Read Part One here.
08:00 – Morning to you too
I wake up and it’s dark. Not because of the weather, but because I had managed to cover my entire head with the giant duvet we have been blessed with.
I look over my shoulder, struggling, and see Beth on her phone scrolling.
“Bleugh, morning”, I try and say while twisting my neck as if I am trying to cause myself pain…she says nothing. She is someone you have to learn to let defrost in the mornings, but in no time shes asking me in a voice that sounds more like shes telling me where we can go for breakfast.
I am happy and go along with it. If it was up to me, I wouldn’t decide on a place to eat until three in the afternoon, where I would eventually give up and order four cocktails for each of us from some scraggly bar I’d find on Apple maps.
I roll out of bed and look at the coffee machine that came with the room and a quick buzz runs through me. Then I quickly realise, almost in the same second, that there are no pods and you have to buy them yourself. Damn. There are tea bags, but I am too disappointed to make one of their hotel branded brews. So, instead I hop into the shower to wake myself up and get ready for the day.
09:30 – You’re Moaking me Hungry
We took the underground to a place a little further than the city center, acting as if we were practically locals already. We start walking… and walking…and walking when finally I see Beth’s feet start to speed up.
“What about this place?” She says this as if we hadn’t just walked 45 minutes to find it. I look and it seems to be a pancake place.
“Yeah can do”, I say. I don’t really like pancakes, or I didn’t at this time. So we walk up the road a little further until I realise that, that was the place Beth really wanted to visit. I suggest we go back as it looked better than the other places we had just walked past.
We walk into Moak, and it’s clear why she wanted to visit. It is trendy and cool and full of plants, whites and pastel pinks. They even have a framed portrait of ASAP Rocky on the wall for goodness sake. I blame my tiredness for disregarding the place so quickly for no reason other than my indecisiveness.
We order coffee, finally, and fresh juice. I really fancy something savory so am glad to see that they have every kind of pancake ever known to exist on the menu. After a hard decision, I order the avocado and smoked salmon pancakes and Beth orders the strawberry and cream stack.
The pancakes are thick, American styled and presented with an artistic flair. I am somewhat jealous of Beth’s pancakes only because the cream looks so good, but something tells me it wouldn’t go with my avo-salmon combo.
12:00 – Taking the tram in Damm
After what seemed like getting through an endless stack of fluffy, delicious pancakes (looks like I do like pancakes after all), we decided to try and waddle off down the street to see what we could find.
We walked for a while and admired the architecture, noting that it was almost like walking through a story book with the different houses in all shapes and sizes creating a pleasant surrounding.
The city is famously full of bikes and we are nearly hit every few minutes by a family or a late student, old couple and just the angry patriot. But it’s all part of the experience, no?
We come to a museum, I suspect it being the museum of Amsterdam, but it’s hard to figure out as a grey mist of that kind of rain that isn’t too wet but gets you soaked has come along and starts pestering us on our walk. We stroll through the public walkway of the museum just to hide from the rain.
We look at the price of the museum and decide not to go in, instead we spot a tram station and make our way over.
There is something quite novel about trams when your own city acts as if they have no idea what they are. We immediately become too over excited about our tram trip, giggling at the choice of transport that resembles the offspring of a train and bus.
Not having a clue where we are going, we hop on and join everyday commuters and normal people who would have been using this tram as actual transport instead of a way to pass time and see Amsterdam.
Through the rain streamed window we see people still walking and cycling, used to it of course the same as the English are. Although, being English myself, I would still prefer not to get to my destination feeling as if I had just done a lap in an Olympic swimming pool.
The tram starts to pull into a scene that looks familiar so we get off to find somewhere for a drink and a nibble.
14:00 – Stein time
When it rains in Amsterdam, especially when you don’t have an umbrella, the streets turn into a blurred never ending tunnel and everyone starts running around as if it were 7pm on Christmas Eve.
For at least half an hour now, we have been walking in circles looking into steamed up windows of pubs, bars, shops and… God knows what. We’re looking for shelter more than somewhere to eat now so decide to hide inside a very small pub on a random corner of a street we had already walked down five times.
We step in and straight away I hear Noel Gallagher’s nasally voice singing about walls of wonder and anger. This wasn’t an authentic Dutch pub. What we walk into is something that resembled our local, owned by what I assume is a Northern English women by her accent and aggression, big Oasis fan. We sit down and contemplate what to do as food clearly wasn’t an option here.
