To get from Luxembourg to Amsterdam is not straightforward (unless you fly – that’s very easy). The trains go via Brussels and cost a lot and Luxembourg is only serviced by one international coach company which would require changing in Brussels as well. In the end we were rescued by Alejandro. He was driving his brand new car from Spain to Almere (which is between Utrecht and Amsterdam) and we joined him for the final leg of his journey. This was arranged through the lift sharing app Blablacar which is quite popular on the continent but not that widespread in the UK. He was great company and made the journey pass very quickly – extensive discussions of brexit and the european union in general were very enjoyable. Like most european people he seemed more bemused than annoyed by the will of the 52%. He dropped us in Utrecht and we stayed the night in a hotel above a cafe that reeked of cigarette smoke covered up by too much air-freshener – we left first thing in the morning. The walk to the train station was quite nice.
After 16 minutes on the train we were in Amsterdam. I love Amsterdam. It’s such a welcoming city – the only major capital I have visited where the locals seem pleased you have come to visit. It might help that I have family there but I think most tourists who go feel the same thing. We had dinner with my aunt and uncle the first night after watching Ghost in the Shell (it’s really quite good) and checking into our hostel (A&O Hostel, it’s really quite average). I’m already agreeing with what several experienced travellers informed me of before we set off – there’s nothing like a friendly face. We discussed with them our options for what to do the next day and they suggested taking advantage of the unlimited 24 hour travel pass to visit some locations that we’d avoided on previous trips due to their distance from the center.
The first of these places was Amsterdam Noord. It’s the area north of the river Ij that until recently was relatively unpopular. The construction of a metro line (due for completion in 2018) connecting it to the center has caused a storm of development with luxury flats and parks being constructed. There are some areas which have escaped “regeneration” and in one such area we found De Ceuvel. This small community of sustainable businesses and creative enterprises was a very exciting find, and the cafe was amazing. I’d recommend it to anyone who likes to drink great beer outdoors in a relaxed and cheerful atmosphere (that should be all of you). It’s a trek from the tourist center but if you want to experience something that doesn’t involve queueing for the Anne Frank House or climbing the ‘I amsterdam’ sign then make the effort!
The second place was the Rijksmuseum to the south of the center (now you see why we needed those travel passes) but we arrived fairly late in the afternoon so settled for poffertjes and coffee in the Museumplein nearby. We began what I’m sure will be a long running contest of the card game Shithead in this park – Ros is currently beating me 7 games to 6 but I’m pretty confident I’ll pull it back.
If you want to see our complete photos from Amsterdam then they’re visible in the following album or you can see all the photos from our trip at https://www.myjumbokimono.com/photos