48 HOURS IN AMSTERDAM



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I’ve just returned from my EPIC bank holiday weekend in Amsterdam. Leaving London Victoria Friday night, and returning Monday morning, it was my first experience of a one-night city break, and my first time travelling with Eurolines. 

I’ve always been a frequent coach user with National Express, and my overall comment on travelling by coach is: If you aren’t short of time but short on cash, coach travel is a great solution to travelling both nationally and, with Eurolines, internationally. Of course there are other benefits to coach travel, including a much more lenient baggage allowance and no restriction on liquids. I had my reservations about travelling on a coach for that length of time, but having booked an overnight coach, we fell asleep for a good 6 hours of the journey. 

We pulled up in Amsterdam at 11.15am local time. The Eurolines coach station in Amsterdam is called Duivendrecht, and although not centrally located, they have trains and metro systems running into the central station every 10 minutes. We stayed in ‘Meininger Amsterdam City West’, which even though located outside the centre in Sloterdijk, its proximity to the station actually makes it easier to travel around than a hostel down a street in the city centre.

 

FESTIVAL TIME

After checking in, we freshened up and got ourselves festival ready! Mysteryland is one of Europe’s biggest dance festivals, with this year’s headliners including Martin Garrix and Afrojack. A bottle of wine and some helpful directions from the hostel staff on how to get to the festival later and we were off! 

One thing to note about Amsterdammers, and the Dutch in general, is that they speak exceptional English. We had absolutely no problem getting around, asking questions and so on. Apparently, 93% of the Dutch population speak English fluently! 

 

Mysteryland itself was INSANE. The whole festival place was incredibly well done in design and facilities (check out the main stage!) – and the only festival I’ve been in where no one particularly pushed or shoved to get to the front of the stage … I can only guess its Dutch culture that they are more relaxed and give each other more space! (and one I wish we’d adopt?!). 

When we got back to Sloterdijk post-festival, past midnight … we also tried the Dutch interpretation of fast food – Smullers! The same in concept as the better known ‘Febo’, Its products are kept in small vending machine compartments – just choose the product you want, enter the coins, and you’ll be able to open the compartment and help yourself! Smullers is cheap (ranging from 1 euro to 3), and open until 3am, making it a cult destination amongst the (slightly intoxicated) Dutch crowd. 

After a much needed lie in on Sunday, we packed up our bags, checked out of the hostel and made our way to the centre of Amsterdam. As we were wanting to spend the whole day sampling Amsterdam we definitely didn’t want to be carrying our heavy backpacks around with us, so I did a Google and found a luggage locker company ‘Lock’, located five minutes from the central location close to Dam Square. By now it was almost midday and having not had breakfast we went and hunted down a good spot to eat. I opted for a ‘Dutch breakfast’ – basically toast loaded with ham, lots of eggs and melted cheese. 

 

CITY TIME

Amsterdam is easy to navigate on foot. Having already visited Amsterdam, I knew a good route to explore all the main points of interest, and a route I’d recommend anyone to take if they had just one day in the city centre. 

  1. Central station to Dam Square via Damrak or Nieuwendijk.
  2. Head west towards Jordaan neighbourhood and the Anne Frank House. This part of the city in particular is nothing but highlights, with every street showcasing the best of picture perfect Amsterdam: canals, bridges, bikes and architecture. 
  3. From the Jordaan neighbourhood wander in the direction of Leidseplein, a busy square in the southern end of Amsterdam.
  4. Around the corner from Leidseplein you can reach Museumplein, an open space where you can find just about the most ‘instagrammed’ site in ‘dam – the IAMSTERDAM sign. At Museumplein, you can find the Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh Museum and Stedelijk Modern Art Museum. From here Vondelpark, the largest park in Amsterdam, is only 5 minutes’ walk away. 
  5. From Museumplein you can then get the tram (£2.90) to Koningsplein and the flower market. Koninsplein is a bustling square and the streets around it have a good selection of places to eat, tourist shops and the Bloemenmarkt (Flower Market). BUT I would be careful where you buy tulips from! I bought a bag of black tulip bulbs last time I visited Amsterdam and when they bloomed they were YELLOW. Completely heart-breaking. 

And if you like cheese there are two Henri Willig cheese shops (Holland is famous for its cheese production, especially Gouda) along the canal and they have *FREE SAMPLES* of every cheese ... including Lavender, Coconut and Vanilla flavours! Yes, please. 

For dinner we found an Italian off Koningsplein (‘Il Primo Ristorante’). I won’t bore you with our meals, but they were delicious, and we could see why it had been awarded a certificate of excellence on TripAdvisor. We then casually strolled back to the luggage lockers through the canal streets of Amsterdam and the Red Light District. Every corner of Amsterdam is beautiful (well, maybe not the corners with certain women ‘of the night’ in the windows …!)

Our coach home was a double decker, and we chose seats on the bottom floor where no one was sat behind us and we could fully recline. The coach journey went smoothly, and we managed to sleep a lot better than the journey there … probably because we were exhausted from the weekend! 

One successful bank holiday trip …. Thank you Eurolines

Kate