At the beginning of the year, Taylor decided that he wanted to do something special for his 21st birthday; something that he’d never done before and would be able to create amazing memories whilst he was there. Recently, going to Amsterdam has been a trend among people my age; especially within my friendship group too as almost everyone and their mother has traveled to Amsterdam. So, Taylor found a hotel and some flights and we booked it for the 5 of us there and then.

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Amsterdam Team! (L2R: Jess, Alex, Taylor, Emily, Myself)

DAY 1: Obviously the first day of travel, waking up at 4am was a nightmare (especially considering Taylor, Jess and I had been drinking the night before..) We hopped into our taxi, which was blaring out a tuneful barrage of Britney’s ‘Top 20 Hits’, with a dash of Rihanna’s ‘We Found Love’. I’m sure you can imagine sitting in a taxi going 50mph, down a residential street with Britney whining in your ear is a lot at 4:45 in the morning… Anyway, we arrived at the airport, checked in the luggage and then decided to find a place for a spot of breakfast before we left. Half an hour later (5:30am to be exact) we’ve already had around 4 cocktails each and have just finished off our first tequila – and the sun hasn’t even risen yet? After two more bottles of champagne on the plane and Emily befriending/insulting the majority of people in the 12 rows behind us, we landed.

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Hotel Arena, Amsterdam

Once we had left arrivals, we were approached by a random man offering us a cheap taxi ride, now I’ve seen Gone Girl, Gone Girl 2 and Gone Girl 3 and if I’ve learnt anything from them, it’s don’t get in taxis with strange, dark-eyed men. Despite my meltdown in the middle of arrivals, not 5 minutes after landing in the Netherlands – we got in his taxi and he took us to the hotel (Thank God, I took photos of the number plate and everything in case we went missing and they needed to find us…) We checked into the hotel, which was stunning despite being in the middle of a renovation, and then we decided to go for lunch in Dam Square.

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Carnival: Dam Square, Amsterdam

Now, in Amsterdam its commonplace to cycle and take the tram everywhere, so we decided to test out the trams and see if they were any good. Jess however, isn’t not very adept at taking public transport – so after about 20 minutes we arrive at our stop and Emily, Alex, Taylor and I all manage to get off of the tram (the woman didn’t make us scan our tickets in so we essentially hadn’t paid for the journey). Once we are off of the tram, I turn around to talk to Jess and she’s not there? She’s gotten stuck between the barriers to get off of the tram and is already half way up the street on her way to the central train station! (which, is only like a 5 minute walk away – so no big deal) All I can see, is Jess banging on the back window of the tram shouting for us (I haven’t cackled like that in ages!) she’s then phoned up Taylor and starts wailing down the phone “Babe, just leave me – go on it’s fine just leave me.” After we’d picked Jess up (and her swearing that for the rest of the holiday she’ll pay for all of our taxis because we are never getting back on one of ‘those things’) we went and found a little coffee-shop and had a coffee and a cake.

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The Royal 98 Café: Dam Square, Amsterdam

Then it was time for lunch, so we found a beautiful café in Dam Square; once we had eaten and had a few more drinks we went for a wander and then went back to the hotel to get ready for the evening. A couple of hours later we met downstairs in the bar but couldn’t decide where to go for dinner, so we asked for a recommendation from the concierge. She suggested we go to a restaurant called Panache, it was amazing; by far the best food we had during the whole trip (Jess also got chatted up by a 7ft god called Wolff, he was crazy good-looking and she still messages him today). We finished the night by attempting to go to a club, but because we didn’t know where to go; we didn’t last long ending up in a place called Smokey Joe’s or something along those lines and it was awful. So we decided to call it quits and end the night there.

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Blurry Eyed Cab Ride Home

DAY 2: 

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For our first official full day, we were up nice and early and decided to go for brunch at CAU in the centre of Amsterdam. Food was good, Bloody Marys were even better – they definitely cleared whatever remains of a hangover we had. Day 2 was our chance to complete all touristy activities, so we booked a boat cruise and a trip around the Amsterdam Dungeons all for €19 which is not bad at all. The boat cruise was brilliant, it took about an hour and we covered pretty much everything and I managed to get some really good photos I think? Then we moved onto the dungeons which was hilarious, very intense! After snapping a vocal cord from screaming so much, we went to a little café across the road called Metropolitain; where I scalded my mouth on a prawn croquette. After the girls had spent about four hours in Zara and more than my monthly wage on clothes for that evening’s dinner, we made our way back to the hotel.

