My boyfriend’s dear parents surprised us this Christmas with a large handmade crossword puzzle and a Christmas Cracker with a list of numbers in. Our task, should we choose to accept it was to decipher the clues over the festive period. After several hours of umm-ing and ahh-ing we had solved the puzzle. The themes of the crossword were: Paris, Amsterdam and Prague, and the numbers; co-ordinates to Heathrow Airport, and the Hilton Hotel in each of the three cities! “Have you got it yet? You’re Christmas presents are a 3 night stay in either one of these cities. We’ll sort everything out, all you need to decide is when and where.” Amazing. As much as I am in love with Paris, we decided that as we had both been there before it would be nice to explore somewhere new, together. Many guidebook readings, Google image browsings, and conversations later we settled on Amsterdam. Although I’m still not entirely sure what swayed us in the direction, I think it may have something to do with the Van Gogh Museum, and the fact we would be lucky enough to stay in the same hotel John Lennon and Yoko Ono had their ‘Bed-in’!
As I don’t have a lot of time off from work and my course we decided to combine my Christmas present from the chap with our little holiday. So we started the trip in London with The Lion King. If you ever get a chance to see it, I honestly cannot recommend it enough. The costumes were incredible,the staging, especially the stampeed scene, was just mind blowing, and the two children who played Simba and Nala gave me goosebumps. It was one of the most beautiful performances I have ever seen, and I spent the first 25 minutes with my mouth wide open in amazement! It also happened to be the BAFTAs at the same time as The Lion King, and as we came out of the theatre in Covent Garden we were caught on the side of the road and unable to cross as BAFTA attendees were arriving. Seeing Brad Pitt from 5 foot away isn’t really a bad way to end the evening!!
An early morning start meant amazing views over Holland from the aircraft. In the week running up to us arriving temperatures had been roughly at -10 degrees, and the snow covered fields and icey canals reflected how beautiful these cold temperatures can be.
I wasn’t 100% sure of what to expect from Amsterdam, and it was quite different to what I had thought, although I can’t quite pinpoint why. However, I absolutely loved the city, the architecture and the people. We did most of the tourist things including, taking photos of every aspect imaginable in Dam Sqaure, climbing through the ‘I AMSTERDAM’ signs, and getting lost around the canals. We really wanted to take a canal cruise to get a good look at the beautiful city, however due to the minus temperatures the canals were actually frozen solid, and we resorted to watching the ducks plod along on the tops of the iced canals instead.
Whilst at the hotel the concierge gave us a map of the city and highlighted areas we had to visit while we were there, including, “the red light district where you can see the women in the windows and smoke a joint.” With prostitution and Marijuana being a common and accepted thing in Amsterdam I was expecting something a bit classy, cafes and bars similar to those in London where young marketting and arty folks go for post work drinks. How wrong I was, the whole thing felt rather seedy and the women in the windows were more interested in applying make up, checking their phones and chatting than looking alluring and inviting. It was definitely an experience exploring this area, but I think if I were to revisit I would probably not explore this area again, there are so many beautiful areas, quirky shops, and museums that we didn’t have time to wander around that would be a lot more intriguing.
There are so many things I could say about our little trip to Amsterdam, but I fear I will bore anyone who actually fancies reading this post. One amazing things that did happen to us while we were out there was after a visit to a beautiful vinyl shop (Concerto, if you are planning on going to Amsterdam make this place your last port of call, otherwise you’ll be lugging your inevitable purchases around town with you!) As we were staying at the Amsterdam Hilton I thought it was fitting to buy ‘Hey Jude’ as side two has ‘The Ballad of John and Yoko’, (as it was Valentine’s Day the chap also bought me a copy of Sergent Peppers, I was a very happy bunny!)…fast forward two days and it’s time to leave this wonderful city, and me being paranoid about damaging my vinyls refused to pack them in the case and stated that I would carry them instead. On checking out of our hotel the concierge recognised the ‘Concerto’ bag and asked if he could see what we had purchased. When we showed him he laughed and asked if we knew about the John and Yoko suite here. I said I had seen photographs of it, and that it looked beautiful, to which he replied, “Well when you come to collect your bags I will take you up and you can take some photos”. This excited me somewhat for the rest of morning, but there was a part of me that though it probably wouldn’t happen, or that he would forget or something, but we came back to collect our bags before heading off to the airport and he whisked us up to floor 7 to see the room. I was in awe, it was such a beautiful room. Everything was white, there were clouds painted on the ceiling, along with the lyrics of ‘The Ballad of John and Yoko’, even Lennon’s guitar is on the wall with their photographs and drawings. It felt like being a small Lennon museum rather than a bedroom!
Top Amsterdam reccomendations: Visit the Pathé cinema (it was originally a theatre built by a Polish Jewish guy living in the Netherlands named Tuschinski. When World War 2 broke out he was taken to Auschwitz where he was killed. The theatre itself is absolutely stunning, if you ever get a chance to visit, buy a ticket for whatever is showing in Screen 1. It is truly incredible). The Foam Photography Museum and the Van Gogh Museum were amazing. I think what I enjoyed the most was the incredible architecture of the buildings, each one is so different to its terraced neighbour.
Now it’s back to reality, essays and catching up on fashion week. Amsterdam, I will be back.