Whoop da whoop girls weekend!!! 10 girls, 2 nights, Amsterdam, what could go wrong?! I am super excited because this will be my first weekend away with out the babies EVER!! The longest I’ve ever been away is one night (other than the 2 nights hospital stay for the 2nd baby but that doesn’t count!) I am now going to have 2 whole nights to myself, did I mention child free!
First stop the airport and I just love the airport. It’s such an exciting place, the anticipation of what’s to come, boarding card in hand, watching the screen for your flight to change to ‘BOARDING”. I’m flying totally solo this trip and I’m going to make the most of it: Arrive at the airport in plenty of time, mooch at the magazines in WHSmiths, pick up the toiletries for my hand luggage in Boots; and then sit in peace at the bar ON MY OWN with a glass of Prosecco. And when it’s time to board all I have to do is walk to the gate and board, find my seat, stow my case, sit and chill! Imagine!!! The whole experience of travelling on my own is just as exciting as the weekend away!
After a bit of umming an aaahing we finally settled on Amsterdam as our city of choice. I’ve been to a few places in the South of The Netherlands as well as Amsterdam and there is just something magical for me about this country. From the iconic windmills dotting the landscape, the beautiful looking houses, the flatness of it all, the fact you’re never far from water, or the amazingly friendly people, something really stirs inside when it comes to The Netherlands.
What I love about Amsterdam is that you can just wander around aimlessly and stumble upon some really cool places. The first time I went was as a child free couple 10 years ago. Booking to go back again has me reminiscing of lazy mornings, jumping on and off trams, finding cool places to drink, eating some really good food and generally letting the day unfold.
Places to stay
After discounting some dodgy looking hostels with bed bugs we’ve agreed on the Ibis in West Amsterdam. It’s not the prettiest building from the outside but it’s easily accessible from the airport and into the centre of Amsterdam. It looks quite trendy inside and there’s the option of triple rooms which suits our group size. Top on the accommodation list was clean and you know what you’re getting with an Ibis. So at £59pppn with breakfast included we can’t really go wrong.
If you’re a couple or want something more charming check out the Bed and Breakfast BB IJ. Last time I visited I stayed in the garden suite. What I loved about this place is that it has its own little kitchenette. The breakfast is left in the room for you and you can take your morning coffee in the garden that leads directly out from the room. The garden backs on to a canal so you can enjoy the real sense of Amsterdam right there from your accommodation. The bathroom has a big whirlpool bath, great for a soak after a long day walking the canals.
The location of the B&B is like most of Amsterdam, it feels safe and the street itself is quiet. Although slightly outside of the centre of Amsterdam the B&B is really accessible by trams and buses and never felt like too much trouble to get where we needed to go.
The Bed & Breakfast IJ is directly across from the only existing Windmill in the centre of Amsterdam. Windmill de Goyer is now home to a brewery Brouwerij ‘t IJ. Drinking beer in a windmill opposite a canal, that’s the majority of the itinerary ticked off right there.
The brewery runs English speaking tours every Friday, Saturday and Sunday at 3.30pm. The tour takes about 20 minutes. Note that the tickets are limited to 20 and you can’t book in advance, you buy tickets on the day at the bar.
This is a great place to check out even if you just want to go for a beer. It’s not on the usual tourist trail but the bar area has a nice vibe, and decent beer at reasonable prices so worth a look.
Cheese, clogs and all things Dutch
If you want to soak up some Dutch heritage then check out the village of Zaanse Schans. It’s only a 20 minute, €7 train ride from Amsterdam; it’s a relatively cheap way to see the country side on the way. An easy 10 minute walk from the train station and then it’s like you’ve stepped back in time.
Zaanse Schans is a working village and museum all rolled into one where you can visit actual working windmills. There ’s a cheese shop where you can watch live demonstrations by the cheese makers wearing the traditional costumes and sample all different types of cheese.
For us girl’s no trip is complete without a bit of shoe shopping. And what can be more Dutch than a pair of clogs?! The clog museum here is home to the largest clog collection in The Netherlands and you can even pick yourself up a pair in the shop.
If have any energy left once you’ve checked off windmills, cheese, clogs, chocolate and the other museums here and you want to see more of the Zaanse Schans area you can download a walking app, rent a bicycle, take a boat trip. For something a bit different there is even a tuk tsk ride! Everything is covered here.
There is a museum to cover all tastes in this city. Anne Franks House being the most famous in Amsterdam and the top of the things to do list on Tripadvisor. The history of this place is something to be experienced. I read Anne Franks Diary as a teenager; the fact that Anne Frank was the same age as me at the time of writing the diary was probably what engaged me at the time. An amazing insight from a 13 year old girl hiding from the Nazis in a secret annexe of a house. It’s incredible that the house has been preserved to be the museum it is today. An emotional, thought provoking tour through the house. If this is on your list make sure you check out the website beforehand as tickets need to be bought in advance.
For some light relief there’s the ‘Museum of Prostitution – Red Light Secrets’. In the centre of the Red light District this museum is set in an old brothel and gives visitors an insight into the secret world of the Red Light District and will answer all the burning questions you may have about those red lit windows and the life of prostitution. For a bit of a giggle there is also the Sex museum. Not so much culture but an hour of cheeky humour in between the culture/bar hopping.
Wander Wander Wander
Amsterdam is somewhere you can really meander. Of course there’s the hustle and bustle of the centre. Most visitors are intrigued by the Red Light District. But for me there’s something relaxing about just walking along the canals, crossing over the bridges and seeing where you end up. You’ll stumble across a little local market, or a square where you can grab a coffee, or a bar with some great beers. Stop for a gossip and watch the world go by.
In the colder months you can’t beat these kind of cities. You discover a lovely little place to eat; and when you walk in off the cobbled streets it’s warm, the owners and staff are friendly, and the food is hearty. A decent stew and beer after a busy days wandering.
Ditch the guide books and dig out some gems of your own.
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