Travel photography: Easter in Amsterdam

Where: Amsterdam
When: 18 – 21 April 2014 (Easter Weekend)
How: Easyjet from Manchester Airport
Stay: Hotel Doria via
Who: Emma, Pam, Suzanne
If someone asked me to describe Amsterdam without having ever been I would have said – loud, stag do’s, red light district & sex museums.
Now if someone asks me I’d say… my favourite European city – welcoming, culturally diverse and eclectic – go now!

I had never really thought about going, but I had in my head that I wanted photos of canals and after getting my Venice fix, I wanted to go to the canals in Copenhagen. However,  the more I mentioned this to friends, the more doubts they put into my head for the expense when I got there and also when they had previously been it had been dirty in their opinion. So I then asked Linzi who suggested Amsterdam… now with Linzi practically seeing the whole world, I figured it must be something to rave about if it is high up on her list. So I went with my gut that Linzi is a good adviser to have and we booked.
Amsterdam is the most laid back & eclectic city I have ever been to, the red light district is contained to 3 or 4 streets and as soon as you step outside that area the rest of the city is very charming and mellow.
Barcelona has been my favourite European city for as long as I can remember but Amsterdam has now leaped way ahead. I love the buzz of Barcelona and always will, but compared to Amsterdam everyone is in such a rush, and you don’t really have time to just ‘be’. But Amsterdam welcomes you with open arms, and lets you go about your daily business, no pressure.

We stayed at Hotel Doria, just off Da Square. For 435 euros for 3 nights in a triple room including breakfast. We booked via and went for the cheapest central hotel we could find, this being 300 euros cheaper than the 2nd option we were not expecting major things. How wrong we were!

Just off Dam square the location was perfect, we were able to walk the city easily and never had to rely on taxis or public transport. Our room was small and basic but just what we needed and most importantly was very clean, and was even cleaned daily including fresh towels daily too. Plus a free of charge safety deposit box in the wardrobe. For us we didn’t want a view, so it didn’t matter to us that ours was the wall for the hotel behind, if you did want a view, you may have to look for a different hotel. The staff were friendly and very helpful and a continental breakfast was included in the price too.
Just to give you an idea of distances, we managed to walk from our hotel to Vondel Park / Rijksmuseum in around 30 minutes and in the opposite direction from the hotel to Jordaan in around 30 minutes too, we didn’t rush either. Everything we needed in the city was accessible on foot, but other options such as trams and bike hire were also great options if needed. I’d say avoid taxi’s unless you have to use them. From our experience they try to rip you off, because we arrived late  and we thought if the taxi wasn’t too much we would take one why we didn’t really know our way around and It was dark. We were quoted 60 euros! No thank you! So we toddled back off into the Airport and hopped on the train, every 15 minutes to the city centre and for only 4.50 euros each was the best option.
Over the weekend we found that the city is a late starter, I had a list of photographs I wanted to capture so we were up and out of the hotel bright and breezy on the Saturday morning, it was like a ghost town, perfect for my shots! Around lunch time people started to emerge, more shops and cafes opened up. Even when the city was bustling it never felt rushed. Certain areas like Dam square and Rijksmuseum were areas of frenzied  tourists, but step away from these and people manoeuvred the city calmly. BUT beware of the bicycles, as long as you realise quickly that bikes have right of away over pedestrians, cars and trams then all will be well and no one will get hurt…. Hearing ‘move move move’ on our first outing then having a bike come within inches of us at 100 mph we learnt this lesson quickly.
If I had to sum up Amsterdam in one word it would be cool.
With such a wide variety of people from all kinds of backgrounds and the variety of cuisines and the old world feel to the bars, and laid back vibe in general it is my favourite European city to date, and I feel like it would cater to any type of person.
– Vondel Park – luckily we had the weather on our side and managed to enjoy an afternoon in the park, laid back vibe, people walking / cycling round, picnics & wine.
 Jordaan District – quaint, small bars, pubs and cafes, cobbled streets and canals, very relaxed, even when it was busy had quite a relaxed vibe never rowdy.
– Apple pie – we tried  a variety of apple pies, all amazing. Eat apple pie in as many of Amsterdam’s cafes as humanly possible. (Especially Cafe Papeneiland)
Meal – average 5-8 euros lunch, 15-20 euros dinner not including drinks
Drinks – average in bars 3 euros for cola, 7 euros for a spirit and mixer, 5 euros for beer
Shopping – all the high street brands had big stores, also a great mixture of boutique shops and markets
Amsterdam I will see you again.
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