This trip would see me spend a full day, evening and half a day in the beautiful city of Amsterdam. I opted to do the mini-cruise which included an overnight stay in the city, sometimes you need just a little more time to explore and soak it all up.
I stayed at the Ibis hotel which was literally at the main Central Station. It was perfectly located not only for getting around Amsterdam but also for the pick-up and drop off point for the coach. It was my first stay at an ibis hotel and I was pleasantly impressed, I would definitely opt to stay here again. My room was immaculate, the bathroom was very spacious and the free Wi-Fi was an added bonus! Everything I would look for it included, basically!
Although I have visited Amsterdam several times I have done something different on each visit and this trip was no exception, this was the first time I was specifically hoping to do some shopping and lots of it!
I made my way along Damrak towards Dam Square and soaked up the atmosphere of the Amsterdam Wintermarkt which lined the street from top to bottom. There was food on offer, everything from hot dogs to fudge and it all smelled delicious! Nestled in-between the food cabins were people selling handmade crafts, Xmas tree decorations, wool garments and more. It was such a nice experience.
From Dam Square I made my way towards Leidsesplein where I had hoped to find a Xmas Market, sadly there was no such luck. I was actually quite disappointed although I did come across the lovely little ice rink and there was a definite festive spirit in the air. I had never ventured here before either so I was enjoying all new surroundings once again. I took a few minutes here to enjoy a hot dog, which was so good, before heading back the way I came in order to head along Kalverstraat. Amsterdam’s main shopping street.
I took my time and went with the flow, I was in no hurry and again I had never actually paid much attention to this street in previous visits to so I made the most of it and grabbed some locally produced cheese for my mum and some little Xmas gifts for friends. When I finally made it back to where I had started I decided I would drop my purchases off at the hotel and make some plans for the evening before heading out again for an hour or two. I decided to go with a canal cruise to see the Amsterdam Light Festival so once I had added another layer of clothing (it was BITTERLY cold) I made my way across the street to the Holland International kiosk where I purchased my ticket for the cruise that left at 5pm.
The boat was packed! I was actually glad I had pre-purchased my ticket as the queue was a mile long! The cruise lasted about 75-minutes and took us passed every light exhibit that was part of the festival. Some really were a sight to see, but there wasn’t quite as much as I had expected. I love the architecture in Holland so even when not making our way passed an impressive light creation it was nice to just see the city in the evening. The Hermitage looked fabulous, but I think the one I liked best was the floating four poster bed. It was surreal! Here we are just sailing along and then out of nowhere a grand four poster bed appears in the middle of the canal. Awesome!
When the cruise came to an end I made my way back along Damrak to experience the smells and lights of the Wintermarkt at night. It was even more impressive now than it had been earlier in the day and it was just as busy. I grabbed some food before making my way back to the hotel where I could wind down and relax before exploring again the following day.
I had to meet the coach between 3pm and 4pm to take me back to Ijmuiden where I would join princess Seaways for the journey home. I decided to start the day with a late breakfast before checking out and having a few hours in the city before it was time to say goodbye. This time I spent maybe an hour or so on Dam Square just watching the world go by. There was a lady feeding Pigeons, she was quite a character and there were street acts dotted around, quite strict they were too! Refusing to let people take pictures unless they put some coins in their box. After I had enough of people watching I made my way back towards the Central Station where I would join the coach outside a hotel opposite.
I really enjoyed my time in Amsterdam, I can’t seem to keep away from the place but I was disappointed I didn’t find what I would call a proper Xmas market. Everything was festive and the Wintermarkt was nice, but I had gone in the hope of finding more. I am sure there was one in Haarlem, but it was just having the time to get there as I had other things planned but at least I know for next time!
I already can’t wait to return! I really have found a soft spot inside for Holland!