Domestic goddess and backyard explorer with a passion for freelance writing!
Published December 2nd 2014
The city with more bicycles than people
Apparently Amsterdam has about 800,000 citizens and about 900,000 bicycles. How cool is that? That was literally my favourite part about the whole city, so I definitely recommend grabbing a bike for hire and riding around. We did this from our hotel for convenience for 15 Euro per day, but you can also find bike hire places in the city probably for a couple of Euros cheaper. You know what they say, when in Rome, do as they do. Similarly, when in Amsterdam you must ride a bicycle along the beautiful canals, feel the fresh breeze in your face, smell the cannabis (quite legal - and literally wafting through the air from every corner cafe) and be a part of this amazing city, even if it is just for a weekend, as we did.
Okay, let's wind back and start at the beginning shall we? Our journey began from London where my initial reaction was "why Amsterdam? What's there?", a little underwhelming. Little did I know Amsterdam was soon to become one of my favourite short trips from London. It's a very quick flight of about forty five minutes, you could even choose to make it a day trip if you wish, but leave early and come back as late as you can because you'll want to make the most of your time. From Schipol airport, the city or Amsterdam Centraal is about 13 minutes by express train, or 18 minutes by an intercity fast train, plus waiting times. From Centraal station - the key terminus in Amsterdam - our hotel, the DoubleTree by Hilton, located on a very small man-made island was only a short walk away.
As soon as you step out of Centraal station, you'll know what I'm talking about. The city welcomed us, sparkling in the night sky, the church tower with its clock on one side, pretty bridges in front, the Victoria hotel, the Barbizon hotel and the glittering canals with houseboats parked along the sides, and the cruise boats floating gently through the water. It was such a beautiful sight.
That evening we had a few hours to spare so we decided to explore the city on foot, and because it is so small, we unexpectedly covered quite a lot of ground. The most striking things we observed were first that there were romantic, well lit canals, charming bridges and little streets everywhere; everything was so picturesque - more so in the night sky - because the city was sparkling so beautifully with all the lights, some of which I suspect are early Christmas decorations. Secondly, there were so many modes of transport.
At one point I mentioned to my husband that I felt like I was in a Christmas movie. It was almost a fairytale come to life. All that was missing was a dusting of snow and merry carollers!