Sunday, 31 March 2013

Day three: pancakes and such...

Happy Easter everyone!

So I thought I'd do a brief post before our last activity tonight.

Today we started the day off with a trip to the Keukenhof flower gardens. Because of the prolonged cold snap this year much of the outside display consisted of bare turf and the small beginnings of a flowery bloom. Inside the greenhouses however were a magnificent collection of large, brightly coloured flowers in magnificent displays with a sweet aroma in the air. It was a really scenic environment and I think I spent the majority of my time taking pictures more than anything.

The rest of the day was free time which was a great opportunity to try out some more food!
Being the last full day here in Amsterdam and still not having tried Dutch herring or Pannenkoeken (pancakes) today was officially the day to pig out! That's right, I got both and I have no regrets. Both were excellent dishes. The herring is like a snack food, smoked and served with raw onion and gherkins, bringing about an overall rich and salty mouthful of yummyness. You can get it served as a sandwich or on its own at any stall that reads Frens Haringhandal. I braved it and chose to eat it on its own and truthfully I can say it was quite the authentic treat.

We then headed off to Pancakes! This place is practically featured in all of our guide books so we just had to try it out. Being small (25 seats) and also a favourite here amongst locals and tourists there was an hour wait outside in the cold. But the feeling of misery was only short lived once we were inside and our meals were ordered. The eatery offers a scrumptious array of sweet and savoury pancakes. I personally ordered one with bacon, which were inside the cake, with beautiful triangles of Camembert and dollops of plum compote. It was definitely worth the wait.

Tonight is our last night here in the city and most of us our heading out for an all you can drink cruise (hence my blogging now...) and I can't wait!

Saturday, 30 March 2013

Day Two: Proost!

From the early hours of this morning me and my fellow Top-deckers have been up and at 'em!

Starting the day with a bike tour with Mike's Bike's around the city at 9am, the group was brought to life with the chill of the bitter wind and the lovely views of the city before the bustle of the afternoon. The tour took us through the some of the main sights like the 'I Amsterdam' sign in front of the famous Rijksmuseum, the Anne Frank house (which had a massive queue outside) and the (fake) lizard park. We cycled over a lot of canal bridges which was a work out in itself! And halfway through the tour we stopped off at this lovely little rustic cafe to grab some coffee. It was my first time ever doing a bike tour and I can safely say the company cater for all types of riders, like, say, the short novice... Also the guide was really knowledgeable and friendly with the tendency to crack jokes throughout the tour. It was really good fun.
On a general note, if it's one thing you'll definitely notice upon entering Amsterdam it's jut how much cyclists have a reign over the streets. According to urban lore they are at the top of the transport hierarchy, which probably explains why there are so little cars driving around and also why everyone around here seems to be a pro at riding a bike.

After that some of us went to the Heineken brewery which was pretty cool. Personally my favourite part was this 4D interactive visual experience where we were "brewed and bottled", becoming a part of the making process, with bubbles coming out from the ceiling and a trembling platform. All in all the museum was quite quirky and displayed the long history of the Heineken brand- I would say it's generally a good activity to do but great for beer lovers as you get a beer tasting session and then 2 free complimentary beers at the end of the tour! Awesome, right?!

The latter half of the day consisted of a tour through the red light district. Two of us decided to take up a tour with the Prostitution Information Centre who offer insider knowledge on the district. It was actually really informative and educational, shedding light on probably one of the most misunderstood aspects of the city. We were also given useful tips like to never stand in front of a window because it makes the workers angry as it could deter customers. Loitering could indeed result in pee, water, or even a dildo thrown at your head. Don't do it!
And then came the optional activity that no doubt everyone signed up for: the sex show. All I can say (and will say) is that it was a very theatrical type of show, probably one of the more accessible shows geared to attract more than one type of audience... There were several different acts which were all good, if not a little tacky, but overall the show was at times really funny and entertaining with some awkward parts. It might not be everyone's cup of tea but if you think you'd be up for it it's definitely a to do whilst at the red light district.

Tomorrow should be another fun filled day with yet more exploring and a trip to the flower fields lined up in the morning! I can't wait.

