As a couple we love gifting each other experiences and this time i was a very lucky wife when Tommy had booked a trip to Amsterdam for my birthday.
We have never been away on each other's birthdays to another country before, so we were very excited.
As our boys are getting older and more independent we have started to feel better when leaving them for few days with our au pair. Although we miss them a lot and have video calls at least once a day, its nice to get away and be just husband and wife.
Day 1 - 24.01.2019
As it was my birthday and we were super excited to get away from UK, we started off with the celebrations at The Smithfield Pub during breakfast. Our flight was delayed by almost 40 min and what better things to do than to drink bubbles.
Asile Flottant Boat Hotel in Amsterdam
When we arrived at the airport we had a bit of a dilemma about how to get to our hotel. Taxis are very expensive here. Regular cabs asked €70 for a 20min journey. Public transport would have taken us 1 hour with multiple changes. So we opted for Uber which end up costing €40. When we got dropped off we were a bit like... what da f¥ck is this place?!? It was a little alleyway with garages on both sides leading up to the canal. Its also not so close to the centre as advertised. It takes about 40min to walk and you have to cross the water with a ferry. Ferry is free and runs every 5min and crossing also takes about 5min, so not too bad. Ferry takes you straight to Amsterdam Central Station that is short walk to everywhere. So be aware if its your first time in Amsterdam that if your place is North of the River on the map then expect long walks to the centre with Ferry Crossing.
In a way we enjoyed the location of our boat home as it was pretty much in the middle of knowhere and away from all the hustle and bustle of touristy central life. We had a lovely Restaurant by the boat as well with great vegan food. So life was good.
Top Tip! Check that your accommodation is South of the river on Google Maps, if you want to be closer to the centre.
Asile Flottant Boat Hotel was a great choice made by my husband. At first we were a bit scared that it might be cold to stay on the boat as its January, but it was actually really nice and cosy. There were electric radiators everywhere. Hot water was on demand and actually really burning hot as well. We thought the stay would be more like in a camper van style but we were so wrong. It was like a proper house with everything we needed. Although no cooking allowed there, but we could have take out and snacks. There was a fridge and a coffee maker as well. The only critique I would say is to have more cutlery available.
As I said earlier. The area where our boat hotel was looks very industrial. It definitely took us by surprise when the taxi dropped us off there.
But don't let the looks deceive you, it actually looks quite cool.
Some pictures here:
Cafe de Ceuvel Amsterdam
Cafe de Ceuvel was our local place for food and drink. The place was right by our boat. It looks like an abandoned place from the outside, but don't let this sway you from going inside. Its very cosy on the inside. As its tucked away in the middle of knowhere you don't expect so many people hiding away there. People are working on their laptops, playing board games and just relaxing. Service is very friendly, prices are decent and food is good. They have an amazing vegan selection for food as well. Definitely worth a visit if you are staying that side of the town.
Body World Exhibition Amsterdam
Tommy booked us tickets to go and see Body World Exhibition. It was great fun and very informative. Loved it how they had tied it in with Happiness. I have seen it before in London very long time ago and loved seeing it again in Amsterdam. We had a good laugh and found out that our vegan lifestyle has done good for us as both of our blood pressures were on the healthy side. Tommy booked it through booking.com and got 2 tickets for €30. Otherwise it would have cost €46 for 2.
See pictures below...
Exploring Amsterdam Central
For the rest of the first night we had a walk around Amsterdam Central. Checked out red light district and local shops. Stopped for a hot drink and bottle of red at Mata Hari bar, which had a very nice atmosphere there.
There are many typical British type pubs in the central. We preferred more authentically Netherlands style bars/pubs.
Day 2 - 25.01.2019
NDSM Werf - Market - Amsterdam
NDSM Werf has a market inside an old shipyard in the industrial area North Amsterdam. Its other side of the Canal when coming from Central and requires ferry crossing (See above). Ferry is free and takes 12min to Amsterdam Central. NDSM Werf is huge on the inside with open space market including pods and box houses built for arts and crafts workshops and design shops. We arrived there just after 5pm when they were closing. They open from 6am-5pm if you want to go and visit.
Top Tip! Take ferry from Central Station to NDSM and visit the market early between 6am-5pm. Then have food at the Pllek.
Pllek- Restaurant and bar- NDSM Werf - Amsterdam
Pllek is a restaurant on the North side of the canal made out of shipping containers. Its in NDSM Werf area. Pllek has great vegan food options. Its very popular and busy and opens until 3am Thu-Sun. They have DJ from 5pm-3am.
Its overlooking the river and we definitely recommend this place.
The day we visited was a rainy weather as you can see on the pictures.
Sky Lounge - Amsterdam
After Pllek we took a ferry to central again and had a stroll around town. We end up in Sky Lounge and had some coctails there with a nice view.
On the way back to our boat we randomly met 2 American guys. One of them lives in Amsterdam and owns 27 windows on red light district. It was an interesting chat with him about his life. These pics below are from The Butcher Social Club. 3rd pic from the ferry shows the tall building where this is. Underneath this building is a Shelter Nightclub. Its a proper place for an underground rave. There is a hatch on the ground that takes you to the club. It was sold out that night so we couldn't actually get in to check it out properly. Will have to get tickets in advance next time.
Day 3 - 26.01.2019
On day 3 we said goodbye to our lovely boat hotel and headed to the next hotel on the other side of the town.
We walked and we walked.... Endlessly... We decided to not to take any public transport. Its the best way to get to know the town.
I dont think I have done this much walking for years.
Wonky houses by the canal. Architecture. Sex shops. Cannabis shops. Souvenir shops. Canals. Boats. Sweet shops with amazing cakes. Abundance of bicycles everywhere. Random things like a birdbox type mini house with books for exchange on the side of the road.
These were just few things that we came across while.... walking...
Cafe Tisfris - Amsterdam
As we were walking to our next hotel we stumbled on this lovely cafe.
Another great find for lunch. Nice beers and vegan food options on the menu.
Hotel Arena - Amsterdam
After hours of walking and a short pit stop for food, we arrived at the Arena Hotel.
It was situated inside a lovely gated park with a pond.
The room had 2 storeys, tall windows, with stairs going up to the bed.
We decided that we had seen enough of Amsterdam for our short stay. We looked for a place to get dinner from and then chill for the rest of the evening as we were flying back the next day.
Spirit Restaurant - Amsterdam
We were lucky to find this Vegan gem near our hotel. Its a Vegetarian/Vegan buffet restaurant with over 50 different dishes to choose from all either vegetarian or vegan. It was an absolute feast for us. We went there again for breakfast before heading to the airport.
Day 3 - 27.01.2019
It was time to say goodbye to Amsterdam and head back to UK.
We went and had breakfast at the Spirit Restaurant again.
And then we ordered an Uber. To our surprise it was double the price on Sunday around noon, the reason given by Uber was due to high demand.
So it end up costing us €80 to get to the airport. Ouchhh...
We think it was more due to the fact that not many drivers were out on Sunday and also most tourists probably go back to their country that day before the work week starts on Monday.
All in all we had a fantastic time even tho the weather wasn't that nice. We experienced, snow, cold winds and lots of rain.
We really enjoyed spending some quality time together without the kids and thats all that mattered.
We got boys and Ester some lovely gifts on the way back as well.
Blackonian's Bucket List
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Thanks for reading!