The second part of my summer adventures was a trip to Amsterdam with my boyfriend for his birthday. Amsterdam wasn’t really somewhere I had really thought about going until Jack had suggested it, and after looking at plane tickets and how cheap it was to go, I was excited to get it booked.
I am an over-thinker. Why does that come into this? Well, my mind will literally not settle until everything is sorted and booked. Jack, however, is a little more laid back and doesn’t mind what we do or when we do it. So my problem was, I wanted a jam packed holiday and to see everything Amsterdam had to offer, whereas Jack just wanted to explore and relax, which I understand.
Anyway, we booked our tickets quite early, back in March, and then our hotel a few weeks later. We decided to stay in Oosterpark, at Hotel Arena. I’ll get to that soon, though. We stayed overnight in a Holiday Inn Express at London Luton, and the following morning left to go to the airport and start our new adventure!
After a very short flight, we touched down in Schipol, and went on our way to get our suitcases and on the train to our hotel. I absolutely HATED the transport system in Amsterdam. It might just be me, but I was so confused as to where I was going, what I was doing and where to change and go. We also got 3 day train passes which were actually really unnecessary and expensive, we used them twice during our whole trip. We ended up getting some train (not the one we were supposed to get, but that was my bad for sure) and then walked 20 minutes to Hotel Arena. I still can’t remember which train it was, but we got there in one piece, eventually.
Hotel Arena. Beautifully placed in a park and actually surprisingly close to the city center, was full of surprises. It was once a church, and then an orphanage, and now it’s a beautiful hotel with wonderful staff and an incredible restaurant.
High ceilings, two-floor rooms and loft-style design was the perfect suit to this hotel. It was so spacious, and so beautiful, I feel like the pictures don’t do it enough justice! We had a huge window that looked out onto the park and the hotel restaurant (which was pretty, we definitely weren’t complaining). My only thing was, was that the floors were a little dirty (there were some stains on the carpet, but we didn’t really mind) and the air conditioning didn’t reach upstairs, so all the heat of the summer’s day would rise up into our bedroom, and we would be very warm whilst sleeping, but it was great otherwise!
After we unpacked and had a rest, we decided to take a walk around and see our surroundings. Our surroundings ended up being the city! I was so surprised at how quick it was for us to walk into the city, and I was so glad that we didn’t buy the Amsterdam Cards. They honestly aren’t really worth the money I don’t think (for me anyway) as pretty much none of the things I wanted to do were included in the card deal itself, and so we decided to take a pass on the card (I’d advise you do the same!).
Bearing in mind we got to the hotel at around five o’clock, we were re-dressed and already in the city center by half six. It was only a 20 minute walk to get into the center, and so we knew we made a mistake in purchasing a travel pass. We decided as it was still early, we could go on and do some things in the area and get to know how to get around the city ready for the following days activities.
We paid a visit to the Hemp museum (we had to) which was €9 per person. It was actually really interesting to see what could actually be made of the plant itself, and Henry Ford actually made a car of Hemp Plastic as a test try!
We then trotted back home, and got ready for dinner at the hotel restaurant. Now, although expensive, this restaurant was literally incredible. On the first night, I got the Park Burger (the most incredible burger I have ever eaten in my life) and Jack got the Tagliata, as well as a bottle of red wine. We had a lovely evening, and then went back to the hotel and watched catfish on a TV that was strangely small for the room we were in.
The following morning, we had a breakfast buffet at the hotel and went on with our day. First stop- Van Gogh Museum. We pre-booked tickets for it because we were worried it would be busy when we went as the sunflower display was on, and we paid €18 per ticket. Bit pricey, but well worth it! We got the tram to the museum as it was a bit far to walk, and walked through the Rijksmuseum on our way, which we didn’t end up going in.
The Van Gogh Museum was amazing, and I highly recommend anyone that goes to Amsterdam for the first time to visit it. It was busy with tourists, as expected, but we were able to go around and read through the signs, as well as admire the artwork. It took us two hours to walk around the whole place, and we really enjoyed being out of the sun as it was roasting outside, but also a good way to spend time and feel like adults.
After the visit, we took the tram closer to the city, and went to the shop for a quick bite to eat. A huge worry for me was I was told that a lot of places in Amsterdam don’t take cash, and I was stressing about where to use my euros and where not. Eventually, we realized that you could use both pretty much everywhere, and it wasn’t much of a worry if you wanted to pay card or cash, so if you have heard about that anywhere, you’ll be fine.
We then walked into Dam Square, and went to the Royal Palace of Amsterdam. It was €9 for students, which is only a euro off the full price, but better than nothing nonetheless. This place was amazing. Even though there wasn’t actually that much to see, what was there was beautiful, full of detail and interesting! The tour guide machines were also quite interesting to listen to, and if you’re thinking of going here or not, I would put it on the list, but wouldn’t worry if you miss it unless you’re a sucker for beautiful ceilings and walls.
We quickly grabbed some lunch in the red light district, which we accidentally walked into, and didn’t actually notice until we saw a naked lady waving at us from a window. Then, we knew. We got pizza away from the window’s of the naked ladies, and caught a quick break. By this point, we had been on our feet for five hours, and we were very tired. I decided to push on, and our next stop was Our Lord In The Attic.
I wasn’t that fussed about seeing OLITA, but I’m glad that we went to visit it. The tiny, winding stairs and the secret church that was carved out in the middle of three houses was absolutely incredible, and the way that things fit and were stored to hide it from prying eyes was incredible. It was well worth the €8 we paid each, and I highly recommend visiting it, even if you aren’t religious. It’s beautifully done and well worth the money.
After OLITA, we made our way home for a much needed shower and some dinner. Once again, we ate at the restaurant, but we couldn’t resist the food.
