It was my sister Ishbel’s 16th birthday at the beginning of August and I wanted to give her a gift that she wouldn’t forget, so I started investigating the possibility of taking her on a trip abroad for her birthday. I looked at the holiday deals easyJet were offering to make it as affordable as possible. I noticed easyJet had short breaks to Amsterdam which made me very excited. Amsterdam is a city I have wanted to visit for a long time and I know Ishbel wanted to visit too. The Anne Frank Museum, the Dutch lifestyle, the Red Light District, the food and the canals are a few things which have interested me and I have been intrigued to see.
The easyJet holiday deal included flights and accommodation. There were about 30 different hotels to choose from, each one costing a different amount depending on how luxurious it was. I ended up choosing The Casa Hotel and I paid extra to have breakfast included which was 100% worth it. Ishbel and I were extremely impressed with the hotel, the staff were lovely, the room was spacious and immaculately clean, the hotel had incredible facilities and the buffet breakfast was absolutely delicious with a large variety of different food options. If you are going to Amsterdam anytime soon, I would recommend the Casa Hotel because it is truly amazing.
I booked the flights from the 9th of August until the 13th, so we had 3 full days in Amsterdam which I think, for a city break is the perfect amount of time. I then designed my own boarding pass and put it inside a birthday card for Ishbel to open on her special day.
Flying to Amsterdam
On Thursday the 9th of August we flew from Edinburgh to Schiphol Airport and then took a taxi to the hotel where we checked in and unpacked our luggage. Our room was on the 7th floor of the hotel and we had a large modern bathroom with a big shower and a spacious bedroom with twin beds and a view of the city. We had arrived around lunch time so we were both feeling hungry. We looked at places to eat on Instagram and found a lovely place called Cafe Vrijdag (I will write a separate blog post all about the delicious food we ate at unique independent cafes in Amsterdam).
After lunch we bought some snacks from the local supermarket for dinner and we chilled in our hotel room.
Top Tip: If you are taking a taxi from Schiphol airport book it in advance. We spent 55 euros on a taxi to our hotel and we could have saved 20 euros if we had booked one in advance.
Day 1 in Amsterdam
Friday the 10th was the day we went to The Anne Frank Museum. Ishbel and I have both been interested in visiting the Anne Frank House since learning all about the Frank family in primary school. I booked tickets for the museum roughly two months in advance to ensure that we would get to go.
We took the metro that morning into the city centre and walked to the Anne Frank House. It was such a surreal experience to be inside the secret Annex where Anne and her family hid for two years. As we walked around the Anne Frank House we listened to a recording of Anne talking about her family story and the struggles they had to endure in order to stay hidden from the Nazis. It made Ishbel and I feel extremely lucky to have the opportunities we do and to live in an accepting society where everybody is equal.
“Human greatness does not lie in wealth or power, but in character and goodness. People are just people, and all people have faults and shortcomings, but all of us are born with a basic goodness” – Anne Frank.
Top Tip: Make sure you book the Anne Frank Museum at least a month in advance to ensure you get tickets.
Day 2 in Amsterdam
Saturday the 11th was an extremely hot day and we thought the best way to enjoy the weather was to go on an open boat canal tour. I booked tickets online that morning during breakfast for a 1hr 30min boat tour which departed right next to the Anne Frank House. The boat tour was a lot of fun and it was interesting to see Amsterdam from a different point of view. However, Ishbel and I had already walked all around the city the previous day so we didn’t see anything we hadn’t already seen. The boat was driven by a local Dutch man who pointed the main attractions out to us and told us facts about the city. The canal tour was enjoyable but there were 30 people on the boat and the views of the city were not great because the heads of the people on the boat were in the way. If I was to book it again I would prefer to go on a smaller boat.
Top Tip: Investiagte different canal tours before booking one and make sure you turn up early to get on the boat so you can get a good seat.
Day 3 in Amsterdam
Sunday the 12th was our final full day in Amsterdam and we started the day off by stuffing our faces at breakfast. We then went down to the hotel reception and hired two bikes. Amsterdam has a population of 800,000 and there are roughly 3 million bikes in the city. Cycling is a massive part of the Dutch lifestyle and it was an activity both Ishbel and I wanted to do while we were there. Amsterdam is designed for cyclists, the city is flat and there are cycle paths and traffic lights specifically for bikes.
We cycled into the city centre and made our way to Vondelpark which is a 19th century urban park with ponds, cafes and play parks located on the West side of the city. We cycled around Vondelpark along with hundreds of other people. Cycling in Amsterdam was fun but for two people who don’t use bikes often it was a bit stressful because the city is so busy and there are so many pedestrians walking in the way of the cyclists. We locked our bikes up in the park and walked to the Red Light District.
Ishbel and I wanted to see the Red Light District and we wanted to go during the day because we felt more safe. We sort of knew what to expect when entering the Red Light District but seeing it in real life was unbelievable. Neither of us had seen a prostitute before and then in one day we saw 20+ posing in glass windows. Amsterdam have a handbag and purse museum, a cow museum and in the Red Light District they have a prostitute museum which is the only one in the world. It is a great place to go if you want to learn all about the district and to gain an understanding of what the prostitutes go through and how it feels to be in their position. 90% of prostitutes have been violently abused at least once during their career and 70% have been raped. The majority of women in that line of work decide for themselves that this is what they want to do, but millions of women are trafficked around the world and are forced into prostitution. When we walked around the museum we listened to a recording of one of the most famous prostitutes in Amsterdam called Inga. Inga explained what is like to be a prostitute, why she does it and she told us some pretty gruesome stories about a few of her clients. The museum was extremely interesting and educational, Ishbel and I learnt so much about an industry which we knew hardly anything about.
After visiting the museum we walked back to the park and cycled back to our hotel.
Top Tip: If you rent a bike which looks as though it doesn’t have breaks, cycle backwards!
On Monday the 13th we booked a taxi at the hotel reception for the airport and flew back to Edinburgh.
Ishbel and I had the most incredible weekend and I feel so lucky that I was able to take her on that adventure. Amsterdam is a beautiful city, full of lovely people and I will definitely go back in the future if I get the chance.