In the past, I never really appreciated Easter weekend as much because as a student I would get 3 weeks off where I had much more flexibility with my time. I could effectively use my days ignoring my deadlines and re-watching Friends 🙄
When I started working full time I’ve learnt to appreciate the weekends, especially the longer weekends and I now try and utilise my free time as much as possible with people I love, doing things that add value to my life. Over the long easter weekend, Hamdah and I went to Holland. It was kind of a #yolo trip.
Back in January, I was doing some planning for my big two week trip to France and Portugal, I really enjoyed the excitement I felt planning the trip (booking flights, hotels and things to see) and thought why not book another (for the excitement I felt booking things!) Seeing as flights were cheap, we went for it. Although it wasn’t as heavily planned as the “bigger trip” I really enjoyed it!
Quickly navigate through the days here:
Day One – It smells funny here
Our travel itinerary was a similar set-up to our trip to Portugal – 3 am train and a 6 am flight. Since we had gone through the process already in Manchester airport two weeks ago, everything was so much faster (travelling experience is great!) and unlike last time, we managed to get breakfast.
After watching this YouTube video, I suggested to Hamdah that we take the train straight to central Amsterdam (where our hotel is) instead of catching a taxi or Uber (which was the original plan) It wasn’t as difficult as I thought it would be – especially after following other tourists who seemed to already have been to Amsterdam and so knew where they were going.
As soon as we arrived at Amsterdam central, I commented on a horrible smell in which Hamdah educated me with “that’s weed, Pauline” Prior to this point, I had never known – mostly because I’m not about that life and there were lower concentrations back home, I’m guessing. Whereas in Amsterdam, it’s true what they say – it hits you right in the face because of the higher concentrations.
Our hotel was only 20 minutes away from the station, so we decided to walk down instead of taking public transport/an uber. We actually did a lot of walking around on our first day, completely crossing off the use of public transport mainly because on the maps it seemed like everything was close by. Also, I didn’t plan working out whilst I was away, so walking everywhere was a substitute to the usual daily workout.
We arrived early to the hotel so we couldn’t check in straight away, so we left our luggage there and went out to explore. The first on my todo list (I have a holiday to-do list, yep, you read that correctly 😉) was the “I am sterdam” sign. It was a short walk to the hotel (I’m really thankful that this was the case, good job Hamdah for finding an awesome hotel). I sort of expected the sign not to be crowded with tourists but unfortunately, it was. We couldn’t get a decent photo with the crowd and people planting themselves onto the “a” in “Amsterdam” but we got this shot instead.
It didn’t help that there was some sort of street show going on at the same time where they wanted volunteers to jump over. 🤔
Food – Italian, what else?
It was raining quite bad and we started getting really tired (and hungry) but we couldn’t find any restaurants that were open close to the Van Gough museum. We followed a sign to the Hard Rock Cafe in Max Euweplein, but ended up in an Italian restaurant next to it because what else right? 😛 We also had Italian food for dinner (I love pasta. So. Much.)
Storytime: On our way to dinner, we were actually documenting our day on Snapchat when I caught (on camera, unfortunately) a girl with her group of friends throwing up just outside the restaurant we were about to go into. There was a guy who was helping her out but he too started throwing up from drinking. It was definitely a traumatic experience I couldn’t shake off – I didn’t really feel like eating afterwards 🤢
Day Two – Stars
Unlike Portugal and France, we didn’t really have much of a plan for Amsterdam apart from the day trip on Monday so we sort of just pointed out some stuff we wanted to see the night before. I mentioned Fault in Our Stars movie a lot to Hamdah leading up to the trip and was keen in finding the places it was shot, in particular, the bench in this scene.
Since everything was walking distance from our hotel we got to do some sightseeing along the way.
Fault in our stars bench
It is just a bench. But it’s a really nice bench. One with lots of promises and love.
And a movie was shot there, where fictional characters said some romantic stuff that makes my heart cry.
Hamdah wasn’t very impressed – if she gave the movie a go I think she’d love it 😆
We spent some time looking around at shops around Dam square and shopping for little gifts. Dam square felt similar to back home in Sheffield’s town centre especially during the Christmas markets! There were a lot of rides, food stalls and cute little shops. I actually ended up spending so much on our second day on really cute things I most likely don’t need (but the purple bike key chain was too cute to resist)
I also had the best churros from Renee’s Churros! It was highly recommended to us and it did not disappoint 😍 We went back on our last day for more of the Nutella goodness.
