Our stay at the IBIS Amsterdam Central Station also included breakfast, so we both grabbed a bite on our second day before heading out. There was something for everyone, from fresh fruit and yoghurt to sausages and scrambled eggs. I decided to have toast with jam and then a canal boat full of pain au chocolate pastries. They were so good that I went back twice! I just can’t say no to a good pastry.
Escape World in Waterlooplein called to us on day 2 and I’ll be honest, I didn’t know what to expect. Marian (TravelShopGirl) had arranged this for us before we left. Having enjoyed several previously, she thought this would be something fun for us to do and, honestly, it was the highlight of our Amsterdam experiences for me. I absolutely loved it. There are several Escape World locations across the city, but we opted for the Waterlooplein location as it was close to our dining option later in the day. Our room of choice was ‘Cabin in The Woods’ and this is how it is described online
“You are lost in the woods together with your friends. Due to the bad weather, you are looking for a suitable place to sleep. After a tiring journey, you suddenly see in the distance a log cabin, an ideal place to hide! Once inside, it seems not to be such a good idea … You are hearing eerie noises, you feel the presence of mysterious forces and inexplicable things happen. All families who have been here before are found dead after leaving. There is a curse on the cabin and it’s up to you to chase the ghosts before they catch you by surprise!”
I’m not going to tell you everything about this as I don’t want to spoil the experience for anyone, but it really did put us both to the test and we had to work together as a team. Apparently, only 32% of groups manage to escape this room and sadly, we weren’t part of that percentage. Our time ran out but we were told that we had managed to get 75% of the way through the room, so we were happy with that. We’re already planning our next Escape Room experience for our next visit to Amsterdam – I’m hooked!
I was high on adrenalin after Escape World and we were both hungry. We left the game behind and made our way to Vegan Junk Food Bar in Heinekenplein – a brand new venue for this exciting restaurant. I’m not vegan, but Marian is, so it was ideal for her. We shared the Mediterranean Spring Rolls to start and they were amazingly good – you’d never guess that it wasn’t real cheese! To follow, I ordered onion rings and the Classic Shawarma, again both were excellent. The burger was huge, I couldn’t eat it all, but the flavours were incredible. Presentation of the dishes was also executed perfectly. You could see that the chefs took great pride and care in their dishes. I would highly recommend Vegan Junk Food Bar, even if you’re not vegan! They have 2 locations: the one we visited in De Pjip (Marie Heinekenplein) and the original in West Staringplein.
We spent another evening wandering around the canals of Amsterdam and calling into various bars along the route. It was easy and relaxing, exactly what both of us had wanted from the trip.
Before I knew it, I was back at stand G at Central Station waiting for the coach to take me back to Ijmuiden for my return sailing home with DFDS, this time aboard Kind Seaways.
King Seaways is my favourite and I was excited to get back onboard. The one thing I enjoy most about this ferry is the onboard ORCA centre, where you can learn all about the marine life in the waters which DFDS sails. ORCA and DFDS have been working together for ten years and in that time, they have showcased the diversity of whales, dolphins and porpoises that can be spotted in the North Sea. Here are some facts and figures that you might enjoy:
- 139 ferry surveys in 10 years
- Coast off Newcastle is popular for White-Beaked Whale sightings – groups of up to 100 have been spotted
- 9,037 passengers in 2016 alone joined the ORCA team onboard to participate in wildlife activities
- Peak season for Minke Whale sightings in the area is July and August
- Coast off Ijmuiden is popular for Harbor Porpoise sightings
- 21,094km is the distance travelled – surveying from the bridge between 2006 and 2016
- There have been 27 Bottlenose Dolphin sightings since 2006
- A Fin Whale was spotted in 2015 – very rare!
So, let me get back to the ferry. For the Ijmuiden to Newcastle crossing I had a double-bed inside cabin on Deck 8. I’d never had an inside cabin before on any DFDS ferry, so I was excited to see what it was like. The bed literally filled the space and that worked perfectly for me. I was only going to be there for 1 night, I didn’t need a ton of space. The bathroom offered a sink with mirror, toilet and shower. Would I opt for this grade again? Absolutely, the double bed was a real treat and very comfortable.
I stood out on the aft deck as we sailed from Ijmuiden and then I enjoyed a delicious Virgin Strawberry Daiquiri in the Columbus Bar – which has clearly had an upgrade since my last King Seaways sailing and looked great! I also managed to find myself in the onboard shop, but I think we all knew that was bound to happen.
Before disembarking in Newcastle, I enjoyed a buffet-style breakfast in the Seven Seas Restaurant. I’d not eaten since the lunchtime of the previous day, so I was hungry and wanted to eat everything! I opted for a slice of toast with some scrambled egg and then helped myself to two little pastries and some apple juice. There were so many different things to choose from, including a selection of fresh breads, fresh fruit, bacon, sausage, cold meats and cheese, cereal and so on. They also had a nice gluten free area. It was a pleasant way to end what had been a wonderful trip.
The ease of everything with DFDS is what appeals to me. Yes, I love to be at sea (obviously) but as I don’t like to fly, the DFDS route from Newcastle is perfect for me and for many others it would see, as there was a wide nationality mix onboard. I’ve never waited longer than 15 minutes to check in, the coach transfers are simple and incredibly easy, the accommodation is comfortable and you know exactly what you’re going to get. Everything about the experience is hassle-free.
I try to visit Amsterdam with DFDS every year – I’m already planning 2018!