26 Jul Tried and Tested: Amsterdam
This month our Citybase travellers were in the fun-loving and picturesque city of Amsterdam:
Our Citybase travellers to Amsterdam this month were Victoria Jackson, Marketing and Communications Manager at Citybase Apartments, who was our solo traveller, Head Partner Account Manager – EMEA, Kurtis Murphy who went on business, and Account Manager, Daisy Vernon who went with friends.
First off Victoria Jackson went to see if Amsterdam could live up to its reputation of being great for solo travellers …
“My flight to Amsterdam went smoothly, and the journey went without a hitch. I’d been to Amsterdam a few times before and my friend Thom and his wife had moved out there a few years ago, so I had often been back and forth to visit. I had booked myself into the Amsterdam ID Aparthotel, which was a short walk from Sloterdijk train station. The apartments were awesome and very trendy, the interior design had an Amsterdam vibe which I loved. My apartment was perfect for me and even had a coffee machine, which I was dying for at this point. I made myself a coffee and messaged my friends to let them know I had arrived safely, looking forward to seeing them the following day for a long awaited catch up.
After a bit of R&R I decided not to waste the first day in this beautiful city and headed into the city centre. Getting there was easy, the apartments were across from the train station and from there I got the train straight to the central station which took less than ten minutes. I’m always stunned by the central station; its architecture is very imposing and not what I expected at all when I had first come to Amsterdam a few years back.
I wandered around the city, sometimes in Amsterdam, you just end up walking for hours on end; with so much to see and do, getting lost in the atmosphere, sights, and sounds is easy. I ended up exploring the canals and walking up to Leidsplein which is a square surrounded by cafes. In the summer this area has a very romantic feel about it. I ended up having lunch at one of the many restaurants that surround the square. Sitting, watching the trams go by and the people walking past, while I had coffee in the sun was extremely relaxing. I decided to continue with the relaxation and headed into Vondelpark, the biggest and most famous park in Amsterdam, to soak up the sun. It turns out Amsterdam can be just as relaxing as it can be busy.
In the evening I had grabbed some food from the nearest Albert Heijn supermarket and cooked a quick dinner in my apartment. One massive benefit of a serviced apartment is that you can always make food in the kitchens if you don’t fancy take away or eating out.
On the second day, Thom, Alice and I all went for breakfast at a small cafe in the Jordaan district, which was great. It was right by the canal and we talked for ages about what we had been up to and what we had planned. I hadn’t seen them for nearly a year so we had a lot of catching up to do as well as a lot of coffee to drink. Sitting in the sun as the boats went by, having a great talk with old friends was just what I wanted out of the trip, and soon we lost track of time.
They both decided to show me Amsterdam and do the grand tour. We headed up to the Museumplein and visited a good few art galleries to start the day off. If you haven’t been to the Van Gogh Museum I would really recommend it. It houses the largest collection of his works in the world and it is amazing to see. Even if you are not a fan of art, this is a must, just to be there and see all the paintings you have only ever seen on the TV.
I had a great day overall and was sad to see them leave to go back home after we had dinner at a great little gourmet sushi restaurant. We had walked so much that day that a comfortable bed was exactly what I wanted.
I was lucky enough to be able to tie my citybreak into a business trip as, for the next few days I was working on a video shoot with some colleagues that were flying out to meet me. I had had an amazing time as a solo traveller in Amsterdam. Amsterdam had truly impressed me with the amount of things I could do as a lone traveller in this magical city. It’s friendly and welcoming, and even as a lone female, I always felt safe and relaxed and was constantly asked for directions, a constant source of amusement to my friends and which I guess means that I must look like a true local! I would highly recommend a solo stay here, whether it is a long or short city break.”
Second up, Kurtis Murphy went to discover how Amsterdam can entertain even in quick bursts between meetings …
“For me it didn’t take too long to reach Amsterdam. The train to Manchester Airport took around an hour and a half and the flight literally flew by taking around three hours to go through security, the journey and passports the other end. The trip from Schiphol to the city centre doesn’t take long and is a very simple process to get a ticket, everyone seems to speak English which was a plus for me at least. Once I reached the centre it was starting to get dark, but the sunset glittered over the water and I had to just wait to watch it, it looked amazing. Getting off at the central station, Residence Inn Amsterdam Houthavens was just under half an hour away by tram.
The apartments were great; really modern with quirky design touches that made it feel very homely. The interiors were contemporary and totally in keeping with Amsterdam; because of the property’s location the views over the port were stunning. Large ships passed across the landscape below and I found it a very relaxing setting. The beds were extremely comfortable and it was not hard, after the journey, to fall asleep.
The next day I met up with some partners of the company to view the fitness suites. I have always been a keen boxer and was talked into showing them a few rounds with the punchbag. The gym is well equipped and great equipment to try out during a stay here. They even have a wonderful swimming pool. After shooting the breeze with our colleagues, we decided to have a bit of a working lunch. We headed to a restaurant that we had been recommended. Pont 13 is a wonderful place located inside an unused ferry. With fresh food and great service we were more than happy to sit and relax whilst talking business. For lunch they serve salads and “sailor’s meals” with a range of drinks. It was the ideal place with views over the water.
