Not long ago, after my bank account had been given a few extra digits courtesy of the 9-5, the good lady and I decided to book a flight somewhere for the following month. We knew we wanted it to be in Europe and not somewhere too hot as neither of us are what you’d call Sun-Merchants.
The good lady’s family had been to the Netherlands numerous times and I’d been when I was very young because my mother’s cousin’s husband (stay with me), used to be the Director of the Van Gogh Museum. All of these pointed to the capital city, Amsterdam.
Once the flights had been booked, we now had to pick somewhere to stay. We’d both always used hotels when staying away from home and due to the flight arriving in the evening, we did just that and stayed in the one and only, citizenM. If you’ve never stayed in one of their hotels, I suggest you look into it. Think modern-boutique but they’re not up themselves.
We rose at 6:00 the following morning and stumbled off to find our Airbnb. After getting slightly overwhelmed with the sheer size and pace of the airport, we were on a train to Sloterdijk Station, where we then took a bus to our apartment.
30 seconds after arriving at the door to the apartment (we were 5 minutes early), our host’s friend Lot arrived by bicycle (obviously). To say she was a delight was an understatement. She showed us around and made sure we had everything we needed, even recommending the best place to buy food if we were going to eat in.
We quickly unpacked and headed straight for the centre of the city. This is where the real Amsterdam took hold. Constant streams of cyclists, motorbikes and odd wheelbarrow-bikes flowed through every street like a relentless river. Trams and buses stopped for no-one, claiming dominance over all. Topped off with the sheer amount of diversity in the faces that surrounded us. Amsterdam claims to have almost 180 different nationalities living in its walls, and I believe them.
We then spent the next 2 days meandering through the streets, both busy and quiet. We decided to use the trip to unwind from our busy day jobs and that meant basically no planning. The majority of time was spent simply wandering around, taking in whatever Amsterdam threw at us. The only thing we knew we definitely wanted to do was a canal tour. It was a great way of seeing the city from a different angle and made me really fall in love with the city’s architecture.
We spent the night before our last day eating out at a lovely little restaurant in the Westerpark area. I forgot to mention that on the Thursday, it was my birthday, so the good lady treated me to the meal (as well as milkshakes, pancakes and all that other good stuff throughout the day). It was a lovely way to end the trip as by this point, we were familiar with how Amsterdam worked and were confident in catching buses and walking through the streets even at night, though I’d always recommend walking with someone.
The only museum we visited during our time there was the Rjiksmuseum, we made a slight error in waiting till the last day to visit so we didn’t have nearly enough time to see the whole place.
And before we knew it, we were on the plane, adjusting our watches back an hour as we landed in bonny (albeit a bit dreary) Scotland. This was the first trip I had taken out of the UK with someone other than my family and the first with a partner. I’d always said no to going on holiday with friends when I was a teenager but this felt so right, especially now I had someone to share in those adventures with. There was no doubt in my mind that this would be the first of many, many trips together.