“What about that?” I say pointing at a lonely man sipping on a stein of beer. Liquid lunch it is. I am quite proud to be the first to buy Beth her first stein, something I can now boast about to any boyfriend she may get.
The beer is nice and fills a hole and as the rain starts to clear, at the same rate as the bad date in the corner, we head out again hoping the air stays dry.
16:00 – Lost in Amsterdam
More and more walking leads us to a ‘lounge’ called Lost in Amsterdam and as it fits with our current situation we start to check it out. We walk in and are suddenly hit with a fog, Micheal Jackson’s ‘Rock with You’ is playing loudly behind the bar.
It’s dimly lit and there are crowds of people chilling out, drinking milkshakes and laughing. We are sat on the end of a long table that has a sofa seat with scattered cushions and blankets covering it. The ceilings are draped in different lamps, soft toned coloured lights, and old Christmas decorations creating a sort of cool but mindful feel.
In front of us is a menu and an ashtray. We instantly realise that we are in a smoking lounge rather than a place to come for food, but the atmosphere is sort of addictive and calming as you’d expect so we stay for a drink and watch the people around us.
In front of us, up some strange steps to a higher level but fully in view, is a couple who look like they have spent the whole day in here. They are laying over each other almost silent but looking peaceful.
To our left are two tables surrounded by two very different crowds. A table full of what can be assumed to be just turned 18 year old boy as one of the skinnier ones has slumped into the corner of the room, almost reenacting the Homer Simpson meme as he disappears slowly into the back of the sofa.
The other crowd are middle aged Indian men, most likely on a business trip. Surprisingly, this crowd are the liveliest in the room and are almost falling off their chairs laughing at their one friend who seemed to be new to the experience they are forcing upon him.
Behind us, is yet another large crowd of North Face wearing teenage boys who are most definitely from England, shouting and laughing. Beth and I are enjoying our drinks and laughing at the people surrounding us.
I take a sip of the fizz and suddenly hear a huge “AHHHHH”.
An old Christmas decoration that looks like a heavily baubled piece of tinsel lining the ceiling had fallen on to the English boys behind us, spilling their beers and freaking them out. The whole lounge laugh and the waitress deals with it quickly, the boys in stitches at their one friend who screamed in terror at a bit of sparkly plastic.
After a while of listening to the music, which was exactly right for the tone the lounge set, we head out for some food, as we’re extra hungry now.
We end up getting a cone of chips which had the option of adding random sauces such as peanut and truffle mayo, but both end up with a standard chili sauce. Back at the hotel, we get ready for dinner, still slightly starving but laughing nether the less.
19:30 – Dinner at a random Italian
For dinner, we don’t have anywhere planned so with hopes high we look for a place available to stuff our faces. We go to the other side of the city and look for an Italian which we both fancy.
We find a small, traditional looking place that looks promising. The waiter happily welcomes us and takes us down some stairs which opens into more seating. The decor makes it feel as if we are in Italy.
A slightly calmer scene than the night before at La Perla, we scan the menu and decide on a spaghetti with chili oil and garlic for Beth and a tomato and parmesan gnocchi for me.
We chat about the day, laughing about how much we’d already seen in just 24 hours and eat our food with gratitude that we are in such a lovely and lively city. The food is comforting and cooked as traditionally as we suspected, despite me never visiting Italy.
Deciding our next move is to explore the Red Light District, we excitably walk back up the stairs and onto the bustling street. We head for the low glow of red that covers the top of the buildings in front of us.
21:00 – Somewhere you wouldn’t want to be recognised
As we enter the district, the ratio of men to women, not behind a window, is slim. Groups of stags and underage boys gather outside windows of naked girls, shouting and getting garish as if they had never seen a woman before.
For us, it is something unusual and shocking considering we didn’t realise some of the girls would be as naked as they were. We instantly start talking about how great the girls look and that if anything, the girls here seem as if they could feature on the next Love Island.
The lights and concept create a devilish atmosphere, the girls have all the control.
After watching men gawk and girls entice them for the big notes in their back pockets, we go back to the hotel, almost feeling inspired to get to the gym, or at least with the comfort of knowing that a wink can control a man for a second or too if needed. These are lesson worth learning, especially when they come to you unexpected.
Making the most of our walk back, we savour the city and admire the atmosphere, it is one that never seems to leave you.
After a quick pit stop for a Kinder Bueno ice cream and a banana macaroon, we’re back in the room, tucked up with sore feet but happy we are here and that we have done so much within such a short time. Amsterdam really is as fun as they say.
Read Part One here.
Images owned by Drew-Alexandra O’Keeffe
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