Straight to the point. This is not a blog about the seedier side of Amsterdam, it was more of a family visit. (I didn't want to waste your time). But you may find some good tips.
We took a break in between Christmas and New Year to one of my favourite cities. I've not been here for maybe 8 or 9 years, so I was filled with anticipation as we left Birmingham Airport for the short flight to Amsterdam. Along with our family, was our friends & teen daughters, who are all first timers to Amsterdam. So yes, I was nominated as tour guide for 3 days. It's fine, I loved the city and hoped I still would.
Arriving in Schipol Airport (It's massive), most tourists will head to the train station and get the 5Euro train into Amsterdam, this is the best option. Knowing we were down at the bottom end of Town near Museum Square, I knew it was a good half hour walk from the train station, so instead we headed outside to the taxi rank and minibus duly took us to our hotel for 60 Euro. A decent price with football conversation on the way to the hotel as the Turkish driver was a Fenerbache Fan, but all eyes on watching the English Premiership he wanted to discuss Nottingham Forest.
Arriving at the Max Brown Hotel on Jan Luykenstraat, I had a deja vu feeling, onto that later.
The hotel is 4 dutch townhouses converted into a hotel, I instantly loved it. Far removed from the bland corporate hotels, very quirky and boutique. We arrived at 9pm so we had time to grab a beer in the Leidseplein, which is a 5-10 min walk. Leidseplein has lots of bars, having 3 teens with us we opted for a quiet bar. I did ask for the policy and teens have to be out by 10pm which seemed fair enough. Time for a quick couple whilst shooting some pool before bed.
Next morning it is was straight down for Breakfast in the basement. They don't do a full English but more of cracking continental dutch affair.
The family who were with us had booked to go to the Anne Frank Museum (Pre booking essential), so we walked them the 25 mins to the edge of the Jordaan Quarter and left them to it for a couple of hours, while my girls shopped I people watched. Amsterdam has more than enough shops for the most intrepid shopper, all the homogenised high street stores are apparent, along with many boutiques if you hunt them out.
Check this dinky little car which can be driven on the cycle lanes.
We arrived back to the Anne Frank museum and our friends were just leaving, perfect timing for lunch, which consisted of stunning Dutch Meatballs in bread.
Our next stop was going to be across the water to Amsterdam - Noord, somewhere I had never been but I was excited to see a place called NDSM. All the ferries are free and located behind the Train Station. Somehow I ended up on the wrong ferry with our destination the ADAM Lookout, A tall building with swings at the top, so you can swing out over the building, a great idea for a dryer day.
By chance we spotted an underground VR Gaming place, so paid that a visit and tried out a few games, surprisingly we loved it. First time we all had done anything like this, it was a welcome break from the wind and rain.
Back on the ferry and a good walk back to the hotel, rendered us all ready for a minute. Half an hour and then we were back out for tea. We opted for Wagamamas to please the teens. Yes, yes, I know it's not cultural. What to do on our first evening in Amsterdam? Well as creatures of habit it's back to the bar we went to the night before, we knew we could drink till 10 and the teens were happy in there playing pool and the holiday essential uno. 21:45 came round very fast and I chanced my arm for one more round. "You can stay in till 11", the barmaid duly replied. Bonus, we left around 00:30 after a chat with a couple of FC Twente fans. Must be something to do with my English charm.
I loved the quote below on the wall of the bar.
Next morning I gingerly opened my eyes, to my surprise there was no hangover! Must have been all that walking and rehydrating working in perfect harmony. The teens had spotted an Upside Down Museum on the Internet, which was located just out of town on the Underground Metro. Amsterdam is already 2 metres below sea level, so this must be deep. I hadn't travelled the Metro before, I have to say it's a beauty, forget the squeaks and groans of the London Underground. This is smooth.
Arriving at the Upside Down Museum, the lady asked if we had pre booked. Nope. we had just came down on a whim. It was full all day. Never mind, we had a ride out somewhere different to Europasplein. Back onto the metro, we went back up to the train station and went on a leisurely canal cruise for an hour out of the rain. Very informative and I learnt a bit more about the city.
At lunchtime, so we hopped on the "correct" ferry across the water to NDSM, which is based in the old dockland. It's very cool. we lunched at IJver, an old warehouse converted into a Restaurant. Yet again, very cool.
We walked around NDSM and its Art installations, in Summer this place must be vibrant and buzzing with activity. Think Camden Town type vibes.
Back across the waters as it was drawing dark, we decided to wander through the Red Light District on the long route back to the hotel. It's safe enough for teens in the early evening, seeing their jaws drop was interesting enough. Pre 9pm, there are not too many ladies in the windows, it is very much a tourist attraction with canals lit up at night with the reflections of lights.
Our evening meal at a Sports Bar in the Leidseplein, followed by a few beers in a different bar this time topped off with a night cap at the hotel. The view from the hotel towards the Rembrandt Museum is beautiful too.
The last day and it's raining, we've walked for miles over the days and we were leaving town at 6pm. The general consensus was the VR Games place once again, we tried the hardcore VR Phobia games. Now they were intense. Indescribable, but well worth doing.
Over a marathon walked in this great city over the few days including the flower market where we bought the obligatory Tulip Bulbs, followed by food and that was it.
Interesting point: On the way back to the Airport, our taxi driver, a 3rd generation Dutch born Moroccan. His family came over after the Second World War to help rebuild Holland. Another football fan :)
I could easily come back in spring when the city looks so different, there is still so much to discover. For me, Amsterdam is a very family friendly city. I have always loved Amsterdam, and still do.
If you need to know anything, just ask me. Always happy to help.
P.S - There are enough Bubble Tea shops to keep the Teen Girls happy :)
P.P.S - Remember at the start of the blog that I had a deja vu feeling about the hotel? My wife and I had stayed here many many years ago, when we used to "experience" more of Amsterdam.
Fantastic blog again mate, it’s somewhere me and max have always said we would like to go and now I’ve read your review it’s definitely on the must do list….
Maybe a trip in the spring when it warms up a bit…😎😎
Thanks again for the blog and glad you all enjoyed it….🍻🍻👍👍