48 Hours in Amsterdam: PART TWO

Friday, 28 April 2017

I was a vision of undeniable beauty.

Bin bag wrapped firmly around my left hand, my tram ticket held tightly between my teeth, and my luggage balancing precariously over my right shoulder, I sprinted awkwardly next to my sister, my limbs flailing dramatically as every item on my person threatened to catapult into the air like a live-action version of Buckaroo.

We had exactly seven minutes until the tram would be pulling into the station, and absolutely no clue where we needed to dispose of our rubbish.

In the near distance Merrin caught sight of several sizeable, grey boxes. I spat my tram ticket into my spare hand as we gracelessly threw down our luggage and pressed on towards what appeared to be a graveyard of plastic containers.

"IT'S LIKE FUCKING CRYSTAL MAZE" I bawled as we manically opened bin lid after bin lid in attempt to find one empty enough to shove in our rubbish.

Four minutes.

Missing this tram would mean missing our slot at The Van Gogh Museum, thus wasting €17 each and throwing a monumental spanner in the works for the rest of our day. We had cheese and wine tasting booked for midday, a cocktail masterclass afterwards and a train to Groningen - essentially, missing this tram would initiate a domino effect of lateness that would lead to unavoidable catastrophe.

"YOU'RE GOING TO HAVE TO JUST GO WITHOUT ME" I screamed theatrically through bouts of uncontrollable laughter that intensified the already unbearable burning of my lungs.

"Don't be a pussy, HURRY UP!" My sister called as she darted ahead of me.

There it was. We made it. We had actually made it. Slumping into our chairs we began to slowly regain our breath. The last seven minutes had been a huge wake up call for myself, and as we settled back and watched Amsterdam passing by the window, I made a silent promise to myself that the minute I land back on English soil, I would at least consider joining the gym.

VAN GOGH MUSEUM & CHEESE AND WINE TASTING 


We hastily paced our way through Museumplein, I found myself instantly in awe of the grand buildings surrounding the square, feeling rather small and insignificant next to the likes of the Rijksmuseum. Taking into account these majestic surroundings, I was surprised to discover how modern The Van Gogh Museum is, established in 1973, we were greeted with a building predominantly glass, white walls and absolutely packed with tourists.

We conducted a master plan to aid in avoiding the crowds. We clambered to the top of the building and decided to work our way down, essentially experiencing the museum end to beginning. Our justification of this decision was not only would it provide us with the opportunity to view Van Gogh's work without the interruption of a hundred bobbing heads, but spiritually, we thought it would be somewhat nicer to start off with the bad stuff (yano, ear-chopgate) that way things could only get better, and we would leave for our cheese tasting in merry spirits.


In reality, I found myself far more intrigued by Vincent's life that I had anticipated, and within a few minutes, I was nagging at my sister to take me back downstairs so I could study his life in true chronological order, and embrace the events that lead to his year of torment, his infamous breakdown, and the gunshot wound to the stomach that saw him die two days later.

Whether you're a huge art-lover or not, I think you'll find yourself mesmerized by the notion of such a complex and troubled character - I found it especially interesting to witness how his art changed over the years, not necessarily deteriorating - but certainly losing an element of what they were in his younger years.

(You can read about the Cheese & Wine Tasting Experience here)

HARD ROCK CAFE AND THE RED LIGHT DISTRICT


By the time we had finished dolling ourselves up in the apartment - an exercise that involved the three of us cramming ourselves into the bathroom and craning our necks at different heights in attempt to get a sufficient amount of mirror use - we were a couple of bottles of wine down, and absolutely starving.

We jumped on our tram and headed to Max Euewplein where the Hard Rock Cafe is located. We were already aware that our waiting time was going to be fairly ridiculous, it was a Friday and we had completely forgotten to book a table. However, our crippling hunger was soon forgotten as we discovered the two-for-one cocktail menu, a welcome distraction that kept us in good spirits until we were alerted of our table being ready.

From what I can remember, my food was amazing, but considering I was about a bottle of wine and one and a half (I may or may not have knocked over the second) cocktails down, you probably could have put a bowl of gruel in front of me and I would have celebrated it as a Michelin Star meal.


After our meals we stepped outside to get some air and finish the remains of our cocktails. The air was muggy, and the sky was threatening rain, possible pathetic fallacy for the next part of our evening.

Undeniably, one of the biggest 'tourist' attractions of Amsterdam is indeed The Red Light District, anyone who I had told of my trip had quickly pointed the place out to me - I suppose The Red Light District is to Amsterdam what Butlins is to Bognor Regis.

If I could sum up my experience of The Red Light District with things I learned about myself in the short time we were there, they would be these:

- I am no good at making eye-contact with topless women. I found myself sheepishly staring into the ground as if I had accidentally walked in on someone changing, which essentially, I had.

- I am a fun-sponge. I am confused about exploitation, and trying to come to terms with how much of what goes on here is choice. I found myself feeling guilty for walking the same streets as the people in other groups that were pointing, laughing and totally oblivious to to the fact the person behind the glass was indeed just that, a person. I felt like I was at some strange, Black Mirror-esque zoo.

- I have a newly-discovered sympathy for window cleaners. Yikes.

- Outfits choices are essential. Wearing a black dress, fishnets and heeled boots whilst walking down The Red Light District isn't a wise choice, it does however give you a wonderful opportunity to pick up some extra euros as they are thrown at you.


After deciding that I was now far too confused to want to see a Peep Show, we headed for a bar. I was aware of two things: the obvious lack of women (if you don't count the two dancing on the bar) and the fact I was potentially the only person genuinely admiring said women on the bar for their impressive dancing ability and energy, and not their skimpy attire.

As we left the bar after a round of extortionately priced drinks, I had a little think to myself. I had never considered myself as a prude before - anyone who knows me would tell you I'll be slap-bang in the middle of any crude conversation or risqué joke - but whatever I had just witnessed had left me feeling indescribably uncomfortable.

Maybe it was the alcohol, maybe it was insane amount of food I had gorged on, but I just wasn't feeling myself, and as groups of people descended into the night, each with their own different intentions, I was grateful to head back and sink into a nice, hot cuppa.

7 comments

  1. Thank you for posting about my favourite city! (I loved the Anne Frank house.) Maybe next time plan in advance for the team? :D

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    1. You are welcome! I am hopefully going back there in a couple of months, so would love to see the Anne Frank house and some other things that we missed this time round. It was a great place to go for my first time out of the country!

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  2. Hahahaha oh my goodness such a brilliant review of Amsterdam!!

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    Replies
    1. Ahhhhhh! So glad you think so, thank you!! xx

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  3. I love your writing style, you can really hear your voice behind what you're writing and it's so immersive. Love your description of almost missing the tram and your thoughts on the red light district. I really want to go to Amsterdam, it's the first place I'm going when I get a passport.

    - Beth
    Quirks and Queries

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  4. Loveee this! Definitely have Amsterdam on my list to travel too in the next few years. Will for sure re-visit this post again :)

    Xo
    Elaine
    www.mylittlegold.com

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  5. Wonderfully written, witty post. I'm really excited to visit Amsterdam at some point. I've read a lot about the red light district, I'd probably come out with similar views if I'm honest.

    Tamsyn Elizabeth | Peaches and Bear

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