The following morning, we had our breakfast at the restaurant, and continued to go about our day. We went to the sex museum (we had to) which was a small fee of €3 and a good laugh. There’s not much to say, just a whole lot of porn and statues of genitals.
We then went on and had a canal tour around the city and got sunburnt. The tour was interesting, and we got to see a lot of Amsterdam that we would have missed otherwise.
Later on, we returned to Dam Square and had ice cream and a look around the shops. It was all expensive as it was the city, and so we didn’t actually buy anything except some souvenirs for back home. I got some yellow clogs for me and Jack, and a little windmill magnet for my mum, so a successful time!
In the evening, we returned to our hotel and got a deliveroo from pasta pasta. We weren’t really sure where to eat, and once we returned to our hotel, we didn’t really want go back out into the world and have to get re-dressed to eat somewhere. Our friend that had visited before recommended it, and so we decided to give it a try.
Although it was €16 for our pasta EACH, it was well worth it. You could pick your type of pasta, and then whatever toppings you wanted, and it was also delivered to your door. It was honestly well worth the money, and we thoroughly enjoyed being able to sit and eat in bed.
The following morning, we got up early to have breakfast and a shower, and packed up to leave. Our flight wasn’t until 6pm, and so we stayed in the hotel restaurant with our things until 3pm, when we thanked the staff, and left.
We knew the airport was huge, and so we weren’t actually worried that we came to the airport at four. Pretty much as soon as we got to the airport, our looming nightmare began.
We were told we could start checking in our bags, so we stood in this huge queue in the airport to drop off our bags so we didn’t have to lug them about with us. As soon as we got to the front of the queue, we were told we couldn’t actually drop off our bags for another hour and a half, and so we had to tug along our suitcases whilst we looked around the airport. This wasn’t that bad, but what was waiting for us at Luton airport was.
My mum had messaged me earlier that day saying that there had been a lot of wind and rain during the day. It was windy and rainy in Amsterdam too, but we both had raincoats as we were anticipating rain every day of the week whilst we were there, that thankfully didn’t happen until we left. Pathetic fallacy, right?
Anyway, we got a beer and then went and dropped our bags off, and then proceeded to go through the duty free on the other side of the airport. This airport was absolutely massive, and I definitely got lost a few times, as well as very confused. You see, there is a MacDonalds on each side of the airport, so it looks kind of the same? But also very, very different.
We were hungry, and decided to get a McDonalds. I’m one of those people that likes trying the new menu’s in different McDonalds’ in different countries, and I wanted to try out the one in Amsterdam and see what was up. What was up, was that I spent €25 for two meals. I almost wanted to vomit when I saw the total on the screen, but nonetheless I paid because we were hungry. We got our food and went on.
Jack had been trying to find a nice Ajax shirt the whole time we were in Amsterdam, and once we ran out of hope in the city, I hoped that the airport would at least have some. We walked into every sports shop and souvenir shop in the airport, and of course, they had none. We decided to leave it, and instead went to the gate.
The gate was hot and sweaty and disgusting, and the beaming sun through the glass windows made the waiting room more like a greenhouse than a pleasant place to wait for your plane. I know the events before this don’t seem like terrible happenings or horrible misfortunes, but just you wait.
Our flight was thankfully quick and calm, and the couple that sat in front of us on the way to Amsterdam also sat in front of us on the way back which was funny! I had downloaded us the hunger games to watch, and so we got through half of it in the airport, and a bit more during the flight.
Once we touched down, we were told that we couldn’t get out as there was a flooding at immigration. I thought that it was a strange way of putting it, but flooding also means that there could just be a lot of people at once by accident and we just had to wait our turn. The plane was starting to become warm, and people of course started complaining.
Jack and I had a train to catch from Luton to go back home, and we were cutting it fine with the last train as it was. By the time we were let off the plane (45 minutes later) we had an hour and a half to go, which was doable.
Well, it felt doable until we walked into the building to get to immigration. Thousands, and I mean THOUSANDS of people were stood in the hallway, as soon as you got into the airport. It was an absolute disaster, as well as a health and safety risk to people. It was disgustingly hot, and there was no water or security around us. We were sardines in a corridor, and as soon as we turned a hopeful corner to see immigration, it was simply another corridor jam-packed full of people.
At this point, I knew we were not going to make the train, and so I had to message my brother and ask him to leave the house in roughly two hours to come and get us, bearing in mind Luton is only a hour away from where I live.
Honestly, it was a disaster. Everyone was frustrated, kids were crying, old people were exhausted and people overall were tired. ‘Flooding’ was true in both ways. Immigration had flooded earlier that afternoon and all the machines were down, and so they were hand checking passports, of which there were only around 6-8 kiosks, to check everyone’s passports. It was an absolute nightmare and I can’t even begin to imagine how stressed the staff was in the situation, but surely as an airport they should have emergency protocol when it gets flooded? It really did put a downer on the end of our holiday.
After the hot mess of the immigration, we then had to try and find our suitcases! We tried to find our flight on screen, but of course, since it was three hours ago and more flights had come in since then, and our flight was nowhere to be found. We then had to walk around lots of belts to look around and try find our suitcases, which was very stressful and tiring.
My suitcase has a funky pattern on it, and so we were looking for that because we knew that Jack’s suitcase would follow suit. Alas, after 45 minutes of searching, we found our suitcases, and went outside to meet my brother.
Overall, we had an incredible trip to Amsterdam, and I highly recommend everyone to go, especially that it’s such a short flight! It’s a beautiful little city, but I don’t think I would visit again unless it was Christmas time when it snows, and to also visit the Anne Frank house, as we weren’t able to get tickets for it this time round.
I hope to those that are planning to visit Amsterdam, this guide gives you some insight as to what to expect!