It became more apparent as we walked around the streets of ‘Dam, that there were a lot of museums. They were everywhere! Besides the “well-known” ones, we discovered the “bags and purses” museum, tulip museum, cheese museum, cow museum, boat museum… and probably a lot more we weren’t aware of!
After reading Chynna’s post on Amsterdam last year (read my comment on her blog, I made that trip HAPPEN. YEAH I DID 💪🏼) I was fascinated not only by this photo but just the experience of the sex museum she had visited. Naturally, I had to take the same picture. It was a 5 euro entry but it was worth it, it was interesting to see how very “out there” the Dutch are when it comes to sex. There were a few jump scares which I didn’t particularly enjoy but it was pretty fun anyway.
We also visited the tulip museum. Close by this area was Anne Frank’s House but unfortunately we didn’t get a chance to visit because I wasn’t in the mood to feel gloomy – the cue was super long too! And the rain wasn’t stopping at all 😅
Indonesian food is quite a big deal in Amsterdam. We went to Sampurna. It was a little pricey so Hamdah and I shared one huge meal. Because we weren’t going to pay 25 euros for a small plate of food each. 😂
Day Three – Adventures
Day three was the most planned day of all the others! We were pretty much convinced, like we were in Nice, that we had seen most of the central things in Amsterdam (it isn’t hard to see most of the “must-see” places especially with the short distance from our hotel to everything) With this in mind and experience from our previous trips, I went ahead and planned a day in Harleem and Keukenhof which is just 20 minutes away via train.
NEMO – Science Museum
During breakfast, I was talking to Hamdah about science and my degree (I’m that person, yes. I swear I am interesting!!!) and found out that there was a science museum close to Centraal station where we were going to catch the train to Harleem. After encouragement from another tourist over breakfast, we decided to take a visit. I mean, who doesn’t love a bit of science?
Apparently Hamdah but y’know.
The museum was interesting. We took the entrance which required you to walk up this steep staircase, I’m sure there was another route in but why not get those steps in and increase heart rate when you can eh? 💪🏼
The view was amazing too. It was the first time we’d be up high enough to see such an awesome view.
The entrance fee was 16.50 euros but worth it. I really enjoyed reading lots of fun little scientific facts that I didn’t know despite studying a degree in Biomedical Sciences. The whole museum had a lot of families with their kids running around – I even bonded with a kid who passed me the endoplasmic reticulum when I was building a cell during workshop. Thanks, little guy.
And as Amsterdam is a place that seems to be obsessed with love and sex, there was a section all about the science of love, sex and intimacy. Open to all – educating kids whilst they’re young!
I took a fun little quiz to determine my ‘love style’. I was in the 16% who was more Mania (you can read more about it below.) As you can see from the results below, I scored 20% Eros which was:
Passionate lover, who very easily falls in love. Ero lovers often have a clear image in their minds of what their ideal partner looks like, which means they often fall for one specific type. Love often strikes Eros as lightning. When Eros is in love, his/her partner is the centre of attention. Eros lovers can spend hours talking, or making love to their partners. Eros lovers would not force or rush their partners into anything; they will follow their partners’ pace because they want the feelings to be mutual. Love is very important aspect of their lives, but it is not an obsession to them. In relationships, Eros is self-confident and trusting.
Taking little quizzes like this has always been so much fun, especially reading through the results because Hamdah would be like “so you OMG” and I too found myself agreeing to certain things. 😂 Clearly, these aren’t fixed things because of many factors of each individual but it was interesting to read anyway.
In the midst of excitement from the science museum, I managed to misplace my disposable camera which had lots of different photos I had taken up to Day Three. It sorta sucks because I had captured some really good shots, but at least I had another back in the hotel. We didn’t go back for it for the day so missed some shots in Harleem and Knenhuoof which sucks BUT it was a lesson learnt i.e. treat that camera like your mirrorless camera! Valuable. Even though it was only £7. 😅
Storytime: On our way to the train station, we walked past this Chinese restaurant which reminded me of the games I used to play when I was younger. Dynasty Warriors, KOEI ring a bell to anyone? 😆
The train to Harleem wasn’t difficult to find – I think I’m getting better at understanding trains abroad.
