I love travelling by train- I find it much less stressful than flying (no need to worry about the size of your bags or liquids, no need to turn up several hours before), and you can just sit and watch the scenery. Plus when you arrive you are usually where you need to be instead of 30 miles away in an airport. Anyway, the Eurostar now goes to Amsterdam (although sadly you can’t get it directly back yet) and that’s how we travelled on a Thursday evening.
Just like everywhere else in Europe, it was baking hot, particularly on the Friday.
We were staying a 5 min train ride from the city centre but as the public transport was fairly expensive we went out for the day and once in the centre, walked everywhere. It was a lovely city to wander around, but it was so busy (and so hot) that after a few hours of admiring the various canals and pretty buildings (which reminded me of the famous brown stones in New York, and then I was informed that it used to be called New Amsterdam- you learn something every day) we headed to the park to find some shade and cool down for a bit. We’d seen a few rainbow flags about and didn’t think much of it until we went into the main square and saw a stage being build- it was Pride for the weekend (which also explains why the hotels were all so booked up!).
We passed a Starbucks so decided to share a drink and I took a photo as I was so impressed with the calligraphy-style handwriting on the cup.
Coincidentally one of my friends was also there and she recommended a pancake place to us- there are a lot of pancake places but the one we went to was called the Pancake Bakery and all the toppings were baked into the batter. There was a huge menu but in the end I went for a pineapple one and it was really tasty (but personally I felt it was expensive- 9 Euros for a pancake seems a lot to me).
We had booked tickets for Anne Frank’s house and must have spent about an hour and a half in there in the end. It was done very well- you had a little handheld speaker and each room had a little receiver, so once you had pointed it at the receiver you could then listen to the information. I know these things are important, but I don’t think I could ever visit a concentration camp, and I was a bit worried that it would be really awful, but in fact it was interesting and although it didn’t avoid any of the horrors, it was focused more on their life in hiding.
On the Saturday we headed to the most amazing place for brunch- Bakers and Roasters– run by a couple from New Zealand and Brazil. They had a very clever system where they took your phone number and gave you an estimated time of your table being ready (45 min wait for us) and they would then text you when it was ready, so we walked around a market while we waited. It is not often that I really have trouble deciding from a menu, but there were so many good things on the menu. I did have my eye on the banana-nut French toast, but it came with bacon and on the menu it said any alterations would cost 2 Euros (and I didn’t want to pay more for less food!), so in the end went for an acai bowl which was perfect for the hot weather. They did make awesome looking cakes to take away, but we were both too full to even think about cake- next time maybe!
Then we walked around the centre, taking in the tail end of the Pride parade which had taken place on the canals. The paths were totally rammed and I just marvelled at the boats totally loaded with people dancing and drinking- I was very worried that we would see people fall off into the water!
We had booked tickets for the Van Gogh museum and again probably spent around 90 minutes in there. Again, it was well done, with information about his life as well as his paintings. I am not hugely into art, but when I did art GSCE I did a project on him, but there was still loads I didn’t know (or had forgotten). I really liked that it emphasised how much work he put into his art, practising over and over again- so often these days we see people with natural talent, but don’t get shown the work behind it.
We went to a burger place for dinner in the end- everywhere was totally chock-full due to the festival, and although I’d seen a lovely sounding beetroot veggie burger on the menu, we were given the Pride menu which had only about 6 things on it (I think they must do this to speed up service a bit) so I had to go for the normal veggie burger. It was nice enough, but again fairly expensive (the burger Andy bought in Copenhagen the previous weekend was cheaper) for what it was. In walking back to the tram stop we saw an ice cream parlour so shared a cup with a scoop of hazelnut and a scoop of almond cookie which was delicious.
On Sunday we were flying home so we headed to the airport after breakfast. Our flight was delayed and we finally got back to Luton airport at around 5pm- we both agreed that we should have just come home on the train as although we would have had to get two trains (one to Brussels and then the Eurostar) that is a lot less hassle and way more relaxed than flying.
Have you been to Amsterdam? What sort of food do you look forward to on holidays? Do you like going to museums? There are loads in Amsterdam but I think one a day was enough for me!