Wednesday, 7 September 2016

A mini Amsterdam city guide!

Hey peeps! I've been meaning to do this post ever since I got back from Amsterdam but have been putting off doing it a bit because of just how many recommendations I feel like I have to share! Instead of listing every single thing we did, all of which I would recommend if you're visiting Holland, I thought I would write about a few of my favourites here and direct you over to my YouTube channel where you can see everything we got up to in full! That way I can share some photos and info here whilst you can see everything we did without reading a 3,000+ word blog post; it's a win-win!

Ceintuurbaan 282-284, Amsterdam

Coffee and Coconuts was one of the places I was most excited to visit once our trip was booked and the planning began! I had seen it on SO many people's Instagrams and so already knew about their Pinterest worthy decor and ~those~ pancakes; *DROOLS*. It's a little way out of the centre but with our tram passes for the week it was super easy to get to (tram road works aside)! The building itself is an absolutely huge renovated 1920s cinema filled with locals working away on their laptops and other city visitors like us enjoying the chilled environment and taking in the gorgeous decor. Scott went for the Full CT breakfast involving avo and egg on toast, granola and yoghurt, mini pancakes and fruit whereas I opted for the full sweet version of coconut pancakes with a red fruit compote and maple syrup; the waiter actually brought me over some extra maple syrup, I didn't realise my love for pancake toppings was so obvious. Their orange juice was also to die for; so fresh!! 100% the breakfast of dreams and a must visit if you're in Amsterdam!

Rozengracht 24, 1016 NC Amsterdam
We stumbled across Kessens after we visited the Anne Frank house early in the morning and were in need of some breakfast and time to think about how moving the experience had been. I have to admit, I was mainly drawn in by the marble tables and street seating in the sun but was so pleased we decided to go in for breakfast as I ended up with a HUGE bowl of granola, nuts, berries and yoghurt for only €4!!! The staff were super friendly and it is definitely one to visit if you're planning a trip to the Anne Frank house too; it's about 4 minutes walk from the museum! 
An absolute must visit if you're in Amsterdam and possibly my favourite part of the trip as a whole was a visit to the Anne Frank house. This might be because I've always had an interest in history and the Second World War in general but I think any visitor would have a huge appreciation for how important and moving it is being in the space where Anne penned her many diaries during her time in hiding. I found the experience so moving and I actually felt really emotional walking around the house and being in the same space that Anne and her family once were. The extracts from her diary displayed on the walls around the house really allow you to fully get to grips with what Anne and her family were dealing with during the war when you can gauge the small size of the rooms and the darkness they were living in to prevent outsiders from knowing about their residence. Of course it's impossible to ever know how Anne felt in hiding as the scale of their fear and bravery is unimaginable but being in the space in which she lived was, I think, the closest you could get to understanding just a tiny percentage of what happened in those walls.
I had been told by so many people to book tickets in advance, which we did, although may have made a slight mistake with! Tickets go on sale two months in advance and so I eagerly booked ours about a month and a half before our visit for fear of not being able to see the house. The website explicitly says that once tickets are sold there are no more however after I had booked ours for 8.45am (!!), I checked a few weeks later to find that more tickets had been put up at slightly less lack-of-sleep times. I'm therefore assuming the site puts tickets up in batches and once the batches are sold out they are gone; obviously there is no way of knowing if more will be put up annoyingly but going so early meant we had the whole day ahead of us so it wasn't too bad! 

TT Neveritaweg 59 | 1033 WB Amsterdam 

We visited Pllek on our last day in the city and it was one of the best parts of our trip! Pllek is  a super cool industrial beach next to the water with deckchairs, beanbags, aztec blankets and loads of outdoor seating serving ah-mazing food and drinks. You could spend a whole day here in the summer sitting by the water, listening to music (I think they also have bands playing in the evenings!), eating yummy food and enjoying the relaxed yet bustling atmosphere. We got there fairly early as it was our last day for exploring and wanted to make the most of our time but by the time we left at about 2.30pm there were no tables left in sight and even the indoor seating was full! I would definitely recommend getting there early to bag yourself a seat or beanbag and spending a day taking in the beauty of this place. You can get a free ferry to NDSM (where Pllek is located) from the back of Amsterdam central station and they go every 15 minutes! We had the most delicious hummus, olive and roasted veggies on toast and a delicious hot chocolate too; super good food in an amazing location. 


