Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Charmful Canals of Amstel - Day 2

Bustling Amsterdam

Amsterdam                                                            Netherlands

Saturday 21st February 2015

This morning I woke up fresh as a daisy thanks to a comfortable bed for once. The time was 8am so I thought I’d get out of my bed and get changed. I opened my curtains and it wasn’t raining thank the lord but it was still a dreary looking day. I decided to have a walk around the whole hotel and see if there was anything interesting to see. I left my room and took a left turn down a corridor and walked along a vast area with a steep drop to the bottom and huge panes of glass as though it looked like a green house. I then took a walk by the reception and bypassing units selling expensive watches and came across the breakfast room which was called the ‘Amsterdam room’. It looked very Sauvé with fancy tables and layout with a man greeting anyone in. I was tempted to sneak past him and take a croissant but I continued on exploring the hotel. I then noticed further on a large lobby area with a swirling door which must have been the back entrance. With nothing much else to see or do in the hotel I headed back up to my room staring out of the window as the sun began to break through the clouds. It started to make the city look that bit brighter. I had sent Sam a message wondering when he would be ready to go out. As he didn’t answer straight away, I decided to head out of the hotel and find a café decent enough to have a nice cheap breakfast instead of paying expensive prices at the hotel. 

I headed towards the north east area of where the hotel was and surveyed the area. The first bit I had come across was a large bridge spanning over the Amstel River. As I got to the centre and looked east, I was amazed with the sight that lay ahead of me of the Amstel River flowing in a straight line with tall buildings either side along with draw bridges in the distance. I headed north at this point dodging traffic passing by a couple of bars and cafes which were still closed until I finally found an interesting small place which specialised in homemade waffles and sandwiches. Looking at the time, I headed back to the hotel to see if Sam had messaged me back. 

Amstel River
Amstel River

I eventually got back and as soon as I entered the hotel I received my message saying that he would be getting ready as quickly as he could. I waited down in the lobby for him for about 10-15 minutes before I seen him. I talked to him about the place I had seen for breakfast as we didn’t want to pay extortionate prices the hotel were charging so we headed straight for it and in no time at all we had arrived at the café. The woman was just opening the café a few moments afterwards greeting us in. We were mesmerised by the small lovely café and began looking through the menu. I decided to have a waffle with nutella, orange juice and tea. We both waited for several minutes before our breakfast had arrived. My mouth was watering at the site of my large waffle so I dug in as did Sam with his waffle and banana. We were enjoying the moment in this quaint little café and eventually we finished our breakfast satisfied with what we had. As soon as we paid our bill, we headed out realising that it was beginning to rain; there was me thinking it was going to be a nice day too. 

Not far from us was a small store in which were selling novelty gifts and postcards along with umbrellas and ponchos. Sam bought his umbrella but me being stubborn decided to brave it and continue on without an umbrella. Our destination was to the North West area where the infamous Anne Franks house was located. As we were walking along to the North West, the rain began to worsen and get heavy. I would suffer as my shoes were beginning to collect water yet again making my feet and socks completely soaking through along with the fact I was without an umbrella. I was ending up blowing water off my face and shaking my head like a dog. We both came across a mountaineering/ski shop which I fancied having a look inside plus it helped get out of the rain. We entered into the warm shop admiring everything they were selling but we were completely shocked with the prices. The most expensive item I came across was a thin waterproof jacket priced at 500 Euros; we couldn’t believe it. We then got a surprise as we looked out of the shop window as it was beginning to snow; again I couldn’t believe what I was witnessing. It was time to leave the warm shop and continue heading north to Anne Franks house. 

We ventured out into the snow which felt amazing despite the cold weather and then the snow began to change back into rain and it definitely poured down from the heavens. My shoes were getting worse by the second and all I could hear was squelching. I was beginning to get a bit tired of walking around with wet feet but still I would carry on walking until eventually we had reached Anne Franks house; then we immediately caught sight of the huge queue. We were contemplating on whether to join it or not so we had a look to see if there was a fast track area. There was but unfortunately we couldn’t use our city pass tickets so we didn’t bother going in. Still it was a wonder to see the house where a young little girl became famous for her diaries of her life in her families attic during the Nazi occupation. Eventually we headed to the west to see the well talked about area known as the ‘Jordan’ district. It was said that this was the picturesque part of the city with many small canals and bridges. It wasn’t that far of a walk to be honest but the fact that it was freezing and my feet were completely wet made it hard for me to get too let alone enjoy the experience of being in the area. 

