And Then We Were Off

Photo of me taken on a canal bridge...
with my eyes closed!
So bags packed and final goodbyes said the night before we set off. Well to be frank my Dad bore the brunt of this and drove me and Molly to Bristol airport for 5am. I didn't really sleep, I was excited but a little stressed as well. Mainly I felt relatively calm which surprised me the most.
   Me and Molly got to the airport and found our way around fine. Then we sat and waited, and waited. I think our bodies were in shock from having to get up so early. We're teenagers, we just aren't used to it. At some point in a trance-like state I stumbled across a Starbucks and purchased an egg and bacon roll which I then proceeded to spill all down myself. 2 hours in and I was covered in egg and bacon at 7 in the morning not fully sure where I'd gone wrong. Who said travelling wasn't glamorous?
   After that debacle we boarded the flight. I generally don't enjoy travelling. I don't have a phobia of it, I just really hate the takeoff and landing where your ears pop and then hurt. Just thinking about it brings tears to my eyes. After the flight and finding our way out of the colossal airport compound we popped out into...


Photo on one of the main canals

The Blumenmarkt in the main square
   We dumped our bags in our hostel dorm all safely locked up and then went straight out to have an explore. We tried as far as possible to pick accommodation as close to the centre as possible to maximise time spent on sightseeing and I think in Amsterdam we certainly achieved this. We were located down a little side street in what was quite a popular spot especially in terms of restaurants and overall I think the area we were in was slightly tourist-y and quite gentrified. Not too bad. But Amsterdam was actually one of the more expensive destinations in terms of accommodation. We were in a 6 bed mixed dorm for 3 nights which cost about £80 each or £26 a night with breakfast included. And as a first introduction to travelling we were left feeling a little less than impressed, especially as the other inhabitants happened to be a more party focused group of Spanish boys who slept all afternoon and usually returned at about 3am every night. It was for me anyway more of a baptism of fire than I'd expected but maybe I'm being a bit of a wimp? 
    Anyway over 3 days we visited:
Photo taken of a view from The Love Bridge
  • The Rijksmuseum : Home to the famous Night's Watch painting by Rembrandt and a beautiful doll's house which we stumbled across accidentally. They're currently completing a restoration of the famous painting behind glass so the public can see it being repaired in real time, a very exciting prospect for an art history enthusiast like myself!
  • The Moco Museum : Currently housing a Banksy exhibition which we stumbled across by accident in a rather quirky pink mansion house in the main museum square.
  • Oude Kirk: A very large, old church central to Dutch Protestantism
  • The Red Light District : Which was not what we were expecting- much more civil and a lot less seedy. Pretty by day and intriguing by night. 
  • Jordaan District : A cute indie district if the city with lovely little boutique shops
  • Rembrandt's House : The preserved house of the famous painter
  • The Anne Frank Museum : The original annex turned into a museum. Very popular so you have to book tickets in advance. It's quite a sombre affair so you may feel drained afterwards.
  • The Van Gogh Museum : Housing a huge collection of the painter's work from his earliest pieces to his famous 'Sunflower'. Spectacular
  • The Bloomenmarkt : An extensive flower market selling varieties of the world famous Dutch tulips. I bought a bag back for the family- jaw dropping.
  • Venus Sex Museum: Not exactly a museum but a large collection of historical pornagraphic images, rather a disappointment really.
Closeup of The Night Watch by Rembrandt
housed in the Rijksmuseum
to name but a few.  We also looked online for free walking tours which ran on a tipping basis only so you paid as much as you thought the tour was worth or as much as you could afford. I found the Amsterdam guided tour really useful for giving a good overview of Dutch and Amsterdam history and our guide was able to answer all sorts of questions ranging from historical facts to current legislation on the prostitution and weed industries. I would highly recommend looking up these kinds of tours, they're really value for money, highly enjoyable and you see a lot of the city.
      For the Anne Frank House and the Van Gogh Museum booking tickets in advance is imperative as they sell out so fast but for the other attractions we were able to just rock up. That being said entry was more expensive than we'd been expecting (10-15 euros) and depending on your budget you might feel that's too much. But me and Molly had taken into account museums - that was one of the main things we wanted to do whilst away so we did't mind paying but top tip: always ask for a student ticket to keep costs down! I would highly recommend both the Rijksmuseum and The Moco Museum to see both ends of the art spectrum and is an enjoyable day if you don't mind being on your feet. The flower market and The Van Gogh Museum were two of the highlight for me and I can't sing their praises enough. Apart from some of Van Gogh's early work which is a little dismal the whole collection is extensive and truly exciting.

Photo of the Rijksmuseum taken from the vast (and relaxing) gardens


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