Well obviously I'm not going to start this post without saying Amster-Dayum. Cos Dayum it was good. Better than good, actually. Better than great, even.
Amsterdam was a definite stand out place for me on my Topdeck Tour around Europe. I'm not sure exactly why, but once I recount everything (mostly lol) that happened on my wee stint there, then you will probably see why it's up there with my absolute best times on the trip.
Arriving into Amsterdam, I felt absolutely relived. After driving through 4 countries (UK, France, Belgium & The Netherlands) and being delayed by a good few hours after silly drivers had accidents on the motorway, when we officially entered the city, the whole bus clapped and cheered in relief. We were here. And ready for two days staying in a boatel and an intineray full of sex and bikes.
Sex and bikes was a saying coined early on in our trip. It was a popular phrase, everyone said it at least once a day our whole trip and it was even put on our team Topdeck merch. Sex and bikes sums up our activities we were doing while in The 'Dam and to be honest that is pretty much what the city is known for.
Before we departed for our trip, we knew that biking around Amsterdam was an optional activity for us. Awesome, cool, little nerve-wracking but very exciting. But once the coach started rolling, our Topdeck leader JC sprung it on us that another optional activity was going to a LIVE SEX SHOW THAT VERY NIGHT.
The reactions were hilarious. As I was in a hotel trip rather than a hostel trip we had a whole range of people. Some of us (like me) were low-key confused about what was involved. But I like to give everything a go and signed myself up anyway, as did everyone else on our trip.
And boy, what an absolute experience the sex show was. I won't go into detail, but let's just say a talented lady wrote on one of the guys in my groups chest, played with candles, there was a banana, a guy that looked like he was trying to be Pitbull and a lot of ribbon. Make do with that information as you will.
The sex show was set right in the heart of the famous Red Light District. It was cool to see the girls dancing in the windows because it is literally exactly like you picture it. Fun fact: Red light on the girls window means female, blue light means trans. No males occupy spaces in the Red Light District, but there are brothels available for that if that is what takes your fancy.
After the sex show, the ice was definitely broken throughout our group and we all went out for a few drinks after. And when I say few, I mean quite a few. The bar we were at had a Contiki group in there on their final night, so we partied with them and had a blast. The bar we were at was not a coffee shop, but some people did head away to go and find one. Most of us were a bit too nervous after the number of bevvys we consumed. Fun fact: the coffee shops stop selling at 1am.
At the end of our first night in The 'Dam, a 4am-mer according to my Snapchat Story (you may recall 'Shout out to the Boatel' well Courtney will anyway hehe sorry Court) we headed back to our super styley accommodation at the Boatel. The Boatel is and was literally that. A hotel on a boat and it was legally named the Boatel too. I stumbled in, curled up, went to sleep for a couple hours, and then was up bright and early for brekkie the next day.
Yes, I was a little dusty on the second day of my Topdeck trip. But did I let it stop me? Noooo. I got on the piss again that night too lol. But before getting on the piss, I had such an epic day exploring Amsterdam by bike as well as getting immersed in some iconic attractions.
If you know anything about Amsterdam, you will know that the locals get around by pushbike. Legit every single bloody person owns a bike. I just Googled it and it estimates that "according to the most recent figures, the 850,000 residents (442,693 households) of Amsterdam together own 847,000 bicycles. That represents 1.91 bicycles per household. 78% of people 12 years and older own at least one bike. Bonus fact: each year between 12,000 and 15,000 bikes are fished up from city's canals."
Crazy, right? And Amsterdam is not really that big landscape wise so you could see I was a little nervous about jumping on a pushbike and attempting to navigate these streets with about 850K other bikes pedaling around me, with canals, bridges, and people at every corner.
But I did it and it would have to be the absolute best thing I did on my trip! Multiple times we just had to close our eyes, grit our teeth and pedal through these massive intersections, weaving through hundreds of more skilled cyclists who actually knew where the eff they were going, but we made it alive and uninjured - woo!
We did piss off a lot of locals though I must say!
We stopped in a few cool wee spots to break up the cycling and learned about different things with our guide - the highlight was going to the 'I Amsterdam' sign for sure. So many people, so hard to fit the whole damn sign in.
After a fun 2hr bike ride, a few of us headed to Anne Frank's house. Quite a vast difference from the fun time we had just had cycling around, but for most of us it was something we all really wanted to do.
Bit of background, Anne Frank was a young Jewish girl caught up in the rife of the concentration camps and Nazi Germany. She hid, with her Mum, Dad, sister and a few other people, in the upstairs of a warehouse that occupied one of the streets in Amsterdam. They were there two years before the Nazis found them, cleared them out and separated them into different concentration camps. Everyone who hid in that house died apart from Anne's Dad, Otto.
As bad as this is going to sound, I really enjoyed going to the Anne Frank House. I love history, had learned a bit about it at school, watched it on A Fault In Our Stars and was just amazed at the whole story. Seeing their home pretty much perfectly preserved, right down to the height chart Anne's mother recorded of her and her sister on the wall and the newspaper cutouts Anne hung above her bed were just absolutely crazy. The fact they only just missed out on being freed was so sad.
After Anne's house, we headed back to the "Hotel, Boatel, Holiday Inn" (as we affectionately called it) to gussy up for our canal river cruise dinner. Another highlight. We sat, ate a 2-course meal, drank loads of beers and then got off the boat and headed to this great pub where we played pool and drank and then headed to the Bulldog Coffee Shop...
Everyone had a go. Lucky my bff Alex had warned me of what to try and what not to. My body is not used to doing that sort of stuff so I was in a bit of a state but in better form than some others on my trip! We all looked after each other and got home safely xXxX
If you want to know more or see footage hit me up in real life lol.
Next day we were up early to check out of the beloved Boatel (I was so effing happy to leave it. It was full of character but scummy lol) and got in the bus to head to a whole new country.
What a blast, Amsterdam. I would love to come back.