The only time an early alarm clock is acceptable is when you’re heading for the airstation to lands afar…
This is my fifth visit and I know I’m going to fall in love with the place all over again.
Happy, mellow people on bicycles. Seventeenth century Dutch canal-side architecture. Cute little Rosie and Jim boats. Tulips, all the colours of the rainbow. And a whole load of whores.
What more could you ask for?
Dear Mr Stellios
Getting there was as complicated as a simple task never needs to be – it was as though we’d never been to an airport before.
After a completely unnecessary forty-five minute wait in the queue to check in (the whole point of checking in online and only carrying hand luggage is to avoid this), we were turned away from the desk with less than half an hour to get through security and to the gate.
My Tier 0 and travelling compadre thought she’d cheated the system. Last time she’d flown, she had separated her toiletries into two bags and got in trouble for it. So this time, she had an AHA! moment.. she’d packed the entire contents of her bathroom cabinets into one giant sealable bag.
Five minutes later, while I was being tested for explosives, she was saying goodbye to hundreds of pounds worth of Lancome and Dior…
As she deliberated on which ten of her precious liquids she wanted to keep, I rushed ahead to get us a few ridiculously overpriced bottles of water and some motivational in-flight reading material (Cosmo), before running to Starbucks for the coffees we’d been talking about since the taxi had picked us up.
LAST CALL FOR FLIGHT WHATEVER TO AMSTERDAM.
Ok so no time for coffees.
She was racing through Duty Free with her sandals half on, cursing the jobsworth who’d “binned” her face serums and I was crying over a Frappuccino that never was. Oh and I’d left the ten quids’ worth of bottled water at the bagging area in WH Smith’s. Excellent.
Miniature dramas aside we were on board the giant tacky orange and white machine, ready for lift off.
Love is in the air
I’m smiling writing this – flying is up there with Christmas for me. Excitement quivers all over the place. It’s so exhilarating flying through the air at hundreds of miles per hour headed for an adventure.
We touched down before most Amsterdamians would have even had their morning Hagelslag.
A five minute train and ten minutes on the number 17 tram et voila, we arrived at Citiez hotel in Osdorp.
When I booked the flights to Amsterdam as her 30th birthday present I made two slight miscalculations.
First, money wasn’t something I was particularly conscious of. I’d stared at my impending payrise on an approved budget sheet for nine months and was about to enjoy a low tax life in Hong Kong. And secondly, I conjured up accomodation prices in my head with reference to my last visit seven years ago. Prices have gone up a little bit (loads) since then.
Accomodation in Amsterdam is pricey; even bunk beds in a hostel were averaging €150 a night. If it wasn’t for my parental saviours offering up their Tesco Clubcard vouchers for hotels.com, we probably would have had to cancel the trip.
City centre hostels and hotels are low rated and are not necessarily the cleanliest. So we looked to the outskirts of the city and found a little gem called Citiez in Osdorp.
It’s situated amongst a cluster of shops, which feels a bit like a sunnier version of Birkenhead Square to be honest, but it’s clean, modern and accessible with an amazing fresh breakfast buffet.
It’s a few minutes walk from a really pretty lake called Sloterplas with a fountain and ducks and boats and stuff.
After checking into Moscow (all the rooms are city themed), we sat down to devour a seriously indulgent breakfast banquet. I smashed a bowl of fruit salad to smithereens which woke everybody up and Tate nearly choked to death on her cocopops when I looked up mid-croissant and said “it’s quite weird not having a purpose in life”.
With all if this before 10am, we decided day one would be all about R&R.
Sun, Sand and Strudels
We strolled on the West side of the lake looking for a perfect spot for a bikini bathe and stumbled across an urban beach. Real sand and water you can swim in, smack bang in the middle of Amsterdam. Magic.
We lay down and ping ponged conversation at each other at high velocity with intermittent breaks to prevent our ears from bleeding.
You know it’s a Tier 0 when your topics can switch from Drugs to Darwin in 30 seconds and when you start banging on about the extinction of aboriginal tribes and loss of their unscripted histories – you stop, look at each other with disdain, give a telepathic timeout sign and lie down for thirty minutes of much needed silence.
Kids. Kids on a beach when you’re trying to sunbathe and relax. Kids playing volleyball over your head so that every bash of the ball fills you with the fear that your head is abour to get a wallop. But at least I found my purpose in life for today; today I’m a volleyball net.
After a day sunning on the sand we headed back for a lakeside prosecco picnic before dinner at Meram, the Netherland’s first non-alcoholic restaurant for a Turkish bite.
So day one complete and it’s been unexpectedly, utterly civilised. I haven’t fallen in a canal, got a tattoo on my forehead and I’m still in possession of my passport. Mum’ll be so proud.