Midweek breaks are lovely, but they're very short. We'd been on a dinner cruise, seen Anne Frank's house, visited ARTIS Zoo and wandered around the city plenty, but before we knew it, it was Friday - our final day. We picked an evening flight so that we'd get a little more time in Amsterdam before we left, and we were out early to get the most out of it.
First stop was Nemo, Amsterdam's resident science museum. Like the big kids we are, we spent most of the time on the interactive exhibits - playing in the name of science. The building itself is quite an impressive structure, and one of the best things about it was the stunning view it offered of Amsterdam, absolutely free.
Afterwards, we grabbed lunch at the first restaurant we'd ever eaten at in Amsterdam - the Pancake & Burger Bar! I know it's good to try new things, but I always like going back on the last day to somewhere we've enjoyed during a trip. It's a good way of rounding things off a little bit!
We went for one last wander around Amsterdam before we had to get our tram back to the hotel to pick up our bags and head to the airport. This was when we finally tried one other Dutch delicacy; stroopwafel! These are thin waffles stuck together with syrup and other delicious things, so when we found a store selling them, we jumped at the chance. They are so rich that I shared one with Moose, and I bought a tin of them as a gift for my family, though honestly nothing beats having them fresh and warm and gooey!
And just like that, our little vacation was over. It was time to go back to the hotel, pick up our bags and get ourselves to the airport. With a flight time of only an hour or so, we were back in London in time to treat ourselves to a Nandos for dinner - which means that we were truly back in Blighty!
Amsterdam was a lovely little city break. I don't think we'll go back simply because it very much felt like we'd done enough and seen as much as we wanted to in those five days, but I'm glad to have visited such a fun city. We're on the hunt for a new city to explore this year. I'm hoping for somewhere really modern and fun because I really enjoy big bustling metropolises! Any suggestions?
Thursday was our last full day in Amsterdam! How do these things go by so fast?
Today was a bit more of a relaxing day as we spent the time trying to see parts of the city we'd missed before. We also ate a lot of food today! One Amsterdam delicacy I really wanted to try was bitterballen! I'd heard about these little Dutch meatballs online and desperately wanted to try them! We actually searched high and low for a traditional place that actually served them (have I mentioned lately how Amsterdam is full of pancake and burger joints?). In the end, we found this adorable cafe that had all sorts of interesting things on the menu, and I finally got my bitterballen!
Afterwards, we were still peckish. I'd heard about this really awesome place called Foodhallen which was, if you couldn't guess, a giant food hall, and we decided to check it out. There were so many varieties of food on offer. In the end, Moose settled on a loaded hot dog and I had a plate full of sushi. Like I said in my first post, Amsterdam seemed to be nuts on sushi, so I felt like I had to finally try some out. It was great!
Afterwards, we took another canal trip, this time not a pizza dinner cruise, but purely a sightseeing tour. We were given earphones and were guided as we sailed around the city. It was a lovely way to see Amsterdam and we got to see a few areas we'd missed in our wandering.
We also finally found the infamous Red Light District. Isn't that crazy? It's not that we'd been trying to find it, but I'd been lead to believe that you just plain couldn't miss it the moment you stepped foot in Amsterdam. We strolled through during the day so we didn't see any of the, uh, sights, but it mostly surprised me that we'd not stumbled across it earlier.
By now it was starting to get late, and we had reservations at Moeders, a restaurant I'd seen online and really wanted to check out. It was a place I knew I'd finally get some real Dutch food, but what I loved about it was that it was dedicated to mothers, which is what the name means, and it pays tribute to them in such a unique way. The walls are absolutely covered in photographs that people have brought in of their mothers. They are everywhere, floor to ceiling, on the doors, behind the bar. It was incredible.
We shared a starter called 'Mama's Happas' which was a plate of five different appetizers. I don't actually remember what any of them were now but I remember they were delicious, especially the shell fish that I think was filled with a cheesy garlic sauce. For my main, I had the 'Hotchpotch', which I appreciate doesn't look very appetizing at all, but I guarantee it was delicious! It was a bed of mashed potatoes (with spinach, I think, which is why it's green!), served with bacon, a meat ball and a giant sausage. It was so delicious and rich, I couldn't finish it all! Moose had the steak and that looked lovely, too!
