Today’s post is all about my recent festive trip to Amsterdam. Other than previously having to navigate the maze that is Schiphol airport for connecting flights, it was my first real visit to The Netherland’s Capital. I had heard the tales of the red light district, of course, and knew the Anne Frank house was somewhere in the midst of the canals, but I was otherwise clueless as for what to expect. Armed with a suitcase full of thermals and an open mind, we set off on our merry way, with an Agenda of canal-side meandering and fluffy Dutch pancake breakfasts.
Amsterdam has that bright (red) light, big city vibe but manages to retain a small town charm owed entirely to the quiet web of charachterful backstreets and picturesque bridges. The fairy tale-esque backdrop is just so damn beautiful and tis the season for sparkles an all, so the lights added an extra Christmassy touch. It was ever so magical indeed.
There’s a real easy going vibe and the whole city is buzzing with a creative energy that I just couldn’t get enough of; exhibition spaces on every other corner and contemporary indie boutiques to get all of your clothing and interior shopping kicks. Above all though, the Dutch are so frickin’ friendy! Who knew? We met a bunch of really lovely folk that made the trip so much fun. I’ll be writing a ‘top things to do in Amsterdam’ post next week so stay tuned but without further ado, here’s everything we got up to….
If you skwint (a lot) you can juuuust about make out the circular rainbow that we saw whilst in the air. Apparently, Google tells me they are quite a rare sight, so naturally, I had to capture it. Kind of.
We stayed at the uber cool ZOKU hotel in East Amsterdam, which you can read all about here.
In all honesty the Heineken Museum Experience hadn’t been top of my list of things to do but alas we went to see what all of the fuss was about anyway and jeez am I glad we did. I never imagined a brewery could be this beautiful and how well does it lend itself to Christmas? The tour walks you through the history of the brand and how it became one of the leading world beers it is today. We also counted 3 free beers in total too, so a win, win all round I say.
Another great surprise from the museum was the Heineken Shire horses that live on site. These beauties are the horses from the commercial advertisements and are used to promote the museum around the City.
It wouldn’t be a trip to Amsterdam without a visit to the red light district, now would it?
If you fancy living like a local, you could hire a bike to explore, but the city is compact enough to get around on foot.
How beautiful is the Centraal Station building?
There are so many museums to see but rather than having an art attack (sorry) over which ones to visit, we stuck with the safe bet of the Rijksmuseum which houses masterpieces from the likes of Rembrandt and Van Gogh. The building itself is uh-mazing and the library looks like something from the set of Harry Potter.
Spot the difference?
Photo number 1584 in front of a canal.
Christmas in Amsterdam is oh so beautiful.
We also visited the Anne Frank museum. I had been to the Auschwitz concentration camp in Krakow, Poland a few years ago, so it was interesting to find out about a specific individuals story.
The enormous Christmas tree at Dam Square.
I told you, fairy tale.
Dreamy Christmas lights flooded the city.
If you’re scared of heights, then look away now! I stumbled upon this just days before our trip and holy hell it’s a good un. It’s Amsterdam’s newest attraction; a swing, over the edge of one of the City’s tallest buildings. No biggie. A’DAM Lookout has both indoor and rooftop panoramic views over the entire city, tones of information about all of the different districts and attractions and a beautiful bar to relax in (or have a pre-swing prosecco to calm the nerves). We booked online in advance, which meant we were able to queue jump and head straight up. There are two double swings that once you’re fastened in, are raised a few more meters (because 100 meters clearly just isn’t high enough) before you begin to swing over the edge of the building, for a good 5 minutes. If you’re not too bad with heights, then definitely give it a go, it’s not as bad as it looks. You can find more info about it here.
Can I have a chair this bad ass for my living room please.
Next up we took one of the canal tour trips from outside of Centraal Station, where we spent an hour cruising the waterways, admiring the beautiful buildings and hearing all about Amsterdam’s history.
The district I was really keen to check out was Jordaan. I’d heard so much about the windy streets, jazz bars and record stores and it certainly didn’t disappoint. We stopped for dinner at the quirky mexican Taqueria Tacobar. You can’t go wrong here for cheap, tasty food and a margarita, of course.
For me, a city trip is never complete without a zoo visit. We had a few hours to kill before our flight home and decided to give Amsterdam’s zoo a whirl. We wandered around checking out the lions, giraffes and even saw an elephant having a pedicure. I kid you not.