As soon as we arrived in Amsterdam, everything seemed to go wrong. This is where the deposit from Vélib bikes in Paris came back to bite us. We had all of our travel money stored on one shared travel-card for ease and this is what we used to pay for the bike deposits. When we arrived at our hostel, we were horrified to find that we didn’t have enough money left on the card to pay. We had hardly any money left at all. At first we were completely confused and shocked- where on earth had our money gone? Then, we realised. The deposit takes a week to get returned onto your card. €450 was just gone. We’d get it back in a week of course but we needed the money now, otherwise we’d not be able to pay for our hostel, we’d be homeless in Amsterdam… HELP… We called up the Vélib helpline and they were adamant there was nothing they could do to speed up the process. Eventually, Lyd agreed to transfer money from her normal bank account onto the travel card for us to use for now but the travel-card company blocked her payment. I don’t recommend Revolut travel-card company at all! They demanded details from her debit card to authorise the payment, but she’d left that at home. The whole reason she had a travel card was so she didn’t need to take her debit card abroad… Why would she bring both cards?! Eventually, after hours sitting and moping outside a bakery, surrounded by the beautiful aromas of Dutch pastries without any money to buy food, we got our money transfer authorised. A lot of shouting down the phone finally succeeded and we crawled back to our hostel exasperated.
We stayed in Flying Pig Uptown Hostel. I can’t recommend this place enough for young travellers and backpackers. The staff were incredibly friendly, easy to talk to and sympathetic about our situation. The decor was quirky, the facilities were clean and the bar and smoking rooms had just an amazing atmosphere. You could get pizza and pot noodles for cheap at the bar if you couldn’t be bothered to venture out for lunch. We were also so happy to have a warm shower after our three days of solely baby-wiping in Paris! The location wasn’t exactly central but we were right next to Vondelpark and the Rikjmuseum, so we weren’t complaining.
On our first night, we decided to wander into the centre and check out some coffee shops and the Red Light District. We tried out a few different bars on the way in but they were pretty expensive. Quite far into the city, we found a coffee shop that looked decent and bought our first bag of legal weed- a strange experience. We settled for what the ‘menu’ described as fairly weak stuff, thinking we didn’t want to go too mad on our first night. The menu lied. Half an hour later, we were wandering the streets of Amsterdam laughing like banshees at nothing. Deciding the best thing would be to go back to the hostel and relax, we were faced with the task of finding the hostel. Anyone who’s been to Amsterdam knows the whole city is regularly divided up into a grid by canals, every road is straight, every road looks the damn same. It still surprises me now that we actually made it back that night in the dark, complete strangers to the city and high as kites. My navigation skills are clearly better than I get credit for.
What to see in Amsterdam:
This is an adorable park about 10 minutes walk from city centre. There was a free jazz festival going on whilst we were there, with food stalls scattered everywhere and live tunes- it had a really lovely vibe. Ask people at your hostel what’s going on in the next few days for tips on current events- we wouldn’t have known about this event without ours. Don’t forget to hire a bike for a couple of hours and ride around the park (luckily in Amsterdam they don’t require an extortionate deposit) if it’s nice weather!
Red Light District
Visit the Red Light District at nighttime for an interesting night out. The whole place is full of places to drink and smoke and you don’t want to miss Amsterdam’s most famous attraction-prostitutes. Watching prostitutes dance in the windows was quite a surreal experience. It feels it should be a TV screen… but its not. Our hostel had group outings that took you around the best bars, so if you’re travelling alone, it’s easy to make friends.
Everyone visits Amsterdam’s infamous sex museum for the laughs and to get a picture with the human sized giant penis statue (see mine below). However, it turns out to be an incredibly interesting experience. You get to learn about the history of porn, history of sadomasochism, see pictures of the longest dicks and the strangest fetishes- what’s not to love?!
We used the AH supermarket on Van Baerlestraat near the Van Gogh museum a couple of times to buy more picnic-type food because restaurant prices were all expensive. I recommend this supermarket if you’re planning on doing the same, they have a large fresh food section with fresh sushi and and delicious smoothies. Go to Broodbaker Simon Meijssen on the same street (2 minutes from Vondelpark) for the most awe-inspiring choice of pastries you’ll ever witness. Mini pizzas, muffins, cakes, croissants, pies, bread… everything we bought from there was so fresh and delicious. Candy Freaks on Nieuwe Hoogstraat is home to an overwhelming number of sweets if you want to cause yourself pain (that you can’t buy all of it). They have buckets of Nutella… BUCKETS!
If you’re looking to spend more time in the Netherlands, check out Owl Over the World‘s guide to 10 days in the Netherlands.
- Prices: 5/10
- Accommodation: 10/10
- Veggie options: 8/10
- Food: 8/10
- Favourite spot: Vondelpark
Amsterdam was a fun experience- there’s so much to do there! we met our two friends from Leeds so it was lovely to see them after ages and explore the city all together. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to see everything the city had to offer as I came down with a kidney infection whilst I was there, which was bloody awful. It wasn’t on the same level as Paris or Budapest but the canals and Dutch architecture were pretty. I definitely recommend for a weekend break if you live nearby.
Much love <3