A weekend in Amsterdam

Amsterdam

Don’t you hate those bloggers who make big over the top statements about how they’re going to blog all the time and over share (in a good way) and get their blog on like never before, only to find they go completely silent? Yeah, sorry about that. I got all excited and had a plan, but then I went to Amsterdam and took the chilled out Dutch approach to life a bit too far.

Anyway, I’m back to normal and highly strung and everything is right with the world, so here is my write-up of a long weekend away.

I’d never been to Amsterdam before but it’s been on my list of top five cities to visit for as long as I can remember, mainly because I love canals and bridges and wonderful architecture and it ticked all three boxes. I was also intrigued to see how a city functions with more bikes than cars and a reputation for its legal, obvious, indulgent approach to sex and drugs.

The question is, did it live up to expectation?

The answer is, I think so.

Amsterdam

We spent four days in the city and we behaved like absolute tourists (and idiots) the entire time. We stayed at the popular Flying Pig Downtown Hostel on the edge of the red light district in a shared dormitory to keep the costs down. The hostel was fantastic and gave us everything we needed – including ear plugs in case we wanted an early night. We didn’t, but I liked that the option was there.

I should  say at this point that a large part of the reason we went to Amsterdam was for me to see how cannabis for medicinal purposes impacted my chronic pain. I’m aware of a number of American studies that show the sativa strand helps people cope with their pain, but my small tests in the past have always resulted in not a lot. I will be writing a separate cannabis-themed blog post soon and I am also reviewing the experience for an article on New Life Outlook, so I won’t take you on a drug-fueled walk down a foggy memory lane just yet.

We arrived in the afternoon and spent our first few hours in coffee shops and exploring the red light district. See? Tourists. I discovered the BEST hot chocolate I’ve ever had (no photos, no time) and we made a plan for our three days in the Dam. The plan consisted of: Van Gogh, Anne Frank, boats and bikes, and we executed our plan with precision!

Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam

Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam

Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam

The Van Gogh museum was wonderful, and we struck lucky as there was an Edvard Munch exhibition on at the same time. Two artists I really like, but the Munch exhibition was particularly good. After the museum we walked the 200m to the Rijksmuseum where the famous ‘I Amsterdam’ 3D letters are based. I love nothing more than prancing about in front of a tourist landmark – and no, I’m not being sarcastic. Unfortunately, other people got in my way – who would have thought other people would flock here and pose for photos as well?

Rijksmuseum I Amsterdam

Still, that didn’t stop the posing – even though the guy on top of the S clearly thinks we’re idiots.

Rijksmuseum I Amsterdam

Rijksmuseum I Amsterdam

After prancing about and get annoyed looks from other tourists who wanted their snap by the S and T, we went back to the city centre to sit in more cafes and do some more wandering. Oh, and to sit in a giant clog. Because why would you not?

Giant clog, Amsterdam

The buildings in Amsterdam are as grand and as beautiful as I had hoped, and wandering around the city was an absolute pleasure. You know, when you’re not dodging a thousand bikes and fearing for your life.

Amsterdam

Amsterdam

Amsterdam

Amsterdam

I particularly like this photo. I caught a shot of this woman just after she got up from tying her shoelace, but as she did so she stumbled and tried to balance herself. Personally, I think like she’s reaching for a pigeon for her dinner.

Amsterdam

It was a wonderful day and as I sit here now putting this blog post together, I realise how much walking I did – and survived. I did eat one and a half too many space cakes which meant Friday evening took a turn for the worse but hey, we live and learn.

Saturday morning kicked off with pancakes – Dutch style – with bacon and syrup before we jollied off to a less jolly location: Anne Frank’s house. Unfortunately the queue was monumental and we hadn’t booked online (yes yes, even though many people advised me to) and so we observed it from the outside before setting off to another cafe and the first of many many card games.

Pancakes with bacon and syrup in Amsterdam

And then, this happened. And it was flippin’ incredible!

Tandem Amsterdam

Tandem, Amsterdam

Tandem, Amsterdam

We cycled around the city, played cards on the grass, and stopped at a windmill for beer and cheese and sausage. Seriously people, what is not to love about this?

Windmill, Amsterdam

Windmill, Amsterdam

After what should have been a pretty exhausting day, I will still going strong-ish but welcomed the evening of plan of a tour of Amsterdam by boat…with pizza. Yes folks, wherever we are and whatever we’re doing, I will find time for pizza.

Amsterdam by night

Amsterdam by night

As the sun set on our weekend in Amsterdam, I found myself unsure how to describe my thoughts on the city. I’m just not sure. I think I loved it, but perhaps we spent too much time being tourists to really understand what it’s like to live in Amsterdam. Maybe I need to go back and explore it a bit more, because I came away feeling like I didn’t really know the city. But maybe that’s all there is to know…

Either way, looking through my photos from the trip, I find myself in fits of giggles remembering our fun times on tandems and pizza boats and in cafes and museums. Regardless of the city, the weekend was brilliant and exactly what I needed.

So, where next? *Searches cheap flights*

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