We were up for Amsterdam at 2.00am. I slept absolutely terribly. We went to bed at about 7.30, but I was still up at close to midnight so I didn’t sleep much at all. I was quite excited, so the lack of sleep didn’t matter too much at this point, but it caught up with us both throughout the week.

My brother picked us up. He arrived a couple of minutes early, but Cerrys and I had been ready for quite some time. The wait for this holiday has been almost unbearable. We’ve had a stressful year and have been piling the vast majority of our spare money into our debt. The only way that we were able to afford this holiday was thanks to a tax rebate I received last year. I’ve been to Amsterdam before and I was excited about reliving some experiences with Cerrys by my side and Cerrys was excited by the allure that Amsterdam holds. It really is an exciting city and some of that fervour had rubbed off on Cerrys in the months leading up to this break.

It was a quiet drive down and we got to Bristol Airport pretty early. We’d checked in online so stopped for a coffee before the gates opened. It was all pretty relaxed and, though tired, our excitement was still growing.

After the gates opened we still had a couple of hours to kill but after looking through the shops and grabbing a bite to eat, the time flew by. Before we knew it we were on the plane and the flight only took 50 minutes. Cerrys, who doesn’t like flying all the much, panicked before we took off but once in the air she was fine. The weather was pretty bad and given the small size of the plane, I expected a rough flight but it wasn’t at all. I was more worried about taking our luggage on the flight. I’m used to checking in and leaving our luggage but this time we had to take them on board and stow our bags in the space above us. Planes are usually cramped and I was worried that other passengers would have taken the space above our seats or that I would hit someone in the face with my bag but it was relatively easy. I was panicking over nothing.

 

When we landed, it was still dark. It was just after 8am local time. We needed to pick up our Iamsterdam cards, which allowed us free tram travel and free or discounted access to several of the museums and attractions in Amsterdam. It took us some time to find it as Schiphol airport is a bit of a labyrinth, but we managed to look around a couple of the shops whilst there. We’d pre-booked, so getting our cards was as simple as scanning a QR code on the e-mail.

After this, we head down to the Schiphol train station. After buying our tickets, we waited on the wrong side of the platform for about 8 minutes. After realising our mistake, we hopped on the right train and made our way to Amsterdam Centraal.

The train took no more than 15 minutes and once off we couldn’t wait to jump on the tram to drop off our bags at the hotel. We had a quick look around the station and before going outside. I’d forgotten how beautiful the station is. Bright red brick, huge statues above the entrance and a beautifully coloured clock is a truly impressive introduction to any city. From the station, we were treated to views of the canal and typical Amsterdam architecture. It really is a fantastic site.

We made our way to the tram stop that we needed and only had to wait a couple of minutes before it arrived. I wanted to get a tram that would take us down the main strip and around Dam Square, but unfortunately got on the wrong one. We ended up going down the back of the Royal Palace and past the Amsterdam Museum and Magna Plaza so, though still impressive, it wasn’t what I wanted Cerrys to see right away. Even so, we ventured out of the centre towards our hotel which was located about a five minute walk from Vondelpark. We got off one stop too early and used Google Maps to find the hotel. I knew that there was a Lidl close by so we head there before the hotel to pick up some toothbrushes and toiletries as well as a couple of snacks.

I’d read several mixed reviews about the hotel online, but some recurring themes were unhelpful staff and tiny rooms. I was a little anxious as, although we never spend much time in the hotel room, I didn’t want it to be a let-down. The receptionist was incredibly warm and friendly and although check in wasn’t until 3pm, we were told our room was ready and that we could go in right away. This was a wonderful surprise as, though we wanted to head back out and explore, we were able to sit down for ten minutes and get ourselves together. The room itself was wonderful. Clean, elegantly designed and with more than enough space. I’m not sure if we were lucky with the room or if other people just like to complain.

