July 21, 2015

We didn't have a summer holiday planned for this year. After Portugal last October we had sort of spent our holiday fund and hadn't been able to save up for one this year due to those pesky unexpected costs. We weren't too disappointed until we began to experience the sorry excuse of summer that Scotland seems to be offering us this year. The desire to get a little bit of sunshine, explore somewhere new and experience new cultures suddenly took over so when Kami's parents offered to take us to Amsterdam for the weekend who were we to complain?

If I am completely honest Amsterdam has never really been a place that I have considered visiting in the past. Perhaps that had something to do with the city's reputation for its "coffee shops" and the Red Light District; two things I have no desire to explore, thank you very much. Perhaps it's because there are just other places that are higher up on my places to visit and re- visit (Paris, Rome, Barcelona, Croatia, Estonia etc.) I don't really know. Unsurprisingly there is so much more to the city of Amsterdam than its stereotypical things of drugs, sex, windmills and tulips. 

These were my favourite things from our trip...

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1. The canals 
Okay, so the whole concept of a city built on piles (giant wooden stilts) is sort of terrifying when you think about it but it sure makes for a beautiful city layout with canals intersecting each other and the roads. The weather was particularly beautiful on the Friday and Saturday that we were there and the canals were heaving with tour boats (which we did), pedalos and locals holding parties on their boats and barges, soaking up the summer sun. Travelling by canal is a unique way to view the city and if you visit Amsterdam I certainly suggest that you take one of canal tours.

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2. Bikes
Maybe it isn't fair to say that the bikes were one of my favourite things about the city. People cycle aggressively here. It's not a relaxed bike ride in Amsterdam. Oh hell no, it's a genuine mode of transport which I absolutely commend the city for. Just think how little their carbon footprint must be. However, the fear for my life as I tried to cross the road while twenty cyclists came right at you was real. So very real.

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3. Architecture
I fell in love with the architecture of Amsterdam. Just look at it, how couldn't you? Narrow, crooked houses standing only a few storeys tall lined the streets and canals, looking so pretty in the summer sun. I can only imagine how tiny the houses must have been indoors but from the outside they looked so quaint and picturesque. Absolutely beautiful.

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4. More architecture and the cute lampposts
Can you spot the national flag in the background? The beauty of this city was something else; the architecture, the tree lined streets, the canals were unlike anywhere I have been before.

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5. Anne Frank House
Like so many others I read the Diary of Anne Frank as a child and so visiting the annex where her tale took place was one of the few things we actually had planned for our trip. We queued for about two hours to get into the hiding place which has now been converted into a museum, barren of furniture at the request of Otto Frank, Anne's father, as a representation of the void that was left behind by the millions of people who were deported and never returned. It is a poignant experience leaving you again horrified by what the Second World War did to people.

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6. Westerkerk
Next to the Anne Frank house and on the banks of the Prinsengracht canal, another beautiful piece of architecture can be found in the shape of this beautiful church. The Westerkerk has the tallest church tower in Amsterdam and is topped by the rather impressive replica of the Imperial Crown of Austria of Maximilian I.

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7. Amsterdam Museum
On the Sunday morning, Kami and I got up early and headed down to the Amsterdam Museum to learn more about the city in which we were staying. Filled with interesting facts about its growth and industries, we spent the next couple of hours wandering from room to room, taking in everything from Napoleon to Rembrandt to Amsterdam's trading relationships.

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8. Mirrored selfie in the Amsterdam Museum
I'm actually not one for taking lots of pictures of myself but when faced with long, mirrored corridors to the exit of the Amsterdam Museum it was kind of hard not to sneak in at least one. Why not?

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9. Artwork
In the Amsterdam Museum there was a walkway where the walls were filled with massive pieces of unusual artwork. Unfortunately I cannot remember the name of this one or who it was painted by but I can tell you it was my favourite one on display.

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10. The Royal Palace of Amsterdam 
From the outside you would never guess the beauty that can be found within the walls of the Royal Palace of Amsterdam. we originally decided to explore the palace as it was nearby and we had another hour or so before we had to head for our train to take us to the airport and I'm glad that we did. Incredible sculptures of mythological gods, such as Atlas (seen above), ornate chandeliers made of platinum, intricate maps on the floor of the Citizen's Hall were breathtaking. It's also completely jam packed with history as it changed from town hall to the Napoleonic Palace to the Palace House of Orange. It's an incredible work of architecture.
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  1. Sounds like you had an awesome time! I really enjoyed Amsterdam, the architechture is amazing I totally agree - I love all the tall odd buildings! I want to go back and take the boyf this time! xx

    Jasmin Charlotte

  2. Always heard great things about Amsterdam, looks such a clean and pretty city.

  3. Looks like a nice city! Glad you two got a chance to get out of town for awhile. I think it's pretty cool that a lot of people ride their bikes for transportation. I wish I could ride my bike to work, but I for sure don't want to ride a bike for 15 miles in the miles, plus another 15 to get back home! Still, I would save a ton on my car's gas! Haha


  4. Last minute spontaneous holidays are the best! I really want to visit Amsterdam, and I think the places you enjoyed would be my favourites too. It's sometimes nice to have somebody else decide your destination and end up somewhere you hadn't expected, isn't it? :P
    lily x

  5. Although it might not be my favourite city, it is still a beautiful place. When Kris and I went, we decided to go on one of the walking tours and they ere explaining the houses to us. Apparently they are so narrow because the tax you paid on your home was calculated by the space you took up on the side of the canal, so everyone built their homes narrow and long.

  6. Aw I love Amsterdam. Paul & I went last year and I agree with you, there's so much more to see than its "reputation"! I'd definitely go back just for a weekend as everything looks so cute & lovely :)


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