A little trip to Amsterdam…

Amsterdam had been on my ‘list’ for a couple of years before we finally took a trip there last month.  I had heard so much about Amsterdam – bicycles, partying, fancy ladies and Anne Frank, so I had devised a vision of how I expected this liberal city to feel. I thought that its pulse would be loud and fast with party goers spilling out all over the streets and bicycles gently passing. I was wrong. Very wrong. For a start, sure there are places to party but I didn’t feel like high and drunk people were everywhere and in fact I rarely saw anybody who was either during our stay. The people that I did encounter were lovely, warm and welcoming to the city they call home. I felt like we really experienced the culture and were  lucky to stay at a cute B&B (Helmers) with super nice hosts. They even left a basket of bread and pastries on our doorstop at 8:15am every morning. Anybody who leaves me Pain aux Chocolates is a winner in my book. Especially if they are fresh from the bakery. I’ll literally love you forever.

Anyway, my other preconception regarding the bicycles was terribly wrong. They don’t simply glide along on vintage bicycles carrying a fresh bouquet of flowers with their hair gently flailing behind them. Oh no. They whizz past in packs, like tigers looking for their next meal. Crossing the road was treacherous and I was honestly so traumatised from the intensity of the cyclists that I didn’t dare join them on a jolly bike ride (I was actually really looking forward to cycling through the city before I arrived). 

The other thing that I was half expecting was to see scantily clad ladies hanging out in every other window but in fact we only saw a couple and most of the shop windows were home to many high street favourites such as Abercrombie and Urban Outfitters. Anyway we had a really lovely trip and I think that we both fell a little bit in love with this pretty little city.

Here’s what we got up to and my tips…

Visit Vondelpark.

We were staying a short walk from Vondelpark, which really is rather lovely. It reminded me a little of Regent’s Park with fitness enthusiasts running, dog walkers and those bicycles. Although I found that they travelled at a more leisurely pace through the park. I would really recommend a walk through the park if you get the chance. It’s just nice to have some greenery and escape the city. Plus it’s free, so great if you are on a budget.

Visit Van Gogh.

I would also recommend the Van Gogh Museum. The collection of his paintings displayed there is insane and it was great to see his work in the flesh as well as more personal items such as letters to his brother. My favourite piece was a couple of tubes of paint that he had used. I think that it made me appreciate how he created such incredible masterpieces from little tubes of paint. If you do visit the Van Gogh Museum, book your tickets in advance to save queuing. It’s super easy to do via their website.

Walk around the Anne Frank House.

We also visited the Anne Frank House which I was really excited about and had been the driving force for our trip. I’ve read Anne’s diary a couple of times and have always felt so moved by her story. I think that it’s so easy to become complacent and just take our lovely lives for granted and visiting the museum was a reminder that we are so, so lucky to live in the world that we live in. Sure it could be a lot better, but we’ve come a long way and we need to appreciate that. Anyway without getting political, I would really recommend the Anne Frank house. Tickets go on sale two months’ in advance and sell out quickly. Unfortunately we planned our trip short notice and had to queue for over three and a half hours to get in. It’s prebooked tickets only between 9:30 and 3:30 and then those who are queuing can enter after 3:30pm. We started queuing at 2:30pm and were let in around 6pm. It was freezing and I felt like it took me a week to warm up again!

Embrace the Heineken Experience.

This was an attraction that pleasantly surprised me. I’m not a massive beer drinker so I was thinking that this excursion probably wasn’t going to be my highlight. However, I actually really enjoyed this. It was great to learn about the history of Heineken as well as how it it made. It’s a very modern experience with lots of things to see and do. You can even have your own special bottle printed and you get free drinks – hurrah! We booked our tickets in advance so we pretty much just strolled right in. I think that people of all ages would enjoy this – even children!

Take a canal cruise.

We went on a little cruise around the canals and it was really nice to see the city from a different perspective. It was also very relaxing and I again something that I think people of all ages would enjoy.

Visit the A’Dam tower.

