Amsterdam – A 30th Gift

I’m very much one of those types of humans that like to give people experiences as gifts, where possible of course. Therefore when it came round to thinking of something to give CLB for the big THIRTY birthday I just knew I wanted to whisk him off on a city break, the chosen location was Amsterdam. Knowing how much of a history buff CLB is I knew ‘dam would be right up his street. I’d been before but only for one night on a whistle stop tour with some buddies to see one my friends Dads compete in the local marathon, so was dying to explore the city myself too.

Without blowing my own trumpet too much I couldn’t have booked a more lovely hotel to rest our heads, on the budget I had anyway! Hotel JL No76 is located in the museum and fashion district so only a hop, skip, and a jump to the Van Gogh Museum (and the Mulberry store – swoon). We had an Executive Double which was spacious, well furnished and the bath with spa jets was to die for! I’d opted for the Room Only rate as I knew of the amazing brunch places on offer in the city. The room was on the top floor, so the views were great and you couldn’t hear anything on street level so it was super quiet.

We managed to pack SO much into the four days we were away, so here’s the low down on the itinerary:

Day 1 was in part spent traveling and in part exploring (the bars) with a little culture thrown in for good measure. First stop once we’d freshened up was the Royal Palace, full of history and some stunning architecture it was a good place to start the Amsterdam experience.

The Pancake Carousel played host for a scrumptious dinner of both sweet and savoury local delicacies. You probably guessed it by the name but this restaurant has its very own mini carousel complete with horses, how fun!

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Day 2 also happened to coincide with our 2 year anniversary so some extra special treats were in store to help both of us celebrate. A tasty brunch set us up for the day at Lotti’s – part of the Hoxton hotel group – comprising of fresh orange juice and of course my favourite, Eggs Benny.

No trip to Amsterdam is complete without a visit to Anne Franks House which albeit emotional is most definitely worth it – but make sure you book in advance, the queues can be hours long (thanks to the nice Canadian man staying at our hotel for that little nugget of information).

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The afternoon was reserved for the Yellow Bike Tour exploring all around the city, which I’d highly recommend. Our superb guide knew the answers to every question we threw at him and didn’t loose a single one of us which was impressive considering we were a group of 11 persons exploring the busy streets of ‘dam.

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As you can imagine we were starving post cycle so couldn’t wait for the Dinner Cruise that evening; 4 courses plus bubbles and wine whilst navigating the canals of Amsterdam as the sun set – what more could you possible want?

Day 3 meant a stumble into the Rijkmuseum as CLB loves a bit of art, followed by something a little more contemporary…the Heineken Experience – yippee! They’ve really spent the pennies on making it a top notch attraction with not just a history lesson but also beer tasting and interactive activities. And for those wanting a wee souvenir you can personalise your own bottle too!

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For our final night dinner I wanted to experience something a little different and put both CLB and myself out of our usual eating habbits/comfort zone. Cue Senses – a four course culinary experience courtesy of Lars Bertelsen…a tasting menu inspired by the five senses, it was divine.

Day 4 (our final day, sob) consisted of a trip to the Van Gogh Museum – another one to pre-book, the queue was huge when we turned up (at 10am) so we found some wi-fi and managed to get on the noon session – where it was superb to see both Sunflowers and Self-Portrait as a painter in the flesh, as these are my two favourite.

You can’t really go to ‘dam without a visit to the Sex Museum seeing as most of the cities history is steeped the subject. A bit creepy of course but somewhat educational I guess…

The final surprise of the trip was a session at Reypenaer for cheese tasting, which just so happened to be paired with wine – yum. As avid cheese lovers (and wine lovers for that matter) this was the icing on the cake to what had been the best few days in a city that most definitely still has a piece of my heart.

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 Top Tip: Go for as long as possible, even after 3 nights there is so much more we wanted to do.

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