A week back in England was just long enough to catch up with friends and recharge before my feet got itchy and I was back on the road. Well, plane. I’d been travelling longer than I thought by now and as such had no real plan for the next leg. When in doubt, just book the cheapest flight you can find. I’d been hoping to see a bit more of Eastern Europe, but with flights well into the £200s I instead opted for the more budget-friendly flight to Amsterdam.
A smooth flight was followed by a somewhat scary landing, where the pilot scrapped the first attempt, ascending again before coming in for another go. This has never happened to me before and I was a little unsettled. But, spoiler alert: all was fine and I was on the train into Amsterdam in no time. It always seems as though I attract odd people on trains. Usually it’s just someone staring which leaves me spending the whole journey thinking I have toothpaste around my mouth. This time, I had a full conversation with dear Marco who insisted on constantly shaking my hand – I’m not a fan of people touching me – before kissing me on the cheek as he got off at his stop.
Arriving in Amsterdam, the heat smacked me in the face like a massive pancake, and I hurried to the hostel so I could get out of my jeans and into something more heatwave friendly. Although just a quick walk away, I arrived to find my room had no air con, and was actually hotter than it was outside, which currently was early 30s celsius.
I could sit and complain, or I could use it as an excuse to get my butt out and explore! I went for the latter (after a mini moan…it really was hot!) and was out wandering the streets in no time. As the hostel was just a stone’s throw from Dam Square, that was first on the ‘to see’ list. I stopped in Magna Plaza, a nearby shopping centre, to check out the new food court on the top floor. I may have stayed a little longer than necessary to really enjoy the air con, before carrying on towards the neighbourhood of Jordaan.
I had nothing specific I was heading for, but found myself wandering along by the Anne Frank House and Homomonument, both of which I’d been to on my previous visit to Amsterdam in 2013. As the afternoon turned to evening, the temperature of the hostel was starting to concern me. The windows couldn’t stay open at night as they opened on to a shared balcony, and the ceiling fan didn’t give off any breeze. Deciding I should try and find a small personal fan, I had a mooch around the shops. Evidently every other person in the city had got there first, so after calling it quits it was time to find some dinner.
Leaving the main shopping street, I spotted a long queue for a chip shop. I firmly believe people don’t queue for rubbish food, so joined the queue to see for myself what the fuss was about. Armed with a cone of chips and sauce, I made my way a couple of streets over to take a seat on the edge of one of the canals to enjoy my dinner. I can confirm, Manneken Pis does have great chips (the shop, not the statue). After catching up on the phone with a friend from back home, I made my way back to the hostel to attempt to get to sleep in the heat.
Perfect Day To Find An Oasis
Waking the next day feeling really ill, I was ready super quick and out to find some breakfast, desperate to get out of the heat. A charming cafe caught my eye on the way to the floating flower market, so I stopped for a coffee and croissant to perk myself up. Fully refreshed, it was just a short walk to the floating flower market. Having already been on a previous visit, I just wanted to see if it was still the same – yep.
Next on the ‘to see’ list: Rijksmuseum, a museum about The Netherlands. Ever one to get distracted, I saw a sign for a photography exhibition on the way and stopped in FOAM for an air-conditioned look around the exhibition. Eventually arriving at Rijksmuseum, I admired the grand building but decided not to go inside. Instead, I wandered though the underpass and spotted a large pool. People had their feet dipped in the water, while kids splashed around in the middle. The heat was really building, so without a second thought I took a seat on the side, slipped off my sandals and cooled my feet off in the water. Absolute bliss.
I could have sat there all day, but a nearby cafe caught my eye, drawing me in with thoughts of an ice cold fizzy drink. As I sat down in the cafe, I realised I’d been to this exact same place when I was in Amsterdam years before. Not wanting to reminisce too much, it was on to the next thing – Waterlooplein. The heat was getting to me a touch, so after walking through Rembrantplein it was time to stop for another drink, this time in a British style pub. Eventually arriving at Waterlooplein, the market was being put away for the day. Oops, too many drinks stops!
Deciding to call it a day and try to find somewhere with aircon to cool down in, I wandered back towards the hostel through Niewmarkt. Super colourful buildings lined the streets, and a funny smell that may or may not have been marijuana lingered everywhere. Ending up back in the Red Light District, I stopped for dinner in the hostel bar to make best use of the aircon before heading back to the room.
The heat was still unbearable. I decided I’d leave it a while before turning in for the night, so went for a night time wander of the Red Light District. Although it is an area with quite a reputation, at no point did I feel unsafe walking around on my own. Unsurprisingly, the area is very busy and many people were there for the same reason as me – curiosity. It was soon time to return to the furnace that was the hostel dorm, and the rest of the evening was spent with the other girls trying to work out to cool the room down. It’s one way to make friends I guess…
Not That Kind Of Cafe…
Waking up the next morning, I felt awful. I stumbled straight out onto the shared balcony and revelled in the fresh air. I’d woken to find some of the girls asleep on the floor in a bid to get cooler, but the room was just insanely hot. On the positive side, it meant I got ready super quick and was over to Niewmarkt to catch the small market there before actually making it to Waterlooplein while the supersize market was in full force.
The market stretches quite far and by the end I was almost back in Rembrantplein. Hunting out somewhere for a coffee, I’m sure I found the only place that had no aircon and no breeze. Great. Calling it quits pretty quickly, I jumped on a tram and made my way to a local swimming pool to meet the girls from my dorm in the hostel. It was such a great shout, and we spent the afternoon sunbathing and occasionally dipping in the swimming pool to cool down.
After a few hours they said they were off to a cafe, and after my coffee mishap this morning I was well up for another attempt. As we arrived, I had to laugh. Yes, it was a cafe. No, we weren’t there for coffee. What a rookie! Politely declining, they decided it was too hot to sit in the cafe back room, so we jumped on a tram back to the hostel and had a drink there. Somehow there’s always a person from London, and the table behind us were a mature stag do. After having a quick chat with a delightful man from South London, who decided we must be friends because we’re both from English, I made my excuses and left.
Dinner was chips from Manneken Pis again – they really are good! – enjoyed on the side of a canal. Followed by a more-than-necessary ice cream, I had a little wander before heading back to the hostel. The other girls were heading out for a night of EDM, so I enjoyed the peace and quiet on the balcony before packing my bag in anticipation of leaving in the morning. About 4am, I woke up to excited screams as the girls returned with a fan for the room. It only took us 3 days to get one! Just as I was getting back to sleep, more screams came from the balcony as people watched the most Dutch fight ever – a drunk man fighting a bike, before being arrested by police arriving on bikes.
Up and out by 10am the next morning, I checked out and left my bag in storage as I was off to Pride! I got my timings a little mixed up, but ended up at Homomonument for the start of the parade. There was a great buzz as everyone got ready to get going, and I rushed ahead to Dam Square to get a spot to watch the parade. This was my first Pride parade, and I have never seen so much latex and leather in one place. It was great fun, and after watching for a while I had to pick up my bag and head to my next stop – Utrecht!