Amsterdam – X X X
This time it was a surprise trip for me, arranged by Amanda, as part of my 50th birthday celebrations. Amanda had booked it in secret and all I knew was that we were due at Doncaster Airport on the Saturday morning, but I was oblivious to everything else. Well that’s not quite true…Amanda had told me it would be around 8°C and we were due to get a helicopter from Doncaster Airport to Cleethorpes for a couple of nights in a caravan!
A couple of days earlier, Amanda had almost let the destination slip out whilst we were having a phone conversation in our respective cars. Fortunately, the unreliable network signal rescued her as I didn’t catch what she’d said at the critical point in the conversation. I’m not sure my constant reassurance that I hadn’t heard what she’d said was being truly believed, but it was the truth. To be fair, I can understand Amanda’s concern, as a couple of years earlier a secret trip to Barcelona slipped out in a similar conversation only days ahead of us departing.
The flight was uneventful apart from a slight delay and the dickhead sat across the aisle from me. He looked and sounded as common and chav-like as the stereotype suggests…in fact, he could have been Chav Monthly’s poster boy! Awaiting take-off, he fished out his mobile and headphones, cranked the volume up to full and sat back blissfully unaware that everyone around him was deafened by the hiss. A quite posh young lady in front of us signalled to him and mouthed “Your music is rather loud..would you mind turning it down” to which his reply was “What do ya mean it’s loud, you can’t hear it, coz I’ve got me headphones in”. After 10 minutes of grumbling away to himself, he turned to me and asked for my view, to which I suggested he try investing in some noise cancelling headphones because his were bloody loud and irritating.
Once in Amsterdam, we hopped on the train and then the metro to our hotel. It was a lovely place about a 45 minute walk from Dam Square and 15 minutes from the Heineken Experience. The first day was spent wandering around, getting our bearings, sinking a few beers and grabbing a bite to eat at the Hard Rock Cafe. As avid readers of our blog will already know, we collect the Hard Rock Cafe hurricane glasses from around the world and this was number 18 in our collection.
We made a reasonably early start to day two, grabbed a coffee in the hotel and decided to use the tram to get back to Central Station. We didn’t have any firm plans, just to enjoy wandering around, see some sights, people watch, have a few beers and generally enjoy being together doing what we enjoy most…exploring. After a Starbucks snack and another coffee, we decided to get the ferry and see where it went. It was obviously a commuters ferry, which was free, and took us over to a residential suburb. It wasn’t the best of areas, but it wasn’t going to stop us exploring and it was by no means dangerous.
Walking along the road, having just left the ferry, Amanda said she needed the loo and fast as her belly was cramping. Looking around there was nothing but houses and blocks of flats! As things started to become even more desperate we found a couple of shops and a rather shady looking hotel called Hotel Isis. There was no option (other than going in the kids playground opposite!) so we asked if we could use the hotel toilet. No matter how rough the area or how dodgy the establishment, when you need an emergency ‘dump’ any toilet is a godsend. TripAdvisor rates it as a 3 out of 5 place, but as far as Amanda was concerned it got full marks. Whilst writing this blog I checked out a few of the TripAdvisor reviews and Stephen L’s made me giggle.
After that much excitement and half a packet of imodium, we needed a beer. We found two great places not far from the second ferry crossing point that would eventually take us back to the city centre…well, after a few beers and a steak lunch for me and fish for Amanda.
With beers inside us, the rest of the day involved more bars and people watching. We ventured into the red light area, a ‘coffeeshop’ and a couple of shops that cater to those that enjoy herbal and fungus fun. This brings me onto the XXX in the title of this blog. It confused us and I guess many others. If you’ve yet to make your first trip to Amsterdam you can certainly be excused for not being aware that the XXX symbol can be seen all over town and almost every one of those appearances has nothing to do with the city’s infamous shorthand for the sex industry. Your city may not have its own official city flag, but Amsterdam does and variations of it are all over the place.
The afternoon merged into evening and after a few more bars things became a little hazy to say the least. Although only a short weekend break, Easter in Amsterdam, celebrating my 50th, was an absolute pleasure. We didn’t do the cultural stuff, which isn’t our style on such trips, and the seedier side of Amsterdam is not everyone’s cup of tea, but we had a great time.
This is my first blog post using my new NVIDIA SHIELD K1 Tablet that Amanda bought me for blogging and editing photo’s in Adobe Lightroom Mobile whilst we are travelling around America in a few weeks. Thanks for the great presents and for booking this trip darling, you are an amazing wife… Good choice and well kept secret x x x