monday was our second and last day in amsterdam, and after the rough night's sleep we had to be up early and packed up, ready to leave the accommodation at 11am. we decided to head out to a nearby cafe for breakfast before packing up, so at around 9.45am we took the bikes out for their last ride before we left.
the boathouse was situated north of the river and so was out of the way of the centre of the city, and the cafe was about a 10 minute cycle from there in a quiet neighbourhood and was suitably relaxed and calm for us to enjoy our breakfast before heading back out into the more crowded city centre. the cafe was fairly small, attached to the back of a bakery, and was decorated with old coffee grinders, fairy lights and faux garlands which gave the place a similar charm to that of the boathouse that we stayed in. after translating the menu to the best of our abilities, we all settled on 'egg, bacon and bread' which we expected to be served as a sandwich, so we were a tad surprised when our bacon and egg were served fried together on a couple of slices of bread, and even more so when it came with a side salad! if i learnt anything during my visit, it's that the dutch have salad with everything. a side salad with my dinner or tea is fine, but with my breakfast? i had to pass!
after arriving into the city, we decided to hop onto a boat to travel to the anne frank house to check out the queue and whether or not we wanted to battle through the queue to go inside. travelling through amsterdam on its various canals on a boat was a smart choice because a) it was a calm, relaxing way to travel, b) it gave you the chance to see so much of amsterdam in a time efficient manner, and c) it also educated you about the city and its history because the boat had a guided tour voiceover, so if you're ever in amsterdam and are looking for a pleasant way of travelling around the city, i'd definitely recommend paying the 24 euros for a 24 hour boat pass because it is well worth it, especially when the weather's slightly unpredictable and the chance of you getting caught in a shower or two is very high! that said, i'd also recommend cycling around the city as another form of transport because it's incredibly fun (and often kinda scary!) to place yourself amongst the city's traffic of cars, trams and bicycles – just make sure you stick with your group and be prepared to search high and low for a parking spot if you do decide cycle your way around!
after discovering that the anne frank house queue was just as horrifically long as we'd imagined, we decided to stay on the boat a little bit longer and head out towards the various museums amsterdam has to offer. we initially intended to go inside the van gogh museum, but after realising the queue for that was just as long as the anne frank house queue, we retreated to the stedekijk museum, which was a museum of modern art and design. if i know anything about art and design museums, it's that they're all pretty standard and that you really have to try your best to make the most of them, and as i expected, there was a lot of work within the museum that i found little interest in because i just didn't 'get' it or couldn't appreciate the technicality of it – installation art and photography in particular – but familiar work by the likes of picasso, monet and lichtenstein amongst fantastic portraiture by charley toorop – which really caught my attention! – helped to make the experience much more interesting, and in the end, an enjoyable, educational one. the fact that i then found a sara fanelli book in the shop at the end that i'd never before heard of helped to top off my enjoyable afternoon, but i'll try not to place too much emphasis on that... after leaving the museum, we then headed out for a quick bite to eat at a cafe before hopping back onto the boat to head back to the car in preparation for our long drive back to germany, equipped with coffee and pastries (yum.)
The Stedelijk Museum
The Stedelijk Museum
we drove straight underneath a double rainbow during our journey home, and i just thought that it was such a wonderful way of wrapping up our short visit to amsterdam. this year i've also visited new york and london, and after witnessing the madness that is city life in the uk and usa, i really don't know what i was expecting from the netherlands, but amsterdam honestly really pleasantly surprised me. even within the heart of the city where the place is at its busiest, it's still extremely calming to be within and the people are just so patient, friendly and welcoming, which made for such a refreshing change, especially from new york. the new yorkers made me feel like a nuisance, but the dutch made me feel so welcome, so content, and it really helped to ease me into the city and its culture. i know i only spent two days there, but those two days were spent happy; i spent five days in new york, but by the end of just the second i found myself laid in my bed in my hotel room desperately longing for home because i'd not found any glimmer of comfort or happiness throughout my stay, and it honestly really saddened me. if you read my new york write up, you'll know i'm not eager to visit again, but my feelings towards amsterdam couldn't be any more different – we were all discussing visiting again before we'd even left the country!
so, thank you amsterdam for such a wonderful, if short, visit, and i thoroughly look forward to visiting again and exploring more of what you have to offer!