We wanted somewhere that was easy to get to from Belfast so that we could use our precious time off work enjoying ourselves and not travelling loads and being jet lagged. FYI it is a lot cheaper to fly to Amsterdam via Dublin than Belfast (please fix that, easyjet) so that's what we did.
The most memorable visit of the trip for me was the Anne Frank House. I grew up reading her diary and it impacted on me a lot. I have a great interest in WW2 and how people lived day to day during that time so it was a big moment for me to finally visit the house. It was extremely emotional but I would recommend it to everyone as a really significant part of Amsterdam. For tourists it can be a city of excess and partying but I think it's really important to remember that 107,000 Jews were deported to concentration camps, with only 5200 surviving. To ignore the city's history is really doing a disservice to yourself. A lot of people are put off by the long queues but we found that by going just before opening on a Friday we only waited around 30 minutes.
We didn't do a lot of shopping but there were plenty of cute shops to poke around in. Lots of rummaging and clutter in a lot of Amsterdam shops so it really felt like we were on a treasure hunt. I loved them.
We tried these delicious pastrami sandwiches in this little shop in the Jordaan. Delicious!
Visiting the Cat Museum!
I loved the architecture of the city, the many churches were stunning to look at but I mostly loved seeing all the different canal houses. They are so full of charm though honestly we couldn't believe how many of them were crooked and looked about to fall over! They look a little like a cartoon at times and I loved that they were all so different.
We ate these donut like things called Kwarkbollens, I really recommend them! I dragged Ali back a few times to have them. Delicious!
We took a day drip to Haarlem which is only around 15 minutes outside Amsterdam and you can get a train from central station. It's a beautiful little town. We went on a Sunday as it was our only free day and though it meant some things were closed (I really wanted to go on the tour of the Ten booms museum) it made for lots of peaceful strolling. If you look closely at the photo above you can see a little bench outside the black building. We sat right here and had a delicious lunch at the water's edge. It was blissful!
Our base for the weekend really made the whole trip. It was just perfect and I wouldn't dream of staying anywhere else in Amsterdam now! We stayed at the new Hotel de Hallen in the West of Amsterdam. The whole building has been converted from a tram storage base to an amazing mix of hotel, food hall, cinema, shops and restaurants.
The hotel were kind enough to upgrade us to one of their amazing apartments because we were celebrating, and it was so luxurious and new! The balcony you can see in the photo below was our bedroom, containing the biggest bed I have ever slept in! Oh how I wish I could go back!
Right across the hall from our apartment was the Food Hallen. It's a wonderful mix of all different food booths and a bar. It was really nice to have this so if we were too tired for a fancy restaurant we could still pick up something interesting here and soak in the atmosphere. I ate a lot of burgers.
I hope you enjoyed the photos, I really loved Amsterdam. The people were friendly, there were no problems with language as in Amsterdam nearly everyone speaks English so we could be lazy, and it was a really easy city to get around by tram or walking (just be careful of all the bikes!). Have you been to Amsterdam? What was your favourite part?