You don’t need months, weeks or even days to explore a city. Sometimes you can get what you need from just 24 little hours!
We escaped from work early to get to the airport to start our adventure. Our flight arrived mid evening into Amsterdam. After what seemed like a marathon distance walk to passport control, we were able to start our short train ride into Amsterdam. We’d pre-booked our tickets to save time on arrival and so just headed to the platform below the airport.
We only had light hand luggage as we were away for such a short period of time. I took just a handbag and used my helpful packing tips to scale everything right down to what I actually needed. This made the stroll to our hotel a breeze and we were able to take a few evening snaps by the station and soak up the (legal!) atmosphere of this delightful city.
Our first night
We stayed about 15 minutes away from the train station in a very basic but decent hotel, Hotel Pagi. We dropped our things off and headed out to explore the night scene of Amsterdam. The main red light district area is fairly spread out but head towards the Red Light District Museum; it was madly busy. It was my second time to the city and also my husband’s but he was last here as a boy and so definitely hadn’t seen this area of town!
Walking through the bustling crowds, it was difficult to get away from the smell of weed but the things which struck me most is the amount of laughing gas on sale. Given the issues we have in the UK I was shocked to see it being sold in shops and by many street vendors. The small alleys of the red light district burst at the seams with tourists flocking to see a taboo sight. Window after window frames a different glowing red scene and every so often there will be a theatre with live shows being staged. Although it felt like a safe place to be, Amsterdam felt an incredibly different city at night compared to the day.
The next morning we checked out just after 8am fuelled with free coffee from the hotel and headed to Blushing Amsterdam for breakfast in my favourite district, the art district. A delicious healthy breakfast and smoothie set us up perfectly for the day ahead.
A feast for art lovers
The Moco Museum is a joy if you like modern art and we were lucky to be there for a Banksy exhibition. The museum itself is set within an old house which makes the art more tangible. The lighting in many of the rooms is not controlled as such and so when the rays of sun hit the stained glass windows it throws a different perspective onto certain artworks. The exhibits flow out into the garden and become more interactive and so perfect for younger members of the family.
Bond and Boats
My husband is a big Bond fan and so on the way to pick up our pre-booked river cruise with Magere Brug, we stopped off at Reguliersgracht 36, the House of Tiffany Case (from Diamonds Are Forever). The river cruise picked us up by the Skinny bridge which is another Bond filming location. We were lucky we had the weather on our side as the tour boat was completely open, lined with comfy cushions and with unlimited drinks. It’s a great way to see different areas of the city, listen to a consumable number of facts and figures and enjoy some sunshine. Who would have thought a 24 hour trip to Amsterdam could be so relaxing!
The best lunch spot in Amsterdam?
For lunch, we headed to Moon……I joked with my husband I took him to the moon and back! This revolving restaurant is situated behind the train station and reached by a free ferry across the IJ River. These run every few minutes throughout the day and are fairly swift. Ours was packed with cyclists, pedestrians and motorbikes and so it was standing room out in the open and a bit sardine like (but free and efficient!).
Over The Edge
You enter behind the Sir Adam Hotel and security give you access to the lifts which take you up to the restaurant. We enjoyed a delicious 3 course meal with an entrée from the chef. We revolved around Amsterdam for an hour and a half before heading to the A’Dam Lookout on the roof. This was basked in sunshine although a little windy and offered a place to relax with a drink and DJ playing a set. This is also where you will find the famous ‘Over The Edge’ red swing which is 100m above the ground and which swings out over the building. If you are eating at the restaurant you have free access to this area but still need to buy your place on the swing; do this on arrival as otherwise you will be waiting for about 1.5 hours to get on! If you are not dining here, you need to buy access to the roof and a seat on the swing and there were queues for this.
A taste of Amsterdam
After our ‘out of this world’ experience, we headed back into the centre and visited the famous Amsterdam Duck Store, sampled the sweet and healthy treats at SumSum, stood in a long line for a box of delicious cookies at Van Stapele Koekmakerij (yes, the queue is worth it and moves quickly) before ending on a cheesy note at Henri Willig Cheese Shop.
We love Travel Man (Channel 4) and I love my gin and so we had to make a stop at Wynand Fockink to sample the origins of jenever. We were given a lesson in the history and flavours before having a mini cocktail prepared for us. The glass is practically overflowing and so you need to bow and take a sip first which is traditionally done to show your respect to the jenever!
We enjoyed a final stroll along the canals before sitting down to take in the views one last time at Loetje Centraal. We really did sample a bit of everything and you can tailor make your trip so you’re doing the things you want to do. We love our modern art and food but you may prefer Micropia if you’re into your science, the Rijksmuseum or Van Gough museum for more classical art, Anne Frank’s house for those who like history (you must book in advance) or you may want to hire a bike and cycle around the city.
My top tip for a whirlwind trip like this is: PLAN! If you like spontaneity and hate planning, you may miss out on things if they require pre-booking or you may spend too long at one place and run out of time for other things. We did everything we wanted to and never really felt rushed. We built in extra time for things and also time to relax (on the boat and at Moon).
Here is a little video of our day!
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