Sorry for the delay in the post, been on a city break to Amsterdam and I figured I’d write about it for you. We flew from Leeds Bradford Airport in the UK to Schiphol with KLM. Really love flying with KLM; the staff are always pleasant, flight is quick and they give you a snack 😁. What’s not to love. Check in was really simple using the KLM app and this can be done at least 12hours in advance.
I don’t know if you’ve ever been to Schiphol Airport but it’s amazing and huge. The Schiphol Shopping Plaza covers the ground floor and sells pretty much everything. All signs are easy to read so finding your way around is simple. Train tickets to the centre of Amsterdam (and elsewhere) can be bought in the plaza and the platforms are under the plaza. Nice and easy, all clearly signposted. Before I forget I’ve got a bone to pick with Coca-Cola. Why do we NOT have Grape Fanta in the UK??? Seriously its amazing, we want it, get it here. NOW!!!!!
Now then I want to talk about transport and hotels before anything else cause we always want to know where our beds are. This is my second trip to Amsterdam and I’ve stayed in a different hotel each time. The Hotel NH Amsterdam Museum Quarter is where I stayed the first time. Room was nice, location was quiet and on a canal so had a decent view. Not too far from the Rijksmuseum so you can walk there but I would advise the tram (more info below under transport).
This trip I stayed at the Corendon Vitality Hotel which is quite far from the city centre. Don’t try to walk here, although a nice walk it is very far and you will regret it when you get blisters. Take the tram (see below under transport). Booked a junior suite, bit overpriced for what seems to be a basic room with a chair although the bed was HUGE. Situated in a quiet area with local shops but the views not up to much if you’re below the 4th floor. The best thing about this hotel, there’s a 24hour shop where you can get snacks, pizza, hotdogs and breakfast pastries as well as drinks.
Use the trams. As I was there for several days I bought a 48hour travel card for the trams although you can also use this on the buses and the metro. The 48hr card cost €12.50 which is perfect.
To get the Corendon Hotel from the city centre or Amsterdam Central, take tram 2 and get off at either Johan Huizingalaan or Louwesweg. If you get off at Johan Huizingalaan walk in the direction of the tram and you won’t miss it. You won’t need directions from Louwesweg but just walk back on yourself to the corner and again you won’t miss it.
For the Hotel NH you can get the 3, 5 or 12 and you get off at museumplein. From there its a 5-10 minute walk to the hotel. Head down Gabriël Metsustraat and then down Nicholaas Maesstraat and you’ll find it on the corner opposite the canal.
Many of these trams stop at Leidseplein from the station and there are many points of shopping between the two. Always worth a visit but if you can’t walk far there are plenty of tram stops in between.
Food is hugely important to me. I’m not the most adventurous eater (nothing too strange) but I do enjoy stuffing my face. First of all, I have to mention stroopwaffles 😍. Caramel waffles are just the best snack and these rock. I would recommend trying some. There are so many different nationalities represented in the eateries of Amsterdam that everyone can find something.
We did the typical English abroad eating. Food that we knew (for the most part) but we tried to find different places that were not really touristy. Below are some quick reviews of the restaurants visited and the food.
The Sports Cafe
Nice place on Leidseplein next to the Bulldog Cafe. It’s small inside but there is plenty of seating inside and out. If you love sports it’s a great place with plenty of TVs tuned onto different sports channels. We got breakfast here, an English breakfast for me. I was slightly disappointed, the bacon was greasy and the fat wasn’t rendered, the sausages were well cooked but heavy on the garlic. For me the best part of this plate was the fried eggs. Beautifully cooked with a runny yolk and so rich as the yolk was almost orange.
Food hallen – Dim Sumthing
The Food Hallen is pretty cool as it’s basically a huge room with different food stalls. However, the food is only served in small portions and it’s quite expensive especially of you want to leave full. There’s a huge range of food styles to choose from though there’s only two drinks bars. We tried two places: Dim Sumthing (Japanese food) and the Gin and Tonic Bar.
At Dim Sumthing we ordered BBQ Chicken Bun and Special Dirty Duck Gyoza-really enjoyed the steamed bun although I found the BBQ a little bit sweet. I certainly couldn’t eat two of them. The duck gyoza were on the specials board so they’re not available all the time. The gyoza contained minced duck and spring onions and was really nice. This plate cost around €14.
