Amsterdam, Netherlands – Travel Diaries 2020

I missed my flight from Manchester to Amsterdam…almost.

Typical travel experience for me. Annoyingly, due to my terrible timekeeping skills, I’ve missed more than a handful of flights in my lifetime.

But this time I made it after a mad sprint through security. It is so typical that when I’m running late, my bag gets held up, they give me the longest pat down I’ve ever received (I’m not sure what you think you’re gonna find in my twists…), but thankfully one thing worked in my favour when I saw the abusively red highlight framing the words: Flight Closing…Gate 46 at Manchester Airport Terminal 3 was probably the closest gate I could hope for. Hallelujah.

And then what happens? The flight doesn’t take off for another hour.

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Not fuming at all.

Anyway, that was probably the worst part of my three-day, two-night Amsterdam travel experience, and thankfully not a predictor of the success and relaxed fun to come for the rest of my trip. Hopefully this post can inspire you with interesting and fun things to do in Amsterdam!

 

Day One



Pillows Luxury Boutique Hotel, Anna Van Den Vondel



Service was impeccable. Honestly, the room could’ve been horrendous (it wasn’t!) and I (probably) wouldn’t have noticed. Okay, if you know me, you know I definitely would have noticed, but you get my point right? My host, Gerald treated me like an absolute queen. Complimentary drink whilst we check in? Don’t mind if I do. And here’s a snack and glass of water to go with that. May I take your coat? Your bag? Sure.

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Let me now personally take you and your bags up to your room and show you everything you need to know like how to use the little iPad beside your bed for hotel info, communication and more, and where guest must-haves are such as your slippers, tea, coffee and other refreshments are, etc. I know a lot of this is standard service procedure, yet it’s not what you’ll get at a Holiday Inn or even the Hilton. Well, I’ve not experienced it to this degree anyway. This is why I have now fallen in love with the boutique hotel experience – above and beyond attention to detail.

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Van Gogh Museum



What a troubled guy.

Spoiler Alert: He’s the artist who chopped off his ear and killed himself at the age of 37, in case you didn’t know.



Anyway, I left feeling quite upset for the poor guy who checked himself into a treatment facility for his mental illness only months before his slow suicide (he died two days after he shot himself in the chest…yikes!).

He was so aware of his limitations but at the time, there was nothing and nobody equipped to save him.

His story is so intriguing, so I’d definitely recommend getting to know more about the man behind the paintings and pencil sketches, including the contemporary artists who inspired his own works both at home and abroad, and his particular interest in peasants, nature and heavy brush strokes.


De Pizzakamer



“Best pizza in Amsterdam”.

My Google search was limited to a 2 km radius so it may perhaps not be the best place in the WHOLE of Amsterdam, but my gosh I left super satisfied and thankful. I’m sure you know I’m a massive foodie so it was great to discover a yummy, hidden gem of a place to dine in Amsterdam. 

My dish of wood-fire mushroom, ham and spicy salami pesto pizza with extra red chili peppers (my own personal creation based off the Bambino Prosciuto Pizza lol) was accompanied by a small glass of prosecco. Visit here. 

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Day Two

Visit to Anne Frank’s House

 

Anne Frank’s House visit didn’t happen. I gave up trying to be part of the lucky few who manage to purchase an on-the-day ticket. 20% of tickets are made available on the day, but you have to get in the online queue way ahead of the 9am ticket opening time, and I ignored my alarm until 8.56am, at which point I became 436th in a queue of which it was highly probable even the first 200 wouldn’t successfully get a ticket.

Never mind. Here’s what I’ve learned in this situation: be prepared. I genuinely didn’t even realise I needed to book to visit way in advance, but if you’re traveling to Amsterdam and understand this is a key thing to do in Amsterdam, I’d recommend you learn from my mistake. Book now.

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Breakfast at Pillows Hotels, Amsterdam

 

After a slow rising from my bed (I’m so thankful this glam, boutique hotel allows for this with a 7am – 12pm breakfast time), I eventually went down to the most decadent breakfast. Pictures don’t do it justice. And, as mentioned above, I’m most impressed by the focused, high-quality service of the staff here.

Beautiful courtyard views
Beautiful courtyard views over a packed breakfast of fresh juice, eggs, pastries, fresh fruit, coffee, tea, yoghurt and granola.

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Sidenote: as a good mindfulness and self-awareness practice, I left my phone upstairs to take in the full experience without outside distractions. Although, whilst waiting for breakfast, I did read a short Bible passage (Proverbs 26) and a few more pages from Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations.

The rest of the day was a whirlwind, and yet I still made it back to the warmth and comfort of my hotel by 7pm. I then stayed in for the rest of the evening because…I’m a bore and holidays require a good balance of outdoors fun and… rest. 

Here’s what I spent around six hours doing on day two of my trip to Amsterdam and another few recommended fun things to do in Amsterdam:

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Cycling

 

The IAmsterdam City Card (thanks for the recommendation, Dr Brown!) offers 24 hours of free bike rental. The weather was windy with sporadic rain showers. 90 minutes of cycling covering over 10 km was enough for me. After the cycle, it took me 30 minutes to regain feeling and use of my frozen fingers, but it was worth it!

P.S. London’s Boris Bike makers should take note. My free hire bike was light and fast, and easy to manoevre so I felt as though I could have continued cycling for the rest of the day, if not for the cold and rain.

Blooper! My main agenda was to cycle to the Botanical Gardens and pass by the ARTIS Royal Zoo. Unfortunately, I popped the wrong ‘botanical gardens’ into Google Maps and ended up on the other side of the city at the University site’s botanical gardens. Sigh.

But at least I passed through VondelPark on my route to and from the gardens. And of course, I couldn’t miss out on a unique picture moment… (Thank you, kind stranger turned personal photographer!)

I always find that the free things to do when travelling can often be the most gratifying! How about you?

Other highlights included… 

Very impromptu coffee with author and transformative mentor, Irisat Vinnie’s (sometimes I forget I have friends and connections in so many parts of the world and it’s a true blessing) and a quick visit to the Tulip Museum

Alright, I’m going for ‘done’ not perfect with a touch of hopeful optimism as my life theme right now, so…

That’s my trip recap done! 

Trip via Voyage Privé

 

 

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