Amsterdam is one of those places that has intrigued me for years. I mean, being bought up on Eurotrash for TV entertainment meant that I already had a rather fruity view of Europe as it was. Alongside the constant talk of ‘coffee shops’ and the red light district, I wasn’t quite sure what I was letting myself in for…
However, the experience certainly surprised me…
3 Things I Learnt from my Amsterdam Trip
Hostels are not gross:
I always had an impression that hostels would be properly slumming it. Whilst I was informed that the Clink Noord Hostel was ‘nice’ as far as hostels go, I still had my doubts before turning up! However, once inside, it was pretty much like a really nice student halls or accommodation. Spacious communal areas, alongside a bar downstairs meant you could really relax and spread out from the dormitory style rooms.
The room we stayed in had 4 beds, made up of two bunk beds. The rooms themselves are definitely function over form, as they lack space to really relax. However, the aforementioned spacious communal areas are there to make up for this. Each room also has their own shower and separate toilet, alongside the plethora of communal ones up and down the corridors.
Sleeping in a room with 4 ‘strangers’ isn’t all that bad (granted, one of the people I was sharing with was Charl!), as each bed is kind of private and you don’t really notice the people around you that much once you are lay down in your bunk. Each bunk also has its own plug sockets, USB socket and light so you that you don’t disturb others if you need to see what you’re doing in the dark!
You can walk for hours and not get bored:
As soon as we landed we started walking…. And walking… AND WALKING. Not once did we get bored, not once did we get lost, not once did we actually notice the length of time we were on our feet.
Amsterdam is such a gorgeous city full of nooks and crannies to emerge yourself in.
I am the biggest baby when it comes to safety in big cities and sometimes feel on edge when I visit somewhere new. You know, like when you walk down a street and there’s a rough and tumble atmosphere. At no points in Amsterdam did I feel on edge or unsafe.
There were many shops, bars and food spots to have quick pit stops in whenever we felt a pang of hunger or a hint of thirst. My personal favourite was the FEBO shops. FEBO are basically a bit like the Amsterdam equivalent of Greggs in England. Quick, cheap, probably pretty unhealthy, but there’s one in most areas. I kept going for the Kalfsvleeskroket, which is a deep fried croquet of gooey, creamy ragout. Strange at first bite, but delicious once you get used to it.
It’s not as seedy or weed-y as people make out:
Before I went to Amsterdam, I’ll be honest, I thought it would be a bit gross. People always go on about the red light district and the coffee shops don’t they? The reality is that this makes up for around 5% of the things you’ll see and experience on the trip.
The coffee shops are discrete and blend in to the surroundings. Some of them you really have to be told about before you even realise what they are. I envisioned people smoking all over the place, on the streets and everywhere. But nope. They simply do it in places where it is permitted, where they are also generally well ventilated and clean looking (of course, I’m the most anti-smoking person ever too, so for me to say this factor was okay is quite the achievement).
The red light district was as you’d expect, but not quite as full on as you’d imagine. Especially during the day time.
Yes there’s sex shops and yes there are ladies in the windows. But mostly you’ll see neon lights, stag and hen parties having a good time and the occasional butt plug in a window to make you wince and lol in equal measures. But if you don’t like it, you literally walk a minute the other way and you’re back in the beautiful, quite and calm surroundings of Amsterdam.
All in all, I cannot WAIT to go back to Amsterdam!!
The weather was beautiful, the sights were amazing and the hospitality of Clink Hostel was perfect.
Other Hidden Treasures of Amsterdam
As mentioned, the Clink Hostel in Amsterdam was located in Noord. Being the Northern end of the city, this often goes forgotten about when people visit. We were lucky enough to not only experience the Adam Lookout, which features the highest swing in Europe(!), but also explore Amsterdam Noord by boat and bike.
As featured on my YouTube video(click HERE to watch) the boat trip (provided by Pure Boats Amsterdam) was a perfectly relaxing way to spend the morning. You can hire the boat for £250 for 90 minutes, which initially sounds expensive. However, it can take up to 10 people per trip. This means you can enjoy the boat trip and a few sneaky local alcoholic beverages for £25 each if you max out the numbers! Don’t know about you, but that sounds cheap as chips doesn’t it?
We also hired some bikes out from Tip Amsterdam Noord, and rode them non stop for 4 hours around the northern area. On our travels we saw plenty of canals and beautiful houses. We also visited a place called NDSM.
NDSM has many amazing things to explore and look at. Including the large boathouse, which is an abandoned ship yard, now full of storage containers where local artists display and create their work.