After a short rest, we left the hotel in search of food. For months, I’ve been excited about trying a place called Pancakes! Amsterdam. We found the place no problem but, to my absolute horror, it was closed. I think there were some refurbishment works taking place. As disappointed as I was, I’d seen online that they had several stores so, with Google as our guide, we made our way to the restaurant on Prisengracht, next to the Anne Frank house. It took us a little while. Amsterdam is a series of backstreets and long roads along canals. It’s deceptively difficult to get around. We eventually found it and after a short wait, we were seated. I opted for a stack of American style pancakes loaded with maple syrup and a black coffee and Cerrys, due to her lactose intolerance, went for a vegan traditional Dutch pancake with syrup. Both were amazing. It was a fairly expensive breakfast totalling almost 30 Euros, but they didn’t disappoint. My pancakes were fluffy and light with the perfect amount of syrup. I wanted to try some of Cerrys’ too, but after my serving I couldn’t fit any more food inside me.

Following this, we took a long walk along the canals and through the side streets. We stopped for a while in Dam Square, but the weather wasn’t up to much and it was windy, wet and cold. Just a couple of minutes away from Dam Square was the Bodyworks Exhibition which I’ve always wanted to see. It’s a collection of preserved bodies without skin and, in places, without muscle that show how the body works by posing them in certain ways. The exhibition is about happiness and how to find it both inside and out and was incredibly entertaining.

When we left, the rain hadn’t let up so we ventured down the road to the Sex Museum. I hadn’t been in since I was 18 and it’s good – in a way – to see that I haven’t grown up all that much. Giant, veiny cocks still make me laugh. I had forgotten how informative the museum was. Collections of old porn dating back to the early 20th century line the walls and the museum does act as a kind of history of sex and the human reaction to it. There is porn from the early 1900’s, a room for bondage, Oriental porn, hundreds of figures, sculptures, artworks and even a room set up like an early 1900’s Red Light District.  We did have a bit of a giggle here, but we were both getting incredibly tired.

As we were in the area and were trying to stay dry, we went in to the Magna Plaza, a huge shopping centre in an extremely grand old building. I was expecting far more shops than there actually were. Many of the units were empty and we were unable to afford what was in most of the shops. I did manage to eat my own body weight here in free cheese samples, but didn’t buy anything. By the time we left, it was getting dark and the rain was coming down hard. Undeterred, we decided to walk around and get a feel for the place. We walked back up to Dam Square and through to the Red Light District. Cerrys had never seen anything like it. We spoke about how it was less seedy than its reputation would have you believe. It’s more of a tourist spot than anything. However, judging from the clients, sex is still definitely selling in Amsterdam. That being said, we did notice a lot of rooms up for rent. Maybe it’s the wrong time of year. Is prostitution seasonal? We had lots of questions that remain unanswered.

By the time it got dark we were absolutely soaked through. We’d made a plan to grab a pizza from a restaurant called Mastino V, which was next door to our hotel. It was completely vegan and gluten-free but had a variety of vegan cheeses so we were excited to try it. We took a tram back to the hotel and decided that, before food we’d get changed into something a little drier. After a swift change of clothes, we left but found Mastino V to be closed. Luckily, rather than being shut for an extended period it was just shut on Mondays. After some quick thinking, we jumped on a nearby tram and went just one stop to The Vegan Junk Food Bar. I’d read a lot about this place online and it lived up to the expectations that I had. The menu was pretty small, so Cerrys and I both bought a burger (though mine was considerably larger than hers) and we shared some fries. The Sumo Burger was one of the best I’ve ever eaten. I don’t mean one of the best vegan things either. I mean it was genuinely one of the best things that I’ve ever eaten. The bread was fresh, the burger juicy and succulent. There was a layer of melted vegan cheese as well as onion rings and fresh jalapenos that added crunch and an incredible sauce brought everything together. The fries were crisp and came with a large helping of vegan mayo. Cerrys and I were both stuffed by the end of this meal and were both ready for bed. Aside from a couple of hours sleep somewhere in the middle, I’d been up for about 38 hours and was starting to flag. We got a tram back to the hotel, jumped in the shower and got to bed about 8.30pm.

