Date of visit: Early October 2019
Amsterdam, capital city of the Netherlands, is a short 45 minute flight from Luton, our local airport. Chris and I recently stayed for a couple of nights for two purposes:
- To explore the city
- To attend a talk on Climate Change by Charles Eistenstein
Amsterdam is famous for its canals, its array of museums and of course, its red light district. And its bikes!
Having visited Amsterdam on previous occasions, this time we had no fixed agenda. We didn’t want to rush about ticking off ‘must see’ sights. We decided to wander around at our leisure.
Our ridiculously early flight left Luton airport at 06:00 meaning we were in Amsterdam before 08:00 (with the one hour time difference). Fortunately this meant we had the entire day ahead of us.
The weather wasn’t great and we had several downpours throughout the first day as we wandered around the canals. One way of keeping dry is to participate in a boat trip; there are many available to take you up and down the canals.
Holland is also famous for its magnificent flower shows and particularly tulips. If you visit in the spring time and venture out of the city you will be able to see rows and rows of colourful flowers.
Second best to the rows of flower fields is Bloemenmarkt, a floating flower market in central Amsterdam.
The weather improved and for a different perspective of Amsterdam, we made our way to the A’dam Lookout building. We took the free ferry from behind the Central Station across to the short stretch of water. This runs continually every few minutes and takes less than 5 minutes to cross.
At the top of the A’dam Tower is the 360 degree observatory deck which offers amazing views of the city. For an additional 5 Euros you can also have a go on Europe’s highest swing!
We spent some time at the top of the tower before heading to the sky bar on the floor below where we enjoyed a glass of wine each. This was included with one of our tickets… you can buy a basic entry ticket for 13 Euros or a ticket which includes 2 x drinks for 19 Euros.
Food in Amsterdam
As with many cities Amsterdam has an abundance of excellent restaurants. We had a delicious meal in the Vegan Junk Food restaurant, where I had a vegan ‘chicken’ burger complete with a pink top bun half and a blue bottom bun half!
Another memorable meal was lunch in an Argentinian restaurant called ‘Cau’ complete with Malbec and empanadas.
A visit to Amsterdam is not complete without a visit to a museum… or two…
First up was the Body World’s museum, which had a ‘Happiness Project’ exhibition. We booked tickets online which saved a few euros and also meant we didn’t have to queue.
We both really enjoyed the exhibitions with models of different parts of the body and explanations of how they function.
There was also a significant focus on the mind with inspiring Happiness quotes dotted around.
At the end of the museum tour you can have a health check where your weight, height, body fat etc is measured and the results are presented as a print out.
Amsterdam is a liberal and free-thinking city and is home to the world’s first original sex museum. For a cash entrance fee of 5 euros you enter the museum and are immediately greeted with background groaning noises and a life size flasher! This made us giggle 🙂 So your tour around the museum begins with a sense of tackiness rather than anything tasteful!
There are many graphic exhibits, mostly pornographic old fashioned photos showing all manner of… erm poses, positions and some pretty hard core stuff too. So best to go with an open mind. Some of it was quite interesting although nothing too shocking 😉
Jordaan is a famous district of Amsterdam and contains some great restaurants and quirky shops. We came across a house-boat museum where you get the opportunity to have a look down inside the boat but unfortunately at 5:05 pm it had just closed!
We had googled ‘best bar in Amsterdam’ and found recommendations for the Bar Oldenhof. You have to ring the doorbell for entry to the bar which is hidden behind heavy green curtains. With its old fashioned decor and wood panelling this classy little joint gave a sense of being back in the 1940’s.
Bar Oldenhof has a big selection of cocktails; we tried a ‘Waterloo Sunset’ with gin, elderflower liquor, black raspberry liquor and champagne 🙂
During the first evening we attended a talk by Charles Eisenstein, the second time we had attended one of his events (previously we saw him at a 2 day retreat in Edinburgh). The event took place inside a church and there was around 200 people on this occasion.
As he did in Edinburgh Charles gave a thought provoking speech on the inter-connected world where he explained some detail the way eco-systems are being destroyed. For example, chemicals from everyday items such as shampoos get washed into streams, which drive salmon away, which affects the bear population and so on. He urged that everything we do matters and we need to be more conscious of this.
An interesting chat that Charles had with Russell Brand
As mentioned, we flew from Luton Airport to Amsterdam Schiphol at 06:00 with EasyJet. We stayed at the Hotel Prinsengracht, centrally located in a quiet street next to a canal. All of the hotel options were expensive, Amsterdam is not a cheap city! This is why we only stayed for 2 nights.
Tip: if you are visiting Amsterdam you don’t need to take much in the way of cash. Many places stress they are ‘card only’ and the only cash we needed was 5 euros as the entrance fee to the Sex Museum; this particular establishment only takes cash! We paid for all other entrances, meals, coffees, bar drinks, train tickets etc by card.