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That evening was Taylor’s birthday night, so we decided to make it a special one – and booked the MR PORTER Restaurant in the W Hotel for the evening. The restaurant had a very cool vibe, with floor to ceiling windows that provided a view across the entirety of Amsterdam accompanied by quiet jazz music. We were sown to our table by an absolutely lovely hostess, our table was a big round booth right in the centre of the restaurant so we were able to people watch and really soak up the atmosphere. It was a steak restaurant so the food was standard for that type of place, despite being at least 10 times the acceptable price. Sadly, we lost our lovely hostess and instead presented with an arrogant waiter who tried to tell us that what we were ordering was too much food; and that we wouldn’t be able to finish. Obviously, this then made us determined to purchase more food than we would normally, and proceed to consume the entirety (and order more during the meal just to wind him up) About mid-way through our meal, there was a bit of a commotion at the table next to us. When the crowd cleared we saw that we were sat next to Jeremy Renner and his friends, who appeared to be really lovely which is always nice to see. I have to say, I did feel a little out-of-place because of the amount of famous people we were apparently surrounded by… (still got the best table in the house though didn’t we?) Once we had finished the meal, we called for the bill and I almost had a coronary, regardless we paid and decided to make our way to a little bar nearby.

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MR PORTER Restaurant, W Hotel

We managed to find a bar that again looked out onto a large space, so we sat and had a couple of drinks and a few shots to gather the courage to make our way up to the bar. Whilst we were sat there, you could see Amsterdam’s nightlife was starting to emerge, with one woman so drunk that she fell off of her bike and into the chairs and tables of the bar we were sat outside of. That was intense, especially when there were policemen watching her every move. The club was okay, not much going on and it had a dance-hall vibe which I wasn’t really in the mood for. Jess stepped on chewing gum in her Valentino’s which was hysterical – mid way through Rihanna’s Work I hear Jess screaming and dragging her foot along the floor like a Labrador with worms.. After about an hour we hopped in a cab and made our way home after what seemed like a never-ending day!

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A very drunk me, getting caught by the receptionist for playing on the luggage trolley

DAY 3: In all honestly, Day 3 was a bit of a blur as it was a drunken escapade entitled ‘SEX DAY’! We woke up a little later than we desired and decided that breakfast was needed desperately, thus we went to a pub called The Grasshopper (which I wouldn’t recommend, poor food & poor service) After breakfast, well lunch really because it took so long to get served.. We thought it was time to do the compulsory activities that are synonymous with a trip to Amsterdam – the sex museum! After buying our tickets, we traipsed around the maze-like museum, which was rather disappointing and nothing special; but like I said to the others it’s something everyone does so it would be a shame not to have experienced it. Then (SHOCK) we were hungry and decided to find a place for some lunch, but I got more into the drinking than the eating… (totaling 13 shots of Sambuca by the end of the evening..)

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We spent the day drinking next to the canal throwing beer mats at the people passing by in boats, consuming a Chinese (€25 for 5 courses?!) and then found a bar that looked out on the square and began spiraling. We befriended the bar staff and they ended up giving us far too much alcohol in our drinks (to the point that my lips were so dry from all the alcohol!) We then decided to confront Amsterdam’s main attraction, the Red Light District (or Blue Light District if you’re into that..) In all honesty, my jaw dropped. It wasn’t as dirty as I was expecting, but you 100% knew that this is a questionable practice to say the least. I’m thinking about doing a piece on my thoughts and feelings about my experience on the Red Light District which could be interesting. Anyway, we ended up in a bar called the Banana Club which gave you two drink tickets upon arrival (love it). At the end of the night Taylor, Alex, Emily and I ended up in a children’s playground outside of the hotel playing on one of those swings that you stand on and bounce; we almost broke it but its fine we didn’t.

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DAY 4: Our final day! Our antics the night before had worn us out, however we didn’t give up! We were up and out early and decided to have a wander around the more residential areas of Amsterdam. The weather was the best it had been the whole trip and we were determined to get bikes and explore more of Amsterdam. The only way I can describe where we ended up, is by likening it to an upscale Brooklyn with the huge 6 story townhouses and the tree-lined roads. We found a corner restaurant called Oud-Zuid which I enjoyed, however, the others ordered poorly and regretted it. After lunch we found a bike rental shop and commenced our journey around Vondelpark, which is apparently one of Amsterdam’s biggest green spaces. It was amazing, we had so much fun riding around listening to music and sunning ourselves. Emily dropped her phone and ran over it, which was hilarious! We stopped off at the central café for a drink and an ice cream and by then it was time for us to make our way back to the hotel. Once we had checked out, we had an Aperol Spritz on the hotel’s terrace and then our taxi had arrived to take us home.

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Bike Riding: Vondelpark, Amsterdam

I have to say my trip to Amsterdam was amazing, never before have I been on a trip with a group of people and enjoyed myself so much – and more importantly there be no drama. I love them all and cheers to many more trips like this one..

 

Laters

Olly

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