Hi y'all! So I'm back in the swing of things and feel especially cleansed and at one with the world after cleaning the bathroom with a toothbrush. Bizarre but true, it is now so sparkling clean in every single nook and cranny, and is one of many things contributing to my new chapter as I step into the 25-30 age range. I never announce my birthday on here just because I don't really like making a fuss, but the big Two Five is a mile stone approaching in the next few weeks for me, and many of my friends crashed into it with a quarter life crisis, but I for one am trying to side step this. I have a slight work promotion, I'm starting to take driving lessons, and am generally going to be a more professional, perfected version of myself. We'll see! The urge to wear crop tops and drink from a Disney Princess cup are still firmly around.
Anyway, it's time to talk about Amsterdam! And this was definitely one of my fastest holidays, yet the one where I actually did the most. You know that my friends and I go on a mini city break every few months, usually where the cheapest flight will take us. After bargain & lively Marseille and amazingly classy & fabulous (but equally cheap!) Lisbon, our next destination was Berlin, but this proved to be quite pricey for flights, so we found that you could fly to Amsterdam from Bham airport and booked up! I've always wanted to go to Amsterdam as it's so unique that you just have to go there once in your life, and I knew it was more traveller than fancy, so we had to do it before we were really over the hill. A few happenings slightly proved we may already be, but I'll talk about them later!
As Wireless Festival wrapped up two days before jetting off, I spent the Monday and Tuesday trying to detox, eat as many vegetables as humanly possible, and get lots of sleep. By Wednesday I felt much more rejuvenated and all the last minute packing and plans came together. Our flight was at midday so my friend Stacey and I took the train to Birmingham International and met Melissa and Vanessa there. There were only four of us this time and so I'd say it was more relaxed and chilled. We usually fly with budget Ryan Air so it was a treat to have a free drink and snack with KLM, even if I had to abandon half of my beauty supplies to fit all liquids into one measly sandwich bag! I read some fantastic recommendations from wonderful blogger Renee on the plane and only one hour later, we touched down in Holland!
The airport was amazing and we nearly got distracted by all of the shops, before getting the train to the Central Station and navigating our way v e r y slowly to Budget Hotel Ben. We had a hard time finding a place to stay as everywhere was booked up a month in advance, and we didn't want to get taxis everywhere as usual. I found this hotel for the central location and we had our own bathroom. For our whole trip we never even used public transport as it was so central, even for nights out!
Note - this wasn't our hotel! It was much more of a side street affair.
The gentleman on the desk at Hotel Ben was very accommodating and we had a joke with him, always using our charm! Amsterdam is know for steep buildings and we climbed the ridiculously steep stairs to about four floors up. Our room was so stuffy when we first opened the door so we kept the windows open the whole time and were pleasantly surprised to find a decent sized and clean bathroom with a hot shower, shampoo, soap, as many towels as you could need and plenty of loo roll. We each had a single bed and there was a TV too, although we never found a music channel and ended up watching weird American reality TV! The only con of the room was that there was only one small bathroom mirror and one plug in the room, so getting glammed up wasn't the easiest, and I never 100% knew what I looked like!
However we were determined for this to be the holiday where we actually DID things, as often we go for the partying and end up sleeping in the day, only to party until 7am again. So hanging out in the room wasn't part of the holiday anyway, and we were concerned Amsterdam would be very casual.
The day we arrived was the semi finals of the World Cup (I think!) where Holland were still in the running. Every guy from home that I told I was going to be in Holland for the match thought it was a big deal, and we asked our hotel friend where the best bar would be to watch it. This way we could find it before getting ready and wandering the streets later! We found a place he recommended and nearly accidentally got drafted onto a pub crawl, before going for some quick food by our hotel. We were right by the Red Light District it seemed, and we had to laugh at all the sex shops and coffee shops (aka the pubs that sell marijuana !).
This tends to happen on ever holiday, but we just weren't AT ALL sure what to wear, and worried we would look really overdressed and potentially like we belonged in a red lit window. How wrong could we be - I'll come to that later too! In the end, Melissa and I went with our 'always overdressed' looks anyway and I wore my River Island co-ord with loose shorts, so nothing too bodycon! As it turns out, Amsterdam is SO humid that my hair was so frizzy throughout the holiday, and the bar we went to was boiling! We were literally sticking to the seats.
After definitely sticking out slightly while wearing heels on a Wednesday night, we pushed into a booth opposite an Australian couple and all ordered huge beers to get in the spirit. I actually don't mind beer, although I could barely hold the huge glass, and happily drank it while trying to get into the football game, but it is seriously not my thing. Maybe it didn't help that no one scored throughout the whole game so essentially they were just kicking the ball around! My friend Stacey and I were very distracted, checking out the place and longingly looking towards some people with snacks, when we suddenly started laughing about something and a random nearby dude was just staring at me. I was laughing and laughing even more and maybe he thought it was at him! Then within a few minutes suddenly I had a huge beer slammed down in front of me and this guy sat himself down, crushing up all of us girls, and said hello!
Now it really is not often anyone buys me a drink, and maybe it's the same for most girls. A man buying a drink is so rare that my friends and I thought this was so funny, and we swapped places so I could talk to him. He told me he was from Sweden, so I said I had lived there for a year (did you read this blog when I did?!) and he just sort of nodded and didn't say anything. That was a bit awkward, and then he told me he was a 'dolphin trainer', which obviously I knew was complete rubbish. He kept up this act for a while, including showing me a photo of him with a huge fish (convincing?! I think not) and then hit the bar and bought the entire table a round of beers, including the Australian couple who we hadn't actually even spoken to, plus a round of tequila shots! My friends thought we had hit the jackpot, I thought it was hilarious, and the Australian couple couldn't believe their luck! Soon after he was asking if we were hungry and brought more rounds of drinks, plus bowls of crisps and dips, and when my friends went to the toilet, he 'revealed' that he was actually a marine from Denmark, and apparently you are not meant to reveal this to people you meet. I was sworn to secrecy, but obviously told all of my friends, plus the Australian couple, the moment he went off to buy more drinks haha! Marine man soon started acting a bit fishy though as he told stories of his father owning most of the hotels here and having some sort of special credit card. He asked for a kiss if Holland won the match but fortunately for me they lost and it was even more funny! He even came to our hotel to walk us all home and there is a hilarious polaroid photo of him trying to group hug my friend and I by sitting actually on top of us, before we sent him packing just ask the hotel manager came to remind that there were no guests allowed! I would share this gem of a photo but it might ruin his career!
Considering we had only arrived a few hours earlier, this was such a funny first night and we all grabbed some food and hit our beds, ready to rise early tomorrow and begin some of the activities on our long to-do list.