I Amsterdam

I Amsterdam

From their original laid-back country to a country filled with thousands of tourists every day, what is Amsterdam really like to visit? From seeing the recent articles published about the popular tourist attraction ‘I Amsterdam’ sign being removed from the city, I decided to reminisce on my trip to Amsterdam in September. I have to say it really is one of the most easy-going countries I have travelled to date and think it is a country everyone needs to experience.

With the recent masses of tourists landing in the city every day, the council decided that they needed to try do something to cut down the number of tourists within the city. I can safely say the city is probably one of the busiest cities I have ever stepped foot in. Every other step you take you’re either going to be hit by a tram or a cyclist. They even have traffic lights for cyclists it’s that bad. Traffic lights!!!! The sign that the city has removed from the Rijksmuseum has been seen as a background in a marketing story, the sign was made to show the individuality within the city however, it turned into a huge tourist attraction and made the city into a marketing ploy. In saying this I don’t understand why they believe the sign being removed is going to deter people from the country, as I myself didn’t see the big deal with the sign. But yes, I was a typical tourist and I did have to go see it and get my photo with the sign…

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Anyway, back to my trip now and why despite the city themselves not wanting tourists here are some of the reasons why I think if you haven’t been to Amsterdam, then you need to book your flight ASAP.

First of, there is the whole legalisation of ‘weed’ not going to lie this is probably the main reason why most people go to Amsterdam. The legalising of this must be doing something right… everyone that I met while I was there were the nicest people you could come across. I know we like to believe that Ireland is the best and we are hands down the nicest people in the world and everyone loves the Irish, I think the Dutch need some recognition when it comes to this trait. Whenever, I first landed we went to one of the cafes it was called 420 café, I had never experienced anything like it. It was a café filled with smoke and everyone just sitting as calm as anything, there was even a cat lying passed out in front of me, which really just sums the country up.  One of the things that baffled me was whenever we went to a bar later that night, I overhead an American man asking the barman could he smoke tobacco inside, bearing in mind that everyone was smoking weed inside the bar… the man said no smoking tobacco it has to be outside. I just couldn’t grasp my head round it. The man then explained and said it’s because they believe weed is good for you where as tobacco is a completely different story.

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Another thing they say to do when in Amsterdam is take a boat trip down their canals. Whenever we decided to do this it ended up raining, but that was not the worst part about it. The boat trip was the most boring thing I have ever endured. But in saying that it clicked whenever I seen that the only people getting on this boat were 40+ I knew we made a mistake with it. Amsterdam is a city that all streets near look the exact same due to the way the buildings look, so if you do decide to take a cruise down the canal, please don’t make the same mistake I did and put the earphones in. Otherwise, you’ll wonder why the driver has been taking you round the exact same part over and over again.

One of the other things I did when in Amsterdam was the ‘ADAM Lookout’. I would recommend this part to anyone, however, make sure you have your bank card with you at it or you won’t get very far. I made the mistake of not bringing one and the only reason we actually got to go was because we pre-bought our tickets, I think it was the only place in the city to not take cash which was strange for such a big tourist attraction. It also is hard to find but if you visit the lookout and find yourself on a boat with about 100-foot passengers, 50 bike passengers and 3 mopeds then you’re in the right direction. When arriving the swing looks terrifying whenever your looking down from below as it is just you are sitting in a swing being swung over the edge of one of the tallest buildings in Amsterdam. But I would recommend you do it as you see some of the nicest views.

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Despite the city looking to cut down the number of tourists visiting Amsterdam, I would highly recommend that if you haven’t been then it is a city you need to experience ASAP. From seeing the red-light district to being swung over the edge of a building, it truly is one of the most beautiful cities.

Kacie O’Connor is a final year BSc in Communication Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found at: Linked in – Kacie O’Connor; Twitter – @kacieoconnor; and Instagram – @kacieoconnor.

Amsterdam Top City Break Destination…as voted by me!

