Glen and I “organised” a trip to Amsterdam for my birthday, I say organised because our organisation amounted to basically booking flights and accommodation. I had a lot of work to get ahead of before going and so it was a number of nights with very little sleep beforehand. I wanted to be able to enjoy our time with only minimal work required.
We flew out of Southend Airport which is basically just down the road from us and it was fantastic, so quick and easy as it is a small international airport. We also chose to park at the airport because we had a very early morning flight, taxi reviews for our area were absolutely rubbish and there was no function to pre-book an Uber for our area. Regardless parking at the airport for four days was actually the cheapest option.
When we arrived in Amsterdam I was exhausted and only functioning on two hours sleep so we decided to take a taxi from the airport to our AirBnB. This is where we learnt that taxis are quite expensive in Amsterdam. We stayed just outside the centre of Amsterdam, about a 15-minute drive to the city. On our first day we walked into the city and it took us about 1 hour. When booking the accommodation, I couldn’t figure out why everything was so expensive – I found out a couple of days before our departure, it was King’s Day the day before we arrived – essentially the largest public holiday where everything is closed, and the Dutch let loose. However, given the cost of a taxi and an Uber in retrospect I would’ve probably paid the extra to stay in the city centre.
We did find that the public transport in Amsterdam was fantastic, on our second day we bought a travel pass that covered us for three days on the trams and the Metro. Considering it rained for three of the four days it was great to have (the trains are charged separate from this). However, we did choose to do a lot of walking as Amsterdam is very picturesque and with that we also slept a lot. On our first night, being sleep deprived, having walked a lot, and sleeping in the most comfortable bed, we both slept for about 20 hours. It is hard not to feel guilty about this when you’re in an amazing new city, but it was also about taking a break.
Before we left, the little organisation I did do was to book a walking tour on “Badass Women of Amsterdam History Walk,” which I found through AirBnB experiences. It was an amazing tour, hands down probably one of the best tours I’ve ever taken. It was incredible to see the city of Amsterdam through the eyes of the strong and progressive women who have contributed to its growth over hundreds of years. The tour guide Elyzabeth has researched and written the entire tour and she is so enthusiastic and entertaining. It is clear to see that she is very passionate about her subject matter and delivering this content to other people.
I was inspired by Anthony Bourdain’s Layover episode on Amsterdam and therefore made it a focus to try the foods which are important/significant to Amsterdam. Food in Amsterdam smells amazing on the street. The main food which was recommended was Indonesian, so we went to this little restaurant and it was incredible. I am going to be dreaming about pickled cumbers, spicy egg noodles, and pork for months. We also ate the classics – pancakes, street vendor hotdogs, and stroopwafels – which will give you the diabetes. Most importantly we ate deep-fried vending machine food from FEBO, my favourite item was this fried mixed beef and cheese stick. We didn’t eat any herrings as we have both eaten these before, while we like them, we weren’t drawn to eating them on this trip.
One of our surprises coming across the Amsterdam Tulip Museum, we thought why not go as it was only €5 each. It is not a large museum, but it was actually really interesting. The videos and presentation of exhibits were done really well and were very engaging and done with humour.
Things we learnt from this trip that we should pay more attention to in the future:
- Check public holidays for the area.
- Book/research public transport before – Amsterdam actually has this travel card with free entry to locations which we should’ve been more organised to purchase beforehand. This will save you money on entries to museums etc, which is handy as Amsterdam is one of the more expensive cities I’ve visited.
- Look up the quotes for taxis beforehand.
- We don’t need checked luggage for four days, we got one shared bag that we checked, and it was only 7 kilograms. We didn’t need this and could’ve saved a bit of money.
- I need to find my umbrella or remember to bring a parka for rainy weather.
- Take time to get cash out before arriving as lots of places in Amsterdam only accept cash.
- You might be treated as a sex worker if you’re a woman.