The weather mostly behaved itself for the 36 hours - the proximity to the UK means that the climate isn't much different from London's. Wandering along the canals is essential but there are plenty of indoor activities too - the Van Gogh Museum and Anne Frank's House filled Sunday's itinerary nicely (book both online in advance to avoid massive weekend queues). The former being an amazing insight into the (short and rather troubled) life of one of the world's most important painters and the latter being somewhere I have wanted to visit since I first saw it on Blue Peter aged 8. As we progressed through the office building and hiding place of the Frank family and their companions the tourist chatter died away until we formed a slow, silent procession through the rooms. No matter how much you have read about the Nazis and even after reading Anne's diary myself as a teenager actually being in the house is a chilling, sombre experience in an otherwise free and liberal city. A reminder that all of our freedoms are hard-won and that seventy years later persecution is an all too real present day experience for so many.
Amsterdam obviously has a reputation for certain things. Make of those what you will but the spirit of the city is liberal, non-judgemental and an anything-goes kinda vibe. It's really somewhere where you could have a totally different visit depending on your travelling companions and your own predilections. Similar to how I felt in Vegas last year. Food-wise certain areas are packed with cafes serving the kind of fare you may want after certain of the city's offerings (chocolate covered waffles, cheese fries, a burger vending machine etc etc), Indonesian cuisine is The Netherland's equivalent to the UK's love of Indian food and being a liberal sort of place there's a decent #vegan offering too.
|Bikes and canals everywhere. Be very careful crossing roads and be aware that cyclists don't really distinguish between road and pavement.|
|The canal houses. Do they remind you of anywhere else? I was surprised to learn that New York was originally called New Amsterdam but the Big Apple definitely bears more of an resemblance to the Dutch capital than it does to York.|
|A search of Instagram led me to discover the Dutch Weed Burger and De Foodhallen - a cavernous building serving every type of food imaginable and perfect for trying a range of things or if you and your dining companions have different taste. This vegan burger is actually made from seaweed, duh. Snag a table and take it in turns to check out the food stalls.|
|Feeling at home already.|
|An Instagrammable delight.|
|Our hotel (Hilton Doubletree ideally located next to Centraal Station had an insane breakfast budget. Pancakes, sprinkles, chocolate sauce and cherry compote which totally defeated all of my sweet teeth.|
|The I Amsterdam sign.|
|Co-oridinating my coat, skirt, tights and bag to the sign,|
|A freak hail storm and a well-located cafe. Sanders (can't find a website) provided warmth and a mix of Dutch and European fare. We walked 16-17km each day so the chips were allowed.|
|The view from the rooftop bar of the Hilton before hopping on the 20 minute train back to the airport. Leave a little time for the duty free because its one of the best.|
Have you visited Amsterdam?