It started with a 7am flight from Edinburgh to Amsterdam Schiphol. First flight I’ve been on where the morning is spent watching the sun rise.
Apart from some turbulence towards the very end of the flight, things went smoothly and we soon found ourselves on a packed train heading towards Centraal Station.
We were staying at the Ibis Central – a hotel which is literally situated directly above the train tracks. Even though check-in was listed at 3pm, we were allowed into the room on arrival at 10am.
The hotel was much what you’d expect of an Ibis – two twin beds, which were surprisingly quite comfortable, a TV (unfortunately our remote wasn’t working) and a reasonable sized bathroom.
We hadn’t been in the room more than 10 minutes when a snow storm blanketed the city in white. Nice to look at, not so fun to trek through, as we soon found out.
Walking towards Dam Central square, we stopped in for lunch, grabbing two Paninis from a nearby cafe. Warmed with coffee, we soon set back out into the canal laced streets.
Sadly during this visit, the royal palace was closed due to the family being in attendance. Having been inside once before, I was sad that I would miss it this time around.
Instead we headed towards the Oude Kerk.
This is not only Amsterdam’s oldest church, but also its oldest building. It also happens to boast Saint Nicolas as its patron saint. That’s right kids, Santa Claus.
It was here we also ran into what would soon become an obvious theme Amsterdam is adopting – card only venues.
A little frustrating when as a tourist, you generally carry cash. But I bit the bullet and paid by card (10 euros per adult), trying not to think about the horrific exchange rate my bank would have.
The Oude Kerk is fascinating. A converted Protestant church with remnants of the old Catholic worship which used to take place, as seen in the surviving stained glass and in the way the original church was built.
It also has the worlds dullest audio tour. While some parts of it were fascinating – the conversion and its links to the brothel outside – other parts were tedious. And a recurring joke about the church organ gets old after the first two times. They tell it more than 10. The church is also freezing. With high vaulted ceilings and wide open spaces, there is very little that the newer addition of radiators do to the church temperature.
After this is was time for some obligatory canal pictures and a visit inside The Bulldog – a very intense coffee shop and not one which I would recommend, if your trip goes down that avenue.
In desperate need of heat and a nap, we headed back to the hotel.
For dinner that night we found an Indian restaurant about 20 minutes walk away. The Indian Restaurant Balraj not only had some of the nicest staff but also wonderful Indian food with generous portion sizes.
The place was mostly filled with locals which is usually a good sign of an excellent meal. While slightly out of the way, it’s sometimes worth making the effort to leave the tourist targeted areas when in search of a good meal.
The night was quite mild so we decided to walk off our meals before calling it a night.
There was an amazing Irish singer back up in Dam Square. I didn’t catch his name but definitely one of the best buskers I’ve heard in a long time.
Thoroughly exhausted after being awake since 4am, it was time to call it a night and rest up before day two.