially Van Gogh, the collection is seriously impressive. Both of these attractions cost €17, hence we split into groups. Another gallery we enjoyed was the Moco, in the same area as the Van Gogh museum, which was showing Banksy and Warhol pieces.
- We wished we’d researched more restaurants and cafes before we went. I’m a big foodie and my favourite part of travelling, I have to say, is trying out new food. For dinner it would have been great to have found more budget restaurant options – that offered more than cheap bar food. We had some serious good luck in getting into the Pannenkoekenhuis Upstairs restaurant, and booking is definitely recommended for this tiny and quirky – albeit touristy – pancake house. The pancakes were huge and some of the best any of us had ever eaten.
- The best attraction is the city itself. Cheesy but true. You really don’t need to spend a lot to enjoy Amsterdam, and just wandering around, exploring neighbourhoods can be so rewarding – I would recommend exercising a bit of caution in the Red Light District though… A particular favourite of mine was the Negen Straatjes area, just to the south of the city centre, which is dotted with independent shops and cafes. We were disappointed by the distinct lack of flowers in the main flower market, maybe we came during the wrong season? But we loved the area around the main museums, which turned out to be pretty similar to Knightsbridge in London.