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Canals, culture and clubbing: My two nights in Amsterdam

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After a long, tiring overnight coach from London, I finally arrived in Amsterdam on Tuesday morning. Greeted by a UK worthy cycle of sunshine and showers I immediately felt at home. Our coach stopped at a depot just outside of town, so I hopped on the next train and made my way to the beautiful Central Station.

                            Amsterdam Central Station

Having no accommodation booked for the night I picked up my Iamsterdam card from the ever-helpful tourist office and immediately got myself to the nearest McDonald’s with wifi to search for a place to stay. I quickly found and booked myself a room at the Heart of Amsterdam hostel.

The hostel was described by management as being “Hollywood themed”. Upon further investigation I discovered this meant there was a giant movie poster painted on the wall of each room, in my case it was Skyfall. Despite the slightly disappointing theming, the hostel was clean and comfortable, with helpful and friendly staff.

                            The Heart of Amsterdam Hostel, Red Light District

The Heart was, as the name suggests, located right in the centre of town and the heart of the always-bustling Red Light district, a short walk from Central Station. The district has a reputation for seediness but it never feels particularly dangerous or intimidating. Walking around in the daytime, it feels just like any other part of the city. The district is now more of an old relic, rather than some kind of depraved sex tourist Mecca, with most tourists passing through on one of the many bar crawls, or just looking around out of morbid curiosity.

Once I had settled in I headed out for peaceful a stroll along the canals and eventually made my way to the Anne Frank House and Museum. The museum is staggeringly popular, with a queue stretching right to the end of the street. This was my second visit to the museum and it still remainded as humbling as the first time around, whether you’ve read the diary or not and I highly recommend visiting.

                             Anne Frank Haus and Museum, Prinsengracht

That evening I went for a relaxing stroll along the canals and looked for somewhere to eat. The problem with looking for food near the red light district is that your options are pretty much limited to pizza, kebabs and chips, none of which look too appealing when you haven’t even started drinking yet. In the end I popped into the local supermarket for what I assume was the Dutch equivalent of a Tesco meal deal (can’t go wrong there) and headed back to the hostel. If do however happen to be after something fast, cheap and deep fried pop into one of the many "FEBO" stores found all over town. FEBOs are basically giant walk in vending machines where the walls are covered in plexiglass boxes, each one containing a little fried treat - simply insert coins, open door, and eat.

                             Your typical Amsterdam FEBO, no I'm not quite sure what a rundvleeskroket is either

When I had checked into the hostel that morning the dorm was completely empty so I was pleased to find it occupied by other human beings upon my return. I got chatting to a friendly group who had also just begun their travels and pretty soon the whole dorm was heading out for a night on the town.

Amsterdam is by no means cheap so be prepared for drink prices almost on par with Central London. After hitting a few local bars (keep an eye two for one drinks at The Winston) we made our way to Café Prime, a compact and busy little club near the Rembrandtplein. The city has more than enough clubs to choose from if you’re looking for a good night out, just remember to bring plenty of spare euros! 

                           The Winston hostel bar

Checking out the next morning I made my way to the NH Amsterdam Zuid, where the lovely people at Iamsterdam had kindly arranged a room for me. I left my bags in the room and headed out to spend the day in the museum district.

My first stop was the Rijksmuseum, a national museum dedicated to art and history and the most visited in the Netherlands. The museum has some beautiful artefacts, originating from far and wide, and a wonderful gallery chock full of original Rembrandts. Each floor is divided by era and as you journey through the Rijksmuseum you are given a clear picture of the evolution of art and sculpture.

My next stop was the second most popular, but by no means second best, museum in the Netherlands; the Van Gogh museum. Situated a few minutes walk from the Rijksmuseum, the Van Gogh museum is full of the artist’s greatest works, including the ever popular sunflowers. Free or discounted entry to most Amsterdam museums and attractions is available with the Iamsterdam card. The card also entitles the user to unlimited usage of public transportation and one free canal boat ride.

                            The beautiful Rijkmuseum

After my time spent in the museum district, I headed back to the room for an early night in preparation for my coach to Hamburg the next morning. The hotel is situated a little out of the way, a good twenty-five minutes by public transport from the centre of town. However if you’re more concerned with getting a great night’s sleep than being in the middle of it all, the NH Amsterdam Zuid is the hotel for you.

My room had a lovely great big bath, large flat screen TV, minibar, full tea and coffee making facilities and I was even greeted with a little bottle of complimentary champagne on arrival. The hotel also had a gym, spa, swimming pool and sauna but unfortunately I forgot to pack my trunks.

Waking up at 5am I was greeted by helpful staff, a continental breakfast and a beautiful sunrise before catching my next Eurolines coach and saying goodbye to wonderful Amterdam.

                            A room at the NH Amsterdam Zuid

 

Transportation provided by Eurolines, passes start from €195 for 15 nights and are available at http://www.eurolines.com/en/eurolines-pass/ 

48, 72 and 96 hour Iamsterdam cards available at www.iamsterdam.com/en/i-am/i-amsterdam-city-card

Accomodation provided by the NH Amsterdam Zuid, prices start from approximately £60 per night: www.nh-hotels.com/hotel/nh-amsterdam-zuid 




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