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What To Do With 12 Hours in Amsterdam

What To Do With 12 Hours in Amsterdam

Stopovers can be a very strange experience. It’s as if you enter a parallel universe where water costs 5 euro a pop and it becomes totally appropriate to drink whisky at 10am. Some people relish the opportunity to kill a few hours in an airport but personally I detest it. I always feel grubby, like I need a good hosing down after getting off the last plane that was a container full of germs. And I get bored of the shops within the first few minutes (mostly because I feel like a peasant who can’t afford any of the products they’re selling!).

There is truly no look that induces as much shame as the one from the snooty cosmetics lady at an airport is there? Especially the moment when she catches you spraying yourself from head to toe in an expensive perfume, asks you with about as much sarcasm as one can gather, if you need any assistance. No I don’t need any help thanks but I guess you knew that from the fact that I’m wearing furry socks with flip flops and have a fistful of samples in my sweaty hands! Oh the shame!

 

BUT. Sometimes, if you’ve been blessed with a stopover of more than a few hours, then that strange experience can actually turn out to be one of the best parts of the trip. A gift that gives you the opportunity to escape the madness and tension of the airport and upgrade your holiday by spending a few hours in a city you weren’t expecting to see. Why suffer when you can pop in to Dubai for a bit of breakfast? Or Hong Kong for dinner? Or, in our recent case, lunch in Amsterdam?? We had half a day to kill in between flights on our way home from Bali last month and jumped at the chance to explore the city instead of just moping about its airport. It might have been a flying visit (hardy har har) but it felt like we were getting a little taste of the Netherlands for just one day and it really was the perfect way to end an already amazing trip.

Here’s a few things that we managed to cram in during our 8 hours…

Dam Square

We got the train in to Centraal Station which only took around 20 minutes on the Sunday morning and couldn’t believe how easy it was to get right in to the city centre. From there we walked down the eerily quiet main street towards Dam Square which at 8am on a Sunday morning, was completely devoid of tourists. It felt as if we had the city to ourselves, strolling through the square and gazing up at the Royal Palace wondering where all the people were. It was incredibly peaceful so we were definitely not complaining.

Nine Streets

A hop over from Dam Square are the most photogenic streets in Amsterdam. Known to locals as ‘The 9 Streets’, the area is jammed with trendy shops, cafés and restaurants that you could easily spend a whole day wandering through. What we came here for though was the opportunity to get the quintessential Amsterdam photo of canals and bikes (have you even been to Amsterdam if you don’t have that photo?). It was a beautiful walk because it was so quiet, only a handful of early risers out walking their dogs on the hunt for their morning coffee. We popped in to Pluk when we were on a stroll and I instantly fell in love, a definite recommendation for a coffee break.

Bloemenmarkt

When you’re done taking photos by the canal, potter on down to the world’s first floating flower markets just a few minutes walk away. In the summer it will be a tulip paradise but in the colder months you will see the winter flowers making appearances with the sellers wrapped up from the cold. It’s best to get there early when the stalls are full of colours and before the punters have descended.

Koffieschenkerij De Oude Kerk

I’m not even going to try and pronounce the name of this café out loud but what I will say is that it’s a spot you have to pop in to for a bit of brunch or tea and cake. It’s located within the sacristy of the Oude Kerk church in the middle of the Red Light District – a church that has seen it’s fair share of sinners I’m sure! We ate our cake in the courtyard under Autumn blue skies and feeling very much at home amongst the rest of the Sunday brunchers. A worthwhile pitstop I can assure you.

After our treats we headed towards the airport feeling conflicted because we were both wishing we had a few more hours for our stopover while at the same time, dreaming of a hot shower and finally getting in to our own bed!

What Not To Worry About #31

What Not To Worry About #31

A wee bit of a late post this week as I still feel like I’m catching up after my quick break in France with the little sister. What was supposed to be a relaxing break ended up a little more hectic than planned – turns out driving a tiny rental car along steep gorge roads isn’t all that tranquil! I’m planning on writing a few posts so I can share some of the beautiful sights we got to see on our journey while including some photos of our aunt and uncle’s house who we stayed with (an absolute French dream of a place which deserves to be on the pages of some chic magazine).

