travel notes | amsterdam.

Amsterdam has been one of my favourite cities since I first visited back in July 2015. I adored the architecture, the culture, the canals and the people. It is buzzy, vibrant, always moving and quite chaotic at times. It makes me feel alive as it always on the go and there is something else to see around the next corner.

My two best gal pals and I decided to visit months ago when we saw a one-way flight from Glasgow for around £15. I have been desperate to visit again since I left three years ago so visiting with two of my favourite people had me looking forward to a trip back for months.

getting there + getting about.

We flew into Schiphol from Glasgow which took about an hour and half. It is super easy to get from the airport to the city via train and is pretty cheap at about £5 a ticket or something. Getting about in Amsterdam is best done by tram but I would urge walking whenever you get the chance as you will see and experience so much more. We flew out from Schipol as well to Stockholm and it was super simples to just get the train back to the airport.

where we stayed.

We left finding accommodation stupidly late as we were unorganised and skint but we ended up staying in an adorable hostel called Cocomama. I had never stayed in a hostel before but this cosy and comfortable set-up has me swayed and I’m not as nervous for hostel hopping in Italy now.

Cocomama was based on the border of the De Pijp region which is quite an upcoming area with a great mix of tourists and locals. It has a really authentic Amsterdam feel to it and doesn’t feature too many bars with hiked up prices to mug off tourists.

The hostel itself was adorable with several dorm rooms over several floors (I discovered whilst reading a guidebook about Amsterdam on the flight to Stockholm that Cocomama was indeed housed in a former brothel lol), a ground floor kitchen and lounge area with a big garden. I loved the décor of the place, it felt really natural and chilled so the perfect place to relax at the end of the day.

Our room was a four bed dorm room which we shared with a male traveller whose name we never caught! It was snug but spacious enough for four people to move about without bumping into one another. It had beautiful big windows which we had open almost the whole time we were there due to the heat and a simple and functional bathroom for us all to share.

It cost us around £90 each for three nights there and I would definitely be checking prices again for next time I return to Amsterdam. We found that a lot of the Airbnb listings in Amsterdam that were within our budget were too far out of the city centre but this hostel ended up being perfect for us three gals.

where we went.

Having visited Amsterdam before, I’ve already ticked off the Rijksmuseum but we still had a packed itinerary for our trip. Our first stop was the Anne Frank Huis which is somewhere I have wanted to visit for a very long time. It is so sombre and haunting and it quite emotional.

I read Anne Frank’s Diary several years ago and seeing the secret annex with my own eyes was surreal. We booked our tickets about six weeks in advance as tickets are no longer available to be bought on the door. The staircases within are very steep so it isn’t accessible to everyone.

The Heineken Experience was a highlight of the Amsterdam trip. It was super interesting to learn about the history of the brewery and see how Heineken is made. It is a very immersive experience and you get to drink lots of beer which is a bonus! I loved the little bar you end up in at the end as it has a feel underground feel to it and everyone is super chilled and relaxed. For 21€ it is in on the more expensive side but it does last a good hour or so and you get around three pints of Heineken included in that price as well.

We were super lucky with the weather in Amsterdam so spending an afternoon in Vondelpark was a sure shout. It is the perfect escape from the buzz of everything and is filled with families, students, professionals on their lunch break. We sat by a pond for hours with a picnic and it was the perfect way to ease our feet after pounding the pavements.

A good place for a giggle is the Sex Museum. I visited on my last trip but we headed along on our second last morning for a bit of a laugh. It only costs 5€ to get in and it is a bit of a hoot. It is situated just down from Centraal Station so it’s a great way to break up your time spent near Dam Square. We also visited the Red Light District one evening for a little stroll around – it is pretty strange to see in person but cool to see all the same.

Jordaan is easily the most beautiful part of Amsterdam – most of the postcard pictures are taken around the beautiful canals of Jordaan. It is the richest area of the city and is filled with cute streets, boutique shops and little cafes and bars just asking for you to have a drink in. We spent a lot of time just sitting by a canal and then wandering in and out of the little shops.

The Cheese Museum is also situated in Jordaan. It’s free entry, you get a cocktail stick to taste all the cheese with and if I hadn’t been flying with hand luggage I would have definitely picked up some of the pesto cheese.

Even though we didn’t visit any of the museums in the Museum Quarter we did walk under the Rijksmuseum to see the I Amsterdam sign. It is the best place to get some ‘Hey We Went To Amsterdam’ photos and soak up the tourist culture of the city. We passed through on our way to Vondelpark and next time I visit this city I shall definitely be stopping at the Van Gogh Museum.

what we ate.

As we were on a super tight budget we didn’t eat out all that much. On our first evening we stopped in at a cute little Italian whose name I can’t remember but it was close to Rembrandtplein and the pizza was soooo good. It was pretty evenly priced and had a super quintessential feel.

Breakfast-wise we ate in one morning at the hostel which was a simple spread but included in the price but we also stopped at the Albert Cuyp street market which was a few blocks down from Cocomama. It is super long and has a huge variety of stalls from food to clothing to furniture but the main draw from us was the stroopwaffles. This Dutch delicacy is not to be missed. Mine was coated in chocolate and smarties and was divine.

Another brunch stop on our final morning was Bagels & Beans. This chain is sprinkled all across Amsterdam and I first became acquainted with it on my last visit. I love bagels and brunch so sitting outside in the sunshine on our final morning eating a goats cheese, honey & walnuts bagel with a fresh apple juice was perfect for me. They have a huge menu with lots of choice and it is pretty well-priced so I would definitely recommend it to anyone visiting the city.

The best food we had in Amsterdam however was definitely De Foodhallen. Sam of As The Sparrow Flies recommended this to me months ago on Instagram when I asked for recommendations and I was so glad I followed it through. It is a bit of a trek from the city centre but we walked through the beautiful Jordaan to get there.

I love food halls a lot so I was super excited to experience Amsterdam’s offering and after visiting I am so gutted Glasgow doesn’t have something similar. It is the perfect place to have a chilled meal and some drinks and is great for people visiting in big groups as there is something for everyone. We ended up having pints, deep fried veggies, hotdogs (including a vegan one), fruit tarts and sushi rolls. I still could have ate so much more than that though!

I had a wonderful trip to one of my favourite cities in the world. It always leaves me wanting more when I go! I think my next visit to Amsterdam will have to be in a different season (spring to see the tulips I think!) and I would love to venture out into the countryside next time to see more of the Netherlands.

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