Journey To Anne Franks House

Part of me was looking at every shop to see if there were any shoe shops because at this point I had enough of my shoes. It was that bad there were bubbles coming out of my shoes which to be honest Sam and I thought it was funny. I also decided to be less stubborn and buy an umbrella for myself. Funnily enough when I had my umbrella the rain died down to a drizzle. Now my next problem was trying to keep my hands warm but it was difficult whilst holding an umbrella and I definitely suffered with it as I couldn’t really feel my fingers moving. But despite all these setbacks, I was amazed as to how scenic this beautiful area of the city was. The one small place we came across had a number of statues which all had something to do with musicians which was quite unique. After we had seen enough of this area, we made haste for the central area of Amsterdam. By then my hands were like blocks of ice and my feet as wet as the canals. 

Musician Statues
Quiet Canal

Time had passed and we were nearly arriving at the central square but with luck we stumbled across a lot of clothes shops funnily enough near our hotel. However, despite there being loads of clothes and shoe shops, pretty much all of them were expensive as they were all good brand names. One shop had a 50% sale on items yet the shoes would still cost around 80-200 Euros. We walked straight out of that shop heading to a sports/outdoor shop called ‘Perry’. It looked a bit promising but still a bit expensive. We both headed to the top floor where all the outdoor range was located. I then noticed at the far back wall were a range of outdoor shoes/boots and they were on sale. I decided to get a pair of the cheapest ones they had which still cost 56 Euros and a pair of socks and gloves. I paid for them and decided to put them on straight away. I spent about 15 minutes trying to put a pair of socks and shoes on due to the fact that my hands and fingers were still numb. Once I managed to get them on it was a great feeling to have dry feet with comfortable shoes. Sam then had the privilege to throw away my old shoes as we continued on until we eventually arrived at the dam square. It was a very large area with a huge church and palace at its edges. 

The next thing we had seen was a small burger stand so we decided to buy one burger each. We weren’t really impressed with it to be honest as it was a floppy burger with gravy; still it was do-able. All of a sudden we heard bagpipes close by which wasn’t expected but was good to hear and see. The man must have been freezing though as he had the full Scottish gear on including a kilt. 

Scottish Bagpipes

Right behind us was the Madame Tussauds museum which we had both wanted to go and see. I went through the fast track line and asked if we could use our city pass tickets and the man said that we could. However, Sam had left his back at the hotel so we made haste for the hotel. By then the rain had stopped so it was a good opportunity too to get back and get changed. On the way back though we thought we would take a different route towards the back end of the hotel and we came across a small square with yet another unique set of statues. This time though there were about 10-12 statues of figures with swords or muskets and one big golden statue of a man known as ‘Rembrandt’ making it interesting to look upon. There were also some coffee shops along the square too and as soon as we walked by them, we could immediately smell the cannabis and it was really strong; we didn’t even need to smoke it to understand its overpowering scent. 

Munttoren Clock Tower

Rembrandt Statue

In no time at all we had arrived and I spent a while getting changed and dried before returning back to Madame Tussauds again. Into the fast track we went and when we got served, we were told we couldn’t use the ticket we had which was frustrating as we were told we could use them moments ago. Despite this we managed to get in using our discount card and headed into a lift to start the tour. The doors opened moments later and the first few figures were Dutch famous people from the past which we had no idea who they were. Carrying on for a bit, we finally recognised someone. It was Princess Diana which was a really good copy. Then we walked into the next room and there were a lot of recognisable faces such as Sean Connery, Julia Roberts, George Clooney, Robbie Williams, Robert Pattinson, Justin Timberlake, Lady Gaga, Nicholas Cage, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie; all of them were marvellous to see. 