 

We woke early the next day. Despite being insanely tired, I’d woken up about 3.30am and hadn’t managed to really get back to sleep. We’d decided that we were going to go down to Museumplein. I knew that most of our day would be spent down there. We left about 7.45am. We wanted to start in the Rijksmuseum which wasn’t open until 9am, but we wanted to be there early to get some nice pictures and have a wander around whilst it was quiet. We stopped at a bakery near the tram stop and took a croissant and a pain au chocolate to keep us going. It was a cheap breakfast at less than 3 Euros. The tram ride to Museumplein took around 5 minutes and dropped us off outside the Staedlijk Museum. We walked down past the Van Gogh Museum and the Moco Museum and took some obligatory selfies near the Iamsterdam sign. Being so early, the only other people around were cyclists on their way to work.

By the time we’d looked around and took our pictures, it was almost 9am so we waited in the huge underpass near the entrance. Huge panes of glass allowed us to look into the building with its marble like floors and ultra-modern ceiling fixtures. Everything about the building is grand and impressive much like many of the sculptures and paintings within. I expected a queue to form but none did. When the doors opened at 9am less than ten people were waiting. For a long while, it felt like we were the only people in the museum. We wandered without purpose for a short while and ended up in a room with relics and sculptures from the Orient. Two large dominant stone sculptures were the main attraction in the room. Despite their age, flecks of colour still remained. From here, we moved up the stairs to the main attraction. Rembrandt’s The Night Watch. I saw this painting for the first time about 4 years ago and was blown away by its use of light, its detail and the sheer size of it. It truly is a masterpiece. Years later, I’m still in awe. We got a couple of pictures but, to be honest, none do it justice. It really is worth seeing this one in the flesh. The Rijksmuseum offers the chance to view the works of some of the Dutch masters including Rembrandt, Vermeer and Van Gogh. It shouldn’t be missed. More than that, it has some amazing pieces of art and history ranging from the ancient to post WWII. We walked around for over two hours and could have stayed for another two with ease. It’s a place I’ll never get bored of visiting and I do hope I get to go there again one day.

 

After the Rijksmuseum we made our way to the Van Gogh Museum. As the name suggests, this museum holds some of Van Gogh’s greatest works including Sunflowers. The museum offers an in-depth history of Van Gogh’s life, his relationships and his life’s work. It’s truly quite incredible and offers patrons excerpts of Van Gogh’s letters to his brother, the ability to look at his work under a microscope and the chance to see how Van Gogh inspired future artists. It’s fascinating to see how his works changed as he aged and evolved into what we now know as ‘classic’ Van Gogh.

The Moco Museum was next on the agenda. I hadn’t been here before but was interested in the two exhibitions that they were showing. The first was a Banksy exhibition with some of his original works. The exhibition had transported huge chunks of concrete from London and America with original Banky’s sprayed on the side. There were also some canvases, some of the sculptures from Dismaland and also some works from private collections. The second exhibition featured the works of Roy Lichtenstein who was a founder of the Pop-Art scene. I didn’t know too much about him or his works, but I’ve always loved pop-art so this was extremely interesting and featured a pop-art installation that was insanely cool.