We took a trip over to the A’Dam Tower which is kinda opposite Centrale Station. It’s basically a really tall building that offers great views of the city. There is also a swing on the roof top that is the highest swing in Europe and actually goes over the edge. It’s €5 a turn and I would have loved to have had a go but unfortunately I didn’t as Phil is terribly scared of heights and it was pretty cold. So I decided that it probably wouldn’t be much fun in the cold on my own. Next time though! There’s also a totally instagrammable bar to hang out in and a really fun lift.

Go Shopping.

Let’s be honest, a trip to the shops is always on our list when we are away. I like picking up bits from my favourite brands as well as discovering new ones. On this trip I spotted a really cute striped shirt by Christian Berg. I don’t know much about this brand but I’ve never seen it in the U.K. and the quality seems good so I’m quite pleased. Anyway, Amsterdam is a great place to meander around the shops.

See a show.

We didn’t see a show during our stay, but I’ve heard there are some interesting ones around as well as familiar shows that you can find on the West End.

Have you been to Amsterdam? What would you recommend?

L x 

My Favourite things to do in La La Land…

It’s absolutely no secret that I adore Southern California. From the golden sunsets to sandy beaches I’m completely head over heels in love. It all started in 2015 when my husband and I spent a month on honeymoon along the West Coast of America. It was such a fun and dreamy time that I would relive over and over again in a heartbeat. We had just so much fun and it was from that moment on that Los Angeles became one of my favourite places in the world. That’s why when the opportunity arose to spend ten days in LA again I leapt at the chance and we were on a plane to soak up the sun by the time you could say USA. Well, almost. 
Anyway after returning from our trip I have been inspired to put together a few things that I love to do when I’m over in La La Land.

Being a Disney addict means that no trip is complete without a Mickey fix and the parks in California are fabulous. 

I must admit that the Adventure park and Disneyland itself are my favourite of all the Disney parks that I’ve visited (which includes Walt Disney World in Florida!). 

I think that the fact that this park was the original just gives it a little extra sparkle and there’s so many unique rides that I just love (the Cars ride is so cool!).  I also like that you can hop between the parks super easily (like in Paris) and it’s not overwhelming (like WDW can be). Plus it’s all in English so I feel like I experience it fully. Anyway, I always have so much fun here so I would definitely recommend a visit!

One of the other things that I love to do is shop. We love walking around the mall having a nosey and until recently you could pick up quite a bargain with the US/GBP exchange rate. A lot of my favourite brands are American so I’m in my element!

A new discovery from our recent trip was Knott’s Berry Farm, which is a theme park located in Anaheim. It’s so much fun and quite quirky. They have a couple of really odd rides there. It’s also not as busy as Disney and we literally never queued for anything. Hurrah!

We stayed in Santa Monica for a few days on this trip and it was really lovely. We loved cycling along the beach (which is also what I loved doing on our honeymoon in Long Beach), and the cycle paths that are literally on the beach make it super safe and easy. There’s loads of places to rent bicycles cheaply too. I think we paid around $16 for a couple of hours. 

There’s quite a lot to do in Santa Monica from the pier to Muscle Beach and the beach itself is layered with beautiful golden sands.

Long Beach is a gorgeous place to explore with lots of nice restaurants and a pretty marina to walk around. It’s also where they filmed a scene in Clueless which always excites me!

I went whale watching on this trip which is something I didn’t do last time as we had just been swimming with sharks in Hawaii and  poor Phil had felt terribly seasick so he didn’t fancy hopping on a boat. We also went whale watching in Iceland last year which was unsuccessful as I didn’t see any whales and poor Phil spent the four hour boat journey vomiting! 

This time I went with my friend Kate and was absolutely blown away. We were so incredibly lucky to see four grey whales as well as lots of sea lions. It was one of the most enchanting experiences seeing these wonderful giants living wild and free. We used our LA Go cards for this trip (as well as Universal and Knott’s Berry Farm!), so it wasn’t remotely expensive. I am planning on going again when we next visit for the summer migration.

Long Beach is also rather lovely with its marina and, er, beach. There are lots of nice restaurants in the hood (including the delicious Wokcano) and there are lots of cute places to enjoy the LA Lifestyle. As well as some totally instagrammable shops near the marina.

Have you visited LA? What would you recommend?

L x