Amsterdam Top City Break Destination…as voted by me!

Although many people view Amsterdam as the ideal place for a mad weekend away, it is also suitable for a fun city break with friends or your other half! For my boyfriend’s 21st, I was getting fed up of looking up places to go and with the loan almost being non-existent at that stage, I decided to book a city break deal for Amsterdam! At first I was quite sceptical from all the crazy stories I heard, but how wrong was I! It was hands down the best city break I’ve ever been on, fact! Although we went in the winter season we were still not limited to what we could get up to! Here’s a little insight into the top things to do when visiting the ‘dam!

If you’re searching for top tips on visiting ‘coffee shops’ this is not for you! That’s not how I roll…

Shop ‘til you drop

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If you’re hoping to go on a massive shopping spree when on a city break, Amsterdam will certainly not disappoint! There is everything a girl could possibly dream of, from Ted Baker to Tommy Hilfiger, Urban Outfitters to Zara! Not to mention, the super amazing cosmetics stores offering everything under the one roof!  Brisking through the narrow cobble streets, walking in and out of the row of stores that lay in front of me, my heart was complete. It was of course my favourite way to spend my first day in the city! On a further note, if you’re all about those candid Instagram foodie pics, there are endless bakeries and pastries shops offering the most picturesque cupcakes, donuts and macaroons!

Visiting the ‘I Amsterdam’ Sign

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If you didn’t get a picture in front of the ‘I Amsterdam’ sign, did you really go? It is one of the top attractions to visit when in Amsterdam, but be aware, getting a pic of just yourself in front of the sign is rather hard with at least 20 other people trying to do the same thing, but it is manageable!

We were fortunate enough to have been going in the Christmas season, so that meant beside the sign was the Christmas markets, and wait for it… an ice rink! On a downside, I can’t skate but I made the most of the wooden chairs in the rink to hold onto!

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Amsterdam Ice Bar

When visiting the city, it would be rude not to visit the renowned ice bar! Unlike me, be sure to wrap up warm because although you get a thermal coat, the rest of your body is literally -10 degrees! Everything and I mean everything is made of ice, the tables, the seats and even the glass for your drink! I think we must have lasted about 15 minutes in the ice bar with it being so cold, but I would still go back (with more layers next time!).

Visiting Madame Tussauds

If truth be told, I wasn’t fussed on heading to Madame Tussauds, but Mark was dying to go so I thought why not! Much to my surprise, it turned out to be a second to none experience, and of course we were both mind blown as to how alike the wax figures were to our favourite celebs! To top off our Madame Tussauds experience I got a pic beside Justin Bieber, because why not, it’s Justin Bieber! *love struck emoji*

I would definitely recommend Madame Tussauds if you really want to be in total awe as well as getting endless cringey photos beside celebs including Adele, Taylor Swift, Bob Marley and even Barack Obama!

I’m all about them wining and dining evenings

When opting for a city break in Amsterdam, probably your biggest dilemma of the whole trip is deciding where to eat! With rows upon rows of restaurants, we were totally spoilt for choice! There are of course popular American diners such as Hard Rock and Frankie and Benny’s which I’m a huge fan of! Not to mention, the city is full of contemporary bars to spend the evening sipping away on cocktails or perhaps, if you are hoping for something more lively like I did, the place was packed with buzzing Irish bars offering top class live music! But we aware, if you’re like me and look about 16, Amsterdam is not like any Spanish holiday resort, you will need to bring ID everywhere you go, even if you are just going for an evening bite!

Hands down, Amsterdam was most definitely the best city break I have ever been on and wouldn’t think twice about going back! If I were to go back here are a few of the places I would visit next time:

  • Anne Frank House
  • Heineken Experience
  • Body World
  • A’dam Lookout

Shannon Grogan is a final year BSc in Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found on LinkedIn on https://www.linkedin.com/in/shannon-grogan-09712510b/