Monday, 13 June 2016

Interrail Destination 2: Amsterdam!

After a 4 hour train journey and a 1 hour delay at Antwerp we finally made it to Amsterdam! One thing to know about Amsterdam that I didn't before we arrived is that it's HUGE. Like really, really, really big. Whilst we was here we stayed at 2 hostels: one in central Amsterdam for one night, and one in the
countryside, about 30 minutes away from centraale station, for 2 nights.

Favourite parts: 

#1 wandering around vondelpark. 
#2 ice bar. 
#3 cycling through the country side.
#4 lunch at coffee and coconuts. 

When we arrived at the station we was verrrry confused. We literally just went to the information desk and showed them the address of our hostel and they told us to get on a certain tram! There are trams EVERYWHERE in Amsterdam and they can be very confusing! I advise getting a tram map (from the station) or if you have google maps, to use that as it tells you everything you need to know, what platform, number tram and the stops of the tram you need to take. Also I decided to look up routes when I had wifi and screenshot them to keep on my phone!

When we arrived at our hostel- Hotel not Hotel, everything was perfect. We booked a 'secret bookcase room' which was just up the stairs on the right. This hostel has so many cool rooms, they have Amsterdam tram cart rooms, crows nest rooms and more. The room was quite small but we expected it, and it was only for one night so all was good! We then just unpacked our bags and went downstairs to the Kevin bacon cafe in the hostel, for a well earned drink!

Hotel not Hotel.

our room.

Kevin Bacon bar.

We then decided to head off into central Amsterdam and got on a number 7 tram. We didn't actually know where to get off I think we just guessed, as everywhere basically looks the same! We spent a few hours just wandering around, trying to find our bearings in Dam Square. We probably walked around in a circle about 3 times before realising - so yeah this city can be extremely confusing! There's a high street off of the square which has shops like Urban Outfitters, Pull and Bear and Forever 21 and souvenir shops and things!

We then got some dinner in a little Italian restaurant around the city (somewhere, don't know where haha!) and it was lovely! After that we just wandered around and tried to find the red light district, we walked  around there and then decided to try and find our way home in time to get another drink at the bar in our hostel. 

The next day after check out & a traditional Dutch breakfast in our hostel, we headed to our next hostel- Lucky Lake! We went on a tram to centraale station and then from there we took the metro to Hollendrecht station and was picked up by the lucky lake shuttle bus!

Traditional dutch breakfast.

 I LOVE this hostel!!! Everything was so lovely for the 2 days we were there, it was a nice break away from the city! However, we actually found it easier to get to central Amsterdam from here, than the last hostel. It was literally the easiest journey ever, just one train from Hollendrecht to Centraale.

Panini in the hostel for 1.50!! so yum.
After settling in we decided to go and explore the area, so we headed for the lake. The hostel give you a welcome pack which has recommendations of where they think are the best places to go by the lake and the nearest village to the hostel, Abcoude and In Amsterdam city. The lake is so so so amazing! There's different. Parts of it like a beach part, and parts where you can rent boats or go on boat rides. You also have the option to rent a kayak or go paddle boarding with the hostel! I really really wish we had done this, but we just ran out of time, we will 100% do this next time!

After we walked around the lake we then went back to the hostel and decided to rent a bike from there (€1.50 /hour) and cycle to the nearest village, Abcoude. This was probably my favourite part of the trip so far.. We were cycling through the countryside around all types of animals on farms and it was amazing! It took around 15 minutes to cycle there and we stopped at a supermarket to get some pizzas to cook for dinner. We also decided to get some food for lunch to stop and eat on the way back! 

Once we cycled back from the lovely village we cooked our pizzas and chilled for the rest of the night! There are so many comfy places to sit around the hostel, my personal faves were the hammocks and the huge bean bags. They also have a cinema where you can rent out any film you want and watch it in the cinema caravan!

The next morning we woke up early to go into Amsterdam City. We made sure to make a very detailed itinerary the night before of things we wanted to do and tram lines we needed to take to get from one place to another so we wouldn't get lost - again! We started off by going to the sex museum just over the road from Centraale station. Entry was $4 each person! This was actually really interesting (and quite funny), I probably wouldn't go again because I've seen it now and it's not big enough to need to go again but if you're in Amsterdam and fancy going - why not?

We then decided we wanted lunch so hopped on the metro to Amsterdam Amstel and then got a tram to coffee and coconuts cafe. This is a suuuuuper cute breakfast/lunch cafe. Will chose the burger and a Thai Thai beer and I chose the scrambled eggs and avo with a lemon water and it was delish!!! They also have really nice places to sit here, it's over 3 stories and you can sit on chairs, benches, bean bags and hanging chairs - your choice!

After stuffing our faces with yummy food we caught a tram to museumplein where the iamsterdam sign is! I didn't actually expect it to be what it was like, it was pretty big! There's lots of little cafes and souvenir shops around here and there's also a tickets and tours shop where you can buy tickets to things for a discounted price like Madame Tussaud's, Van Gogh museum, body works and more. This is where we decided to book tickets to the Ice Bar! 

We had a few hours to wait before we needed to be at the ice bar, so we decide to go to Vondelpark and have a wander! You can either get back on a tram and go one stop or you can walk! This park is a definite must see if you're in Amsterdam, it's so pretty and there's lots of different cafés to stop in and have a drink! Whilst you're in there it kinda makes you forget that you're in a busy city like Amsterdam!

We then walked to the ice bar from here, it looks reeeeallly far on the map but it's actually not! This is probably where we realised Amsterdam is walkable and it's not always necessary that you get trams or trains! Also we found that walking made us actually see more of the city, as we kinda felt like the only thing we was seeing was the inside of trams/trains. Ice bar was really good! It was only €15 for entry and 3 free drinks. The drinks inside were either shots of flavoured vodka or beer (which was rather annoying because I don't particularly like either) but it was still a really nice experience! We didn't stay the whole time because we was literally so cold as we had summer clothes on but we stayed long enough to have drinks and wander round. 

After this we decided to go back to centraale station and catch the train back to our hostel as we wanted to have dinner in the nearest village, Abcoude. We cycled there with the hostels bikes and stopped at a restaurant they recommended called De Eendracht. The food was so so yum! We shared the charcuterie board to start which came with pickles and various salamis, and then for main we both chose the cote de boeuf with peppercorn sauce and chips and asparagus as sides! We then decided to cycle back before it got dark!

When we got back we just chilled and packed our bags ready to travel to Berlin the next day!

The next morning we woke up early to catch our train to Berlin, and had our last breakfast from the breakfast truck! 

Things to avoid: 

- bikes.. I'm not really sure why people go here and hire a bike in the city, as I'm so sure that if I did I would've been run over by something.. There's so many lanes and cars, trams, bikes and buses all basically use the same lane. So yeah if you're not a pro cyclist I'd probably avoid hiring a bike in central! (In the countryside it's lovely!)

- eating in central places - as with everywhere, eating in central places can get pricey, and also we found that especially in Amsterdam the food is actually nicer the further you go out of the main parts! 

Thanks for reading! See you next time to chat about Berlin! 

Annie 🌻


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