The following is the first part of my travel blog to Amsterdam. This is the first holiday my boyfriend and I have taken just the two of us so it was all very exciting! I have briefly visited/travelled through Amsterdam before but was desperate to go back and stay for a good few days to do all of the typical touristy stuff.
We landed in Amsterdam early evening but it was still bright and absolutely baking hot! We made our way through the airport to the train station directly attached and then got the train into the city centre. It was super easy getting about because there are English instructions everywhere!
Once arriving at our hotel we were super surprised with a room upgrade to a suite! I’m sure the room we had booked would have been very nice but this room was amazing! It had a big bath and a sauna all in the one room! What a fab start to the holiday! We stayed at the Inntel Hotel which was right in the city centre, would 100% recommend to anyone looking for somewhere to stay in Amsterdam!
After taking in the excitement of our new room we headed out to find something for dinner. It must have been 9:30/10pm by the time we left the hotel so understandably we were limited for choice. It was also still seriously hot out so we just wanted something quick so we could get back to our lovely air conditioned room. I’m ashamed to say that the first place we stopped at was a McDonald’s, I just got a drink to deal with the heat and then we found a cute little sandwich shop where we got some baguettes to take back with us.
As well as getting food we also had a bit of a look around to get our bearings. We also instantly realised that we had walked a super long way from the train station to the hotel and it was actually way closer than we thought. The great thing about being right in the city centre is that everything is so close and easy to get to.
What did we learn today? McDonald’s is my weakness.
Now that we had some daylight we wanted to go back out to the shops and explore a bit more. As well as cute little cafes and restaurants we found there were also so many dessert shops! The kind that were selling waffles, pancakes macarons etc. – obviously we had to stop and have an ice cream in the hot weather.
We were perfectly happy most of the morning wandering around but then the weather got so unbearably hot that we thought it was time for a break from the sun and we popped back to the hotel after picking some food up for lunch. I have discovered that my new favourite thing is the supermarket chain called Albert Heijn which as far as I am aware is exclusive to the Netherlands. Everything in there just seem so fresh and way healthier than UK supermarkets. There was a lot less processed food and ready meals etc. So we picked up some little pots of cheese, meats and olives for a tapas-style lunch. They also had a machine for freshly squeezed orange juice which was just amazing and I wish I had one at home. (I am a woman of very simple supermarket needs).
After cooling off we ventured back out again mid afternoon and in one of the shopping centres there was this crafty shop which had these cool art/notebooks (below). I love this style and I’m always looking for arty inspiration so I might try out something like this for a future post!
After another quick pop back to the hotel (because everything is so close!) we headed out for dinner. I had done a little bit of research online before going to Amsterdam to get some ideas for things to see and places to go. One of the recommended foodie stops was called the J.D. William’s Whisky Bar, however, we weren’t there for the whisky! They do a Taco Tuesday so we tried out the three styles they did. The fillings were; Falafel, Chicken Karaage (which tasted like coronation chicken) and Korean-style beef with mango. They were all so delicious and again I think I have been inspired to try and make some cool flavoured tacos at home.
So, first full day done and we have already got a good lay of the land. What did we learn today? We did not put on enough suncream!
We got up nice and early to do the 30 minute walk from our hotel to Amsterdam Zoo! Get ready for a whole load of cute animal photos! The thing I found so interesting about this zoo is that it all felt really open. There was less of an enclosure around the animals so it felt like you got to get a lot closer and see more. It’s the kind of thing where if there was a zoo like that in the UK, someone would have 100% climbed into the enclosures – maybe all the fences are for the animals’ safety and not us? Obviously all the big cats and other dangerous animals still felt a safe distance and securely in their enclosures but it was just interesting to see there must be a lot more trust (and common sense!) for the Dutch to have the zoo set up in that way.
An example of how it was more interactive was that one of the first things we did was go into the bird sanctuary bit where everything was free to walk through and there were not only birds but monkeys, lizards and bats with free reign all over the place. We got some amazing pictures and you could have literally reached out and touched the animals (I’m pretty sure you’re not meant to though).
In another section, on the scarier side of things was the biggest alligator I have ever seen in my entire life, both at other zoos and on TV etc. Going back to how things wouldn’t work in the UK, the only thing separating us from this absolute beast was a glass pane that went up to my waist! I guarantee some Brit would definitely climb over that to take a picture and get instantly eaten. It was both really cool to see the alligator so clearly and so close but also terrified me slightly (especially as there were loads of kids all over the place who probably like to climb!).
Fortunately the weather had calmed down a bit so we were able to enjoy the zoo at a leisurely pace without fear of being incinerated in the sun. After going round the main zoo we also bought tickets to go into Micropia (side note: in preparation for the holiday we watched the episode of Travel Man with Richard Ayoade where they stay in Amsterdam and Micropia was one of the place they went to). So, Micropia is the world’s first and only museum of microorganisms. As someone who just about passed GCSE Biology I thought this was going to go completely over my head. However, the exhibitions were all really interesting and related to real life. If you can detach yourself a bit from the fact that a lot of it is about all the tiny creatures that cover your body it was just fascinating to see how it all works. Bonus: We got a student discount for Micropia which then gave us money off of the main zoo!
In the evening we then went for a classic Dutch treat – poffertjes! These are little Dutch pancakes and they are so delish! You can get them with loads of toppings like butter and sugar or chocolate and strawberries.
What did we learn today? It’s always worth asking about a student discount and pancakes are good in every country.
Amsterdam Part 2 next week!