NYE City Break: Amsterdam

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

It's not ideal when your best friend moves to Amsterdam for four and a half months, until it's time to go and visit that is. Me and Emily have been friends for ten years this year so she's one of those friends that you know inside out and can always laugh about old times with, so to say I was excited is an understatement. Last year we spontaneously decided to spend New Year's in Amsterdam along with Jess and Darian. The four of us were best friends in school and even though we've all gone our separate ways since, we always manage to find our way back to one another. We were due to stay at Emily's studio in Leiden but she moved home early as she'd completed all of her placement work before the deadline. Instead, we were meant to be staying in the Hampton by Hilton Hotel but the booking ended up falling through and we ended up staying in Hotel Leiden, which is in Leiden, a student town just outside of Amsterdam which ended up being a blessing in disguise.

We flew from Luton to Schipol on New Year's Eve in the afternoon and started off our mini break with a glass of wine at the airport followed by Bailey's on the plane because it's totally acceptable to drink throughout the holiday from start to finish. Right? It was a quick 40 minute EasyJet flight and when we landed we got the train - which is in Schipol airport - to Leiden. The hotel was a short taxi journey from the station and when we arrived we were greeted by fairly light laden twinkly trees and a large, plush lobby. We'd been asked if we'd like to be upgraded to apartments and we happily obliged. The hotel was gorgeous and every aspect of it from the layout and bedding to the restaurant and service was seriously luxurious. We didn't have much time to settle in before it was time to get ready for the Hed Kandi boat party we'd booked to celebrate New Year's Eve.

We ended up having to get a taxi which cost 100 euros because the trains were only running until a certain time but for a good 45 minute drive, it was a bargain. The party was on a huge, beautiful boat situated on the river and inside was decked with lights and performance acts. I'd never been on a proper boat party before so it was a completely new experience and one which I'd love to do again. The boat sailed at different intervals and you really couldn't even tell you were on a boat. They had a token system on board in order to buy drinks but it was all perfectly organised with clearly located cloakrooms, toilets and a lack of long queues for the bar. The only downfall was that McDonald's was closed on the way home so we collapsed into bed absolutely starving.

We wasted New Year's Day a little as we were all hanging, but once we'd utilised the selfie stick in our pimp bed (it literally had about 15 silky cushions) we went down to the restaurant for lunch followed by a well needed nap to refresh ourselves before dinner. We booked an Italian called Olive Garden in advance and I'm so glad we did because we were all craving carbs to cure our hangovers. The restaurant had such a cosy and intimate atmosphere and the food was gorgeous. I had spaghetti bolognese followed by chocolate cake and even managed to stomach a glass of rose, quite easily might I add. It was far too cold and dark to wander around Leiden but from what we saw it was so pretty, lined with a boulevard of twinkly trees and a calm canal.

After heading to bed we woke up around 10 to get ready for our tourist day in Amsterdam. We got the train there and it's honestly one of the prettiest places I've seen. Granted the streets are narrow, it's overcrowded and your chance of being run over is tripled what with the amount of cars, trams and bikes, but it's full of character, not to mention the buzz. We walked a good two or three miles to find the infamous iamsterdam sign which moves location and also experienced chocomel with whipped cream which is THE best hot chocolate I've ever tasted. We also went to the sex museum which is a must when you're in Amsterdam. The culture there is completely different and it's pretty difficult to comprehend that to residents, it's completely normal.

Sight-seeing and walking around pretty much took up our entire day and exhausted us in the process. After getting the train back we napped (again) before me and Em headed down to the bar for our last few drinks before leaving. Hunger got the better of us where alcohol was involved so we ordered chicken nuggets which ended up tasting like they'd been coated in curry paste. Odd, but quite enjoyable. Sadly on Saturday morning we had to get up bright and early (actually, there was nothing bright about it) and as soon as we stepped on the plane it started raining which of course meant it was tipping it down by the time we were back in England. Thank god for dad's speedy chauffeur service. Getting away for a few days was the perfect end to Christmas back home and I'd love to return to Amsterdam to see more of its interesting and unique characteristics.

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