I’m so late in getting around to writing this post, all about my girls weekend to Amsterdam, which actually happened at the end of September, but hey – better late than never right?! Right! So I thought I’d jot down some thoughts as a guide to where we stayed, where we went, ate, shopped etc. First of all, what an amazing city, I just loved it! I’d been so many times before in a former life, when I was working, but then only ever really saw the airport, the office and then the airport again, so this time was a real treat to actually be able to explore and soak it all in. Such a gorgeous place and I definitely want to go back soon!Where to stay:
We were a party of four women, all in our early 40s, looking for somewhere stylish and central, but also comfortable and not TOO in the middle of things, but close enough to get to everything, and we landed on a brilliant Airbnb option that one of my girlfriends came across. And it was perfect. An modern and spacious apartment next to the Hallen, it had two rooms with double beds in each (so ideal for two couples or 4 friends like us who didn’t mind sharing), it was within easy walking distance of some nice restaurants and bars and close to the tram to hop on and off for visiting the sights. Here’s a link to the apartment listing on Airbnb: click here. One word of warning though – there are a lot of steep steps from the front door up into the flat itself, so if you struggle with stairs then this place is not for you! But then it’s a typical Dutch narrow, tall, house, so stairs are to be expected I guess!
What to do:
Hire traditional Dutch bikes: now, this I’m glad we did, but it wasn’t without its hair-raising moments, given that you share a cycle lane with other (eminently more competent) cyclists, those on mopeds, and others on wheels that just aren’t cars. Plus alongside the cycle lanes there’s the pedestrian lanes on one side, tram lanes on another and of course just the regular road… all in all, quite a lot to navigate around! BUT, having said all that, it was a great experience giving it a go. We hired our bikes from a shop just near our apartment, there are bike hire places throughout the city.See the city by boat: when you’ve had your fill of exploring on two wheels, definitely take a boat-ride on the canals through the city, it’s a great way to get a feel for the place and really see some of the sights easily. We picked up a boat from one of the main operators near Amsterdam’s main railway station – there are lots situated there and throughout the key points of the city.
Visit the Anne Frank House: if you do nothing else while you’re in Amsterdam, you MUST visit the Anne Frank House museum, it is singularly one of the most emotional things I have ever experienced, I felt truly moved by walking through the house and hearing the terrible, tragic story of Anne Frank and her family. It was just heartbreaking but told so beautifully and so sympathetically, I really can’t recommend it highly enough. Do however make sure you buy tickets in advance online – buy here.Where to eat and drink:
We ate really really well during our visit! Some of the places we visited and would recommend are:
Moeders – for traditional Dutch food, just like mother or your grandmother (if you were Dutch!) used to make! Think stews and the like, good hearty fare.
Foodhallen – definitely pay the Foodhallen a visit, it’s basically a huge food hall/market with multiple restaurant and bar concessions all under one roof. There is literally something for everyone from Vietnamese to Mexican, American burgers to sushi and much much more. There’s also a great bar, a gin-specific bar, ice-cream parlour, DJs playing in the evenings, gourmet coffee. Literally everything! We had brunch there one day and dinner/drinks there on a Saturday evening and it was great fun.Also, whilst you’re in Amsterdam, be sure to try… Bitterballen – delicious, deep fried crispy meatballs traditionally served with mustard for dipping, they are the ultimate Dutch pub snack and are insanely moreish!
And of course, I can’t neglect to mention in this section… CHEESE! As a big cheese lover myself, I was in cheese heaven in Amsterdam, goodness me. So many different varieties, all bloody delicious and so many incredible cheese-shops offering you tasters. I lost an hour of my life in one of them, but it was a bloody good lost hour! So, my advice to you, find a cheese shop and get lost in it for a bit. You won’t regret it!In terms of bars, one place we visited that’s worth a mention, is Waterkant – we went on a Friday night and it was packed, but a cool place to hang out as it’s a waterside bar. Granted the average age of the clientele was significantly younger than me and my gals (all aged 42!), but still, the drinks were good and it was a nice spot to enjoy some alfresco boozing!
Where to shop:
Oh. My. God. The shopping in Amsterdam is SO GOOD! I could literally have shopped for days. Sadly, I had to limit myself to a few hours, but oooooh I enjoyed. So, so much. If you want to browse the boutiques – and let me just say, there are so many insanely gorgeous and cool Dutch fashion brands that I’m in love with, the temptation is STRONG – then I’d suggest heading to De 9 Straatjes (The 9 Streets) area of Amsterdam, where you can wander beautiful picturesque little streets in and amongst the canals, with independent boutiques and some of the best fashion and vintage shops all nestled there alongside cafes and restaurants. It’s super pretty and a pleasure to wander.
Shopping wise, I picked up a great sweatshirt from Zoe Karssen that I have been living in but the REAL hit for me was discovering the stunning collection at Fabienne Chapot – an Amsterdam-based fashion label that honestly, if money was no object… well, I’d have wanted one of EVERYTHING in the store! My absolute new fashion favourite, you MUST go there if you’re visiting Amsterdam.
What I wore:
We were there in late September – when the sun was still shining for us but was chilly in the shade – and I packed for exploring, lots of walking days and fun drinks and dinner nights out with my girls. Here are links to some of what I wore (as shown in these pics):
MDK Seattle Leather Jacket in black, from Feather & Stitch
Air & Grace COPELAND White Glitter Leather Trainers
Maison De Nîmes Sunday All Week Tee from House of Fraser, now reduced to £12
Top Shop jeans, I think they’re Jamie Jeans (but quite old!) – very stretchy and comfy!
Office Lucky Charm Studded Boots in black leather
Hill & Friends Happy Slouchy Tote in Oxblood leather
& Other Stories Rik Rak Dress in black