Ahh bank holidays – you gotta love em! An extra day to add to your weekend or if you’re smart like me and book Friday off work too, an extra two days! That’s right, for this bank holiday I managed to make it a four-dayer so this meant a little roadie was in order…a roadie to Amsterdam baby!!!
My boyfriend’s mate and his missus had decided to drive as a way to keep costs down (last minute flights were hitting the £250+ mark) and so we were happy to tag along.
The four of us set off from London around 5pm Thursday night and drove an hour to Folkstone where we caught the Le Shuttle through the Channel Tunnel, for the bargain price of £160 return; split 4 ways, plus petrol, meant getting there and back cost us probably about £100 each. What a steal!
Admittedly it does take a little longer driving but I was still left opened mouthed when I found out it only takes 35 minutes to get from the Folkstone to Calais. That’s quicker than my commute home…well, if I take the bus. Anyway we arrived in Calais just half an hour later and set off toward Belgium before heading over the boarder into Holland. Woooo!
Thanks to some RIDICULOUSLY annoying roadworks just outside Ghent in Belgium (which is where we were also planning a little stop off on the way home) our journey took a little longer than anticipated and we arrived in Amsterdam around 1am local time – time difference is an hour ahead from the UK.
The other couple we were travelling with were booked into the Park Plaza Victoria whereas we’d used Air BnB, for the first time, to book a small apartment about a 5 minute walk away from their hotel – check it out HERE. I’d been in contact with Maarten, our host, constantly since we’d made the booking so he knew what time we’d be getting there and he very kindly, agreed to wait up up to give us the keys and also a quick tour of the flat when finally we arrived in the early hours of the morning.
Absolutely shattered from the drive we headed straight to bed to catch some Zzzzzzz.
We awoke Friday morning eager to head out for breakfast and take in the sights of Amsterdam. Our apartment was in a beautiful location, overlooking one of the many, many, many canals. Small, compact but with everything we needed it was an absolutely ideal place for us stay.
Sadly the weather wasn’t as perfect as our place and we left the apartment (via the super narrow and steep stairs) armed with umbrellas and in search of the pancakes we’d had on our first trip to The Dam a couple of years ago. Sadly when we arrived at 38 Berenstraat the queue was already down the street…
…so we headed across the road to Cafe Neilsen for a couple of bagels (I had cream cheese, avocado and bacon which was ALL I could have wanted and more) before deciding on how to spend the rest of our day.
As I’m sure you’re all aware Amsterdam is known for it’s relaxed laws on marijuana, cannabis, pot, weed, hash, green, ganja or whatever else you might call it. Not usual smokers ourselves, we had something of a naughty bunch of school kids about us and really wanted to indulge in a legal smoke…when in Rome etc, etc.
So our first point of call post breakfast was one of the many Coffeeshops to purchase a couple of pre-rolled spliffs. Last time I’d been to Amsterdam I’d written about how much I disliked the coffeeshops as they’re very smoky and can be full of less than desirable people.
However we found a nice empty little place to settle in, plus it was Betty Boop themed for crying out loud – what’s not to love about Betty Boop…especially a mermaid Betty Boop!
It’s possible it may have been a gaybar/coffeeshop but either way it made me rethink about my initial judgement that all coffeeshops are horrible places to go…that said I did much prefer when we had a little smoke in our apartment later.
Not being able to buy alcohol from the Coffeeshops meant we couldn’t have a beer so I picked my second favourite drink which is Peach Ice Tea, you must be crazy if you don’t think this is the most refreshing drink EVER!
The rest of the day was spent eating, smoking and dodging the downpours…not very exciting but certainly relaxing! The thing about enjoying a doobie or two is that you’re not very motivated to do much else other than sit around and well, eat which is fine by me.
We went to an incredible Indonesian restaurant for lunch, called Kantjil & de Tijger, where we ordered a sharing platter. The service wasn’t the speediest but there was a spicy chicken curry that more than made up for it and even the aubergine and green beans were given a big thumbs up.
Indonesian cuisine is big in Holland and Amsterdam due to a long running history between the two places and the previous Dutch colonisation of Indonesia, so there’s a lot of authenticity in the dishes and it’s probably why they’re so damn good!
…hating how much more tanned the beautiful Viviana is than me! I need another summer holiday!
After lunch we walked around a bit more, ducking in and out of the rain where we could before finally giving up and heading to a supermarket near our apartment where we stocked up on some booze and cheese.
Back in the warmth of our rented place we discovered this amazing hammock chair…
…which was ideal for our stony states although competitive clock watching ensued to ensure we all had fair turns in the cocoon of comfort.
We watched the rain hammer down on the world outside and the passing glass-roof boats with sad looking tourists on-board.
It was incredibly relaxing and indulgent…I think I pretty much devoured that entire block of Port Salut to myself – oops!
Things did get a bit wild after enjoying a little puff when the boys cracked into the Hobnobs and ate them OFF OF A PLATE!!! Then us girls were all like, woah, guys…slow down with your KERAZY CRUMB CATCHING! That’s enough weed for the both of you!
Then before we knew it the sun had started to set and our travel companions were forced to drag themselves out of the hammock chair and return to their hotel to change for dinner. They arrived back at our apartment for 9ish and we made the short walk two doors down to De Belhamel restaurant which had been recommended by our host, Maarten.
It’s a tiny restaurant seating no more than 50ish covers but very romatic with low lighting and over looking the canal. The food is French/European and insanely delicious.
I ordered a mixed salad to start that came with GOATS CHEESE MOUSSE (that I’d happily eat by the bucket load) that had me oohing and ahhing throughout.
For main I went for the Beouf Belhamel which was steak with a wonderful cognac, tarragon sauce – I cannot express how much I enjoyed it!! I honestly don’t know how to put into words how delicious and at around 60 euros a headit wasn’t even crazily expensive for such amazing dishes and a bottle of wine and a cocktail or two.
After dinner we headed over to Vesper bar for some amazing cocktails – their vanilla/clove/something infused Gin & Tonic is NOT something to be missed!!! Sadly the compact bar was full to bursting so we had to enjoy our drinks outside which meant we only stayed for one…before hopping in a cab to do some more bar hopping for more gin & tonic, except this time they came in huge fish bowls! Suffice to say it was a late one…
Lots of food and fun; that was day one in the Dam and day one of my bank holiday trip- rest assured that there is a lot more fun and frivolity to come in the next post!!
Thanks for reading! 🙂