I think my trip to Amsterdam deserves it’s own mention so as promised in my New Year post here is a complete and wholly truthful account of my time there.
*Please note this post is not suitable for children, those of a sensitive disposition, judgmental people or unicorns.
PB and I had been discussing getting away, so when she came up with the inspired idea of a city break to Amsterdam, I was incredibly excited to go as although I had been before, there were a few experiences that I didn’t have the first time round. And I was damn sure not going to miss out this time.
On a Saturday in November we met at Liverpool Street Station and hopped on the Stansted express, after a very short uneventful flight we arrived, with only the trivial task of making our way to Grand Hotel Downtown hindering us. City Mapper was our saviour during the 5 days and other than some confusion during a train change the commute was relatively easy.
After a short chill out at the hotel, we got ready and headed to Leidseplein in search of food and adventure.
We strolled down Korte Leidsedwarsstraat like woodland creatures foraging for sustenance until we happened upon Sherpa Restaurant. I didn’t even need to glance at the menu before deciding I was definitely ordering Momo, ever since my introduction to them circa 2004 (thank you NF) I can’t get enough of them.
After an amazing meal of Momo and Chicken soup, a whole hell of a lot fuller we continued on to see where the night would lead us.
We wandered aimlessly back up the street when a representative of Van Dyck bar ushered us in with the promise of a free drink, with that incentive who could refuse. We entered to be faced by an extremely empty bar and decided that we would leave after our freebie, however within 30 minutes Van Dyck’s had filled up. Then something happened which made me never want to leave. I discovered DJ Weslo and something about him transfixed me. I found him extremely entertaining and I couldn’t stay off my feet during his set. Until 4am I actually considered quitting my job to become a DJ groupie, I was so moved by his style.
After dancing until it felt as if my feet were bleeding we left Van Dycks to head for our Hotel. During our 10 minute walk back we were accosted by two Dutch guys who were self proclaimed Arsenal fans. Even abroad I can’t escape the football talk. Despite the topic of conversation I found one of them incredibly attractive, however as is typical in my life, the less attractive one seemed to be more interested in chatting. Once we extricated ourselves from them we stumbled home to sleep in one of the most comfortable beds I have ever had the joy to experience. Note to self, I must get a mattress topper.
On Sunday our first port of call was G’s a cafe that was recommended to me, and it’s only open at the weekend. G’s is as famous for it’s brunch as it is for it’s Bloody Mary’s and believe me I took full advantage of both. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to book a table as I’d planned so we had a bit of a wait when we arrived. However the service provided by the waitress more than made up for it. The brunch was, as anticipated, delicious.
And the Knäcke Mary didn’t disappoint either:
Fed and lubricated, we wandered around the markets to burn off some calories, although we sampled enough flavoured cheese and chutney to keep us topped up. Once our tired legs could no longer carry us, it was time to head to my first ever coffee shop. We attempted to go to Greenhouse, but when we entered it was quite intimidating, so we exited sharp-ish. After wandering around probably looking a little lost and confused someone took pity on us and lead us into Route 66 which had a more laid back atmosphere. After sampling the Amsterdam specialities we headed to what we thought was a tour bus that drives directly into the canal, however upon arrival, to our immense disappointment we discovered the bus tour does not exist anymore and we were booked onto a much more pedestrian canal boat tour. Due to the herbal remedy we had partaken in before the tour, riding around the canals of Amsterdam at night wasn’t as refreshing as it should’ve been and afterwards we decided to grab a quick KFC and head back home to bed.
This turned out to be an advantageous decision as we were up at the crack of dawn on Monday to visit Anne Frank Huis. The Museum of Anne Frank, encompasses the Secret Annexe where the Frank family and some friends spent the better part of 2 years and sadly the last of their lives. Due to the popularity of the museum we arrived an hour and ten minutes before it actually opened and it was well worth it, as we were 4th in line. By 8:30, as I’m sure you can imagine, the queue was already winding round the corner and I was incredibly pleased to have had the forethought to get there bright and early. Being in Anne’s annexe and touching the walls that she touched and seeing how small the space that occupied 8 people for 2 years was an overwhelming yet unforgettable experience. For the few hours we were there, one thought was ever present in my mind, that I am incomparably lucky to live the life I lead. By virtue of being born in this time, in this country I have not had to suffer the terrible atrocities and indignities that so many others have and the saying ‘there but for the grace of God’ had never felt truer than at that moment.
After an emotionally charged experience such as that what is the one substance a person could use? I know what you’re thinking, and no it’s not herbal refreshment. I’m talking about a heavy dose of sugar.
Following some truly amazing waffles, a bit of harmless frivolity would set our spirits to rights, and during our visit to the Amsterdam Dungeon’s that’s exactly what we got, albeit there was a moment in which I was horror struck when the lights blacked out and as they flashed on for a brief second there was a terrifying vision closely resembling Samara (see The Ring 2002) approaching me at an alarming rate. I’m the first to admit I’m extremely jumpy and my immediate reaction was to emit a high pitched scream and grab the hand of the stranger next to me. She took it really well though.
After a hasty apology and a small feeling of embarrassing I rallied myself enough to meet some friends for lunch, who had recently moved to Amsterdam. Once lunch was over we headed back to our hotel to relax and regroup, especially as the weather took a turn for the worse.
Later that evening we were once again traversing my favourite street Korte Leidsedwarsstraat and settled on a Thai restaurant for dinner. The food was delicious, however the wine was horrendous and after we ate I needed an enjoyable drink. I was determined to visit one of the only bars I remembered from my first trip to Amsterdam. Njoy is without doubt the best cocktail bar I’ve ever had the fortune to stumble upon. It boasts a decadent private club vibe (due to the incredibly low lighting) and the only things more lavish than the decor are the cocktails themselves.
After 5 years Njoy was as good as I recalled, If you’re ever around that way I highly recommend paying them a visit.
Alas our last full day in Amsterdam was upon us and I wanted to end the holiday with all the debauchery Amsterdam had to offer. After breakfast we went to the Sex Museum, which was ludicrous. Upon entering the museum you’re immediately faced with;
and although this is only a picture, imagine the scene being accompanied by an audio recording of a man reaching climax. I thoroughly enjoyed my whimsical morning spent at the Museum and I seriously considered importing the chair.
We left the museum profoundly amused and after a quick bite to eat we headed to Wonderbar a coffee shop that also serves shisha.
Now at this point I ask anyone who is related to me to just stop reading. Or if you must continue reading don’t judge me too harshly.
But here’s where I admit that I sampled psychedelic fungus. The experience was, there is no other word for it, hilarious. I found absolutely every thing comical and I must’ve been laughing continually for approximately 6 hours. I laughed until my sides hurt and tears were streaming from my eyes. I laughed so much I was reduced to a helpless human being who couldn’t even order pizza or manage to make a decision about anything. Under normal circumstances I pride myself on my independence and I often feel a minute amount of indignation if I perceive someone to question my ability to do something for myself. However in this state I was completely incapable of forming decisive thoughts which was an interesting experience for me to say the least. However my encounter was nothing short of mind altering, your brain works in a completely unfamiliar way, as if it is disconnected from your body. I didn’t want to eat for 7 hours, and this is so unlike me I can assure you. Your vision is totally transformed too, seeing colour takes on new meaning and if you try to focus on a steady object it refuses to remain stationary, rather it jumps around like a kangaroo on speed.
After leaving Wonderbar we wandered round the red light district for a while but the heavy rain unfortunately stopped play so we went back to Grand Hotel Downtown for the final time.
It was a wild end to a fun trip and all I can say is that I cannot wait to visit again.