Below are some shots I took while we wandered around Amsterdam at night, from before we went to Moeders. We actually found a nice (Australian!) bar to get a drink in before the restaurant, too. It was our last night there, so I wanted to make the most of it.
I absolutely love cities at night time, I think that's when they come to life. I'm a sucker for twinkly lights and starry skies.
And after that... it was time to go back to our hotel and enjoy our last night in Amsterdam. We still had a few things left to do the next morning before we flew out, so we wanted to get a good night sleep to be ready.
Welcome to part two of my little and very overdue rundown of our trip to Amsterdam last year! In my previous post I talked about our first day exploring the city, which brings us to Wednesday already (mid week breaks seem to go so fast!).
On Wednesday we had some concrete plans. I wanted to check out ARTIS, Amsterdam's zoo. I'd heard really good things about it, though I have to say I think some of the enclosures looked a little small, which is I suppose the problem with city zoos. Two things really set ARTIS apart from other zoos I've been to, however. One is an area called Micropia, which is a 'zoo' dedicated to microbes. It sounds a bit strange, but it was really interesting and they had so many fun ways of teaching us about microbes - plus, I'm sorry, but tardigrades are cute okay?
They also had an area called the 'Forest House' and honestly? This part was worth the price of admission alone. It was only a small area but it was absolutely amazing. It was an enclosed building that had a humid forest atmosphere inside. What was thoroughly wonderful though was how the animals were just free to roam around inside, and there were so many different species to enjoy. There was absolutely nothing between you and them, so you had little dik-dik deer trotting along the floor in front of you, and if you turned around to take a photo of the sloth slowly climbing over head, you might find yourself face to face with a lizard just happily perched on a branch in front of you. It was wonderful. I could have happily spent hours there (and they even provided benches so that you could do exactly that!)
Apologies for the blurry photo - it's pretty difficult taking a photo of a skittering dik-dik as it dashes across the path in front of you!
After the zoo, we had another short wander around Amsterdam before heading to our destination for the afternoon.
We had tickets to visit the Anne Frank house, which is the actual building Anne Frank hid in during the war and the place she wrote most of her now-famous diary. I'd wanted to visit forever, and while I can't say it was a particularly nice or fun experience, it was incredibly memorable and definitely something worth seeing. I obviously didn't take any photos, out of respect, but it's an experience I won't forget for a long time even without them.
In the evening, we had dinner plans with some friends of mine! I know Daphne and Alex from UK Ponycon and when they heard I'd be in town they suggested we meet up! We went to a lovely restaurant and spent a good few hours just catching up, discussing everything from My Little Pony to League of Legends and, of course, Disney (they're Disney nuts, too!) It's always lovely having a chance to catch up with friends you only usually see at conventions! Especially when they live in a foreign country!
After dinner, we were exhausted, and finally toddled back to our hotel to get ready for our last full day in Amsterdam on Thursday, which I'll cover in my next post!
So, this post is a little late. In fact, Moose and I went to Amsterdam almost a year ago to the day. We decided to have a midweek holiday to celebrate our anniversary (we usually try to go away, as our anniversary is late January and it gives us something fun to look forward to after the festivities of Christmas have given away to miserable New Year blues.) Unfortunately, I'm a terrible blogger (though, obviously, trying to fix that now!), and I just never got around to writing about it. So, in the spirit of 2019 and resolutions of 'being a better blogger', I've decided to finally get off my butt, a year later, to try and do the trip justice! Here's hoping I can remember the details all this time later. I have our tickets, receipts and leaflets stored away in a 'to be scrapbooked' box... which is another thing I'm terrible about doing in a timely manner. Ahem.
Anyway! Amsterdam! Moose and I want to do more cheap city breaks around Europe, and I'm not really sure why we decided on Amsterdam as our first destination in this endeavour, but when we found cheap flights and a lovely hotel, it all just fell into place! We flew out of Gatwick (after our customary Wagamama meal in the airport) and were on our way!
Getting from the airport to our hotel was easy peasy. The airport is an easy train journey into Amsterdam Centraal Station, which is in the heart of the city. From there, you can walk or get a tram pretty much anywhere you want to go. Our hotel was right next to a Line 2 tram stop, which is how we got in and out of the city centre every day. It was only about twenty minutes into town, and the trams ran very regularly and late into the night. Being slightly outside the centre made our hotel cheaper, and it really wasn't that inconvenient at all .
