About an hour ago I slotted the key into my front door and hauled my suitcase in behind me for the last time this weekend. Arriving home after three days in Amsterdam. A friend suggested going away a few months ago and we got around the booking the trip about a month ago which is all very last minute for me. A few words to describe me would definitely include planned and organised but I would love to be more spontaneous. Feeling unprepared for something causes me to feel anxious and this trip was very unplanned. Due to the stresses of starting and learning a new job I didn't make time to research the trip at all, my research was limited to asking people who I knew had been before. I do think it's helpful to ask friends who have been to places previously because they can sometimes give you a more realistic view than the guidebooks. Although this may not be very helpful if you are interested in different things.
For me the benefits of my trip began as soon as I left work Thursday evening. I was able to place all my work stress into a box and leave it there for the weekend. Usually, I find I am not able to do this as well over the weekends when I am at home, I spend the time off thinking about what I didn't manage to get done and what I need to do the following week. Knowing I was going away felt like I had permission to leave everything behind and just enjoy the present. And I got the Friday feeling a few hours early!
Our flight was at 7 am, it was only an hour long and the time difference in Amsterdam is an hour ahead to we landed around 9 am but it felt more like lunchtime. We were warned about the cost of getting a taxi from the airport to our hotel but decided we would rather be taken to our hotel to begin with and then we would figure out how to get around from there. Luckily, we met a taxi driver who guaranteed us a price of 45 Euros for the 30 minute journey, when we arrived the metre said it should have cost closer to 80. We entered the hotel to ask whether we could leave our luggage somewhere safe as check in was not until 3 pm, pleasantly we were told that our room would be ready in 20 minutes so we ordered a coffee and made a plan for the day.
|Image from Google|
Traffic is also crazy over there, not only was the traffic coming in different directions (on different sides of the road) but there are cyclists and trams to watch out for! I was quite surprised how busy Amsterdam was, I think I had a mental image of the city being quite laid back and less busy. Even where we were staying, which was a 15-20 minute tram ride from the centre, there was quite a bit of traffic and people, seemingly in a hurry, on bikes. My favourite mode of transport was the hop on and off canal tour boats. Cruising along the canals was laid back, peaceful and relaxing and we found it was a great way to get our bearings and get around the city, although not a great way to travel if you have to be anywhere at a certain time or if you need to get anywhere quickly.
I found the city very picturesque and as I mentioned above I loved how it brings old and new together. The tree lined canals that are home to a number of houseboats and bordered by traditional slim, tall learning houses. The variety of bridges, often filled with bicycles lent against the railings. Very much the way I imagined it to be. Then you head towards the docks and there are the more modern buildings, different use of shapes, of colour and concrete.
I think Amsterdam is a great city and has something for everyone. It is steeped in history and culture and is very diverse. Gay Pride celebrations were concluding this weekend with a parade on Saturday along the canals (seemed very much like a carnival on water), the positive energy it created felt great to be around and be part of. Our trip ended on a positive note as we successfully made our way back to the airport after navigating the trams and catching a train when neither one of us is any good at using public transport.