It’s so lovely to get to travel with my sister now that we’re adults and no longer act like the monsters we were as teenagers. When we were growing up the three of us girls would fight like feral animals (I’ve broken Shannon’s nose twice, I kid you not) and stealing clothes became such a fine art that I used to keep mine locked in the boot of my car! After a bit of maturing we’ve now become best friends and are fiercely loyal to one another. I wouldn’t dream of saying anything to hurt her (or her nose) now and she is genuinely the funniest woman I know. Even though we had a few hairy moments on our tour through the French countryside, we were never far away from another laughing fit. She also appreciates a photo opportunity as much as I do which made me feel a little less guilty about hopping out of the car every few miles. It was a wonderful wee trip and I can’t wait to share some of our stories.

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Now that I’m home and utterly depressed with the rain which seems intent on hanging around, I’m planning my next getaway. Andrew and I have spent the last few nights researching ideas for destinations and we’ve been leaning towards Costa Rica, Indonesia or Malaysia. Basically anywhere that has palm trees and is cheap enough to get around! If you’ve been to any of these places or even have your own suggestions, please throw them my way! I always love to hear travel stories and experiences and it might help us make a decision faster 🙂

When Shannon and I were away I was reminded of a few things that bug the hell out of me when I’m travelling. I thought I would share a few in this week’s ‘What Not To Worry About’ post in case I’m not alone!

People who don’t try to speak the local tongue

I know French people are notorious for being rude to people who make no effort to speak French but to be honest I don’t blame them. I cringe when I hear people just shouting louder in their own language (most likely English) to try and communicate instead of trying the basic words of the locals. I didn’t encounter a single rude French person on our trip and I think it might have been because I tried my hardest to start a conversation in French before succumbing to “Parlez-vous Anglais??”. My French wasn’t great but making a little effort to learn was appreciated and made for a much warmer response.

People who don’t separate their liquids before security

WHY??? Everyone knows the drill now even the most unseasoned traveler so why are there still people who ask for a plastic zip-bag just as we’re about to go through the detectors?! They waited through the entire queue until the crucial point when people think they’re almost free from the tension and these tyrants hold the show up for even longer. It’s just not cool so let’s just all go as prepared as we can eh?

Airport Prices

Oh aye, £2.50 for a bottle of water? No worries. £5 for a shitty sandwich?? Of course! Why do airports think it’s OK to rob people at their most vulnerable? When they’re sweaty and tired and desperate to grab anything in case they might starve on their 2 hour flight. There is so much pressure (especially when I have to run to the gate) and there are times when I’m sitting on my airplane seat realising that I’ve spent £20 on absolute crap just because I thought I would need variety. It also seems to be the only time that I buy a multi-pack of Werther’s Originals.

Take Off

I used to suffer from panic attacks when I was younger and I had a major one as I was boarding my first long-haul flight to San Francisco with my girlfriends. One look at the huge plane suddenly had me looking for the nearest exit – how were we supposed to get in the air in that massive yoke?! Luckily I had been provided with four Diazepam tablets to try and soothe the attacks, two for the way over and two on the way home. Of course I hoofed the lot like they were smarties (DO NOT EVER DO THIS!) which weirdly only subdued the fear and didn’t send me to sleep like I had hoped. I’ve now learned how to manage my panic attacks but I still get very nervous as the plane is taking off. Usually I’ll have Andrew’s hand clasped so hard his fingers are white but when I’m flying alone I’ll put on a playlist of all the music that makes me happy all the while trying not to think of being in the metal box hurtling thousands of feet in to the sky.

Airplane Toilets

Anyone else petrified of the flushing sound??? I refuse to flush when I’m still sitting in case my ass gets wedged for all of eternity. Or even worse, that I’m sucked in to whatever cesspit that is used for the waste of nervous fliers. Or even more worse, that I’m sucked in and then spewed out of the plane covered in aforementioned waste. These are genuine thoughts I have every time I go in to an airplane toilet. That and also imagining if anyone ever actually does the dirty in the toilets. I mean, could you imagine the glamour of getting lucky over a Ryanair toilet?? There’s a club I won’t ever be joining.

Have a great weekend folks!