Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Travelling: Amsterdam (We Are Forever Holidays)

Firstly, I need to apologies for the unplanned hiatus I have taken for the past month! Life got in the way, with exams, a spontaneous holiday and a house move all in the mix, it was a little hard for me to find time to sit down and write.

Secondly, I apologies for how long it has taken me to finish this post! So without further adieu, the real writing will begin...


As some may know, in April I came back from an amazing trip to Amsterdam - if you follow me on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook that is! I've posted the odd photo here and there whilst on the trip, but wanted to save the bulk for this post. Now it's taken me a long time to gather all the photos, pick the best ones, edit them and also to write this long a** post, but hopefully this all will have been worth it, and you will love it!

So grab a cup of tea and some biscuits, and get comfy!
(On our way to Amstel)



Now we booked a package trip with We Are Forever. Overall, I would never book with this company again - their orangisation of the whole trip was truly awful and no-one had any idea what was going on. Basically, we paid for a budget holiday aimed mainly at students and 18-30s. The price included travel via coach, hostel and four events over the 4 days we were there.

 (Leaving Dover at 3.30am)

Monday
We arrived on the Monday morning, and went in search of food. We ended up in Rembrandtplein and headed for the first place that would be serving breakfast food, St James Gate Irish pub! This has to have been the best food that we had the whole trip, probably because we'd just been on a 12 hour coach trip! We ordered a bacon and cheese toastie, chips and a coffee - it was absolutely amazing!

(Coffee at St James Gate. Credit to Jodie Turner)

After settling into our room at our hostel, and meeting the other people we would be sharing with, the rest of the day was spent wandering around and ended up deciding to go to the Xtracold Ice Bar. There were bad reviews online, but you never know util you go yourself do you? So we made our way over there. Once we got there we were told it would be €19.50, but just for going into the bar we thought that would be far too expensive! However, you actually get three drinks with this price; one while you're waiting (with the choice of wine, beer or a cocktail) and two inside the bar (with the choice of beer or a flavoured vodka and orange juice mix).

(Tokens for inside the ice bar)

We choose the cocktails while we were waiting, then a beer and a cream flavoured vodka with orange juice.All were great drinks! The beer was especially nice, as it was served in an ice glass, lovely! We got some souvenir photo's too, but unfortunately I'm unable to scan them into the computer!

(Welcome cocktails)

(Ice cups! Credit to Lucy Gilbert)


We then started to make our way back over to the hostel and ended up in Rembrandtplein and went for a beer in Cinema Club, and then for food and cocktails with two of the girls in our room at Coco's Outback. They had happy hour everyday, but on Monday's they have 50% off.



(Bacon and Cheese beef burger and Outback Punch cocktail)

Monday night was a welcome party at Panama, which, in all honesty, was an absolute disappointment and set off our rage with the tour company. A vodka and coke was €8.90! Surely, for a trip aimed at students and young people, you wouldn't plan to take them to a club that is extortionately expensive? But yes, they did. Surely you'd think that they'd have some sort of deal in place or a few free drinks on entry? Nope! So we drank €3 half "pints" all night!


(Prime Nightclub)

When the night ended, a few of the reps said they were going to a club in where, you guessed it, Rembrandtplein! So we went to Prime, which quickly redeemed the night. The music and atmosphere were amazing, the drinks were still on the expensive side, but nothing you wouldn't expect from a good club at home.

Tuesday
After Monday's debacle with the night out, we weren't planning on going to the day party that had been planned, but, seeing as it was a day party, we did want to go and check it out to see if it was any good. The party started at 2pm, and was way out of Amsterdam, that we had to get a tram to Central Station, and then a ferry. It was held in a venue called Undercurrent, and, if it had been held later on in the day, at maybe 6pm, then it would have been cool!



 (Face paint and flower crowns at Undercurrent)



But seeing as it was 3.30pm by the time we got there and made it through security (it was worse than the airport!), no-one was feeling it and the venue was half empty. I was also starving, and with no food in sight, I wanted to leave straightaway! We didn't though, we bought two tokens (what?), cashed them in for half a pint, got our faces painted and left!

(Some of the tastiest chips I've ever had!)

After that, we wandered around for the day, had the most disgusting coffee but most amazing portion of chips in a little restaurant, and went home for a disco nap.

(Photo credit to Megan Wallace. Edit by me)


Later that night, we thought, why not go for a walk to the Red Light District?! And I will tell you now, it was the most surreal experience I have ever had. I don't now exactly what I was expecting, but for 1. I wasn't expecting the women in the windows to be so close to the street as some of them were! And 2. I honestly didn't think I'd actually see men going in and out of the windows!



(Canal, Red Light District)


Anyway, even if it doesn't seem like your thing, you need to go and see it for yourself if you ever find yourself in Amsterdam! Plus, there's some nice bars and pubs down there!

(Sat outside a pub in the Red Light district. Credit to Jay Elliot)

That night, we had nothing planned, so ended up in the underground bar in our hostel, and I have to say, it was the most chilled out and fun night we had of the whole trip. The music was great, the drinks were cheap (€4 for a vodka mixer) and the company was better than I could have ever wished for!

