Hello chaps and chapesses!
This time last week, Graeme and I were sitting at a table outside a bar, supping Heineken in the sunshine, and watching the world go by. There was an occasional waft of cannabis in the air, and the frequent ding of bicycle bells. It was just lush.
I wasn’t quite sure what to expect of Amsterdam. I’d had the vague impression that it would be all about sex and spliffs, but there is so much more to it than its sinful reputation would have you believe.
Amsterdam has so much going on, from the famous red light district and traditional brown cafes, to the dozens of museums and galleries. It’s a beautiful city, with tall, narrow houses leaning in all sorts of directions, connected by a web of canals and pretty bridges.
For me, though, the best thing about Amsterdam is its atmosphere. It has a rare combination of city hustle and bustle, and a relaxed, laid back vibe. There’s a sense of open-mindedness, positivity, and respectful laissez-faire. Live and let live and all that.
The highlight was renting bikes for an afternoon, and exploring the city on two wheels. It seemed that as soon as we started pedalling we got lost, but it was cool because it was all just part of the adventure. We got a bit wet cycling in the rain, but then we stopped off for amazing pancakes while the shower passed (we had to a. keep dry and b. keep our strength up for the cycling).
We did so much in four days – a trip to the zoo, the diamond, sex and torture museums, people-watching in the Vondelpark and outside countless bars, sampling the poshest chocolates I’ve ever tasted, trying not to stare in the red light district – but it was all so relaxing. You know those holidays where you cram in so much sight-seeing that you come home exhausted, and feeling like you need another holiday to recover? Amsterdam was the opposite for us. We saw and did loads – and there is still loads left that we didn’t fit in – but still we came home refreshed and invigorated. Best of both worlds.