Oh how I wish I was back in Amsterdam, or anywhere except revising indoors for exams while the sun shines. So perhaps its times for a bit of enjoyable procrastination – time to write up my 2nd day in Amsterdam.
Firstly my hostel – Stayokay Stadsoelen was one of the nicest of the seemingly infinite number I’ve stayed in across Europe and in England so definitely deserves a mention. The free breakfast definitely influenced my opinion and today I went properly Dutch. I had hagelslag a.k.a. chocolate sprinkles on toast. None of that clean eating malarkey for me and considering how much the Dutch cycle I can understand why a daily sugar high is such an accepted idea. So off to explore and get rid of that sugary buzz…
Amsterdam is full of markets – from the specialist market in books near the University with its stalls in atmospheric arches to Albert Cuypmarket, a long street lined with every food stall imaginable. My favourite has to be the flea market in Waterlooplein – old ice skates, biscuit tin venders, 5ft statues of saints and washing machine/hob combos, this place is a true flea market and thoroughly enjoyable to browse.
Anyway after some more time wandering around the canals we decided to hit the major museums. It was a toss up between the Van Gogh Museum and the Rijksmuseum. Despite visiting Amsterdam before I’ve never been to either and especially coming from London, having to pay €17,50 for the Dutch equivalent of the V&A/National Gallery can seem a bit galling. We decided to go to the Rijksmuseum and it is definitely worth the entrance fee, especially as you can easily spend nearly a whole day here, even if like me you have a limited appreciation of the Dutch masters.
Although personally not much of a “follower of fashion,” the historical costume gallery was really unusually displayed with a catwalk so you got to see the dresses moving. And the 18th century number below was bizarre – the biggest contrast to the modern skinny jean possible!
The first time I ever visited Amsterdam, it was my last stop before heading home after travelling around Europe for two months. I got the overnight coach from Berlin and arrived early on a chilly day, the icy wind whistling down the canals. I was exhausted from traveling and once I’d bought a warm baggy shirt, I spent the day wandering in this stunning city before yet another coach to London. I’ve now visited the city in times of bleak winds, rain and beautiful blue skies and sun and whatever the weather the city is visually stunning wherever you go:
Reunited with my friend we spent the day wandering the streets and whilst most people might say the best things to do in Amsterdam are the Rijksmuseum, Anne Frank’s House etc., getting lost in the canals is what really makes your visit in my opinion. Anyway here are a few photos and description of the sites accidentally wandered into:
Whilst Amsterdam has an especially laid back calm feel, especially compared to most European capitals (with the exception of living in mild fear of being run down by the eponymous Dutch bikes), the Begijnhof is an oasis of peace in the middle of the city. A quiet courtyard once inhabited by unmarried or widowed Catholic women who wished to live a religious life.
Currently recovering from a 4am start from my flight and the drama of my friend missing her flight by oversleeping! Since I was no longer going to spend the day introducing said friend to Amsterdam, I randomly decided to jump off my train and explore unfamiliar territory – Utrecht! In the Netherlands you can basically explore any stops on the way to your destination as you pay for the distance you travel and since Utrecht was on the way to Amsterdam I thought I’d jump off and explore an unknown Dutch city.
Utrecht itself is mainly a place just to wander around and any of the major attractions were closed today as it was a Monday. Anyway, time to shut up and let the pictures talk for themselves…