(I could not tell you who took these, I can't seem to find them on Facebook!)


Wednesday

The next day, we went in search for a full English breakfast to cure our hangovers! We ended up getting dragged into an Italian with promises of a full English, but instead got a full Italian... or, something like that! Now, I didn't think it was too bad, it was all very flavorful, but that's not what you want from your fry up, especially with a hangover. I wish I'd taken a picture of it... there were spicy sausages, mixed beans, fresh tomatoes - it was all a bit weird.

After that we wandered around a bit, ended up yet again in Rembrandtplein and went and sat in St. James' Gate for a coffee. After that we made our way back to the hotel, had a nap and then went out for food at Wok and Walk on Leidsestraat, just around the corner from our hostel. Again I wish we'd taken a picture but we were in a bit of a rush! This was amazing for €7 and there was so much! Also so many options! From rice, noodles, veg, chicken, beef, tofu and about 7 sauces to choose from + extra toppings!

Anyhow, we were in a rush as we had booked to go on a bar crawl with Invasion. We were a bit dubious about this at first after the shambles the first two parties with We Are Forever were, but with it being Invasion, we thought it might be a lot more organised. The night it self was, however we received a text from We Are Forever to be waiting in the hostel bar for 7pm. So, we were... and were still waiting at 9pm. Anyway, we finally left and turned up at the first bar to free shot being poured down our throats... literally!

(Bar crawl. Credit to Lucy Gilbert)

This made me a lot happier, and made the night a lot better. After the bar crawl was over, we went to the organised club night at Coco's Outback, which I loved. Everyone we'd met and spoke to the whole week were there, so that was lovely. However it ended too soon, so we made our way over to Prime again!

(Group photo in Prime! Credit to Jodie Turner)


I seriously loved that place, it felt like my home away from home!

Thursday

No hangover, yes!! Today we planned on doing and seeing a lot of things... can you guess what we did? Not a lot!!

We walked all the way over to the Anne Frank museum to be faced with the longest queue I have ever seen in my life... like Alton Towers on a bank holiday Monday in August queue. So we decided against it. We then thought, let's get on a pedlo! Yeah, what a great idea... nowhere near us had pedlos to rent, just boat trips. So, we thought, let's go to the Red Light District again.



We'd been told that there were women in the windows all day long, so assumed it would be just as busy in the day as it was the night. I'm not sure if it was because it was in the daytime on a weekday or what, but there were only a handful of girls in the windows - pretty disappointing for our friends who had not been during the evening yet.



We went for a pint in the same pub as the first night, and looked out the window for any pimps.



We then decided to do the one tourist-y thing we'd done all week... Go to the sex museum! You've all seen the pictures on Facebook of your friends sitting on the giant willy - we just had to go an see what all the fuss was about.



And to be very honest, there was no fuss at all, in fact it was pretty rubbish in all fairness. Ok for €4 I suppose.

After walking pretty much walking all over central Amsterdam, it was mandatory to go back to the hostel and take a nap! The final night that was planned was to go back to Panama, but after the extortionate prices and just the generally sh*t night we had the very first time, we decided to just go down to the hostel bar/club thing in the basement. It was another nice chilled night as everyone was so tired from the week!



We had planned to stay up all night so that the trip home would be more bearable and we'd be able to fall asleep almost instantly, but by 4 or 5am I had to sleep. We'd already ventured out to try and find food at 3am (which, for a capital city is bloody hard to find!), so I just needed those last few hours in a nice bed before a 12 hour journey home.

Friday

This has to have been the worst day of my life. I was so hungover and so tired, I was dreading getting on the coach for the 12 hour journey home. We got a taxi from our hostel to the coach as the walk was unbearable. Once on the coach I was fast on, until we got to Antwerp where the traffic was a nightmare and the coach had gotten so hot I thought I was going to set on fire.

I fell in and out of sleep until we reached a chocolate factory in Belgium where we had to stop off. We had ice cream (Coconut!) and sat in the shade until we set off again.

Because of the traffic, we missed our ferry, but luckily managed to get on the next one. The ferry this time wasn't as calm and quite as the first one at 3am. This was a 5pm ferry, full of school trips and families - a nightmare for a hangover.

I don't think I have encountered as much traffic ever as we did that night. Motorways back to Manchester were closed, junctions shut, detours were made. We finally arrived in Manchester at 2am, 4 hours after we were supposed to. What was already a 12 hour journey home turned into a 16 hour journey.

If I have learnt one thing from this experience is ALWAYS FLY! I don't however regret anything from the trip, it was quite possibly, the best 4 days of my life! I'm so grateful that we decided to go on a "package holiday" and stay in a hostel with a bunch of other people, as I really don't think it would have been as great as it was! The people we met were amazing and I really hope that we get the chance to do this trip again!

If anyone is planning on going on a trip like this, I say do it! It's cheap, and the perks thrown in are pretty great too, even if the nights out are pretty awful! The people you meet just makes it all worth while.


I hope you enjoyed this post, if you do I may just post another one about my little road trip to Bruges and Paris!








Nicole ♥




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