Here we go! The long anticipated entry about my trip to Amsterdam!
It was another journey that started in the dead of the night with my alarm going off at 2:45. God, I wanted to keep sleeping! But I also wanted to go to Amsterdam, so I dragged myself out of bed and on the road to the night bus station. It was so early that no regular bus was running, let alone the tube. I had purchased tickets for the easybus Gatwick Transfer from West Brompton and since I have never been there before, I wanted to have some puffer time. I changed at Baker Street and arrived safely and on time at the pick-up point. It was not really a bus I was getting in, rather one of those big taxis where about a dozen people fit into, which was a lot more comfortable. I slept on the way to the airport, it was about an hour and a half.
So far, I have always travel to or from London Stansted, so this was the first time at Gatwick. It is a lot bigger, so I had to walk for a while to get to the security check. I stopped at a Boots shop to purchase ear plugs – a wise decision, as you will see later. I had loads of time anyway since I had calculated for a lot of buffer time (after the stress with Galway, I really didn’t want to take any risks), so I read my book and waited for my friend Colette to arrive. She came just in time, apparently she had taken the first tube and there had been delays already – seriously, at that hour? Geez, what’s up with this city? But she made it and we both boarded the plane. Since we hadn’t purchased the tickets together, I had a seat in the front and she in the back. Oh well, it was only about one hour anyway. I actually had a whole row for myself, but since I slept soundly through the whole flight (I didn’t even noticed we had started), it didn’t really matter.
When we landed, the weather in Amsterdam was much the same as in London – grey and rainy. We felt at home immediately! (Just joking.) Schiphol Airport is also very big and confusing and we walked about a bit until we found a Starbucks to have breakfast. It was expensive, as always, but at least I got Hot chocolate and an egg and bacon sandwich to fill me up. It was eleven o’clock local time, and I hadn’t eaten anything since three in the morning, so it was about time. Colette and I then went to purchase train tickets to the city center. It was easy enough and soon after we were sitting in a train to Amsterdam Centraal. It takes about 15 minutes to get there, how lovely is that?
At the station we looked for lockers, since my friend didn’t want to carry her bag around the whole day. Quite understandable, for that thing was heavy and you couldn’t wheel it. We found the lockers at the very end of the station and safely locked the stuff away. I kept my little suitcase, and we then made our way out into the city.
Since we had no idea where we were going, we just kept strolling along the main road, looking at the little shops and restaurants and trying to get a first feeling for the city. It was not really raining, so we enjoyed walking. Our friend, Hannah, would arrive later in the afternoon and we had some hours to kill before that, so we went into almost every store along the way. I bought a shirt at New Yorkers and Colette some earrings at Bijou Brigitte and we spent quite a while in Waterstones looking at the books and exchanging novel recommendations. Colette has a book blog, too, you might want to check it out: Colette’s blog. After about two hours of walking around, we were getting tired and settled down in a small cafe called Le Pain Quotidien. They had lovely homemade ice tea which we enjoyed very much. We spent about an hour in there and with about another one to go, we headed out again to grab some chips. On our way into the city we had tried some chips with weed sauce – yes, you read correctly, weed sauce! It is apparently mayonnaise with weed in it – it tasted disgusting. But the chips were very good and we decided to give it a try with normal mayonnaise sauce. The place is called Manneken pis, I recommend you trying a portion of chips there if you ever get to Amsterdam.
We were eating our lunch when I got a text from Hannah saying she had arrived, so we made our way back to the station to meet her. Finally, our little adventurous group was complete! After collecting Colette’s bag, we decided to find our hotel and to settle in. Since we had no idea where to go, we asked for help and were directed to tram line number 1. We purchased our tickets and enjoyed our first ride on the Amsterdam tram. We got of at some place that sounded remotely like Leicester Square and I took the lead to find the hotel – since I had the address and all. It took us quite a while, not because we were lost but because that station was most certainly not the closest one to the hotel and we were all tired and didn’t want to carry our stuff around much longer. Luckily we finally found the place (It’s called Hotel Vivaldi). It is a two star hotel, more like a hostel, but it suited our needs and was not too expensive. We checked in and got the room card. The funny thing is that the hotel is divided into two buildings – the lobby and reception is in one house and some of the rooms are in another, about 100m down the street. That’s where our room was, too. But I didn’t mind and since I had read some reviews beforehand, I knew what to expect.
The room was rather small, just enough for the bunk bed and single bed and some room to turn. We had our own bathroom, which was nice, but there was no window and not even a ventilation system, which would be annoying later. For now, we were happy with our accommodation and settled in. We didn’t get WiFi in our room for now, so after we had a short break we went over to the lobby to get access and tell everybody via mail, Whatsapp or Facebook that we had arrived safely. It was about 5:30 when we decided to look for a place to eat and we headed out. There was a place close to the hotel that seemed to offer breakfast and pancakes and all and we decided to try that out in the morning – it looked a lot more appetizing than the breakfast room at the hotel, even though that would only cost 3€. For dinner, we were looking for something cheap but good and that took quite a while. There were some restaurants and diners, but they were either too expensive or looked dubious. After walking for almost half an hour we finally settled for a small Italian restaurant that had reasonable prices. The food was okay, not the very best but it tasted good and filled us up. It was still early when we finished and we kept walking around a bit more, looking around the small flower market close-by. We then returned to our place and once again found ourselves in the lobby for internet access. We had decided we wanted to watch a movie in the evening – since Colette had brought her laptop – so we rented Tarzan on iTunes. There’s nothing like a good old Disney movie at the end of a long day! The three of us got ready for bed and emerged ourselves in the jungle with the gorillas. We agreed to set the alarm for ten the next day and then snuggled into bed. I plugged in my earplugs, because our toilet just wouldn’t shut up and there were other people in the building making some noise, and I slept happily until the next morning.
Well, this is it so far, I won’t overwhelm you and write about one day at a time. I hope you enjoyed it so far, I will be back after a short break!