Recently two of my best friends got married which meant for two excellent weekends travelling. Amsterdam always seems to be coupled with sleaze and drugs, but after finally visiting for the first time, I actually found it to be really lovely. I always knew there was a quiet allure to the city and that the Red Light District wasn’t its defining feature, but it was nice to get out there and see it for myself.
We got lucky with the weather as it had been rainy and cold for much of the month, but the Friday we landed had clear and blue skies. In fact, it was great weather all weekend until on the way home on the Sunday. We hadn’t really prepared much in the way of exploring, which made it all the more fun as it’s better when you’re making up the journey as you go along.
The first thing we did was sample the local delicacies and whilst roaming around the back-streets for a while, eventually came across the “Nine Streets” where I sat down and had this for breakfast:
And there were all sorts of other weird and wonderful food stuffs to try. My favourite was probably the fries and mayonnaise, as sickening as it sounds. I’d had chips and mayonnaise before, but never in such greasy and profoundly acceptable manner. They were delicious and perfect to eat whilst wondering around, exploring the quaint back alleys.
It was amazing in the day when the sun glistens off the canals and I definitely recommend taking one of the boat rides to really get to see everything. Just make sure you get an open-roofed one, as inside can get a bit stuffy. It was fairly busy, but during the evening and nights it’s like another world. In the Red Light District there’s just crowds of people bustling by and chattering. I was surprised at how friendly and upbeat the atmosphere was, it wasn’t really like anywhere I’ve ever been before. Yet despite the crowds you can still quite easily find plenty of room in the bars. And the selection of drinks is always excellent. Try any of the Trappist beers you find – they’re all delicious (albeit very strong).
By the end of the weekend, it felt like I hadn’t really properly explored. There seemed to be so much more architecture and interesting places to get around. Yet, I kind of liked that I didn’t exhaust the city and have a decent excuse to go back and visit some day. It was a complete change of scenery a couple of weekends later, as we headed into English countryside:
April can be a funny month for weather, so we were lucky again to be sunning ourselves in Shrewsbury. The wedding was at a huge private property with what looked like endless acres of fields surrounding it. It was the sort of place where you can’t walk very fast down the corridors because your eyes are too busy admiring every inch of the property and all the intriguing wall decorations.
It’s always good to have a wedding that falls over a few days, so you can properly settle. There’s nothing worse than reaching the peak of the evening and realising you have to drive all the way home. As such, we enjoyed the sun and scenery to the max and spent much of the time outside and in the courtyard.
From the peacocks happily nosing about and horses trotting around the fields, to the colourful, open log fires and giant, glass chandeliers, everything there was a talking point. The kids were just happy to get on the swings, though.
It’s nice to live like kings for a few days, but getting back to dreary London and your mere terraced, non-castle-like house is a touch depressing. Nonetheless, it was definitely one of the best times I’ve ever had. Now, like when any holiday ends, you need to conjure up something else to look forward to. Hopefully someone else will get married soon.