Our final museum of the day was the Staedlijk Museum, which features modern art. It wasn’t a place that I was intent on visiting but we were wasting a couple of hours before it got dark so we could wander the streets. Although it wasn’t a museum that was on my to-do list I’m glad that we went. I’ll be honest, there were certain bits that I didn’t get – a blue canvas, some mess, a film with one image – but there were other parts that were extraordinary. Cerrys and I were both particularly impressed with the works of a Welsh artist named Cerith Wyn Evans. We spent a couple of hours in the Staedlijk Museum all in all, by which time our brains were fried. It had been a long day with a lot of information taken in and it was only just getting dark. We walked slowly from the museums down towards the Magere Brug and by the time we got there the night had truly crept in. The bridge looks almost oriental in style and is beautiful at night though it wasn’t as large as I was expecting. After this, we began walking down towards the Tuschinki theatre which is a large, gothic theatre that has since been converted into a cinema. I’ve always wanted to go inside but we didn’t want to watch a film when exploring the city was an option so we didn’t bother. I’m sure I’ll get my chance one day!

We decided to walk back to the hotel. The weather, aside from the occasional bout of hail, was dry. It was cold, but we were wrapped up warm and though the day had been tiring, it seemed like a perfect opportunity. Despite its reputation, Amsterdam is an incredibly romantic city and walking through the side streets and over the many bridges was a wonderful way to spend our second evening in the city.

We picked up a pizza from Mastino V before heading back to the hotel. As we were both pretty tired, we decided take away was the best option. Cerrys went for the classic Margherita whereas I went for a pizza loaded with 2 different types of cheese, rocket, pine nuts, garlic, tomatoes and peppers. It was incredible. The dough was crispy on the outside and soft in the middle and the toppings were warmed through but not overcooked. The vegan cheese was incredible too and rather than acting as a substitute, the cheese added a unique flavour and texture to the meal. By the time we’d eaten and showered it was almost 10.30pm and both Cerrys and I were exhausted. We watched a little TV and fell asleep shortly after.

 

By day 3 my legs were screaming. Cerrys felt much the same. We didn’t let it deter us at all and woke up early. We were out of the hotel by 8am and made our way by tram to the Flower Market. We walked its length and though some of the stalls weren’t open, Cerrys did pick up some bits and pieces both for herself and her family including a snow globe of which she has an ever growing collection. We went to a bakery nearby and picked up a pecan and chocolate slice and a Nutella muffin. Both were tasty but we left feeling a little underwhelmed. We weren’t really doing much but wasting time as I wanted to go to the Torture Museum, but it didn’t open until 9am and it was only 8.50am. When we got inside, the Museum itself was something of a disappointment. I only wanted to go as I visited there when I was 18. In my memory, the museum was larger and more fun but in truth, it cost us 15 Euros to get in and about 13 minutes to walk around. It was still nostalgic and a bit of fun, but I think the memory was better than the reality. Either way, I’m still glad I did it.

After the Torture Museum, we took a walk down to Dam Square and had a look in some of the shops along the way. We found a great store called Pop Cult, which sells mostly game merchandise as well as stuff from TV shows like Pokémon and Rick & Morty. I could have spent a fortune, but managed to avoid buying anything. We also found a store called Dogo which sold the cutest shoes. We’ve found them online and are considering using their shoes for our wedding. They are also vegan!

We wandered for some time, meandering through the streets and made our way slowly down to the Anne Frank Museum. We arrived a little too early but weren’t hungry or thirsty enough to stop anywhere for food or drink so ended up crossing one of the bridges and continuing or aimless walking. I wasn’t sure of quite what to expect in the Anne Frank House. I mean, I knew it wasn’t going to be rainbows and sunshine but I didn’t know how it was going to make me feel. It was, in equal measure, both depressing and uplifting. We wandered through the house and saw where Anne and her family lived in hiding for two years. We read excerpts from the diary and learnt not just about Anne’s life but also about the lives of her family, friends and millions of other Jewish people who suffered during the Second World War. It’s terrifying to know the atrocities that we humans are capable of committing and to take that anger out on a young girl like Anne Frank and the millions like her – bright, intuitive, intelligent and creative – just because of her ancestry and her beliefs is something that I would hope we would never repeat again. I don’t hold out too much hope though. The world seems to be slowly breaking. We are destroying this planet for future generations. Our own flesh and blood. Those we are supposed to love and protect. If we are willing to do that to our children, then protecting, respecting and caring for strangers seem almost impossible. The current global social and political climate will almost certainly lead to war. I just hope that if the worst does occur we learn from it this time around.