After a very nice lunch and a tour around the location and port, I headed into the city centre to see what I could entertain myself with. There is so much to do in Amsterdam, but one thing I had always wanted to see was the Jordaan district, and luckily this wasn’t too far away. This area is host to an immense array of independent shops, homemade crafts and markets. Its back streets and canals are some of the most trendy in Amsterdam and it was wonderful to walk down each and navigate little lanes to see what I could find. With little independent cafes lining the banks of the water, as well as some beautiful little stores, this area is absolutely worth a visit if you want to shop for some unique souvenirs to take home.
Making my way back I decided to walk along the canals. The walk back to the apartments took a little over 40 minutes. Once I got back I decided to make full use of the swimming pool which was definitely a good decision on my behalf as I had walked in the sun all day and a nice evening swim was exactly what I needed. Before I headed to bed I chilled out in the living area in my apartment with a cup of tea to make my night complete. The evening was a peaceful one and I slept so well that night.
My final day had come much too quickly, I grabbed a quick coffee and headed into the city for one last look around. My flight back was at noon so I had a couple of hours to kill by chilling at a cafe with a latte and watched the boats on the canal. It was great weather again, and it’s surprising how quickly the time flies when you are just watching Amsterdam go by.
The journey back to England felt long, but I think that was down to my reluctance to leave. Amsterdam is a city I have always loved with as a citybreak location, being on business here gave me another perspective and an equally enjoyable experience”
Lastly, Daisy Vernon, went with her friends to explore Amsterdam’s best tourist attractions…
“I’d never been to Amsterdam before this trip, but I am already very keen to return. The city is totally unique and there is so much to do and see! We fit as much as we could, given we only had a weekend. I met up with my friends at Manchester Airport and the flight went quickly, even if it was a bit of a bumpy ride. For the weekend away we had only packed cabin bags so that getting off at the other end was really easy. We got a bit lost in the airport, but eventually found the ticket office for the trains that were heading into the city. They have double decker trains which we all found pretty cool as we’d never seen them before. Of course, we sat at the top and watched as the city surrounded us. The central station was much easier to navigate than the airport had been and before long we were standing on the bridge looking toward Central Station, which in itself is a magnificent grand building.
We ended up walking the half hour to the apartments, but the walk went by so quickly as we were looking at everything around us, the picturesque buildings and houses as well as the boats on the water. The Wittenberg Apartments are located in a quieter area of Amsterdam and near to the botanical gardens and the zoo, which is one of the oldest in the Netherlands.
Our apartments were perfect and great for our group of friends. They had so much space we could have easily spent nights in had we wanted too. We left our bags in the apartment as we were all very hungry after the journey. We walked into the city, which wasn’t far and found a little sandwich shop to stop in. Of course, what is a first day in Amsterdam if you haven’t gone to the top of a tall building and swung on the highest swing ever (well in Europe). So, after much persuasion, my friends managed to get me to the top and out on the swing. I’m so glad I did it, but it was absolutely one of the most scariest things I have ever done. It’s called A’Dam Lookout and even if you’re afraid of heights, it is well worth a go, I really felt I had achieved something out of it by facing my fears too.
After a very exciting and spontaneous first day we took to the shops in Amsterdam, the look would not be complete without an Amsterdam souvenir tee! We grabbed some drinks and food from a nearby supermarket and then headed back to the apartment to get ready for a night out.
We changed into our newly bought outfits (unfortunately no one was with me on the idea of wearing the souvenir t-shirts out) so I was confined to a dress. We had already had this night planned for a while, and the first port of call was the Ice Bar, a drinks bar made entirely of ice. We bought a package so we were give three free drinks, a warm jacket, and thermal gloves. This experience was unforgettable and I would definitely recommend it trying it out. The temperatures in the Ice Bar are -10 Celsius, it was very cold but a once in a lifetime experience.
After enjoying the first part of our night in the Ice Bar we headed to discover what else Amsterdam had in the way of clubs. There is no shortage of nightlife in Amsterdam, and there were so many clubs and bars to choose from, we had lots of drinks and danced the night away. Amsterdam is undoubtedly a party city, with its fair share of stag and hen parties, but it feels safe, friendly and welcoming and one of the best nights out I have ever had.
We all slept extremely well and woke up at noon the following day. We were in need of food and coffee. We ended up finding an Irish pub next to Vondel Park, and indulged in a carb-laden breakfast which was perfect and just what we needed to spur us into action for the day ahead.
We headed up to the museumplein where we found all the famous galleries and museums that have given Amsterdam world fame. From Van Gogh to the Rijksmuseum, this area was beautiful with green open spaces as well as a market that was selling homemade jewellery and street food, including chocolate waffles. Despite our large breakfast it would have been rude not to try the waffles and I bought a beautiful handmade clock necklace.
Then it was time for the obligatory Iamsterdam sign photo, which is a must when visiting this city. We were so full and tired we headed back to the apartment, this time for a quiet night in. We watched TV and did a girls night in. Face masks, foot masks, and hair masks were all involved as well as deep discussions and pizza. It was great to just spread across the living room space and chill.
On our last day we headed for the flower market and wandered around the canals, we were able to grab the last few spaces on a boat cruise as well which was great, we had a few free beers whilst listening to the captain and tour guide talk about the history of Amsterdam. The weather held out while we were in the open top boat, but as soon as we got off it began to drizzle. We ducked into the cover of the station and then relaxed with a Heineken at the airport before our flight.
Overall, Amsterdam is absolutely a must for friends going on a city break, and staying in an apartment allowed us to really make the most of our time together.