Date: 19th-20th July 2022
Weather: A scorching 35C (about 95F, both days!)
Who did you go with? Jessabelle Thunder
We travelled by: Plane. Easyjet From Gatwick. It wasn’t always easy. I learned this summer that flying from the UK is really annoying. Everything (in-person check-in, security, waiting at the airport, and boarding) all seem to be organised in such a way as to cause you stress. Schiphol Airport, conversely, is like someone created an airport with love. It's as if they thought, “how can we make this more pleasant for people?” And they actually did things to make it more pleasant for people! Soft seating, gentle music, benches you could actually lay on during long waits, carpeted areas, a kids' play area with a climbing frame that even I wanted to play on. That said, coming back, one of the members of Easyjet boarding staff was SO rude. I wrote a complaint about the ordeal to Easyjet, which they’ve ignored.
We stayed at: A-Train Hotel, a very cute, locomotive-themed hotel with comfortable rooms, good continental breakfast options, and delightful staff. Located a stone's throw from Centraal train station (which is just over 20 minutes from Schiphol Airport).
Saw: The city from the water, during a lovely, sweltering, Canal Cruise with Audio Guide tour, booked via Get Your Guide. A cruise is a great way to see Amsterdam and learn about its history, particularly the canals and waterways and architecture. This cruise lasted just under an hour, but I would advise (implore) you not to take it if the weather is above 30C. Maybe even 25C if there's no breeze. We struggled, it was hard to fully enjoy it.
We ate at:
My first order of bizniz was a brownie from Barney's Coffeeshop. It cost about 10EUR, and was pretty weak, which was disappointing, but I went to Barney's because it's well-regarded and reviewed, and they do offer plenty of other, more conventional, products. Worth a visit if you're after something of that nature. Bring your ID.
Cafe Papeneiland - Highly recommended.
Booking not necessary (we got there around 4pm). Try the bitterballen and the apple pie with cream (as seen in the video).
Restaurant Moeders - Highly recommended.
Booking not necessary (we got there around 7pm, Tuesday). Traditional Dutch food! I had the Stamppot (16EUR) - a "hotchpotch" of mashed potatoes with vegetables, served with a sausauge of butcher Louman, a meatball, and bacon. Jessabelle had the Vegetarische Stamppot (16EUR) - a vegetarain hotchpotch served with grilled vegetables and a melted feat cheese topping.
Then it was back to the hotel for a "quick" nap (I slept 4 hours, as is my wont. Jess didn't sleep at all. I don't know how she does it).
We drank: Nothing special (but if I didn't mention it, you'd wonder, wouldn't you.)
We happened upon: The Erotic Museum - Recommended.
Jess spotted this place during our night walk into De Wallen (the Red Light District). Reviews give it a tough time, but this was 7EUR, and an hour or so, well-spent. A seemingly endless collection of erotica through the ages, spread out over three floors. There was much to see, but we had to rush as we got there an hour before closing. My only regret is that the souvenir shop was closed. I'd go back just to see it.
Next day, we ate at: Pannenkoekenhuis Upstairs - Highly recommended*
*Booking extremely necessary as it's a tiny restaurant. Call +31 20 626 5603 to book - 2-3 days in advance. Bring cash (about 50-60EUR for two hungry, thirsty people). Brace yourself for a steep climb up the stairs to the restaurant. There is no accessible entrance.
We walked: A lot. And cycled! Amsterdam is a wonderfully walkable city, but the CYCLING? Wow, the cycling. I hadn't ridden a bike in almost 10 years, and certainly had never ridden one through Amsterdam (actually, the last time I rode a bike through a city (Paris), it was so stressful that my period started :/ ), but Amsterdam is a city that is really designed for bikes.
We rented from Black Bikes Amsterdam (be sure to ask for a silicone phone holder) - about 25EUR for two handbrake bikes, for 3 hours, with easy drop off at any of their other locations. We cycled from their Centraal Station location to Vondelpark for a little jaunt and to see the rose garden, before dropping off the bikes at a store a short walk from the afore-mentioned Pannenkoekenhuis Upstairs.
A violinist plays Coldplay, as we cycle to the Rijksmuseum (we didn't have time to visit the museum).
We were taken by surprise by: The supermarket Albert Heijn not accepting Visa or Mastercard!? We learned this after selecting many exciting and delicious things and taking them to the checkout.
Worth getting out of bed? I would get right out of bed and move to Amsterdam today. If I could. Thanks, Brexit :(
Honorary mention: The Cheese Museum. Open 09:00-19:00, free to enter, free cheese samples as well as cheese for sale, and a costume and photo area!