Last week I embarked on what was a bit of a pilgrimage for my family. My brother, a pilot and Captain for Easyjet was about to embark on one of his final commercial flights before leaving the company. My Mum was desperate to be on board, mostly to tick off on her bucket list but also, of course, to tell every single person she encountered that, very proudly, her son was flying the plane. Adorable alert. She wore her snazziest leopard print coat. She puts Joan Collins to shame.
So we decided to make a weekend of it and nip to one of my favourite cities, Amsterdam. It also had great significance as Amsterdam had been the first place she’d taken my brother to as a baby and he’d cried the entire way. We were hoping he wouldn’t do the same this time.
I visited Amsterdam five years ago and had a hilarious time with my mates. For a start, the owner of our hotel was an ageing rock star who only ever sat topless, wrapped in a blanket, asking daily if we’d got high yet. But this time I was with my Mum, so thought I should make it a slightly more ‘cultural’ affair. Although at one point she did add ‘we really should take a look in one of those wacky baccy cafes’. Maybe next time Sue.
As cliche as it may be, I love walking along the canals, so I was adamant on staying at a hotel located directly on one. We stayed here at the Amsterdam Canal Hotel. Fell in love with this adorable little window that overlooked the canals. When the bridges became illuminated at night along with it starting to snow, it was nothing short of magical *grabs tissues*.
Then we embraced the cold, spent a bit of time getting lost/trying to figure out the metro system, until, as soon as with map in hand and quite a lot of instruction from a friendly Dutch lady we managed to navigate ourselves around very easily. You soon realise it’s really quite compact. Perfect for lazybones like me.
The famous Rembrandt Square aka a cracking Mannequin Challenge.
The bikes. Love them. Until you almost get taken out by a man on one with three children on the back having a croggy. I like to think this pink number is Beyonces bike and she’s been cycling round Amsterdam littering the city with those ‘I Ain’t Sorry’ stickers to promote her Lemonade album. You should be sorry if so, litterbug.
On the Friday night we headed to the iconic hotel, Pulitzer Amsterdam . The most stunning building along the canal, close to one of my favourite areas, the Nine streets, or if you’re trying to be local ‘De Negen Straatjes’. A quaint, quirky neighbourhood full of vintage boutiques, plus the most instagrammable cafes and shops. Hashtag galore.
The hotel and restaurant, Jansz, where we dined, was that mix of luxury and cool that you always try and attempt in your home but rarely manage. Mix of the beautiful old building with modern, contemporary decor.
The food was superb, we mainly dined on fresh fish; diver scallops, Dover sole and miso cod, obviously topped off with a chocolate cake with salted caramel and cheesecake and washed down with a far too easy to drink bottle of Sauvignon Blanc, hand picked by our waiter. Devine. Also rather exciting for my Mum (definitely not just me), was when Paul O Grady wondered in behind for a meal. The waiter (who was super lovely and Mum, of course, befriended), had no idea he was famous until we informed him. Turns out he’s a local and pops in regularly. Whoops, just blew his cover. Soz Paul.
When one of the waiters asked what I fancied to drink at the bar, I tried to uselessly explain my favourite type of cocktail, that wasn’t on the menu. I just knew that it had lemon and egg white in it. A few minutes and a blow torch later I had my very own perfect lemon meringue cocktail in hand, exactly what I’d tried to explain. Impressive.
The next day we embraced a spot of culture by visiting the Rijks Museum. Spotted the very famous Rembrandt, ‘The Night Watch’ and got a selfie with Van Gogh’s self portrait. Does that make me a phillistine? He painted a picture of himself, so who is the real narcissist VVG?!
If you love either; flowers, bikes, or cheese, you will LOVE Amsterdam. If a fan of all three your head will probably explode.
We had the most delicious food, saw the prettiest streets, cosied up in the tredniest bars and cafes, got a bit tipsy, got a bit of neck ache from obsessive left to right checking of bikes, but all in all a delightful mini break.