The second day of our Dutch adventure began in a rather unexpected way. We woke up to find that we had no electricity in our room and our phones that we’d left to charge overnight were completely dead! We had to go to reception and report what happened and they called an electrician to come and sort out the electrics whilst we were eating breakfast (which was delicious!). It turns out we’d accidentally left the mirror light on in the bathroom and it had blown a fuse overnight, but it was soon fixed which was a relief (although slightly embarrassing that we hadn’t even been at the hostel 24 hours and already had an incident…).
Anyway, the breakfast we had was surprisingly nice – there was a choice of cereals, toast, cold meats, fruit and even pancakes so we definitely had enough energy for a busy day of sightseeing (and it really was busy) after eating!
As it was our first full day in the city, we’d planned to take a canal tour and get our bearings, as well as seeing the sights and learning more about Amsterdam’s history. Although before we got on the boat, we managed to locate our nearest supermarket, an Albert Heijn on the main street at the end of our road. There I got a second breakfast (I’m sorry I can’t resist croissants!!!!!) and we bought our lunch for the day incase we weren’t near a supermarket around lunchtime. I think we also looked in some of the tourist shops but I can’t quite remember as we walked down that street so many times throughout the trip!
It was actually raining quite heavily so we had to wear our rain coats (which I almost forgot to pack) and when we did get to the boat – which was a hop-on, hop-off tour so we could get on and off multiple times and explore the city – the roof was on, which made it a bit difficult to see out of the windows due to the raindrops but at least we were dry.
The boat had an audio tour guide which you could plug headphones in. I started off listening in French because I need to keep practising but eventually I switched to English as I was worried I was missing important information. It was actually really relaxing seeing the city from the water. I think we spent about 2 hours going round the whole route just to listen to the audio tour before we actually got off. So relaxing that one of my friends fell asleep for part of it!
The first place we got off was at the Gassan Diamond Factory as we found out we could have a free tour of the factory included with our boat ticket. It was actually really interesting – we saw people polishing and cutting the diamonds and then learnt about how they were valued. We also stopped off at the shop to get a few souvenirs before finding somewhere to sit and eat lunch. My family and I collect patches on our camp blankets from places we’ve travelled and Scout camps so I bought some for us all. 🙂
We wanted to go to the Waterlooplein market next but we discovered it was quicker to walk there than wait for the boat to arrive to take us so we (successfully this time) navigated ourselves to the market. I love looking around markets – we have some at home in Bristol but they’re all fairly small. What I like about markets is that there are a lot of handmade gifts and small businesses so you often find more unique products than you would in more tourist-y areas. My friend and I both bought some little Delftware animals for our families as gifts. I got my nan an elephant as she has a small herd of elephants in her living room, so I thought it would be a nice addition!
I also bought myself some clog slippers – which I had been wanting to get ever since my friend brought some home from Amsterdam last year. Plus my slippers at home were broken so I did actually need new ones!!! I got yellow and red ones with a windmill and tulips on the top – they’re actually the comfiest pair of slippers I’ve ever had and I’ve been living in them since I got home!!
We then walked to the next boat stop which was over the Skinny Bridge, which I didn’t realise we’d walked over until about ten minutes later! We tried to run for the boat as we had the app which told us the boat was just at the stop but when we got there it was just pulling away so we ended up having to wait half an hour sat in front of the Hermitage Museum. But as it had stopped raining by this point, it was a good opportunity to take photos of the canals!
We needed to take the canal boat to the other side of the River IJ to northern Amsterdam as we’d booked tickets for the A’DAM Lookout, which is basically a hotel with a viewing platform on the top where you can see across the whole of Amsterdam. It is also home to Europe’s highest swing as well (fun fact for you) which actually swings you over the edge of the tower! When you arrive at the tower, you get a free photo shoot in front of a green screen with various views of Amsterdam in the background and then you take a very cool lift ride to the top floor (no spoilers!!).
