Around the World in 80 Pairs of Shoes


May 15, 2013

City Break to Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Mr Pratchett once said “My experience in Amsterdam is that cyclists ride where the hell they like and aim in a state of rage at all pedestrians while ringing their bell loudly, the concept of avoiding people being foreign to them”. I’m totally in agreement with Terry – never venture out of your hotel before 9am on a weekday unless you are prepared to get run over by a bicycle while on your city break to Amsterdam.

G and I both had a voucher for any IHG property in the world through our Priority Club Credit Card and we needed to use one by the end of March so we booked two free nights (yes free!) to stay at the stunning Amstel Hotel in Amsterdam. With rooms starting at around €400 per night we had a pretty sweet deal on our hands when it came to our accommodation!

We had decided to upgrade to a Junior Suite and it was beautiful; it had just the right amount of chintz.


The view from our fourth floor was amazing and the bathroom was huge!


While G stayed at the hotel so he could relax; Lisa and I hit Amsterdam for some sightseeing. As we were a tiny bit hungry we decided to pop into the frozen yoghurt shop and topped it with all the best toppings possible including dark chocolate sprinkles; strawberries and Lisa added her Mars Bars! A great gluten free snack when on the move.


Our first stop was to check out the Tulip Market; this is where you can purchase real or fake tulips. Obviously if you are from New Zealand or Australia you can’t ship the tulip bulbs back home even though there are signs saying they ship worldwide.


This was my third visit to Amsterdam and I truly had forgotten how beautiful the city is.


G and I had an afternoon tea booking at The Amstel Hotel so I headed back to eat my weight in food – you can read my review of the Amstel Hotel Afternoon Tea here.


After our Afternoon Tea we decided to check out the bar area at The Amstel which was lovely. The seating area on the terrace fills up very quickly and I’m sure it would be packed during the summer months. We did find the seating area inside the bar area not to be that comfortable unfortunately.


Lisa continued on sightseeing and downloaded an awesome app called Anne’s Amsterdam. We found it slightly weird that one of Amsterdam’s most famous residents didn’t have a walking tour however the free app gave you places to visit to learn more about Anne.


On the Saturday night it was Earth Hour and the hotel had organised a beautiful candle light display with drinks in the lobby. The photo’s don’t do the display any justice.


The following morning G and I headed down to breakfast in the hotel. At €35 per person (this does include Moet Champagne) I was slightly disappointed by the options especially if you are gluten free however I did get to see AJ from the Backstreet Boys a few tables over. I then had to explain to G who the Backstreet Boys were; he’s still confused!


Lisa and I decided to book ourselves on a tour to visit the Keukenhof Gardens which is the world’s biggest flower garden with over 7 millions bulbs planted. While the Keukenhof Gardens and The Netherlands are famous for tulips, we were unfortunately slightly too early visiting in the year to see all the tulips in bloom but we did get to see some on our visit.


The gardens include a number of pavilions with different flowers so if you don’t love Tulips then never fear; there are displays of Orchids;




and spring flowers galore which are good for the soul!


Shoe wise; the Keukenhof Gardens covers 32 hectares so make sure you wear comfortable shoes as you will be walking a lot.

As a shoe lover I do love it that the Netherlands have a national shoe – the Clog! While I don’t think I own a pair (there could be a very old pair in New Zealand possibly, maybe) they do give you some great photo opportunities while on holiday.  Even though sometimes the clog can look like a giant banana!


After a long day skipping through the tulip fields we headed back to the hotel to see how wrinkled G was after spending the day in the spa. We hadn’t really thought about dinner reservations however it was decided that Burgers were required and after a great tip we checked out BurgerMeester. They offer a great open burger with salad if you are gluten free which I highly recommend! Unfortunately they had run out of chicken so I had the next best option on the menu – a Kangaroo burger!  (The tiny burger on the right is a gluten loaded burger)


Our final morning in Amsterdam; we took a lovely stroll to the Rijksmuseum which has finally reopened. It was great to spend a Monday morning looking at masterpieces instead of an excel spreadsheet.


We went back to the Tulip Market to make all those last minute tulip purchases; 50 tulips for €7 is too good a deal to turn down.

I always like to do something a bit unusual when I’m on holiday and Lisa had found a new company called the Postcard Experience.  I think it’s safe to say that I will stick to accounting and not be booking a one way flight to Hollywood anytime soon but I hope you enjoy a giggle or two!


The Holland Experience

Travel Tips

  • Looking for the best luxury hotel in Amsterdam – then I highly recommend the Amstel Hotel for location, service and a fantastic concierge team.
  • Shoes – I would recommend flats otherwise you will risk looking like Bambi trying to walk around Amsterdam.
  • Beware of the Bikes – Cyclists rule the roads and they are like ninjas; they take no prisoners!
  • There are some fabulous boutiques in Amsterdam so make sure that you make the time to hit the shops.
  • You can purchase tickets online for the Rijksmuseum and they are valid for one year from purchase but you need to print off the tickets to gain entry.
  • You can visit the Keukenhof Gardens either on a tour from Amsterdam or you can catch the shuttle bus directly from Schiphol airport

Will I head back to Amsterdam – definitely as there is still so much I want to see and do!


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