Last February (2013) Chris and I took a trip to Amsterdam. I’ve been to Amsterdam a couple of times, but never as an adult, and so we decided to book a wee three night stay in the Dam! Might provide some inspiration if you are looking for a trip with your other half or a couple of friends.
We flew with KLM and booked direct on their website. I can’t rave about my experiences flying with KLM enough – I love this airline! If you book far enough in advance they are incredibly reasonably priced, and the level of service you get on a KLM flight is outstanding. If you’re going to Amsterdam, have a bit of advance notice and are looking for excellent service at a reasonable price definitely check them out.
WestCord City Centre
We stayed at the WestCord City Centre hotel, which we booked on Expedia (with a cheeky 10% discount! I would highly recommend signing up for their newsletter if you want the occasional discount code!). This hotel is in an excellent location – less than a ten minute walk away from Amsterdam Centraal train station (where you can get the train to and from the airport) and only five minutes walk to Dam Square. There are also plenty of tram stops near the hotel and Dam Square that will take you all around the city.
The hotel itself was nice. It is three star and fairly basic, but the rooms are very clean and modern – if a little compact. The only downside to the rooms is the bathroom. Make sure you are very comfortable with the person you are staying with because the walls of the bathroom are glass. Little bit awkward for us as this was our first trip away as a couple, but luckily we got over it pretty quick (tmi??). There is a panel where the glass is frosted to (kind of) protect your modesty but nothing beats real bathroom walls in my opinion!!
The Anne Frank House
If you have never been to Amsterdam before this is a must, especially if you’ve read Anne Frank’s diary. I feel it is a very important part of history, and it was absolutely fascinating to see where the Frank family, the Van Pels family and Fritz Pfeffer hid from the Nazis, especially having read her diary. There is also a dedicated exhibition space all about the forms of persecution and discrimination the Jews faced during World War II.
The stairs in the building are quite steep and narrow however, so make sure you are feeling fit before you attempt them!
We’ll just skip over this one a bit because it’s a little sad of me to head for Madame Tussauds when I’m in Amsterdam, but when I was younger there was a whole section at the start of the museum dedicated to the history of Amsterdam and I was really looking forward to showing this to Chris. Sadly, they got rid of this section and now it’s just a typical Madame Tussauds. We still had fun posing with celebrities 😉
House of Bols
The House of Bols is supposed to be an interactive experience dedicated to Bols and Genever liqueurs and cocktails. For some reason I thought this would be insanely interesting, but I was a little bit disappointed. It really isn’t that interactive, and for the price, there isn’t that much to see. You do you get to try two different cocktails and several liqueurs however, and if you are fascinated by this sort of thing it might be right up your street, it just wasn’t for us. And it was a terrible idea to try it at 10am!
The Heineken Experience
I’d heard a few bad reviews about the Heineken Experience, but we both love beer so decided to ignore the reviews (and our recent trip to the House of Bols) and give it a go. So glad we did. I would actually go back. Because they, presumably, have a much bigger budget than Bols this was a truly interactive experience. We learnt about the history, we got to see the process basically from start to finish, there were lots of games and interactive bits (I can pour a cracking pint apparently!) and there was beer. Lots of free beer. And, at the end, we got the Heineken canal boat back into town.
If you’re looking for a fun day out definitely consider heading to the Heineken Experience.
Red Light District Tour
We booked our Red Light District tour on Viator.com and were really impressed. There was a great, mixed, group of people and we had a very knowledgeable tour guide. We were taken all around the Red Light District and told everything from the history of the district, to where you can find the most beautiful prostitutes (we also found out which street the transgender prostitutes are on and I swear you would never know!). We also met a retired prostitute who held a talk and we got to ask questions. Might sound a strange tour to go on, but it really is a big part of the tourism in Amsterdam and it was interesting to find out about it.
At the end we were told we could get queue skips to a live sex show. Chris and I declined, but the older members of the group (in their seventies) shot to the front of the line. Good to see open minded people about…!