The 12th of May 2016 marked my final ever university exam!! Soooo obviously this called for celebration and what better way than a trip to visit my bestie in the city of culture/flowers/sin/clogs that is AMSTERDAM. This wasn’t my first trip to the city (will post about previous trips at some point) but it actually turned out to be one of the more productive trips as I managed to squeeze in: 2 museums, copious amounts of food, a canal cruise and illegal amounts of selfies.
So less than 24 hours after sitting in the chilly exam hall I caught the early morning flight to Schiphol with my backpack (I’ve got really good at packing light), camera and euros in tow ready for a fun-filled weekend! By the time I had landed, got through the queues at passport control and navigated public transport into Centraal it was about 10:30am and I was in need of coffee. Following a Starbucks pitstop I headed to Museumplein (the museum district) to roam around the Van Gogh Museum looking arty and being culturally enlightened while I waited for my friend/tour guide to finish work. An adult ticket to the Van Gogh Museum will set you back €17 (under 18s get in for free) – you can buy online or just purchase tickets on arrival like I did – but I felt it was money well spent! There’s a huge amount of artwork and it’s a massive museum so I spent 2-3 hours there, I’m not a huge art enthusiast either but the layout and information about Van Gogh’s life make it enjoyable for all; the perfect rainy day activity.
After my cultured afternoon I met my friend in Nieumarkt for a late lunch and catch up at DownTown Burger. Wherever you eat in Nieumarkt there is a bustling atmosphere and lots of outdoor seating (which was perfect for the sunny weather), DownTown is just somewhere me and my burger-obsessed friend visit whenever I’m in town and the food never disappoints. After lunch we wandered around the Red Light district and Dam Square area browsing shops and enjoying the sunshine before hopping on a last minute canal cruise. There are so many boat tour/canal cruise operators in Amsterdam but we opted for a Friendship Canal Cruise – partly because we’d heard good things about their cruises and partly because we happened to walk past their dock – and I’m so glad we did… The cruise wasn’t your typical boat tour, there’s a bar in the middle, comfortable cushioned seating and a bubbly atmosphere with friendly, knowledgeable crew. The open top boat, cold G&Ts and beautiful views couldn’t have been more perfect for a sunny afternoon!
By the time we had docked up the temperature had dropped off so my friend and I headed back to her flat (perks of having international student friends is free accommodation!) for dinner and a chilled night with her flatmates. Sorry for the lack of nightlife content but when you’re staying out of the centre what can a girl do…
To say we started our Saturday right would be an understatement. The weather took a turn for the worst so we sought comfort in the best possible way: food. Breakfast was a banana, chocolate and almond dutch pancake and a caramel latte from Pancakes! (check out their instagram for ridiculously good looking food) and I could not recommend the place enough- without a doubt the best pancake I’ve ever eaten. After eating ourselves into a food coma we decided to stay out of the rain for the day and take the tram back to Museumplein for the Rijksmuseum, tickets were only slightly more expensive than the Van Gogh Museum (€17.50) and although it did provide us something to do to keep sheltered from the rain it wasn’t really my cup of tea. Some of the exhibitions I really enjoyed like Catwalk which showcased the evolution of fashion throughout history- it was really engaging and beautifully put together- but there were others that I personally just strolled through aimlessly. I’m not much of a history buff which is probably why I found it so hit and miss but there’s no doubt that the museum itself is stunning and I most likely would visit again if I found myself needing a rainy day activity in the city… The lighting around the elevators is perfect selfie lighting too (would visit again purely for this).
Sunday was my last full day in Amsterdam and so we managed to squeeze in A LOT. The day started with a delicious brunch at De Drie Graefjes we ate in the tiny lunchroom upstairs, it’s such a small space but despite having so many tables in a small area it’s more of a cosy feel rather than feeling on top of eachother. I had a tasty brie, tomato and mustard mayo toastie and (shock) a caramel latte, which left me with no room for cake! But from what I’ve heard their cakes are to die for – which seems reason enough for me to book a flight back to Amsterdam ASAP. After brunch we went for a wander around the shops on Kalverstraat and somehow decided to get matching tattoos…. cue a pinterest search, enquiries at 2 fully booked tattoo shops and then finally coming across Port of Call tattoo studio. So now our friendship is etched into our ankles for life – thanks to the lovely Sera who couldn’t have been more friendly and helpful!
The rest of the afternoon I was in cat heaven at Kattencafe Kopjes: the coffee was yummy, they had a wide selction of cakes and the cats were adorable! The food and drinks are reasonably priced, there’s a €3 entrance fee but this goes towards the care of the cats so it’s completely understandable, I honestly could have spent a whole day cuddling the cats here but with a table booked for dinner I said a reluctant goodbye and jumped back on the tram to Spui.
The Seafood Bar was the perfect end to a lovely weekend in Amsterdam; the interior is stunning, food is delicious and service faultless. Check out the website here as they’ve got heaps of photos of both the restaurant and the food. I had the cod and chips while my friend had calamari (which we both loved) but there are so many other options like seafood platters, lobster, mussels etc. and servers were super knowledgable about what’s in season. My one piece of advice would be to book in advance, apparently the restaurant operates on a system of booking 30% of the restaurant and leaving the rest open to walk ins and I can understand why… When we arrived there was a queue out of the door, as we had a booking we were ushered straight through to a waiting area by the bar and within 5/10 minutes our table was ready. Although by the time we were seated and eating the queue had died down I’d say either book to avoid disappointment or be prepared to wait a while!
So with a belly full of food, a camera full of memories and a heart filled with laughter I reluctantly boarded the first flight home on Monday morning.
Looking back over the weekend I’m not sure how I had the energy to squeeze all of this in (especially after 2 intense exam weeks) but I had the best tour guide to keep me company! No doubt I’ll be back in Amsterdam again this summer, every time I visit I seem to think “I’ve seen/done everything now” and as soon as I touch down in London I start planning the next trip’s itinerary with new activities!
Soooo it’s probably about time I start planning the next trip…
Abbie May Travel