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A wholesome trip to Amsterdam

In early July, my pal Lynsey and I went to Amsterdam to celebrate our 20th friendiversary, that's a thing right? We've been friends ever since she waltzed into my year 3 class, the new girl, and we bonded over the love of our hamsters and Sweet Valley Twins.

This is a bit of a weird one as far as travel posts go, as we went to Amsterdam, and we didn't go to the Van Gogh museum, we didn't go to Anne Frank's house, and we didn't even try the umm... local delicacy. And I am not just saying that because my Mum and Dad are my keenest subscribers. Honestly, we didn't smoke anything, we didn't go out out in the red light district, and we didn't go to any sex museums or shows. Although I did see two prostitutes in the window, but that is beside the point and immature to mention, sorry. It was really, truly, a genuinely wholesome time. We were in bed with the Gilmore Girls on our ipads by half 11 each day, and it was exactly what I needed. Amsterdam is exactly the type of city to just wander, and snack and do not that much in. (Though I am not suggesting you go there and sit in bed watching the Gilmore Girls, one episode per day to fall asleep to, max. would be my advice)

We rented an Air bnb overlooking the canal, in the Overtoomburt area of Amsterdam

Originally I was very pro renting a houseboat, but we weren't really organised to find a good one in a nice area, and the loveliness of the surroundings of our canal apartment made me realise the location was everything, and I am glad we ended up in it.

Waking up to a view of a sunlit canal was one thing, but all the lovely shops and brunch places and bars full of locals was even better. Each morning, before venturing into a radius of about 300m to scavenge for breakfast, we had a tea on our little balcony, overlooking our neighbours garden and balconies who were doing the same. Listening to all the Dutch families and friends busying about in their homes below and around us on a weekend morning - kids playing in the tiny backyards, Motown music floating up from one apartment and filling several, it was lovely to get a little slice of a Saturday morning at home in Amsterdam.

We borrowed bikes, and we actually rode them...

...rather than just posed about with them which wouldn't have been that pretty as my ride was not the one pictured but a lime green mountain bike that was slightly too small and made me look like I was riding a BMX. So hey, I didn't quite fulfil my dreams of being a cool Dutch girl cycling around Amsterdam dressed in expensive looking minimalist clothing, with a bouquet of tulips in the vintage basket of my foffa street bike, but I did flipping ride a bike! Which, bearing in mind I only get on a Boris Bike in London is when I don't need to cycle more than 100m and I've had a shot of dutch courage, I think was a pretty good effort.

We followed the music...

To get ourselves road ready on the bikes (Amsterdam has amazing cycle lanes, and 60% of trips are made on two wheels - just look at this video of their rush hour! But as safe as you feel from cars, you worry that you might cause a traffic jam of cycles if you don't pedal off fast enough after a green light so) we turned off the roadside cycle paths, and into Vondelpark. After having a coffee (and then a beer) by the river we pedalled off to explore the road but got distracted by the sound of music on our way out, and detoured to the open air museum where they were having a free summer festival. So we took another break, and spent a couple of hours enjoying some Dutch tunes and a glass of rose. In the evening, we parked our bikes outside our apartment, and again, followed the sound of a trumpet round the corner, where a small swing band was playing to about 40 Amsterdammers of all ages: kids dancing with their parents, an older lady really getting into it with the arm movements, cool Dutch teens bopping about. We grabbed a blanket and a seat outside at a local Italian, ordered fresh spinach and ricotta ravioli, a bottle of red and enjoyed the live show. It was delightful.

We ate bitterballen and drank the local beers

Bitterballen is a sort of like a potato croquette, but meaty, and still delicious. Amsterdam bars are full of local beers on tap (there is way more to Dutch beer than Heineken) and it is also a great place to sample a few of its famous brewing neighbour Belgium's beers too.

But as well as the typical Dutch food, Amsterdam is a great place for getting your strawberry gazpachos, banana and bacon brioche french toast and truffle parmesan fries.

The one thing I am a bit sad I missed though is De Kas. Next time I go to Amsterdam - and oh my there will definitely be a next time, I am desperate to dine in this amazing greenhouse come restaurant De Kas. And I have heard that ol' Van Gogh museum is worth a trip or two too, and you have to see Amsterdam in tulip season. But hey it is good to leave a party before its over, and it was nice to leave Amsterdam having just wet my appetite for the city. Too many metaphors in one sentence, sorry, but you get the gist.

Happy friendiversary Lynsey! May we be just as camera ready, even on a windy day, in another 20 years...Sorry I put this photo of you on the internet, but I still think you look really pretty!

Happy Sunday! Have a good one.

PS. A more structured travel post - a tourist day in NYC

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