05:00 – The airport shuffle
It’s 5am on a dark January morning and I am awoken by a familiar sound.
It is usually one I hear when I am still drunk from the night before, mind cloudy from bottles of Prosecco I might as well have been hit around the head with rather than their contents being poured into my bottomless glass.
It’s the sound of one of my best friends mum telling the two of us, confused with squinted eyes, that it’s time to get up or we will miss our flight. As two experienced uni students, we both stumble out of bed, Beth being harder to convince than me, and are confused that 5am exists past the time warp that is an after-party?
After twenty long minutes of peeling open our eyes, getting our legs to de-jelly and waiting for the clogs in our brains to start turning again, we are ready to head to the airport, with the only thing on our minds being where the nearest coffee is going to come from.
If you have ever visited Southend airport, you would know that it is a strange but very pleasant experience. You walk through the door, go up an escalator, greet a security guard who, because there is hardly ever a queue at customs, smiles, and waves a metal detector over you and your bag. Then, suddenly, you’re sitting by your gate. All in the time span which seems like 30 seconds. We head for coffee in the only cafe in the airport, which is good because it speeds up the process of an indecisive decision. We then wait little to no time to board our flight…Amsterdam here we come.
08:00 – Where’s the coffee?
We arrive in Amsterdam. It’s chilly, but a nice chill and the air smells like sugared waffles which I find suspicious but go along with the idea that this city is built on sugary treats. The option of taking the train to the hotel is there, but we decide to take a cab instead. We had both obviously never visited this city before. Let me just tell you, if you get a cab that’s a Tesla… don’t expect it to be cheap! Take the train!
With lesson one learned before we even arrive at our hotel, we decide to dump off our bags after an unexpected complimentary glass of Prosecco (here we go again) and head straight for the train station to purchase a ticket that would let us go anywhere for the entirety of our trip. Only a 1/3 of the price of the Tesla cabbie.
With rumbling stomachs, we arrive in the city center with food on our minds. Beth has a long list of places to visit but instead, we head for the nearest cafe that has any two seats free and sells some kind of pastry… which really is anywhere in Amsterdam. We find a small cafe on the corner of a street that looks over the huge grand square ‘Placa Damm’ surrounded by boujee designer stores and countless souvenir, or as I like to call them, ‘toot’ shops.
We both get a croissant and a coffee, our minds still trying to shake off the tiredness from the morning. We people watch and grin at the number of visitors wearing what seems like the entire contents of the toot shops mentioned before.
We pay the bill and head for a walk down the road we are on. We walk away from the square and towards what seems like endless streets that all look the same. Something we soon realise is that the iconic photo by the bridge that most people take when they visit isn’t with just the one bridge.
There are bridges everywhere and I mention this, actually shocked, feeling as if I had been lied to for the last four years since I’d started seeing this kind of image on my social media. I had always thought to myself, “I must try and visit this bridge if I ever end up in Amsterdam”. We start laughing at the idea that we both, mainly me, thought there was only one bridge in an entire city and at the same time come across a doorway to another famous location I’d seen before. The sex museum.
11:00 – A bit early to stomach
Already giggling, we decide to buy a ticket and see what the museum is all about. Feeling like we are doing something illegal, we hand over our money for the tickets and in true English style start to giggle with nervousness at the naked people plastered on the walls, the ticket worker unfazed. Imagine looking at a pair of tits and a giant nob for your whole shift and not even acknowledging that it’s an uncommon thing.
The museum is packed and is located in what I can imagine used to be a small house. It is full of the history of sex from all over the world and has a featured corner about the red light district where you get flashed by a very disturbing looking puppet.
At the top, we get to a less uncomfortable display that features movie stars and in particular, a statue of Marilyn Monroe. After being squirted with an unknown substance on our way down the stairs from which seems to be an ass with eyes, we head for the exit and for somewhere to sit down.
12:00 – If you give me a wedgie I’ll give you a good review
With Beth feeling a little faint, not from the museum but I wouldn’t blame her, we go in search of food and ignore her list for the second time. We find a small cafe come restaurant down the road and I order wedges and two beers.
I don’t know if it is the hunger kicking in, but once I ate the first bite of one of my wedges I felt as if I had never eaten such incredible wedges in my life. I even thought the mayo was something of a spectacle as if I had never had mayo before. We chat. We drink. And then we head back to the hotel for a quick nap for Beth, and a bath for me, someone who is incapable of napping…
19:30 – La Perla a la Amsterdam and a chance of a million pounds
Once refreshed and with a little bit of energy saved up, we head out to a well-known pizza restaurant called La Perla, which is located near the Anne Frank House. We are staying in The Student Hotel and take a small trip on the underground to get to the city center. As it is January, it is cold, but the warm glow of the street lights and the buzz of the people surrounding us makes it seem cozy.
The restaurant is small but packed with both locals and tourists. Beth is happy because we have finally visited somewhere from her list, and I am glad we have too. We are seated by a young waitress who is wearing black overalls with a stripey long-sleeved top (I thought we were in Amsterdam, not Paris?) and are put in the middle of the restaurant, squeezed into the corner next to the window, which I don’t mind as I like to look out and make people jealous of my food.
Next to us is a large table of Dutch women celebrating a birthday, all very blonde, all very fashionable and all very loud. But again, I like the atmosphere of the restaurant and don’t mind that it is a little overcrowded.
We order some wine and some pizzas. Beth gets the one with prosciutto and rocket and I get the one that says ‘spicy’ next to it, not exactly sure what is on it, but excited to find out. We get our pizzas and to my surprise, I am still not sure what I have ordered. But, as I take my first bite I decide I don’t really care because it was one of the best pizzas I had ever tasted. I ate it all, of course.
Another glass of wine later, we are both nearly falling asleep and slipping under the table. We decide to walk back to the hotel so we can get up early for breakfast. The hotel is a cool place as it is also student accommodation which I couldn’t wrap my head around considering university accommodation in London consists of living in a moldy box room in a block of unmaintained flats, no heating and a window just small enough to stop people being able to chuck themselves out of it. It must be for the richer kids.
But nether-the-less, the room is full of inspirational quotes, books and has a TV that we watch ‘Who Wants to be a Millionaire’ on. I look to my right and Beth is fast asleep. I consider following suit, but I’m on £64,000 so I can’t close my eyes until the episode is over.
Read Part Two here.
Images owned by Drew-Alexandra O'Keeffe