Friday, 29 March 2013

Day one: the journey begins...

My, it's been a long day. What with over 12 hours of travelling from London all the way here to Amsterdam I am well and truly zonked out! We set off at 7 this morning but had to get a ferry 2 hours later than our expected time and so naturally the order of the day was slightly disrupted. I can safely say, however, that despite all that the day has been a generally good one. Everyone's been getting to know each other, making friends. I've made plans with some fellow solo travellers of the group already which is great- I was slightly apprehensive about potentially having to explore the city on my lonesome but now all is right with the world (yay, friends!).

I was also worried about just what exactly it was that I was going to do once here as nearly ALL the museums are sold out over the Easter weekend. Luckily Top Deck offer some pretty cool optional tour activities that you can take to coincide with your trip (really helpful!!). So I went with that.

So, tomorrow will be jam packed with activities, starting the day with a bike tour around the city, followed by a trip to the Heineken brewery. After that I believe we will be going to watch a sex show in the eve which should be interesting, to say the least....

As for now, I'm looking forward to a good night's sleep!


Thursday, 28 March 2013

Amsterdam bound!

At last Easter has arrived and whilst for some that means indulging in several chocolate eggs over the weekend for me it's spending 4 days in the lovely city of Amsterdam thanks to Top deck travel and Student i magazine. 

I could not be more grateful for this brilliant opportunity. Not only do I get to go on this trip but I get to write about it too and have it featured in the Student i magazine. 
I've never been to Amsterdam or the Netherlands so naturally, I am beyond excited to explore this city. Infamous for its red light district and known for such landmarks like the Van Gogh Museum, the Anne Frank House and Rijksmuseum-  I can't wait to visit them and also check out what else the city has to offer. I'm eager to try out the local fare and hope to squeeze in a trip to the Heinekein experience (for a cheeky beer,obv). More importantly I just want to have a good time and make it a really memorable experience. 

In the meantime I've been trying to do some homework on the city itself and purchased this little number today to read on the coach tomorrow. 

My journey starts at 5.30am tomorrow so I should probably get an early night. 
I definitely intend to blog whilst I'm out there so watch this space! 

Also - if anyone has any suggestions of sights to see in Amsterdam please feel free to leave the comment :-). 

Sunday, 3 March 2013

Just to let you all know I'm still here..

Yes! Sorry guys, I know my blog has been hideously un-active for while now. There have been a lot of things going which means my blogging has taken a back seat. This won't continue for long and I will make more of an effort to post!

Otherwise, here's a little update on what's been going on/will be going on:

  • Third year at uni... *cries* 
  • Work, work and more work.
  • I'm getting ready for two MA journalism interviews later this month which, quite frankly, I'm VERY VERY (very) nervous about. So I've been prepping for those by reading the news everyday and trying to memorize some of the important events that have taken place in media land. I might even prepare a little speech.. who knows. My first one is next week, eek! Wish me luck!!!! 
  • I went to see the Lichtenstein exhibition at the Tate Modern on Friday with the boyfriend. The exhibition as a whole was great. Lichtenstein's use of primary colours, heavy outlines and his mimicry of comic cartoons was what really defines his work and being able to get up close and personal with them was pretty cool. In particular I really enjoyed his Art about Art series of works which featured his own interpretations, or parodies, of great masterful pieces which incorporated elements of pop imagery, deconstructing their classical stature to make it his own. I loved his interpretations of Picasso's works. I definitely recommend a visit for any pop-art enthusiast. 
  • I'll be going to Amsterdam at the end of the month, courtesy of Top Deck travel to do some travel-writing. That should be fun! I can't wait to explore and discover the city, I'll be looking out for some cool places to eat for sure. Apparently it's the thing to try a raw herring? There are also a few places in particular that I want to see, including the Anne Frank House and the Amsterdam Museum. I also hear that there are some good art museums about. A trip to the red light district might also be on the cards...  Does anyone have any recommendations of somewhere to visit while I'm there??
  • Right now I should be getting ready for work so I'm going to end this here. 
Shall update again soon!