24 Hours in Amsterdam

7 June 2017

If you follow me on Instagram, then you'll have seen that this weekend I took a little trip to Amsterdam for a tour of Holland America Line's MS Koningsdam. It seemed a little silly to fly all that way for just the day, so we made the most of the weekend and spent some time exploring the city, and what a beautiful city it was. 

As we were only there for the day (apart from the time we spent on the ship - you can read about that here), we hadn't booked anything or made any real plans like I'd normally do for a city break (we had Paris planned out to the second!), instead I wanted to use the time to get a feel for the city with the view that one day I'd return knowing the sorts of things I'd like to do. 

Amsterdam often gets a bad rep for being a location for hen do's and stag parties, and don't get me wrong, we saw plenty of these, but there's so much more to the city than drinking and smoking. With it's seventeenth-century buildings museum quarter and refreshing sense of freedom, the city is so much more than it's perceived to be - and somewhere I'd definitely recommend visiting once...or twice!

Our first stop was the Bloemenmarkt, or Floating Flower Market as it's called in English. One of the things I'd have loved to do in Amsterdam was visit the famous tulip fields, however, unfortunately, we just missed out on these by a week, so the flower market was going to have to suffice.  

The Amsterdam Flower Market is the only floating flower market in the world, having been around since 1862. All of the flower stalls stand on the houseboats along the canal and are a nod to the old days when the markets were only supplied by boat. Like I said, we'd just missed out on the tulip fields and I think we were also a little late to the market too as there wasn't really much on sale in the way of flowers (it was mainly bulbs) by the time we arrived. So if you're looking for the full experience, I'd head down there first thing in the morning! 

After we'd visited the floating flower market, we took a stroll down to the Red Light District. The Red Light District isn't really my cup of tea, nor is it the prettiest place in Amsterdam, but it's something you've just got to see if you're visiting the city, as it's just so famous. We actually managed to walk through most of the red light district without me even realising as the bright sunshine was blocking the 'view' in the windows...it was only when one of the prostitutes ran across the street that I realised where we were! Photos aren't allowed in the Red Light District, as a lot of the women working there are from Eastern European countries and have told family members back home that they're working as nannies, etc and need to protect their safety. There are also police officers everywhere to ensure the women's safety, and it's up to the workers whether they let you in or not...so you have to stand outside and they will only open the door for you if they want to. 

After our brief wander through the Red Light District, we headed over to Jordaan, near where Anne Frank's house is located. We hadn't booked tickets to Anne Frank's house as we weren't sure how much time we'd have in the city and it was just as well - the queues were ridiculous! Instead we took a stroll around the canals in Jordaan, a much quieter area of Amsterdam (apart from directly outside Anne Frank's house). The sun was shining so it was lovely to walk around and take in the sights (and smells, ahem 🌿) of Amsterdam. 

If you're planning a trip to Amsterdam, I'd highly reccomend a walk through Jordaan. It's perfect for that idylic canal photo (and it's where I took most of my photos!) and it's quaint narrow streets, boutiques and pretty galleries are an instagrammers dream. Jordaan was once a poor area of the city, but has now been renovated and discovered by a new artsy generation, making it one of the most expensive areas in the city! 

After we were suitably full of ice cream and sunshine, we headed back to the hotel for a quick change and we were right back out the door, determined not to waste a minute. That evening we headed down to the canals (one of the many!) for a river cruise around Amsterdam. We sat on the canal boat, travelling around the many canals, eating a seriously tasty four course meal and watching the sun set whilst sipping prosecco for a good few hours - it was the perfect end to the day and a chance to reflect on the jam packed day we'd just spent in the Dutch city!

Although I only managed to spend 24 hours exploring what Amsterdam had to offer, I completely fell in love with the city and it's chilled vibe. Amsterdam is definitely somewhere I plan to return to, but next time it will definitely be for a few days so I can fully explore what the city has to offer. 

xo Becky 

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