Amsterdam is of those places that I’ve always wanted to go to but the opportunity never arose.
I’d heard loads about it from friends so I was incredibly excited to be invited on a hen party there
It was one of the most fun-filled weekends I’ve ever had – and the vintage shopping was also amazing!
We flew in on a Friday afternoon and had quite a busy itinerary with a drag show and dinner planned for that evening at ‘t Sluisje Traf Cafe.
As our hostel Via Amsterdam was outside the city, we purchased a three-day train and tram ticket which was incredibly good value for €28.
When we got to the station near our hostel, however, we couldn’t get through the barrier with our tickets as they apparently wasn’t valid for the airport train – BUT it worked on the way back.
I hadn’t stayed in a hostel in years and I’d forgotten what it was like, basically, hostels are like Ryanair, cheap initially but you’ll pay for every little extra!
We necked a drink in the room while frantically applying makeup as we were in a hurry to make our dinner reservation.
Getting into the city was easy as the train was just a few minutes’ walk away.
The weather was really mild and loads of tourists, including other raucous hen and stag parties, were on the streets.
Sitting down to a delicious appetizer of beef carpaccio while the drag queens serenaded us was the perfect tonic after a day of travelling.
The three-course meal was gorgeous and unlimited wine kept flowing making us merry in no time.
The show was gas and the songs were really entertaining, in terms of a fun hen activity, I couldn’t recommend it enough!
Drinking on the streets of Amsterdam is illegal and could land you with a hefty fee but we didn’t know this when we took an unfinished bottle of wine out…
Thankfully, we weren’t stopped for public drinking but the next day I noticed warning signs everywhere. Public urination is frowned upon also FYI.
Our night continued in the Bulldog Cafe where you can buy a drink or something stronger to smoke if you prefer.
Word to the wise, smoking tobacco is not allowed in most of the coffee shops and bars that sell weed.
I had a very sore head the next day but with brunch booked for 12pm, we had to be up early.
We made our way back into the city, watching out for the dozens of bikes that came speeding past as we crossed roads and cycle paths.
It was lovely to see the city’s canals and buildings in the peace of the daylight.
A boozy brunch at Box Sociaal was our next port of call but I needed coffee and a pint of water before I could tackle the mimosa!
With dishes such as “Chai’ll be Pear for you” and “The Sandwich of Liberty”, this one hipster cafe that doesn’t take itself too seriously.
The food was gorgeous and I felt more alive after scoffing a “Mortgage on Toast” with chorizo, no prizes for guessing the key ingredient!
More drinks were on the menu after brunch and I swapped my usual G&T for Aperol Spritz and Radler.
Radler is basically a shandy which I’d drank before in Munich and loved it – great if you can’t sink heavy pints of beer or lager.
Fun fact: Radler is German for cyclist.
Afterwards, we hit up the Sex Museum to check out the weird and wonderful exhibits.
The museum was only €5 and isn’t that big but you do have to traipse up and down windy stairs to get around.
The pin-up exhibition was interesting and pretty innocent in comparison to the other exhibits.
Most of the stuff was pretty amusing, especially a moving figure of a trenchcoat flasher with a sinister laugh!
A more sobering exhibit displayed the names of men who were executed for having sex with other men, it reminded me of the book The Minaturist.
The chastity belts were pretty terrifying…but there was also some pretty old-fashioned lingerie on display.
Walking around the city, I saw resemblances to Munich and Brussels, especially the Dam Square area but the network of canals, humpback bridges and narrow houses are uniquely Dutch.
We then headed back to the hostel for an outfit change and a few hen party games (Hostel quality toilet paper is NOT the best for creating tissue wedding dresses!)
Back in the city, we stopped for dinner at The Chicken Bar which specialises in rotisserie chicken dishes.
The food was great but the bottles of water left out on the table were €6 a pop so we quickly switched to tap water!
I wore a leather look Bershka dress and matching beret – if you can’t dress entirely in pleather in Amsterdam then where can you?!
I also wore lace-up Topshop flats- leave the heels at home if you’re going on the lash in Amsterdam, the dress code is pretty casual and there are lots of cobbled streets!
We took it easy on Saturday night, staying at one bar all night, sipping on Aperol Spritzes and cocktails.
It wasw easy to get home after a night out, with late trains and buses as well as Uber – although we did have a slightly unsettling encounter with an angry Turkish Uber driver!
We had to check out at 10am on Sunday so we were up early once again.
As our flight wasn’t till late that night, we availed of the handy storage lockers at the hostel. They were €5 per locker but we could fit two or three bags into them so it wasn’t too pricey.
Two of my favourite things ever are pancakes and rap so when we ended up having breakfast in Moak Pancakes, a pancake cafe with a rap music theme, I was in heaven.
With a flower wall, neon signs, rap lyrics on the steps of the stairs and tip jars named Tupac and Biggie, Moak appealed to every fibre of my being.
I couldn’t quite afford The Golddigger (€100 pancakes with 22-carat gold leaf served on Versace plate with gold Versace cutlery and a glass of champagne) but the more affordable Blue Magic Deluxe for €11.50 was delicious.
The name Moak comes from “Mokum”, a local name for Amsterdam.
When we left Moak on Jodenbreestraat, I realised we were only around the corner from a kilo store so I had to check it out.
The stock was amazing and I was grabbing items off the wall in a frenzy to try them on.
Vintage stores can be very hit and miss but the majority of the stock was in really good condition, including the shoes.
I spent at least 40 minutes here but eventually narrowed it down to a long denim dress, a pair of high-waisted denim shorts and a tapestry print skirt.
The entire haul came at about €50 which wasn’t bad, each item had a coloured tag and each tag represented a price per kilo.
I’d been in one of these shops in Paris before and gotten some really good pieces there and had to restrain myself from spending any more!
We then came across a market which was selling antiques and vintage clothes as well as the usual souvenirs.
I found a stall with loads of designer wares, Armani, Escada, Valentino, etc. and spied a burgundy Moschino skirt on one rail.
I hastily tried it on over my clothes, it was meant to be a size 14 but as they say designer runs small and it was more like a small size 12.
It was only €15 so I went away very happy with my bargain.
I also picked up a few souvenirs and presents, including a packet of the delicious StroopWaffel biscuits.
After that, we were all shopped out so we took a stroll through part of the Red Light District.
Most of the girls looked pretty bored and I felt sorry for them having people gawping in at them.
After our final hen activity, we went to Dam Square to sit out and enjoy cones of fresh chips from the nearby Chipsy King.
I then accidentally left my phone in a McDonald’s bathroom and realised it was gone about five minutes later.
I raced back to McDonald’s and was frantically searching but there was no sign and the staff were really unhelpful.
Luckily, a girl had picked it up and when we called the phone, she could speak English and returned it to me.
I’m not sure if she was Dutch or not but I was incredibly grateful to her!
I was panicking as my boarding pass for the flight home was on it as well as all my photos.
I was hysterically hugging her and tried to press a €20 note into her hand but she wouldn’t take it.
All of the Dutch people we came in contact with were very friendly and pretty much everyone spoke English.
Given that we were on a hen, we didn’t have time to visit all the tourist spots but it was a wonderful weekend and I hope to come back again to see more of the city.