[Foreword: I am unable to upload the promised pictures for some reason, but I will do so ASAP!] Travel sickness tablets, strange women in red windows and God’s blessing. At last the end of tedious essay writing has arrived and I am free from the pressure of deadlines. I guess this also means that I have reached the official ending of my second year at university, which is simply crazy! It’s been an interesting year overall and I’m bound to write a summary of it in the future, so keep your eyes out for that ladies and gents. But as I promised, today I will tell you about my second trip to Amsterdam featuring the whole Jones family!
It feels like ages ago now, and in terms of blogging it’s a lifetime, but back in late March I was getting ready to travel once again to the land of drugs, prostitutes and cheese. This time with my parents and younger brother. The first issue was probably the fact that my little brother was going to see some very adult things, meaning sex shops, prostitutes in windows and other “grown-up” things. I used to be very over-protective of him in the past, but to be honest I didn’t real care for this trip. I’ve gotten to the point where I’m not fussed on what he sees, he’s nearly 15 now, he’s basically a man. The second major challenge for me was the fact that we would be driving all the way from little-old Newport in Wales, to Amsterdam, Netherlands. Now that’s a pretty epic drive right? Well thankfully my dad is sane, and planned to stop in Belgium for a night to recover and shorten the distance. My mum had bought some travel sickness tablets and I wasn’t entirely hopeful for them, I know how bad I get when driving. It can be the smallest distance in a car and if I happen to read something or look at my phone, I’m instantly set into this intoxicating cloud of sickness. It’s the worst thing ever. Surprisingly the drugs that my mum had supplied me with made the entire trip, Newport – Amsterdam, sick-feeling free. I was able to watch Horrible Bosses (Kevin Spacey, man) and look at my phone to change songs without the smallest feeling of puking up all over the place. All in all, a job well done. The hotel we stayed in for our Belgium pit-stop was nice. There was free internet ,which we take for granted these days, people should remember the times where we had to sit down on a super slow computer and pay £1 for 5 minutes of internet. Anyway, I instantly took a Snapchat and shared it with my friends back in Wales. The rooms were nice and the food was expensive but also very good, especially the breakfast! After our final 3-4 hour journey from Belgium to Amsterdam we immediately struggled to navigate through the maze like roads to reach our hotel. It was nice the first few times seeing all the lovely buildings and canals, but after the tenth time we stopped smiling. I blame the SatNav that consistently encouraged us to “turn left” when there wasn’t a left, there was a canal. Thanks technology for trying to kill us. We eventually arrived at our desired location, from the outside the place looked pretty average, but on the inside, it was stunning. Just look at the pictures, this place was really good. We had upgraded rooms which were super spacious (you could lie down and sleep on the window sills!). After the truly epic journey in the car, we finally put our legs up and rest for a while. Morgan, the reason we were there, came knocking later that morning to drag us out and enjoy the streets of Amsterdam. The first time I was here was with my friend from home and we did all the typical sight-seeing attractions but this time we explored some different areas I hadn’t been to. It was really nice being back, although I felt by the end of this trip that I had seen nearly everything Amsterdam had to offer. The first day was spent doing general sight-seeing in the centre, followed by Anne Frank’s house (again, couldn’t get in because of the insanely long queue), a lovely meal at what seemed to be a posh restaurant and lastly a walk down the Red Light District. All in all a decent first day in Amsterdam.
The second and final (sadly) day we spent doing some more touristy sight-seeing but today was important, because this was the day we went to the IceBar which was the one place I really wanted to see. Before we went there though, we took a boat ride down the canal which lasted a lot longer than expected. I recommend it as it really does give a different perspective of the city. We passed a number of recognisable places from my previous time in Amsterdam such as the Heineken Experience, Chin (it’s missing a letter, not sure why) Restaurant and the Maritime Museum. After this peaceful tour we hopped off and headed towards Amsterdam’s IceBar. Guarded by polar bears and littered with Jaegermeister signs, I knew I was going to like this place. What surprised me was the fact that the IceBar was more of a tour/experience rather than an open bar to use. I guess this is due to safety reasons. We wrapped up in large coats and gloves and stepped into the very cold room. It reminded me a lot of Lapland in Finland. We queued for our included drinks; you could get some Heineken (of course), or three types of vodka. I tried all three vodkas, the first one was plain Smirnoff, the second and third were uniquely flavoured ones such as nougat or walnut. They tasted incredible, although I was a bit disappointed that I couldn’t drink any Jaeger because that would of warmed me right up. I took a few selfies here and there, giving myself frostbite in return. After the IceBar we made our way back towards the centre and were stopped by some sort of red carpet opening of some Dutch film. There were paparazzi, security and beautifully dressed guests attending, it was really bizarre. Interesting to watch though. As things began to get late we decided to find a place for food which proved strangely difficult this evening. We came across some very cosy restaurant and bar which looked like a local one. We waited for a table and we got a rather cramped one near the toilets but the food was so good that I forgot about all that. It was a really nice meal, they had French onion soup which a instant-win for me. The staff were pleasant to talk to talk to and overall it was surprisingly great. The morning after we spent at the same waffle house that Morgan, Matt (my friend from home) and I had visited the original time I was there. I had a huge cookie instead this time and it was simply lush. After this we walked slowly back to our car and belongings, said farewell to Morgan and left for home. This time we weren’t stopping and my dad drove us all the way back to Newport. It was such an epic adventure and a great time with the family, I really enjoyed it. Sadly my brother is finishing his master degree soon and we won’t be going back to see him there, but I’m in the process of organising a weekend away with my friends from home, so hopefully I will come see this amazing place again! Alexander Jones