Friday, March 22, 2013

Amsterdam and Life update.

Hallo!
I am leaving too long of gaps between posting and I apologise. My life has just been insanely busy as my visa runs out and I am heading back to Australia, so my days have been filled with packing and I did get a few sneaky shopping trips in before I go and cry about how I can't go to Boots or Superdrug and get cheap makeup! Other than shopping, I will miss my friends dearly and the UK lifestyle. I do plan to come back once I have sorted my Italian dual nationality and finances, but I'm not sure when that will be!


I amsterdam sign outside of Rijksmuseum


I had a a list of places I wanted to visit before I left the U.K and I got an opportunity to fulfil one on the list last weekend by flying to Amsterdam.

Amsterdam (The Netherlands) is somewhere I've always wanted to go but had more interest in going since my husbands father and family are Dutch and were born in Amsterdam so I have learned about the culture, foods and language through them and was always quite in love with it.


Dam Square - Amsterdam


I flew out from Southend airport early in the morning. I just love how the airport is down the road, you can check in online and take your carry on. It's all insanely easy and relaxing compared to some of the flights I've done before. The flight itself is only an hour long and flying with EasyJet is comfortable and basic.
Arriving at Schipol airport was no worries, clear directions in English as well as Dutch. Everyone speaks English (except for angry toilet lady but I'll get to her.) The airport is on a main trainline, so you can just buy a ticket hop on a train and go straight to Centraal Amsterdam which takes around 15-20 minutes. It wasn't hard to understand the public transport, it was all in numbers and you just needed to know where you were going.
Arriving at Centraal station I was hungry and we went for a wonder down the main strip, first impressions where it was very busy, a lot of tourist, a plethora of bikes and trams that come from nowhere! It was beautiful with its 17th century buildings and canals. The weather was cold and grey, but like England. The place I went to eat at was called Moaz which is a vegetarian falafel chain. You get your falafel and then you can help yourself to as much salads as you like. Holland is known for its chips (fries) so I ordered fries with mayonnaise and they were all delicious and fresh. Very satisfying big portions and not too expensive.


View of the 17th century houses along a canal


Sunset

My hotel was in the museum quarter so after wandering around the streets looking at shops, the flowermarket and the Delft pottery shop, we headed towards the hotel Best Western Apollo which was about a 20 minute walking distance but took me longer because I'm bad at directions! The hotel was lovely, staff were friendly. Room wasn't worth the price and the  bathroom door was frosted glass, I didn't like that. 

After checking in (and having a nap) I headed out again to find some dinner, visit a coffeeshop and have a sneaky look at the redlight district. I wandered around for a while looking at places to eat and settled on a place that basically sold everything you could think of to eat called Steak and Pasta Marina. The people who worked there were so friendly. It was just a small casual restaurant and I ordered chicken kebab with peanut sauce and it came with fries and a salad. Again, massive portion, delicious and cheap. I forgot to take pictures of all the food I ate. My camera is so big and heavy I hate taking it around everywhere but I get disappointed I don't get any pictures! My camera phone is just like using a potato to take a photo! When we  left I got bit by a dog on a vespa because it was friendly when I was patting it and I suppose it had a enough. It wasn't hard just like a get away from me!


The dog that bit me!

After dinner we went to a coffeeshop hung around there for a while and decided because it was such a long day of walking around and early flights to head home. We accidentally ran into the redlight district and I wasn't sure how I felt about it. It was bizarre to see half naked girls in windows, but I found peoples behaviour around them more disturbing. We didn't hang around long. 


My amazing bagel


The next morning after a lovely sleep in my soft bed we checked out early (I only booked that room for one night because I can't read when I confirm bookings online!) I went to my next hotel which was around the corner, the Van Gogh hotel to store myluggage and went out for breakfast at a chain called Bagels and Beans. Let me just say you must visit this place if you ever get a chance to go to Amsterdam. I had a smoked chicken and avocado bagel. It was a beautiful blend of flavours and every mouthful I was mmming and going on about how good it was! I left the heavenly bagel place behind and wandered into a supermarket just to see what life is like in another country. I was very excited to see my favourite Dutch foods readily available and cheap to buy! I made note to come back before I left to stock up on hagelslag (chocolate sprinkles) which I did and lots of pastilles (dark chocolate rounds).



I had planned to go to lots of museums today so I got started at Rijksmuseum which is the home of  century art. They were under construction so there was only a small selection of art on display. I was disappointed that I didn't get to see everything, but they had 17th century masterpieces on display so I was satisfied seeing paintings by Rembrandt and Vermeer.



Johann Vermeer 1660


The next stop was to visit the Van Gogh museum, but that also was under construction and had been moved to the hermitage museum which was in central Amsterdam and i decided to walk, which took flipping forever and i even walked straight past it. I ate first (at Maccas, shh) and then headed back to the hermitage. It was late in the afternoon so i decided to make sure i did it the next morning to give up enough time to see everything. I went to Foam a photography gallery. I looked at everything but I thought it was pretentious and a waste of time, not my style of photography at all. There was an exhibition called my models and me and it was just a guy with a list of people he wanted to photograph but the way he did it he mislead people or gave sexual favours or just lie to get these pictures. Alarms bells off comfortableness went off when I read that when he was that he went to take an old lady back to his house and the whole village was warning her not to go with him because he was not to be trusted. She did go and get the photo and also a picture of a young girl who had no arms or legs he took a photo of her in the pool and he commented that he didn't know whether she wanted the photo or not, but it didn't matter because she couldn't get away anyway.



My cafe!


Me and my lion (van Leeuwen means 'of the lions')

I walked to centraal station to buy a 24 hour transport pass because my feet were dying and went to the Sexmuseum. I found it very fascinating because usually when you look back on history human sexuality is not covered or if there is mentioned it was for reproduction only. It was a big giggle seeing lots of penises and liberating photography! Don't worry I won't share anymore ,
After went to a coffeeshop hung around there for a few hours before walking back to my hotel because the trams had stopped. I also stopped at a pub for a drink because it was St Patricks day. It was very busy out!

Beautiful houseboats along the canals



Monday my last day I checked out and headed straight for the hermitage. It was very busy in the Van Gogh exhibition so it was difficult to get close to the pictures. Seeing Van Gogh's paintings was really a highlight of my trip and in person you can really understand who he was as a person and his struggle reflects in the paintings.

van Gogh 1888

After Van Gogh we went on a Canal cruise which was an hour of going around on a boat and seeing the city from a different viewpoint. It was nice to sit and relax on the boat but i'd seen everything while we'd been walking everywhere! When the cruise finished I went to the airport by train and waited for the flight back to the UK.



Skinny bridge (taken from the canal cruise boat)


It was a really lovely weekend and I can't wait to get the chance to go back to The Netherlands because there is still so much more to see!

Me squeeing over my love of Miffy at Schipol airport.


I still have a few posts I need to catch up, I have a few hauls, and wishlists plus I have an overwhelming urge to review a few favourite products I've been using, but they won't all come until I'm in Australia and recovered from jetlag no doubt!


I am not looking forward to missing out on Summer and going through winter again although I think because I've been away from Australia for 5 years now winter will probably feel like summer to me!

I know my blog has gone from being personal to being more documentation of whats happening, I apologise, I just feel a bit uncomfortable sharing in depth. Hopefully life will calm down get better and I will be back on track.

Love Nee x