Last weekend marked the very first trip of 2019 for us. We ventured back to beautiful Holland. Our last trip, in the summer of 2016, was pretty different, we were just out of uni (very poor) and were about to embark on our first real stint of travel as a couple. We did Amsterdam on a budget and so this time when we returned we made the most of having full time jobs by upgrading our accommodation and generally not worrying as much about money! Having said this, we didn’t really need to worry as our trip was relatively low cost whilst still being able to fit in everything on our must-do list!
Nb. If you’re yet to read our last blog (Amsterdam part 1) then I suggest doing so before reading on…
Unlike most of our trips, we flew from Gatwick to Amsterdam. The flights we booked were with EasyJet but there’s loads available and all pretty reasonable prices. We only paid £50rtn each which we thought was a bit of a bargain!
It is also possible to get the Eurostar that takes you straight into Amsterdam central station – a young couple we met whilst we were there said it was so perfect for them as they have a young baby and it saved the faff of an airport!
You can also get a ferry from more northern parts of the UK (Newcastle in particular), if you fancy a trip across the North Sea! This will set you back around £200 for a return journey for two with a cabin.
As we were travelling at a more off-peak time, accommodation in general was much cheaper. We bagged ourselves an absolute steal, the Hotel Estherea was located along a canal front right in the centre of Amsterdam, only a five minute walk from Dam Square, 10 minutes to Anne Franks House and 10/15 minutes to central station!
The hotel itself was fab – very quirky and exactly right for our stay. The decor, and staff, were both extravagant! After our private Airbnb room experience last time, it was nice to be staying in a hotel in a slightly more central location with such excellent views of the canals from our bedroom window! There was a lovely lounge area and bar for drinks in the evening (nb. the hotel sometimes offer drinks tokens for those who are booking site members (i.e. hotels.com) so keep an eye out for these deals). The rooms weren’t huge but we were made aware of this thanks to TripAdvisor so were prepared for this. Plus the added touches of free hot drinks and biscuits was lovely for us to come back to after a day of exploring!
Things to do
Our first blog post covered a lot of things you can do whilst the Dutch capital, but like we said, there is absolutely loads to do and we were fortunate enough to return to see more of what Amsterdam has to offer.
This trip was slightly more laid back and focused a bit more on all the yummy food and drink on offer. Here’s a list of what we got up to:
- Canal Cruise
- Cheese and wine tasting
- Red light district
- Eateries and bars
- Flower market
In 2016 we explored the canal waters by pedalo, but as a group of four (and the fact it was raining) this wasn’t really the most fitting mode of transport… so we opted for a lovely canal cruise instead. The canal boat left from the port near central station, setting us back 11euro per person (absolutely bargain!) for an hour tour. We were shown around the narrow canals, including some of the beautiful architecture, and then onto the wider river that goes along the back of central station. Boat is definitely the best way to explore Amsterdam and I’d recommend a canal cruise if you get a chance!
Cheese and wine tasting
Before heading to Holland, we’d already decided that cheese tasting was something we were keen to do. We found a lovely little tasting room (Reypenaer) not far from our hotel. It cost us 17 euros each for an hour tasting session and we got wine included (BONUS!). The tasting itself was great, we tried six different types of Gouda (Dutch cheese) which were all paired with either white / red wine or port. The guide (Eric) was fantastic and we think this should definitely be added to your Dam to-do list.
Red light district
We couldn’t go back to Amsterdam and not visit the RLD again. This time we went twice, once in the day and once at night. It’s so interesting to see it at different times as the contrast is amazing! We actually spent much of our time in Amsterdam just wandering around and taking it all in and the RLD is a great place to explore. Whilst it is not for everyone, we think it’s definitely worth walking through.
Eateries and Bars
Our blog followers will know that a lot of our blog posts mention the food, bars and restaurants we’ve tried and tested whilst visiting new places, and Amsterdam is no exception. We made our way through several bars / food places in Amsterdam and here are a few of our favourites:
- Grizzlys – sports bar
- Dante – Italian
- Royal Thai – one of the best Thai meals (outside of Thailand) we’ve ever had!
- The Chicken Bar – best Chicken EVER! (An upmarket Nandos)
- Greenwoods Tea Room – amazing brunch
We had a fab time in Amsterdam and it was such a good way to kick start our 2019 travels. It was great to experience a city break with another couple also!
We can’t wait for what’s to come this year and our next trip is less than three weeks away… We’re staying even closer to home this time, can you guess where?
Adios for now,
Love Char & Mar xxx