Amsterdam, once home to the great masters Vincent Van Gogh and Rembrandt. A city high up on the travel wish list. Having never visited the Netherlands, one can only imagine the romance and cuteness of this region with its myriad of canals, houseboats and slender canal housing. The city certainly does not disappoint.
Upon arrival, it is clearly evident how organised and efficient the Dutch really are and getting around via trains and trams is seamless. Cars are not common which is so refreshing after the smog filled environments us city folk are accustomed to. Obviously bicycles are also a common mode of transport and we shall get onto that later.
An unexpected surprise though is the culinary experience in Amsterdam as it is definitely ahead of the game when it comes to world cuisine as well as health food. Sadly there was not enough time to visit the avocado restaurant. Yes, you read correctly, every dish includes the master of all fruits (heavenly, in my opinion) however, apart from this some of the delicious meals consumed included Thai at Bird restaurant (especially the small hole in the wall branch), Dutch cuisine (obviously) at restaurant Haesje Claes and the superb Italian food at Sotto in the Museum quarter.
After a general wonder around the centre on day one, the second day involved a trip to the vibrant area of Haarlem for Amsterdam’s annual tulip festival. Haarlem is a creative fashionable hub with beautiful interiors shops, great coffee houses and eateries. The tulip festival lands here on it’s final day and fills the streets with floats made up of large fantastical installations created from tulips in what seem like all the colours of the rainbow, a real feast for the eyes!
Vondelpark, Amsterdam’s largest and most popular park was a must and it is here that as amateur cyclists we braved hiring bikes and riding around this magnificent space. Apart from the funny stares it was a joy.
A visit to Anne Franks house and the Van Gogh bought back memories of teenage years and A-level studies. The house invoked so many emotions, after seeing where the family had sought refuge in fear for their lives during the Second World War and to think that a young girl had diarised her thoughts and experiences here.
One of the highlights of the trip was drinks and nibbles at the Conservartorium Hotel located in the heart of Museumplein, the museum quarter. A beautiful hotel combining renaissance and modern architecture. A quiet sanctuary for rest and relaxation, away from the hustle and bustle of the museums.
On the final day of the trip we wanted to experience the city from it’s famous canals and so took a canal tour. From the water we were able to really witness what Amsterdam canal life really involves looking into some beautifully designed and very expensive houseboats. On our travels we came across a DHL boat and were told that parcels were delivered around the city via the canals, how great especially as you would avoid any traffic!
It felt as though we only just touched the surface of Amsterdam and to get to the heart of the culture would require more time therefore another trip is most definitely on the cards!