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  • Writer's pictureSElliott

Day 1 - From Leeks and Dragons to Canals and Tulips

Updated: Dec 24, 2022

Up early today – very, very early!! Half past 3am early!! Final items packed (included Tiggy, Polar and mum), had a shower, took the rubbish out and had a drink before the complementary car arrived to take us to Bristol airport. It was a quiet journey – it’s very different being driven to the airport rather than driving there!


We arrived at the airport around half five. The check-in desk wasn’t open until 6:40am so we hung around for a while before we could get our bags checked in and go through to the departure lounge. Then we found that there were no economy seats left so we were put on “stand by” and if any passengers moved to business class we’d get their old seats. If we couldn’t get on this flight we’d be put on the next one – at 15:40!! But we got through to the departure lounge – which had seats – and had some breakfast from one of the coffee shops. I also managed to get some pumfy hair bobbles from the shops there.


The flight wasn't due to leave until 09:10, and we got seats! The flight didn’t leave ‘til nearly half past. It was a short flight, only 1hr. Mum and I had separate aisle seats so we didn’t get to see much out of the window. On the flight we got served drinks and a sandwich – quite a nice sandwich actually, nice bread with cream cheese, peppers and tomato filling.


We arrived in Amsterdam and joined the passport check-in queue – now we’ve left the EU we go with the rest of the world (the hoi polloi :P) to get our passports stamped. It took ages! Our bags arrived too, so Tiggy and Polar are on holiday with us.


We got picked up at the airport (a huge place that incorporates a bus station, train station and shopping mall) and put on a big bus to take us to the hotel – all 7 of us (6 from the UK and 1 from Australia). We had the whole bus to ourselves.

Picture 1- Amsterdam Schipol Airport

Once we arrived at the Amsterdam Hilton Hotel our bags were taken in by the concierge and we were welcomed by the APT welcoming committee. Whilst the others checked in, Mum and I talked to the APT Amsterdam host about where to go and how to get there. We also got a couple of maps. We then checked in, freed Polar and Tiggy from the confines of my suitcase (I don’t know what they’ve been eating but the case was really heavy!) and got ready to head out to explore Amsterdam.


We started by walking to the tram stop over the canal and behind the hotel to get the no. 2 tram into the centre of Amsterdam, to the Central Station in fact. It was a nice meander through the city. We disembarked at the Central Station and started to walk back to the hotel. We passed a multi-storey car park….of bikes!! So it would be a multi-storey bike park.

Picture 2 - Multi-storey Bike Park, Amsterdam

The Central Station was a really pretty building with lots of architectural decorations and sculptures. It was designed by the Dutch architect Pierre Cuypers and features a palace-like, Gothic/Renaissance Revival façade. This includes two turrets and architectural decorations referring to Amsterdam’s industrial and commercial importance. They also show off the economic and colonial power of the Netherlands at the time of its construction (which started in 1876). I took lot of pictures.

Picture 3 - Central Station, Amsterdam

A short distance from the Central Station was a mooring area, which I think is called the Damrak, where some tour boats were moored. Opposite them were some very Amsterdam-ian type houses – the tall thin ones with thin windows.

Picture 4 - Amsterdam-ian Houses, Amsterdam

From the Central Station we walked from Damrak towards the Dam square. On the way we paused at the Beurs van Berlage building for another photo stop! The architecture here is amazing! The building was built in the late 1800s/early 1900s (construction was completed in 1903) to be used as a commodity exchange. It was designed by the architect Hendrik Petrus Berlage who aimed to modify the styles of the past by emphasizing sweeping planes and open plan interiors. I just like the fancy clock face!

Picture 5 - Beurs van Berlage Building, Amsterdam

We arrived in the Dam square (or simply, the Dam) where the Royal Palace and Madame Tussauds are located. It is the historical centre of Amsterdam. The Dam derives its name from its original function: it was built in 1270 as a dam on the Amstel River (also the source of the city’s name). The Dam connected settlements on each side of the river and was gradually built up until it became wide enough to serve as a town square for the growing town around it. As mentioned above, at the West end of the Dam is the neoclassical Royal Palace, which was originally built as a town hall!

Picture 6 - Royal Palace, Amsterdam

In 1806, the then called Batavian Republic, which included the Netherlands, was forced to accept the brother of Napoleon Bonaparte, Louis Napoleon, as King Louis I of Holland. He moved to Amsterdam and had the town hall converted into a royal palace.


We continued down the Rokin towards the flower market going under the Muntorren (or Mint Tower), which had a shop with the blue and white porcelain that Holland is famous for. The tower was originally part of one of the main gates in Amsterdam’s medieval city wall, the Regulierspoort. It was rebuilt in 1620 in the Amsterdam Renaissance style after the gate went up in flames in 1618. Only the guard house and part of the Western tower remained standing. The name of the tower refers to the fact that the guard house on the side of it was used to mint coins in the 17th century.

Picture 7 - Muntorren (Mint Tower), Amsterdam

After a quick stop for some chips, as my tummy was getting hangry, we walked through the flower market. This is the only floating flower market in the world. Unfortunately we missed the tulip season but there were a lot of bulbs and souvenirs.


Pictures 8, 9, 10, 11 - Flower Market, Amsterdam

Our legs were getting a bit achy by this time so we decided to end our meandering and to make our way back to the hotel. On our way we passed through the Vondelpark. This park is named after the statue of Joost van den Vondel, a writer and playright, which was placed in the park in 1867. The park is a green area with ponds, statues and bikes! Many bikes!

Picture 12 - Vondelpark, Amsterdam

As we made our way through the last few streets to the hotel we saw some mini-mini cars – they were smaller than a Smart Car!

Picture 13 - Mini-mini car, Amsterdam

Our legs were really tired when we got back to the hotel! We had a couple of hours before the buffet dinner so we took that time to reorganise ourselves and have a snooze! I didn’t want to do a faceplant into my food if I fell asleep.


The buffet dinner was really nice, there was some lovely salmon (with a cream sauce) and beef stroganoff. There was also some cooked spinach with cream cheese and lemon which I enjoyed – I’ve tried cooking spinach before and haven’t liked it. Maybe I should try again. Spinach is high in iron. Look out Popeye, here I come!

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