Speaking of trains, they are so efficient compared to the ones in the UK. Not to mention, comfortable and just high quality – probably a bit better than our easyJet plane.
Keukenhof – the Tulips garden
In order to get to Keukenhof, we had to take a bus from the station in Harlem. It was a long bus journey! Once we arrived, we were a little annoyed by the fact we couldn’t actually go into the garden. It was blocked off with security guards and gates.
It was still a beautiful sight – the tulips looked unreal! They sorta looked like the ones you’d expect to obtain magical powers from.
People were trying to get the best shots of the tulips, including using their selfie sticks. I may have been that person too.
Red Light District
On our way back from dinner at Vapinos (one of the best Italian restaurants I’ve been to and trust me I’ve been to a lot as you all know by now) we went through the Red Light District. It was getting quite late but not late enough to get the ‘full experience’ of the district although we did get a flavour of the culture in the short time we were there.
Storytime: There were some red light tours going on whilst we were there. We spent some time listening in to some and ended up joining up with this huge crowd of other tourists and blended in. We then – somehow – ended up in this small cubicle thing? And if you paid 2 euros, a woman would come out of the side and perform an artist act for you. Hamdah and I couldn’t stop laughing at how the tour guide didn’t realise we weren’t part of the group and pushed us into this weird room. 😅
Day Four – Exploring
Our final day in Amsterdam we ate breakfast twice – at a local bagel espresso bar called Village Bagels and at our hotel.
One thing I wish we did more in ‘Dam was to go to more coffee shops that weren’t Starbucks. I always enjoy a good coffee shop.
The great thing about Village Bagels was it was:
- It was only two minutes away from our hotel
- They had great bagels
- Perfectly chill atmosphere
- They were playing my favourite album from Kina Grannis. I’d never heard her music play out loud before in public, so that was a bonus!
Check out was at 11 am and with our flight at around 5 pm, we spent the rest of our time exploring and walking down streets we never went to before towards the Centraal Station.
We came across BPD which is hands down one of the best shops I’ve ever been to. No, I’m not exaggerating.
I’ve never had the urge to buy everything in a shop before but this got me. 😂
I ended up spending most of my money for the ‘Dam here! I’d recommend it to anyone who is into decorating rooms, cute lights, buying friends and family gifts.
We spent the rest of our time at the airport, waiting for our plane where I was meditating away the negative policial energy I saw from my Twitter feed. A few people were laughing and judging me, but I was only glad that I made some people smile 😉
Dank Je 🇳🇱
“Did you get high in Amsterdam? 420!!!11! Omg!!! What did you do??” Was the most frequent question when I got back.
And my reply would be: “I went to this awesome Science Museum and built a cell from scratch!!!”
It’d be funny to see people’s reactions because we didn’t really do the typical things people do when they get to ‘Dam. It was an awesome, tailored, different experience for sure!
When I was 15, I dated a Dutch guy who taught me some Dutch and I came into Holland with the intention to use all the lovey-dovey Dutch phrases I know to locals, I didn’t need to! Everyone spoke English and we heard more accents from across the UK there than our previous trips. This was pretty cool because it helped us feel a lot more at home, Hamdah even said that she can imagine herself living in Holland!
All in all, it was a great getaway trip! I would recommend going once for at least two days, you’ll get a feel of the Dutch culture almost immediately.
I hope you enjoyed the travel posts recently. In the past month, I’ve been so grateful for the experiences.
I’ve come back home knowing a bit more of the world, with a bit more confidence in myself. Yes, Pauline, you can fly, take a train, bus abroad. You can even assertively demand pasta in a restaurant after they get you pizza instead and refused to give you pasta, but hey girl, you got that pasta. Not to mention, an enhancement of a more global mindset because we’re too young to stay in one place! ✈
A big shout out to Hamdah for supporting me through the travel anxieties that sometimes spiked up and just for dealing with me for 24 hours for 3 weeks. She is the real MVP and we’re going to take on the world together with Asia as our next stop. 👊🏼