The gin and tonic bar is great if you love gin. So many combinations that are sweet, spicy and everything between. Expensive at €10 a glass but you get a big glass. I got a cinnamon and orange sweet cocktail as I don’t like the peppery nature of gin. It was gorgeous, couldn’t drink much of it though as it was really sweet but no hint of pepper.
Le Pub Leidseplein
One of the many restaurants established within Leidseplein. In all honesty I think we only ended up eating here because they were still serving food at half 10 at night. Didn’t see the inside though as we took outside seating but there were plenty of tables. Also loved that there were plenty of outdoor heaters set into the awning. The food here was lovely for the price. We ordered a Lasagna Bolognase and an 8oz steak that came with chips and peppercorn sauce. The lasagna came with a small salad and a bread bun which was just enough. All together with drinks I think this cost about €35 so not too bad considering.
Calf and Bloom
This place is just behind the flower market on the other side of the canal. It has two entrances; one on the street and the other through the Kalverpassage shopping centre. The architecture inside C&B is possibly the strangest I’ve seen cause it seems to be built on the outside wall of the building next door (if that makes sense). I’ve included an image looking up this wall so you can see what I mean. We’ve been here before and know they make the best burgers (cooked medium rare) so of course that’s what we ordered. The cheeseburgers come with bacon, chips and salad. The chips are also amazing as they’re triple cooked 😋. My burger was slightly over cooked but it was still really juicy and tender.
Italiaans Restaurant DA Giorgio
Situated off the Damrak not too far from the central station. Possibly the most touristy place we ate at. Looked nice enough if a little shabby but I can handle that. Everything looked clean which is the important part. So I we ordered a spaghetti carbonara and a spaghetti pollo e fungi (chicken and mushroom). Although it didn’t look the best (see images below) I was really happy with the carbonara as it arrived very hot and came with Parmesan. However, while eating the table behind complained about their lasagna been frozen in the middle which makes me think that the meals are microwaved. My food was hot enough to have been cooked in the microwave.
So we did visit a lot of places but no museums or canal tours for some reason. It’s worth wandering around Amsterdam just to see the sights and architecture. Honesty, its such a pretty and chilled city to visit, its nothing like London although it is very busy. The place we spent the most time was a coffeeshop called Rookies. If you’re a smoker (of the green stuff) this place is just the best. Its so chilled and they have a good selection of smoke to choose from. The staff here are really nice and friendly and the music is great. Always worth a visit just to chill.
We didn’t go into the Rijks Museum but the building is gorgeous and deserves a visit. There’s usually musicians or a band with the tunnel and the music sounds so amazing due to the architecture. There’s also plenty of other museums in this area to visit if your in the vicinity.
Vondel Park is not far from the museum and I’ve never been anywhere like it. It was full, I’m talking of people, of transport, animals, exercisers and everything in between. It’s full of surprises and is a very calm place despite all the activity. It is huge but there are plenty of exits along tram routes when you’ve had enough.
One of the streets leading to Vondel Park from the city centre is what I’m gonna refer to as RB Alley (rich bitch alley). Please don’t be offended by the nickname. It’s actual name is Pieter Cornelisz Hooftstraat and it’s only RB Alley to me as you will find Gucci, Jimmy Choo, Christian Louboutin and all the rest I can’t afford to buy.
Naturally there are plenty of shopping spots that are much more affordable. Of course I went to Primark just to see the award winning store and its pretty awesome for a Primark. We found the Cruyff store which is dedicated to the legend but it is pretty expensive. Although high quality sports clothing, size range is limited.
If you’re a proper tourist you’ll want to see the IAmsterdam slogan. There are 2 main ones in permanent locations: one is at the Rijks Museum and the other at the front of Schipol airport. The slogan at the Rijks Museum has a gorgeous background for any pictures but it is very crowded. The one at the airport is much quieter although the background is not as impressive. I even managed to impress my photographer with a shot (his name is Ian or E) check it out.
I would recommend Amsterdam as a city to visit for a break to everyone. There’s so much to do and see within the city that everyone can find something to suit their tastes. I still can’t put my finger on what Amsterdam so amazing but I thinks signs like this might have something to do with it.
Thank you for reading especially if you made it this far. I hope you enjoyed this post and will join me for more in the future.