Scott’s birthday falls in December and our anniversary is New Year’s Eve so each year it’s this big brainstorm session for presents on my part. He’s not hard to shop for but I tend to over think presents and as he literally ACES my gifts each and every time, I always feel nervous to get him something special! Last September/October time I was watching a Carrie Hope Fletcher YouTube video in which she spoke about Amsterdam. It looked beautiful so I had a quick browse at flights and so on, just out of interest and saw that the prices were really good! On a bit of a whim, I called Scott and asked if he fancied it. I think he was a little baffled but keen. I looked for
hotels hostels (I wanted to keep it on budget so we weren’t strapped for spending money!) and found one with good reviews in an ideal location and within a couple of hours and a few Skype calls with my Mum to make sure I was doing it alright, it was booked! Then on, it was just a case of saving up for euros (our families were very generous with gifts so thank you everyone <3) and planning a couple of things.
Anyhow, that’s a wee bit about why we went so here are some things I thought I’d share that didn’t fit in the day-to-day guides I’m writing up for the rest of the week. I hope this helps if you plan to go to Amsterdam (or anywhere else for that matter!) and let me know if there are any questions I might be able to help of advise with! It was a wonderful trip and for us both, our first abroad together but also unsupervised by parents/teachers. It was an adventure and everything went smoothly and safely so I’m happy to share what we experienced!
Amsterdam in January is chilly, not even as cold as it could’ve been for us and the same as Scotland so we were pretty well prepared, but if you’re travelling their from a warmer climate at this time of year, here’s how we tackled the cold and rain. The pics below show kind of what we wore. Please bare in mind Scott had jumpers under than hoody and that was a dry day. You’ll need more than one jumper if you’re going sans coat!
–Thermals: Scott and I both wore a pair of thermals under our jeans everyday. The evening we arrived I didn’t and my bum and thighs were stinging by the time we were heading back to the room! Other than that, just tops and jumpers with scarves, gloves, hats and a good winter jacket. You’ll need something that actually protects from the wind and, if possible, the rain. Though my coat is wool, it has a big hood so when there were unexpected showers, I didn’t get soggy and cold.
-Boots: you’ll need comfy walking shoes but I’d really suggest a pair of lightweight walking boots. I got mine in the Tresspass sale back in November and they’re pretty stylish but so comfortable! I’d take them off come the evening and my feet didn’t feel any different because they are so light. It depends what kind of traveler you are. I’d say Scott and I did equal amounts of walking and public transport (more on that later) but the comfy shoes were so worthwhile. Nothing worse than cutting your adventure short just because you’re feet are a little sore!
-Backpacks: no matter what your day plan is, having a backpack is more comfortable and generally more useful. Whether you’ve one each or share with your travel companions, you can keep important documents on you at all times in case of emergencies (I personally felt more comfortable doing this than leaving things in the rooms), have room for your big camera if you use one or just for disposables and phones if you prefer to keep documents that way. It also means you’ve room for games (our favourite to have with us was Bananagrams… BEST GAME EVER!), notebooks for jotting down anything important and a travel guide. Man, I’d of felt so lost without that thing! Bad case of over planning on my part. Luckily Scott is more laid back so we kind of balanced out and had a good level of organisation and spontaneity each day! A big bag also means you can chuck it things like a few basic first aid bits, umbrellas, sunblock depending on the season and general things that come in handy when you least expect it!
I think that’s all the tips covered than don’t seem really obvious. Be prepared for all weathers, whatever the season and just be sensible with how to go. We left our case in the room so could chuck all jumpers, extra clothes toiletries and everything in there but if you’re only taking minimal luggage, think really practically about what you need to avoid any awkwardness. Again, happy to answer any question if you have them!
-Accomodation: as I said, Scott and I kept the cost down by going for a hostel over hotel. It was so worth it because we had a perfectly clean room with a lovely, modern, well working bathroom for a great cost. We went for a private ensuite and had an amazing comfy bed with plenty of bedding and towels included. There was a TV (though I couldn’t figure out how to work it though we doubt we’d of used it anyway) and a table and chairs. It was decorated with Mario and Tetris designs all over the room so was a bit of fun also! Though the stairs were very narrow and steep, that was more than fine for us. The bar area was lovely though we didn’t actually use it and the breakfast included in the price was basic but really handy for our last day before we flew. We didn’t request for our room to be refreshed as it was just the two of us for only 4 nights but they offered that. It wasn’t noisy at night despite a busy bar and the staff were all so wonderfully helpful… especially when we nearly lost our Malteasers to the vending machine 😉 We were right opposite Vondelpark, 5 minutes from the big museums and therefore all tram and bus stops so it was bang on perfect for us and our needs! Here’s a link to it: The Flying Pig UPTOWN. Also, it does look like a place for party goers but me and Scott had a really relaxing chilled week despite that!
-Pre-booking: now if you have a travel guide or have done your research, they’ll tell you all this stuff a lot better than me but here’s what I picked up on our trip (REMEMBER: JANUARY). We only booked two things, an evening canal cruise to see the Festival of Lights and tickets to the Anne Frank House. For both those, it was definitely worth it. We did go to the Rijksmuseum but didn’t book and didn’t wait at all, though we went later in the day, and the only time I saw a queue was a very short one on the tram back the Van Gogh Museum at 2ish on the Monday. It’s up to you. If you’d rather take your time day by day and see what you feel like seeing, just be prepared to potentially wait a short wait (once again, this only applies to January!) or if you’d rather have a set time to be somewhere each day, go for that. We really enjoyed having 2 days with things booked and the other days with a vague idea of where we’d want to be but no time restrictions in place.
–Travel: we got a bus from the airport to the Rijksmuseum and were really close to our hostel. The trams are all so easy and frequent. Locals are very helpful too if you’re unsure. We used the Lonely Planet travel guide book and by each and every restaurant, sight and bar they tell you which tram and stop to get. Without that, I do think it would’ve been a lot more complicated so it’s worth investing in that book! Other than that, the city is really flat so easy to walk around though the roads are pretty crazy with cyclists so ALWAYS pay attention and ALWAYS look both ways. The number of times Scott had to pull me out of the cycle lane… not good. We didn’t cycle so if you’re interested in that, I’m not going to give any advice! Not my cup of tea I’m afraid…!
I think these are all the main bits of our trip that I wanted to share. There will be lots more information in the 3 day guides that’ll be following this post so be sure to check them out for specific cafe and restaurant suggestions and which sights we saw and loved.
If you’ve visiting Amsterdam soon, just enjoy the city. It is so friendly and easy to enjoy so just take time to relax and take it in. Don’t feel guilty about laying in every day, don’t feel under pressure to see or do everything and do take the time to just wander the beautiful streets, looking up at the architecture and down at the canals. It was a special place and Scott and I just had a week filled with laughter, fun and happy memories.
Enjoy and please comment or email (firstname.lastname@example.org) with any questions!