It was supposed to be a Runcation…..Amsterdam, Netherlands

I was supposed to run the Amsterdam Half Marathon in October 2017; this was a decision I had made back in January 2017. However I had a couple of hiccups:

  • I sustained a minor running injury 
  • I fell out of love with running 
  • There was an unexpected and drastic change in my employment circumstances

By the time I was able to confirm that the Amsterdam trip was viable (like 3 weeks before the trip!), all the spaces for the half marathon and 5 mile races had sold out, leaving only the marathon. To be honest I was not really concerned about whether I ran (though I did want a medal), given my apathy towards running at the time but I still wanted to go to Amsterdam, so I decided to be a cheerleader for my friends who were running the marathon and half marathon.

I had previously been to Amsterdam for a friend’s 25th birthday a few years ago; as one could imagine it was a lot of fun….. I was looking forward to visiting the city again with a more “cultured” experience. There was no strict itinerary or must see sights for this trip; however I knew I wanted to cycle in the city and avoid the weed museum (that museum was absolute shit)…..

As has been the case for my last few trips abroad, I had barely paused when I stepped out of the airport. I went with one of my friends straight to the Marathon Expo so that she could pick up her race number and t-shirt; it seemed like about a few hundred people had the same idea, but luckily the queues moved fairly fast. After a trip to the expo I went for food (American pancakes with bacon - I'm a rebel like that) and then met up with another friend (he arrived a day before me) to visit the Banksy & Dali Exhibition at the Moco Museum, Museumsplein (see, I was all about a cultured experience). 

Day 2 was all about being a cheerleader at the Amsterdam Marathon. While it was officially Autumn, the weather was warm and the sun shone bright. There were no clouds and I had actually managed to acquire a few minor tan lines! The energy was great; so many people came to cheer their friends and family participating in the races. I was very content being a cheerleader and did not feel runner’s remorse (when you should/could have run but didn’t). After my friends recovered we spent the evening indulging in quality (and quite pricey) Italian food at …….before venturing into the Red Light District. It was quite amusing observing men staring at guys entering a brothel; like they could believe someone was brave enough to pay for sex! With so many of the attendees in the District being tourists, I suppose many treated the District like a museum – look but don’t touch. It is weirdly enough a very chilled and civil atmosphere; just remember that photographs and recording in the district is not allowed.

Not taken at the main Red Light District

Day 3 started with a chilled and educational canal cruise: I learnt why Amsterdam have narrow buildings (owners were subjected to Window Tax - the more windows you had the more tax you paid) and the effects of gentrification in the City. This was followed by an uncomfortable cycle through the city (more below) and swinging off the edge of a building at the A’dam Lookout. The views from the top of the Lookout were amazing; as was swinging off the edge! Clear weather meant the view extended for miles.

My friends and I cycled to and from dinner; however a wrong turn meant that we ended up in the Red Light District again. Apparently it is possible to cycle through the crowd as long as you ring your bell long and loud enough! 


Day 4 was my final day in Amsterdam which meant more exploration via bike and visit to the oldest flea market in the City.

I stayed right in the Centre of Amsterdam; a minute’s walk from Centraal Station. It was convenient, but to be honest the Centre was manic! There was just so many tourists walking slowly; and to be honest it kind of felt like I was walking down Tottenham Court Road in London. It didn’t quite have my attention and there are other places away from the City Centre that command better attention and exploration, such as Vondelpark, Chinatown or hip Frederiksplein.

I experienced every form of transport Amsterdam had to offer – bus, tram, metro, double decker train, canal boat, cycling and old reliable walking.

From my last visit to Amsterdam, I was already aware that cycling was the preferred method of transport and that cyclists reign supreme on the roads of A’dam; you’re probably more likely as a pedestrian/tourist to encounter an incident with a bicycle than a car. Cycling in Amsterdam was definitely an experience; I had harked on about wanting to cycle through A’dam and was so excited about it until I actually hired and got on the bike. I was like “oh shit, now I have to cycle through Amsterdam”! I’ll be honest I had for the most part found it quite intimidating cycling around the city; I was actually more concerned about other cyclists than drivers. My friends took the bikes with such ease! I had nearly caused an accident or two and I lost my scarf enroute. I eventually found my balance (like 2 hours before I had to return the bike!) and felt a lot more comfortable as a cyclist; it was quite an adventure for me! I promised myself that I would tackle a Boris Bike when I got back to London – at the time of posting I have yet to plant my backside on a bike and cycle in LDN………

I think that I explored more of Amsterdam on this trip than my first visit to the City; it was a more “cultured” experience (well for me anyway). I enjoyed Amsterdam more when I was away from the City Centre; the canal boat ride was so relaxing simply because I got to move around the City without feeling boxed in. The same could be said for cycling; while scary at first it was quite liberating breezing through the back streets. I could actually go back to Amsterdam and still find new things to explore….if I could go back to Amsterdam and find my lost scarf, even better!  

1 comment:

Thanks for taking the time to read my post and leave a comment; I will endeavour to check out your blog as well x

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