For Valentine’s weekend (how was that a month ago already?) my boyfriend, Nick, surprised me with a romantic mini-cruise to Amsterdam.
After wishing away the Friday at work practicing the essential Dutch lingo like “wafels aub” (waffles please!) we were good to go. On the Friday night we excitedly hopped onboard with our rucksacks in tow, stuffed to the brim with extra layers.
After dumping our stuff in our cabin, we perched ourselves in the Show Lounge to enjoy the Soul and Motown (my favourite) themed acts with a few tasty tipples.
With the prospect of a very early start ahead of us, we retreated to our cabin, which was well and truly rocking into the small hours. Because we were at sea of course…get your mind out of the gutter.
On the Saturday we were abruptly woken by a voice booming over the tannoy, at a volume that I can only assume was set to raise the dead, announcing that it would soon be time to disembark. We were finally in Amsterdam!
After a short coach ride we pulled up right in the heart of a very snowy city.
As beautiful as Amsterdam is, it is something exceptionally more stunning when it’s blanketed in snow. Hats, scarves and gloves were donned and we headed off towards Dam Square with snow tumbling down as we went.
As we have both been to Amsterdam before there was no rush to check off the touristy must-dos, so for us it was about enjoying exploring the city in each other’s company.
We meandered through the cobbled streets, ducking in and out of the local stores to shake off the snowflakes. Our rumbling tums and chilly toes soon told us it was time to get some grub so we settled into a cosy café to refuel on pizza and lattes before setting off exploring again.
And this time by exploring I mean wandering round the Red Light District – Mum, if you’re reading this it IS the world’s oldest profession, it was practically a history lesson…honest.
The Red Light District is a surreal place and to be honest I’m not entirely sure how I feel about it.
If you’re planning a visit to Amsterdam I’d recommend visiting the Red Light District during the day as I know from a previous visit that the atmosphere is much seedier once the evening draws in.
Just a side street away from the Red Light District is Amsterdam’s China Town, which was an absolute treat for the senses. Whole roasted ducks are strung in the windows and the delicious Oriental aromas linger in the air. As huge Chinese fiends, Nick and I will definitely be returning here for a feast on our next visit.
It was at this point that I think Nick lost his sense of direction as we seemed to keep circling back to the start of the Red Light District and the busty ladies in the windows, strange eh?
Continuing our cultural explosion we decided to visit the Sex Museum on Damrak. Come on, it's Amsterdam, it had to be done right? I can honestly say it's one of the stranger attractions that I've ever visited but, if you can look past the plastic bums on the wall making groaning noises, there are some really interesting pieces.
One thing I learned, there's definitely a kinky side to every era of history!
A trip to Amsterdam would not be complete without visiting one (or seven) of the bakeries. The delicious displays drew us into a bakery along Rokin, where we indulged in gooey caramel covered waffles and Nutella-filled crepes piled high with whipped cream.
According to the step counter on our phones, we had done over 20,000 steps – which is around 10 miles – so treats were very well deserved.
Although let’s be honest, we would have still indulged if we had been sitting all day too.
After nipping into the souvenir shops and getting some obligatory cheesy photos, it was sadly time to head back.
Back on the ferry we decided to eat in the Brasserie Restaurant and I am so glad we did. Nick said it was one of the best steaks he had ever had and I have been having daydreams about my juicy burger ever since.
We spent the rest of our evening enjoying drinks in the Sky Lounge accompanied by an amazing acoustic singer doing renditions of Dolly Parton and Motown melodies that totally knocked our socks off.
The perfect way to end an amazing whirlwind trip.
If the sound of a minicruise floats your boat (excuse the pun) then this is the one we did. It makes for a brilliant taster experience, but next time we will be staying for longer as there’s just so much in this beautiful city to see and enjoy.
Have you ever been? I'd love to know of any hidden gems for next time.