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Monday, 26 January 2015

TRAVEL // AMSTERDAM AT A GLANCE

Myself and a friend recently headed off to Amsterdam for a long weekend - something we'd both wanted to do for a few years now. So many different people had recommended the city to us and although I knew what Amsterdam was obviously most famous for, I also knew that it had a lot more to offer in terms of culture, sightseeing, history and more. There was something for both of us really and we thought going for four nights/five days was the perfect amount of time we needed to explore the city.

Some things I very quickly learned about Amsterdam were that you need to always be cautious of where you are walking or when you are crossing the road because trams/mopeds and bicycles are freakin' crazy (we almost got ran over by a moped a mere half an hour after we'd arrived), other than the different modes of transport, Amsterdam is actually a very safe city for travellers and that people who live there are SO NICE and that finally, you've never really experienced a party weekend like the one you do in Amsterdam.

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This was taken minutes before we almost got run over by a moped. My mum had spent the previous evening warning me about being sex trafficked out of the UK after watching Taken, so we took this photo to scare her a little more...
People don't really think of Amsterdam as one of the most famous places to go party, as opposed to Ibiza for example which offers clubbing and lots of alcohol. Amsterdam offered a more stripped down and gritty - but by no means bad - experience of partying and, well, trying new things. From the legal marijuana to the red light district, there really is nothing like it so it's no surprise that it's so popular among a younger crowd and those hen and stag do's.

It's not really important what time of year you visit either really because let's face it; you're not going to Amsterdam to lay on a beach and try and get a sun tan. But I do think it's important to take into account when you're choosing why you're going there. If you're happy partying and visiting museums then winter is just fine. It's cold, but no colder than what we're used to in the UK.

Inspire Magazine Online - UK Fashion, Beauty & Lifestyle blog | Travel // Amsterdam At A Glance; Inspire Magazine; Inspire Magazine Online; Travel; Amsterdam At a glance; Amsterdam Travel guide; Amsterdam on a budget

We had a little time and some dry weather to explore it's canals but for the most part, I'd definitely love to return in summer to go more further afield when exploring. I'd liked to have had a warm afternoon to explore the city on my own terms but as our itinerary was jam packed as it was, we didn't really miss out by visiting in winter. Some of the things we wanted to do were all over the city so we did manage to take a few strolls around the canals anyway.

Unfortunately because the weather wasn't amazing and my friend had a selfie stick, I didn't manage to take many photos (nearly all our photos are just selfies, ha) but nonetheless, here's my mini guide to the city...


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Outside the Botel!
WHERE WE STAYED
I'd been keeping back some hotel credit on the Hotel Tonight app and since we were budgeting for our weekend away, decided to use this credit. Ideally I wanted to use it for the last night so that when staying in a budget hotel room for the holiday, we had a kind of plush room to stay in for our final night but there was nothing available in our price range for the final night. So we booked into the chic and glamorous Hotel Espresso which was almost right in the centre of Amsterdam for our first night in the city It was right next to Vondelpark, which was out of the way of the partying area but still upbeat enough that it wasn't boring. The hotel was lovely and inviting with free unlimited tea, coffee and milkshake (my favourite!). There was a tram stop pretty much seconds outside of the hotel and it was based on sort of a main road which had a supermarket, a moped rental place and a Dominoes Pizza. I really couldn't fault it and at roughly £38 a night (but £8 with my credit), you can't really go wrong. It was perfect for a girly weekend away but although it wasn't especially romantic, I'd say it was definitely suitable for couples too. The next time I return to Amsterdam, I think I'll definitely be considering staying here again.
Hotel Espresso, Overtoom 57, 1054 HC Amsterdam, Netherlands

We also stayed in somewhere called Botel which was - yep, you've guessed it - a hotel on a boat. On paper it doesn't sound ideal but I was pleasantly surprised. The rooms were basic but warm and even cozy. Although we didn't really take advantage of it, the boat also had it's own bar and kind of party room. It sounds like it was a party boat but in all honesty, although it had that type of atmosphere that told me we could easily knock on any guests door and have a night out with them, it was never really over the top. I mean it wasn't noisy at night or anything like that so even though I'd say it was perfect for large groups just coming to party, I think families would be fine here too. My only small issue was that it was out of the way being that it was across the river which was fine during the day but when we were heading out at night, walking to the dock to get a 15 minute boat ride to then walk to get a tram took it's toll a little in the winter weather when we were dressed to party! We did learn our lesson and dressed up a lot warmer after our first night staying there and I will admit, they did cater very well for the fact that people would be coming back late. They had boats throughout the night and after a certain time they stopped running to our particular port and instead only ran back and fourth between two main ports, but then the Botel provided a shuttle bus in that case which took us literally right to our doorstep. This was a godsend on the cold nights!
Botel, Ndsm-pier 3, 1033 RG Amsterdam, Netherlands


Inspire Magazine Online - UK Fashion, Beauty & Lifestyle blog | Travel // Amsterdam At A Glance; Inspire Magazine; Inspire Magazine Online; Travel; Amsterdam At a glance; Amsterdam Travel guide; Amsterdam on a budget; Ij-Kantine; places to eat in Amsterdam
Inspire Magazine Online - UK Fashion, Beauty & Lifestyle blog | Travel // Amsterdam At A Glance; Inspire Magazine; Inspire Magazine Online; Travel; Amsterdam At a glance; Amsterdam Travel guide; Amsterdam on a budget; Ij-Kantine; places to eat in Amsterdam

WHERE WE ATE
There was tons of choice for places to eat in Amsterdam from funky floating Chinese restaurants to pancake houses that looked like the building was part of a funfair. But as we spent a lot of our time on the go and because we were on a budget, we didn't put much thought into where we were eating. I had noted down some cool cafes and restaurants prior but again, they were a little out of the way. So most of the time we grabbed a slice of pizza from a funky pizza joint in the train station or just popped into whatever pub was nearby, but one place we did visit more than once was a cool cafe literally a minutes walk from our hotel across the river, called Ij-Kantine. It was really funky and contemporary, which isn't surprising considering Noord Amsterdam (North Amsterdam, across the river) is a more edgy/scenester part of the city. The prices were affordable and we loved the portions we had for breakfast and lunch - filling but also very yummy and healthy. We could overlook the river too whilst nursing our hangovers and this fast became one of our favourite places to eat during our short stay there.
Ij-Kantine, Mt. Ondinaweg 15-17, 1033 RE Amsterdam, Netherlands

As explained before, we didn't really have enough time or money to eat or stay at all the places we planned to but these are just places we stumbled across of our own accord. A lot of our money went on partying(!) and other things, which I'll talk about in my next blog post all about the coolest things to do in Amsterdam. This is just a mini guide for anyone who might be on a budget like we were!

What do you think? Have you visited Amsterdam before? Would you recommend any of these places or would you visit next time? Let me know!

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2 comments:

  1. Amsterdam is on our family bucket list! This is a great review thanks for sharing

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  2. I went to Amsterdam 12 years ago and was amazed by how beautiful and cultural the city is. It sometimes gets a bad reputation but I think it's fab. Reckon I might check out your hotel recommendations when we head back this year.

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