Three yogis in Amsterdam, I’m sure you’d expect all flower fields and healthy food and plenty of good clean fun. Well, we lived up to the first two stereotypes but as they say, “When in Amsterdam”…
Debauchery in the Dam
I arrived into Schiphol airport late Friday night already buzzing with excitement to see my best friend from the yoga teacher training course I’d completed just over a month earlier. As soon as I wandered through the gate and spotted Luke’s face, I made a dash towards him and an almighty leap into his arms. When my feet finally landed back on the ground we raced through the airport chatting excitedly, catching up on what we’d been up to over the past few weeks as we made our way to his apartment in the heart of Amsterdam, nestled between the Heineken Brewery and Rijksmuseum, (neither of which we visited because we were too busy getting involved in the Kings Day celebrations, but more of that later).
We went to bed early, snuggling up on a mattress on the floor, and sleeping in far too late until Luke had to practically run to work to avoid being late. After an emotional few weeks following the drama of bumping into my ex, I’d been so looking forward to some affection from Luke, I’d never had a gay friend before but I was certainly liking the benefits, knowing that I could have an unlimited supply of affection from a beautiful man without any of the drama of emotions getting in the way. (Although the resemblance to my ex did complicate that complete non-attachment a little!)
Tourist about town
Once Luke had left for the day, I leisurely got ready then set out into town, pocket Rough Guide in hand to direct me along the way. I’d planned on getting the touristy attractions out of the way before our other friend Katie arrived as I knew she’d already visited several times and had likely ticked off all of the major attractions. I wandered along the canal ways, stopping at the flower market along the way before heading towards the Anne Frank house. It was chilly and drizzly out but I was still buzzing with excited energy for the big reunion with Katie and for whatever the evening ahead might entail.
The weather took a turn for the worse and so I stepped in to a cosy looking café (Roos and Toos) and enjoyed a yummy lunch of Thai lentil soup whilst I waited for it to pass, then made my way to the Anne Frank house only to discover that the queue was trailing right around the next street. I’d already decided that I loved Amsterdam and would no doubt be visiting again sometime so could afford to skip the queue and perhaps visit on my next trip.
By now I was exhausted and wandered back to Luke’s apartment for a lie down before Katie arrived. I didn’t get much chance of a nap though because my terrible sense of direction meant that I got lost and by the time I got home, Luke had arrived to pick me up for a side saddle ride on the back of his bike (soooo Amsterdam) to meet Katie at Centraal Station.
The three amigos united, we did what everyone does (surely) when they come to Amsterdam…headed straight to the Red Light District to pick up some mushrooms and some of the green stuff (a plant based diet indeed!)
Giddy to be reunited, we wandered through the backstreets and headed to Luke’s house where we lit up and spent the evening chatting and laughing through a haze of smoke.
The next morning I felt surprisingly sober as we rushed around getting ready for brunch with some of Luke’s friends who were picking us up to take us to one of their favourite brunch spots before we carried on the car journey to Keukenhof or the Flower fields as they’re more widely known.
As expected, the flowers were stunning and we managed to while away a whole afternoon just wandering through the perfectly manicured gardens before Katie and I had finally had enough of the cold drizzly weather and begged the boys to take us home, ready to warm ourselves before the evening’s festivities.
The next day was one of the biggest celebrations of the year in The Dam, although I must admit I’d never actually heard of King’s Day until Katie mentioned it. Naturally much of the partying started the night before so we wrapped up in our finest warm clothes, filled our stomachs with the local Heineken beer and headed out to one of the outdoor parties. The atmosphere was jovial and there wasn’t a trace of some of the crazier antics that you get at festivals such as the Notting Hill Carnival in London. In fact Amsterdam felt like one of the safest and friendliest cities I’ve visited, but that could have been the wonderful company we were in.
When it got too cold to dance in the streets, we tucked into a quiet bar down one of the side streets and warmed ourselves up with even more beer before finally calling it a night and heading back to bed, ready to do it all again the next day.
After an action packed few days, Katie and I relished a relaxed morning getting ready for the day’s festivities whilst Luke headed out to meet a friend. We sat on the balcony chatting and laughing in a cloud of smoke before heading out for brunch. En route we collected various bits of orange paraphernalia to add to our already eclectic outfits, soaking up the party atmosphere and enjoying the city even more in the sunshine. After breakfast, we grabbed a Prosecco from one of the street stalls and made our way over to Centraal Station to reconnect with Luke and get to know some more of his friends as we caught the ferry over to Amsterdam Nord where we could escape the mass of tourists but still enjoy the celebrations in a more tranquil setting.
We found a spot on the harbour side where a DJ was playing in the distance, stocked up on some beers and got merry for what was sadly my last afternoon in Amsterdam. I was keen to stay for the evening but I had a flight to catch and so stumbled my way to the airport in a daze of beer and green smoke, which no doubt clung to my clothes as I traipsed my way back through the airport and on into London.
It wasn’t a typical trip and in fact other than the flower fields and the King’s Day celebrations, I missed all of the traditional tourist attractions like the Anne Frank House, Van Gogh Museum and Rijksmuseum but actually it felt more like my kind of travel; great company, new friends and lots of laughs. I felt like I saw a side of Amsterdam that only someone who lives there would get to see rather than simply ticking things off a list of ‘things to do’ and the fact that Amsterdam has left a lasting impression on me as I city I’d like to return to says it all really.