By the time we got to our hotel, it was already getting late. The main downside with being slightly out of town was that there weren't as many dinner options as we'd have liked. We debated taking a tram somewhere, but I'd discovered a tempting Chinese restaurant around the corner, and we thought we'd give it a go. It turned out to be a good choice, because the food was delicious! We stayed there until our bellies were fit to burst, and then we returned to our hotel room.
We paid a little extra for deluxe rooms, simply because I fell in love with the mid-century decor. They were so cosy and comfortable, and the bathroom had a heated floor, which was just heavenly. The hotel even had UK plug sockets and USB plugs, which made life a lot easier for a techy couple who travel with a hundred gadgets!
Day two was our first 'real' day. We had a pizza canal cruise booked for dinner that evening, so we decided to spend the majority of the day just wandering about the central area and exploring what Amsterdam had to offer. We found a lovely place for lunch called 'Pancake & Burger Bar'. We actually liked this place so much we returned to them on our last morning. I hate to say it out loud, but Amsterdam wasn't really that great for food. It felt like everywhere was a pancake place, sushi restaurant or sold burgers and steaks. Which, y'know, that's fine, but one of the joys of going abroad is to try out unusual cuisine. The food we did eat was delicious, though. I opted for a mushroom and Swiss cheese burger while Moose had a pizza. And of course, I had some Heineken. I would end up drinking a lot of Heineken on this trip! Hey, it's cultural.
After lunch, we had a long walk around the city. One of my favourite things to do on the first day of a holiday is just explore, with very little planning. I like to get a feel for the place. (Conversely, I try to have solid plans set in place for the rest of the trip, or else I feel like we're missing things and not getting the most out of our time! I get quite neurotic about it!)
I absolutely love the tall buildings in Amsterdam. I think I took more photos of them than of anything else. They just had so much character. And yes, there were a lot of bikes!
I also seem to have taken a whole lot of photos of trams. I know they're not very exciting to a lot of people, but here in the South West of England we don't have trams! I'm excited when I go to Croydon or Sheffield and get to ride a tram, let alone fancy Amsterdam trams.
Before long, it was time to get to the pier for our dinner cruise. I actually don't have any good photos of this, because we were too busy enjoying the views and dare I say unlimited Heinekin. Amsterdam may not have been the place of a thousand cuisine options, but I put on half a stone in beer. Oops.
I've been blogging since 2001, because I am Very Old. I started on Livejournal, a platform I still adore, and one I genuinely wish would come back into favour, because nothing has matched it in terms of community. There, we'd discuss our daily lives, and we'd upload messages from the heart. One day, you might post an entry just a few sentences long; a rant about school or a joke you'd heard that day. It didn't matter that it didn't look 'professional' or that you wouldn't turn heads with your astoundingly fresh content. You posted it because you wanted to, because Livejournal was your digital diary, your home online to share with the world.
I really miss that, in a way. The rawness and realness of it. And that's not to say anything negative on the blogging world today, because I love this world, too. But back then it was utterly amateur, and full of quizzes and memes and silliness. These days, people, myself included, try to make their blogs a little more professional, a little more 'curated', and I suppose in a lot of ways that means we're restricting our creativity. Or maybe we're just restructuring how our creativity surfaces.
I still post silly memes and quizzes, but they go onto Facebook, Tumblr or Twitter. Here, I try to keep things a little clearer. I blog here because I want a place that represents me. It's still a diary, which is why I post my travel updates, adventures and daily musings, but now it's also a portfolio. A front of house. A face.
Every day I strive to try my best, to be my best and to be a positive influence on those around me. I like to show the world that it's okay to be a giant, stinking nerd in the blogging world. I want to prove that niches aren't for everybody. That there's nothing wrong in being a contradiction. That blogging from the heart, like we did back in 2001, can still be relevant and interesting even in the new, glistening world of lifestyle blogging.