The next room we entered was a bit smaller and the first person we had seen was Pierce Brosnan as 007. The rest of the room had Daniel Craig as 007, Charlie Chaplin and Marilyn Monroe. My favourite though was E.T in the basket on the bike. I had my picture taken with the red hooded jacket provided. Sam had his turn but with Hannibal where he could put a mask on his face. Into the next room we went and the next familiar faces were of Dame Edna Everage and Oprah Winfrey. 

We got a surprise with the next room as there in front of us was Shrek and Princess Fiona. I was amazed with it and on the log next to them were items which people could put on as one of the characters from the film. I immediately picked the Donkey mask and put it on. Sam had a go and dressed up as puss in boots with the sword, mask and hat which looked funny too. The next room we walked into had presidents of countries such as Russia, America and the famous Prime Minister Winston Churchill. To be honest I didn’t think that the presidents looked a lot like the real deal but Winston Churchill was amazing quality. 

In the same room were the famous Nelson Mandela and Ghandi looking lifelike. The next part was more of a corridor and this area had famous musicians and singers such as Madonna, Freddy Mercury, Bob Marley, Elvis Presley, George Michael, Bono, Bon Jovi, Michael Jackson and Adele; I preferred this part of the museum the most. Going along this part was a large circular window overlooking the square below with the palace and church in front of us. It was an incredible view as we could see along the rooftops of Amsterdam looking down at thousands of people gathering the square like an army of ants. We carried on until we came across a figure of Kylie Minogue and I couldn’t get over how small she was. The next room contained a set up where people could have a mould done of their hand and also showing people the process of how they create the figures which was very interesting to watch. This is where we came across Beyonce looking fine as she was before heading down a set of stairs to the next room. 

This room had a lot of familiar faces such as Albert Einstein, Van Gogh, Mona Lisa and Pavarotti. The sport room was next and the first person I came across was Messi. It felt surreal standing next to it as the likeliness was amazing. Van de Vart was there too with David Beckham and then my favourite Ronaldhino showing off his tricks. Then there was Lance Armstrong and a really good one of Raphael Nadal. 

We realised we came to the end of the tour when the gift shop was ahead of us. We entered the shop and saw they were selling novelty Oscar awards and other items. Down the flight of stairs we went until we reached the bottom and were hit with a nice surprise of Spiderman on the side of a make shift building. We noticed it started raining again so back out with the umbrellas thinking about our next destination. As it was nearing tea time, we made the decision to head to the infamous Hard Rock café. It was quite a walk to get too but the rain had stopped and the sun came out brightening the day for once. The weather had definitely been a weird one but we soldiered on until we seen the big Hard Rock café logo. 

Glowing Canal

We were both excited to go in but as we arrived we were told that the waiting time would be 30-40 minutes. Unstirred by this we were put on the list and had been given a pager to let us know when we could go. We had a quick glimpse in the shop until we had seen the Hard rock bar further along. So we went in and were immediately won over by the atmosphere in the room. There was good rock music playing on the TVs and memorabilia of famous musician’s items or clothing hanging on the walls around us. The one that stood out the most was a guitar in a glass unit which looked like it came out of hell itself. We sat at the bar resting our feet with our drinks savouring the spectacular atmosphere around us until the pager started beeping for us to head for the restaurant area. We pushed on through the crowd to get back to the restaurant and handed the pager back to the staff member. We both followed him to our table and we were immediately hit by the smell of BBQ sauce which was driving me wild. We sat at our table with a good view of the canal right outside the window and glancing through the menu. I decided to choose the BBQ chicken with French fries and cowboy beans whereas Sam ordered New York steak and fries. My lips were watering at the thought of what I was about to eat. Time had passed as we were admiring the vibe of the restaurant before our food arrived with a pretty waitress. 

BBQ Chicken

The smell of both the dishes were overpowering and we didn’t waste our time digging in. The fries were amazing and the half chicken I had was just unreal with the BBQ sauce to give it that extra oomph of flavour. There was no surprise when I finished and had BBQ sauce splattered around my mouth and somehow on my arm. Sam had the same kind of reaction to his too and we were both speechless with what we had. We were like savages with sauce all over our faces and then we wanted to have dessert. So I ordered an apple cobbler with ice cream and Sam had a chocolate brownie with no special ingredients inside it with ice cream. 