The views from the roof were just??? AMAZING??? I think we spent a couple of hours up there just admiring the view and taking photos
and trying not to get blown off the roof by the wind. We could see the whole extent of the city and surrounding land, it was so beautiful and kind of a surreal feeling thinking about how many people were going about their everyday lives within the radius we could see. The sun actually decided to come out too which was a bonus!
My friends went on the swing over the edge, but I’m not great with heights so I was quite happy looking out over the city and trying to pick out landmarks.
The A’DAM Lookout is possibly home to Europe’s highest red horse??? I mean, there can’t be many red metal horses 100m high! We had a bit of an incident with this horse too. I tried to climb up first but it couldn’t make it so I gave up (to be honest I didn’t want to get stuck!). My friend successfully climbed up second but then couldn’t get down so my other friend and I spent ages trying to help her down before a French guy came over and helped to lift her off. Then my other friend managed to climb up and down within a space of 5 minutes. It was quite an interesting experience…
We also went to the floor below the roof which was a bar and had a mini exhibition about Amsterdam, including a model map of the city. We managed to find the street our hostel was on the map so we can’t have been that bad at navigating!! There was also a glass floor, so an obligatory feet photo had to be taken of course.
After leaving the tower, we went for a stroll along by the river. It was nice to be in a part of Amsterdam that wasn’t busy with tourists and residents and that we could walk around the grassy paths peacefully in the sunshine. We thought we’d missed the last canal boat so resigned ourselves to the fact that we’d have to take the ferry and walk 40 minutes back to the hostel in the south of the city, but then my friend spotted the canal boat at the jetty so we sprinted all the way along the waterside to see if we could catch the boat. The boat started pulling away so two of us gave up running but my friend carried on and the boat driver actually came back to the jetty to pick us up which was so kind of her (although a bit embarrassing for us!). One thing I noticed whilst in Amsterdam was how friendly Dutch people are – in Britain that never would have happened – and on other occasions too I was surprised at how friendly everyone was, like at some of the restaurants we visited where staff would have a proper conversation with you about where you were from and what you’d been up to – Amsterdam felt like such a friendly place.
Anyway, so we managed to get on the canal boat which would have taken us all the way back to the hostel but as the sun was out still, we decided to get off at the Anne Frank House and walk the rest of the way. I really wanted to go inside the Anne Frank House but we didn’t have time unfortunately, but I am definitely going to go back again!!!
We took a detour to walk through Dam Square and see the palace. It was very busy in Dam Square and pigeons (and my friend) kept photo-bombing my photos haha but it was good to see the palace! After that, we carried on walking back to the hostel which was surprisingly straightforward and we passed the Bloemenmarkt – or floating flower market – as well and had a look around because you can’t go to Holland without seeing tulips!! (These photos were taken on my phone because I somehow forgot I had my camera with me??? So excuse the poor quality).
It really was an action-packed day, and we were exhausted by the time we got back to the hostel so ended up going out for dinner quite late. Especially as one of my friends got locked in the bathroom in our room so it took like half an hour for various hostel staff to unlock the door and let her out! Thankfully the staff saw the funny side of it – we thought they might be fed up of us after having to call in an electrician earlier that day – but we were all relieved when she finally got out!
We went to Leidseplein again and this time had pizza. The pubs and bars were really busy as it was the France/Belgium game so when we went to the Hard Rock bar for cocktails after dinner, we had to wait for the football to finish before we were served haha.
It was so pretty walking back along the canals at night, and this time I took my camera so I could get some decent shots. It felt really safe walking around too, even thought it was nearly 11pm when we left the bar, because the streets were still busy and a lot of shops were still open, whereas at home its dead at that time so I usually don’t like staying out that late.
Again we stayed up and played cards for a bit and then we swapped my mattress because I’d hardly slept the previous night as it was rock hard and I woke up aching, but luckily we had a four person room between the three of us so I could swap to a comfier mattress!
Hope you’re enjoying reading about my Amsterdam adventure and it will continue with Day 3 soon (when I get around to writing it!!) 🙂