The Netherlands

The Netherlands: the first stop on our Europe trip

Amsterdam

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Summer 2016 was the year we decided to put our anxiety behind us and travel around Europe. Did it go to plan? lol no. Did we enjoy it? absolutely. Some nights I sat and thought i’d made the biggest mistake of my life. Thoughts ran through my head about money, my feet hurt, I had sun burn and my shoulders had backpack strap dents in them, but, I wouldn’t change my first attempt as a traveler for anything.

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We got a flight from Manchester Airport direct to Amsterdam, the flight was quick and cheap and the airport was easy to navigate. We reluctantly armed ourselves with our backpacks and mentally swore at ourselves for packing all the ‘just in case’ outfits that were adding the extra weight, jumped on a train and headed towards central Amsterdam.

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We chucked our backpacks in lockers in the train station and walked in the direction that felt ‘right’ and tried to find our bearings while taking in the signs and trying not to get knocked in to the canal by fast paced tourists and locals who passed us.

Amsterdam is unlike anywhere I’ve ever been before, sex shops where sandwiched between restaurants and high street clothes shops and the streets were buzzing with people having fun. We acted like your average 21 year old and laughed hysterically at the wind up masturbating man toy we found while wandering around the shops and took the obligatory video for snapchat.

After our chips and churros pit stop, we made somewhat of a plan and started walking towards the red light district while having a conversation about what we expected it to be like and let me tell you, it was everything and more.

As adults, you’d assume we would be able to keep our cool as we stumbled across our first red light district window. Β Well, we were shocked at first ( like we hadn’t made a plan to go and find one) and then we had a fit of teenage giggles because nudity in public is so unheard of in the UK that we simply didn’t know where to look or how to act. But soon they started appearing so much that they became the least interesting part of the district.

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We were pleasantly surprised to stumble across the floating flower market, which was very aesthetically pleasing and was full of any instagram addicted gals ( lol me) dream photo opportunists.

It was really busy and a little cramped (major impending doom anxiety after realization this was all on a boat) and we may or may not have got shouted at for touching the lovely cactus display but honestly if you say that your first thought when looking at a cactus isn’t ‘ I wonder if that will hurt if i touch it’ you’re a liar.

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Heemskerk

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We stayed in a castle. a f#cking CASTLE.

Realistically this hostel was really out the way, a bit of a pain in the arse to get to from the train station (with backpacks) and a little bit of an oversell. However, it was clean, had friendly staff and the breakfast was good.

I think Assumburg castle would be more suited as a one night stay on the way in or out of Amsterdam just for the novelty of staying in a castle. Β Heemskerk is a lovely little place with fields, waterways and well kept cycle paths and the grounds around Assumburg castle are stunning.

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We took advantage of the bike rental and decided to have a low cost, chill day in the sun and see what Heemskerk had to offer on bike. We got mildly lost a few times, a nameless friend fell off her bike, in to a bush and broke her toe which provided jokes for the rest of the day and we had an all round lovely day cycling through fields and almost getting hit by traffic on the odd occasion.

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And that, is my first ever blog post about travel or a destination. What do you think? Leave a comment and let me know!

If you have any recommendations for places to stay/ things to do in Amsterdam please let me know as I plan to return.

Come back next Monday for the next travel post – Berlin!

Cara x

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