I haven’t written my blog for some time , I think I had lost my motivation for writing, but now on a short break to Amsterdam, it feels like a good place to start agin.
I’ve never been to Amsterdam before. I traveled here with my husband and two of our friends. We flew early in the morning, but unfortunately spent two hours sitting on the pane before it took off as one of the runways in Amsterdam. In any event we arrived by midday in a cold and windy Amsterdam.
Amazing transport system
We were booked in to stay at the Westcord Fashion Hotel, a very bright and quite quirky hotel, with really comfortable rooms, gorgeous bathrooms and a great Sky bar on the top floor. It is out of town, but very close to the tram stop which takes us straight to town and all the well known tourist areas. The tram is impressively efficient, running regularlythroughoutbthe day and always appears clean. All the stops have didgital announcements and there is a conductor on board who sits behind what looks like a doctors reception desk. We bought a pass for 4 days, which cost us €24 each, which is amazing value and being true Yorkshire folk, we made sure we got our money’s worth.
A first look at Amsterdam
Our first outing on the tram was to Leidesplein, where we stopped off for lunch. We then took another tram to the old town, where we wondered through the various streets, trying to get our bearings and work out what we would like to see over the next few days. The canals and bridges are beautiful and although it’s common knowledge that cycling is a common form of transport, I couldn’t get over the thousands of bicycles parked up at the side of each road, particularly near the station
Later in the day we went back to the hotel, had a swim in the pool and then went up to the Sky Bar for a couple of cocktails, before getting a great night’s sleep in the lovely big comfy bed.
Anne Frank House
We had booked tickets in advance as we knew that the museum gets very busy and only allows limited visitors each day.
We went on the tram to town and went to the Pancake Bakery for breakfast. This was recommended by someone who our friends had sat next to on the plane. The breakfast was amazing and it was a really lovely atmosphere in the narrow pancake restaraunt, which, by the time we left had people queuing to get in!
We then went to Anne Frank House at our allotted time. The staff there were very welcoming and explained everything as you went in. The annexe rooms have been left empty, but on the walls, information about Anne and her family is displayed. There is a full Audio commentaryas you walk around the house. There is a really respectful air to the visit, in keeping with the subject matter. You get a real feel of what life was like as you travel through the house, into tiny rooms and up and down steep staircases.
It is a really good place to visit, interesting but leaving you feeling quite somber. We talked afterwards about how shocking it all was and it left us feeling a little sad, because looking at the world today we haven’t really changed very much. You only have to look at TV and social media to know that there are still many people in the world who promote hate based on the fact that others are different to them. A very sobering thought.
The flower market, Red Light District and library
After the visit we then walked to the flower market and wondered through the various stalls selling lots of tulips (real, plastic, wooden) and gifts based on a Dutch theme. Where the flowers are real, there’s is a lovely fresh smell. The colours are amazing.
We then continued walking and went through the Red Light District. I’m not really sure what I was expecting. I’d seen photos of it, but mainly taken at night. During the day it looks like most other streets, until you read the signs and look in the shop, windows, which sell an assortment of sex related items. There are adverts for all sorts of live shows, but there was only one girl in one of the windows. I am curious though and will probably go and have another look during an evening to get more of an idea of what it’s really like.
I had been told that the library was an amazing building and that the 7th floor has an amazing terrace where you can look out over Amsterdam.
The Library (Openbare Bibliotheek Amsterdam)is very impressive. It is very modern, airy and bright. The children’s area alone is bigger than most libraries I have seen. The seven floors contain books, reading areas, multi media section and a theatre area.
When you get to the 7th floor, there is a cafe with an outside terrace area which overlooks Amsterdam. On the wall around the edge is information about what you can see from the roof and some of the history of the buildings. Definitely worth a visit!
Our next stop was food and we opted to visit the Chinese restaurant near the Library, The Sea Palace. This is a huge floating restaurant. The food was excellent and there is a great view across the water, with boats passing regularly.
Feeling full, we made our way back on the tram to the hotel, for a bit of a rest and maybe a further visit to the Sky Bar