I blog because I like to share my life. I blog because I have a degree in English, dang it, and I want to use it. I used to spend a lot of time agonising over my content, figuring that I didn't fall into the general niches and, therefore, wouldn't get readers. Since then, I've discovered so many bloggers like me, who post a whole mish-mash of topics. I've discovered that fashion bloggers can also be gamers, and that gamers can also love makeup. Travel bloggers don't have to go to exotic climates every weekend and Disney bloggers don't always talk about Disney. The blogging world is a kaleidoscope of writers and topics, and I'm so happy to throw my cap into the ring.
I really didn't want to post this now, two weeks into 2019. I have a really weird thing about posting about the previous year when we're already into the next one. I like the fresh slate, that everything from January 1st onwards should cover only this current year. However, I was useless and a terrible blogger and I didn't get around to showing our Christmas decorations back in December. I thought I'd be okay with that, that I'd focus on 2019 and make up for it next Christmas.
I'm not okay with that.
This year, our Christmas felt so magical and special. It seemed extra pretty, so much so that I found myself spending so much more time in our living room than I usually do, just to experience the twinkly lights and beautiful festive ambience for longer. It's already the 10th of January and I'm still looking at our Christmas photos, and they make me feel so happy and, well, the bottom line is that I really want to show them off. I want to show the world our little Christmas. And, I gotta say, getting a Pixel 3 from Santa really sweetens the deal too, to be honest. This thing takes some gorgeous photos. (Not a sponsored post! I just really, really dig this phone.)
So, I'm sorry to bring Christmas back just when you thought it was all over. I'm one of the few people that could quite happily live in a world permanently surrounded by twinkly lights, rich food and magic, however. I hope, if nothing else, this out of date photo spam filled your feeds with a little bit of colour on these dull January days. I'll try and make the rest of my posts this month a little more 2019-ish, but for now, I'm enjoying looking back on these and wishing it was December already. Oh well, only 325 days to go!
I'm a few days late, but that’s okay. I figure 2019 doesn’t really start until next week, as we’re still eating leftovers and we’ve refused to take the decorations down until today. It was such a wonderful Christmas this year, I don’t really want to say goodbye to it just yet. The next few months are very long, and very dull and Summer is far too far away.
Still, I have good feelings about 2019! I guess I go into every year an optimist, making resolutions and setting goals. I love New Year's Resolutions. It’s a fresh slate. I love making lists and having concrete plans. I know New Years is an arbitrary date, but it’s as good a time as any to put a plan in action, right?
Every year I set myself the same resolutions; I’m going to draw more, blog more, vlog more, lose some weight, save some money. I’d be lying if I said those weren’t still my resolutions this year, but I think I’m going set some new ones, too. They’re very simple and humble.
I’m going to watch more movies. I’m going to play more games.
Over Christmas, I spent a lot of time in the living room on my new PS4, playing Red Dead Redemption 2. It was so nice disconnecting from my PC for a while, where I spend most my time as a digital artist and as a gamer. Even though I was still staring at a screen playing a video game, it was nice take time away from constant browser tabbing, Facebook checking and notification popping. I very, very rarely play single player games anymore. My evenings are spent in Teamspeak, playing League of Legends or Destiny 2 or some other multiplayer game with my friends. It’s awesome, and I love it, but it means I rarely take time out to play something new.
I also took time out to watch a lot of movies this Christmas. Even though I go to the cinema very often thanks to our lovely Cineworld Unlimited cards, I very rarely sit down at home and dedicate two hours to a film. It’s just easier to watch an episode of something on Netflix, a Youtube video or even a Twitch stream than it is to sit still for two hours and focus on a movie. So, I’d like that to change this year, too.
Otherwise, I’m just plain excited to see what 2019 brings. Last year I finally got on top of my financial situation by paying off my credit card and overdraft which had both been looming over me since my student days. Now is the time for savings, so that Moose and I can finally get a place together and start a new chapter of our lives. I know I said this last year, too, but with my debts finally cleared, I think this is the truest and most real it’s ever been! Bring it on, 2019!
Hi! I'm Selena an artist, blogger and gamer!
Dream Somehow is my little corner of the internet where I talk about life, the universe and everything! Here, you'll find travel, adventures, vintage style, life in the South West of England, a little bit of Disney dreaming and a whole lot of geeky nonsense. If you'd like to learn a little more about me, click here!
Illustrated icon of me by Tinrobo ❤