2 nights, my hand luggage and an Airbnb – an opinion piece about my trip to the Netherlands and an insight into Dutch culture.
One of the most popular locations for students, for my holiday with my friends this year, we are going to Amsterdam, I can’t wait to go back and I thought I would write a post for anyone who is also planning to go or is interested in reading about what I got up to. This is an ideal read for students looking for a cheap break in the summer or a weekend getaway! Take a look at a few of my tips and info I got from my short trip last August to the unique and vibrant city via my daily travel diary!
After a 45 minute plane journey, we arrived at Schipol airport. With it having a tube station underneath and various bus routes, we struggled to find the way to the Rijiksmuseum. Also known as ‘the museum of the Netherlands’, it marked the meeting point with our Airbnb host, Rens. We met him during his shift at the museum, he was lovely to us throughout our stay. (I still haven’t written a review for him though which I still need to do.) The Rijiksmuseum is a popular tourist spot that sits near the Van Gogh museum and the huge ‘Amsterdam’ sign that always appears on people’s holiday photos. As there was only two of us, we didn’t manage to get someone to take a picture of us standing by it, but hopefully my pictures I’ve included capture enough to give you a feel of what the city was like!
After we’d been given a spare set of keys, we made our way to our accommodation which was a 30 minute tram journey from the centre. (It brought the price down a bit and hotels closer to the city were too expensive for us.) Although the journey’s there and back did get a bit annoying, we were out of the flat most of the time anyway so it didn’t affect the trip too much. Once I put some makeup on and got rid of our hand luggage (I’m pretty proud of myself for managing to pack light even if it was for 2 nights so it’s getting a mention), we headed out to explore the city. The area surrounding our accommodation was very green, with a huge park we walked across each day to get to the tram line which was a 2 minute walk away.
Finally, we were back in the city and free to have a look around. It was so busy! The atmosphere was so different to anything I’d experienced before, people all seemed very happy and there was a range of tourists from all over the world. The city was huge and lots of the streets seemed to go on and on so there’s a lot of walking involved, especially when you’re only there for a short trip and want to see as much as possible!
Amsterdam’s souvenir shops are very different to London, with most filled with various weed related items, clog keyrings and then there’s the shops that are devoted to selling porn DVD’s which appear the closer you get to the red light district.
We walked around the city for hours taking pictures, exploring and being typical visitors. There were coffee shops everywhere with tourists and locals smoking upstairs. They sold the usual souvenirs, drinks, snacks and were very busy. We visited a bar/restaurant called ‘Lost in Amsterdam’ which sold cute cocktails and milkshakes, it was pretty dark in there so I wasn’t able to get a decent photo but it had a very cool interior, you can check it out some pics here.
Red Light District
Anyway, after looking around everywhere, we went back to the flat. When we headed out to have our first drinks, we found a bar with music that sold the cheapest drinks and stayed there until we were we went on to explore the red light district. We both were pretty surprised by it even though we knew what to expect! You could see individuals going into visit the girls behind the windows and there was huge queue’s of people lining up to see a live sex show. Drinking there was fun though and even though there were some questionable people, we had a really good night. It is a unique part of the city!
I really wanted to go to the Van Gogh museum so we went back to where we had met Rens in the morning to have a look around. There was three floors, with rooms dedicated to a different time in Gogh’s life. Each room told a story and for someone who had forgotten about everything to do learning about him at school it was really interesting and I absolutely loved it. I definitely would recommend others to visit!
We were starving when we got out of the museum, I can’t remember if we were hungover as well but we definitely appreciated the amount of junk food that lined the streets of the city. Churros, waffles, chips and literally every type of snack food you could think of was there. The only downfall of this is there was nothing else to eat during the day but food from these places, unless you paid for a meal for lunch, which is fine for a short trip but it would get hard if you were staying there a week! My favourite junk food shop we went to was a huge pix and mix store. We visited there again to get another bag before our trip home.
Later that evening, we went out to dinner, and both had a carbonara which was SO good. To wrap up the food section, here is a picture of a fed up me at 4am wanting to find the tram line to that would take us back to the flat, little did I know we were going to spend an hour walking up and down after this photo was taken to catch one, we got lost but at least I had my chips.
After dinner we went on a boat trip (we both fell asleep on) and went back to the bars again. The Grasshopper was one of our favourites, it was lit up completely green and had some fab cocktails.
One thing we didn’t get a chance to do but should get a mention was renting out bikes! We tried to but they were all taken.
Money for drinks on happy hour were about £7.50 each in some the bars and your standard tenner for cocktails. We did manage to find a bar that was cheaper than that hence why we stayed there for a while! So you can see why we didn’t get to go clubbing, entry was very expensive and we were happy to go on a bar crawl instead. We probably would have done a bit more research on where to go clubbing for less if we had stayed longer!
It is a really great experience to get out and explore different countries and cultures while you are at university! It means you can get some journalism experience in by documenting your trip, a chance to socialise with new friends from university and gives you a break from studying!
By Sophie Taylor
20 March 2018
Image Credit: Sophie Taylor