Apple Cobbler

Yet again we were overwhelmed with what was put in front of us. Sams though was more elaborate as he had what appeared to be a large chalice full of whipped cream, brownies and ice cream. But we came, we saw and conquered what Hard rock had to offer us feeling satisfied as we left with our bellies full and happy. As we left we decided to go through the Vondelpark as it was right next to where we were. We entered through the main black metal gates and into the straight pathway leading to a set of large ponds and huge rows of trees along the way. 

Vondelpark Entrance

Before we got to the larger area we came across a bridge we had to go under but as we got closer we could see a lot of homeless people with their own set up under the bridge. We started to go under the bridge and there was one person who was loud mouthing everyone passing by even us but we continued on our current path. As we were walking along the huge row of trees we were talking away admiring the spectacular views we had and the peace we felt before we finally departed. However, we came out of a different exit and we immediately had to figure out which way to turn for the central area. 


With my trusty compass we managed to get on the right path heading North East. We were walking along a very long stretch of road lined with buildings and tramlines. By this time the sun had set and it was dark. Time had passed and we suddenly figured out exactly which street we were on which was the Overtoom where the pool hall was. It was a great feeling to know exactly where we were and we finally ended up back at the Hard rock café area. It was that time again to head towards the main night time attraction; the red light district. In no time at all the familiar area was lit up with reds and pinks and we were soon mingling with the huge crowd admiring the views of the women in the windows. We both went into a bar to have a moments rest as well as having a drink. I was admiring the atmosphere in the pub as it was a small quaint room reminding me of a pub I went to in Ireland. At the back of the pub was a pool table which was not occupied nor surrounded by people so we had a couple of games which was great and relaxing. Above us on the TV was a football match and low and behold it was Newcastle United who were getting beat 5-0 against Manchester city. On the upside I did for once manage to win both games of pool against a good player like Sam. We finished our drinks and we headed for the exit continuing down the street to a place called the ‘Erotic museum’. 

Shop Window Display

There was no surprise on what that entailed. With the admission fee paid, we headed up the creaky flights of stairs bewildered by what we were seeing. There were so many different types of artefacts and sculptures in which we both had to look twice at but it was really funny nonetheless at the sight of wooden carvings of certain body parts and positions. It was definitely part of the weird and wonderful of Amsterdam ranging from mini figures to videos, water features and plenty erotic paintings. We left the museum laughing and then wandering the streets looking at the beautiful women trying to grab our attention; or wallet so to speak. 

Condom Display

There were a lot of men standing there contemplating on whether to go in or not which I found very funny with some people willing them on to go in. It was getting a bit late so we walked into one more bar for the evening which was called ‘Excalibur’. We were both won over by how the room was decorated. The first thing we had noticed was a chopper bike with a skeleton sat on it and then three knights of armour with shields and swords hanging on the wall and right at the back was a red Indian motorbike. It was definitely our kind of bar and something unique as we sat down at the bar and ordered our drinks. 

Excalibur Bar Decor

Yet again rock music was playing which gave the place more of a vibe. On the TV was a set of fail videos which kept us laughing for the remainder of the night. We were really enjoying the evening but it began to get a bit crowded so we finished our drinks and took our leave. We thought we would have one more look along the district as though it would be the last yet again enjoying our time here before finally heading back to our hotel. On the way back though, we could here a bike coming along behind us so we stepped aside to let the woman pass. However the couple in front of us didn’t hear her and didn’t move aside which caused quite a bad accident in as the cyclist knocked into one of them and nearly got thrown off her bike. We passed the incident listening to the woman swearing her head off telling the people to watch their backs next time and continued on. We couldn’t believe what had just happened but it made us listen out more for bikes coming behind us. It was nice to be back in my room relaxing thinking over how today had really been a long day. Despite the misery of the cold and wet morning the afternoon and evening were spectacular feeling very relaxed in this marvelous place.
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