You cannot take a trip to The Netherlands without sampling at least one waffle on your trip. I can't remember the exact name of the place we bought this amazing chocolate, custard and strawberry one from because I was too busy eating it to note it down but there's loads of places to choose from around Dam Square so you won't have trouble finding one! I'm not usually a huge waffle fan but the combination of the fluffy chocolate covered waffle with the lighter custard and fruit really balanced out to be the perfect mid afternoon snack. We shared one as they really were huge but I could totally have eaten a whole one if necessary ;) 

Bilderdijkstraat 165F
1053 KP Amsterdam

A bit of a random recommendation next but one I enjoyed SO much nonetheless and a must see for any other plant lovers out there! Wildernis is a gorgeous store, completely filled to capacity with every plant imaginable. There are plants hanging from ceiling planters, terrariums galore and just about every type of leaf variety you could imagine, all in a bright, open store which is just so so beautiful. They also stock some gorgeous ceramic plant pots which I would have loved to bring home had it not been for fear of breaking them, as well as prints and tonnes of plant focused books! The store is a little out of the centre but like I said before, with our tram passes we were able to hop on and off whenever we wanted and really there's no way you could see everything you wanted to without using public transport in Amsterdam. I hadn't realised when we visited but Scott mentioned that there were menu's on the little tables in the window so as well as admiring the leafy surroundings, you can order yourself a coffee too! A unique experience that I'm so glad we visited. 

ps. When we visited Wildernis, we also took a trip to the FoodHallen just 5 minutes down the road. It's an amazing building full of a range of stalls selling every cuisine imaginable in a huge, bright and fun space! I opted for a goats cheese wrap from a veggie stand called The Green Brothers and Scott got a fancy looking hotdog with loads of toppings. It's definitely worth a visit and if I had managed to take any photos before inhaling my food it would get a mention in its own right! 

The Meatless District
Bilderdijkstraat 65-67 H, 1053KM 

Every time I finish writing about one recommendation in this post and move onto another, I keep thinking 'OH WAIT, this was the best thing we did'!! We just had such an incredible week and so many things we did stand out as amazing. The Meatless District is a super cool vegan restaurant with gorgeous interiors and outdoor seating as well as THE friendliest staff I've ever come across. As a veggie, I love going to restaurants where I can choose from the entire menu (such a treat!) rather than a couple of options and when a restaurant specialises in vegan or vegetarian food, it feels so nice to know you're eating somewhere that shares the same ideas and ethics as you! Scott and I both had the tomato tofu burger with the most ah-mazing fillings, delicious chips and vegan mayo and it was out of this world! The waiter we had was so so friendly and spoke amazing English so we had a super long chat about our trip and his studies in England! It was such a nice and unexpected part of our visit! 


Getting around in Amsterdam is best done by tram as I've mentioned a few times now! Public transport tickets are SO reasonably priced in Holland compared to England with our three day unlimited tram travel ticket costing about £15?! Like I said, it would be difficult to see the city and all it has to offer whilst just staying in the centre and so the tramlines really are a saviour. We did our fair share of walking too, clocking up about 75,000 steps in 5 days and it's such a beautiful city to see by foot but using transport services was great in ensuring we could see everything we wanted to!

We stayed in the Inntel Hotel in Zaandam which is about a 15 minute train journey from Amsterdam Centraal station and so worth the roughly £5 we spent on our train tickets a day to get into the city. Staying in the centre of Amsterdam is so much more expensive and we had an amazing stay in Zaandam that I would wholeheartedly recommend. Our hotel had a pool and sauna that we were free to use as much as we wanted and our room had both a bath and shower (!!) which I loved! The room itself for huge and so bright and airy. I can't recommend it enough and would stay there without a doubt if I was ever in Holland again! 

So that's it! If you've made it to the end of this post then thank you so much for reading and I hope it's been helpful if you're off to Amsterdam soon, or to bookmark for a future trip. We had such a great time and I've loved looking back at these iPhone snaps and reliving it all again. I was hesitant about putting this post up because I didn't get many fancy camera shots of places but I was keen to share all our experiences nonetheless and I hope the phone quality photos are okay. Please link me to any Amsterdam city guides you have written or seen floating around the internet, I'd love to have a read if I'm ever back in the city or just general travel guides. Despite my anxiety I feel really excited about travel so a good ol' city guide for an amazing place I've yet to consider might be just the push I need! 
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