We felt a little sombre after the Anne Frank House and hopped on a tram to Rembrandt Square. It had been a cold day and we’d done a lot of walking, so we felt we deserved a drink. Rembrandt Square really spoilt us for choice. We ended up picking a traditional English style bar called The Old Bell. It was full of character and was home to one of the fattest cats I’ve ever met. He was extremely friendly and clearly lived well. Cerrys, being tee total had a coke and I treat myself to a couple of glasses of some wonderful Termperanillo. We shared a plate of fries which, although nothing special, definitely filled a hole. Before we knew it, the light was beginning to fade and it was time to leave.

Cerrys and I had been looking forward to a canal cruise for months. We were lucky enough to be in Amsterdam during the famous Festival of Light and our Iamsterdam cards meant we could take this cruise for only 6 Euros each. It was well worth it. Cruising the canals in the early evening was truly mesmerising and to be lucky enough to see these light installations by artists as famous as Ai Wei Wei was an incredible opportunity. The canal cruise took us past the Nemo Science Museum, a floating Chinese restaurant, a ship next to the Maritime Museum and through some of the most affluent areas. An audio guide taught us some history of the city, its architecture and its people as well as detailing the different light installations. Cerrys and I fell further in love with Amsterdam during the hour long cruise.

Once we were off the cruise we took a wander through Dam Square and back in to the Red Light District. It’s like a different place at night. The streets were bustling and the bars were full. We wandered down to what we thought was the Museum of Prostitution but that we later discovered was actually called the Prostitution Museum. It may not have been the museum that was really wanted to visit, but we weren’t disappointed. We began in a room full of dildos of hugely different shapes and sizes. Some were bronze, other’s porcelain and whilst some looked old yet well preserved others looked, well…used. As we ventured up the second set of stairs we found original artwork by John Lennon and several works by many other photographers and artists. There was also a room with an adult cartoon version of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. A mural depicting Snow White was on the wall and to watch the cartoon we had to sit down on toadstools. I’ve a feeling it might have ruined a small part of Cerrys’ childhood but it made me laugh. As we got to the top floor we were greeted by a mannequin in full S&M garb peeing onto a sheet of Perspex above us. There were other instruments of torture in the room too as well as some further photos and information. It only took us half an hour to get around, but it was pretty funny. As we left, we passed the museum that we originally wanted to see but by this point we were both pretty hungry and tired so after walking through the Red Light District a little more we head to the nearest tram stop.

We’d decided to eat in The Vegan Junk Food Bar restaurant. It was little out the way, but the food had been so good in the diner that I wanted to experience some more of the menu. Unfortunately, when we got there we were told that there were 11 tables waiting to be sat. I don’t think we would have had a seat for about an hour. A little disheartened, we considered picking up some more pizza but on the tram back to the hotel I remembered another place I’d read about online called Foodhallen and as it was close to the hotel, we decided to go there.

It was entirely different to what I expected. I knew it was going to be a food court but I really wasn’t prepared for scale of it. The place was huge and absolutely full of people. We’d looked online and found a vegan place that served Mexican food so when we arrived we aimed straight for that. We bought a sweet potato wrap and some nachos with cashew cheese and black beans. The wrap was huge. Cut into two pieces we had large, soft chunks of sweet potato, crispy lettuce and some wonderfully flavoured black beans. It was fairly simple, but it made each of the flavours really stand out. The nachos were fresh and crisp and the cashew cheese added tremendous flavour. The black beans provided real substance and tucked away in a corner we found some salsa which was spicy and had a citrus twang to it. The meal was filling and full of flavour. After our food, Cerrys and I walked around for a while and took in the different aromas filling the air. There wasn’t a huge amount in the way of dessert so we didn’t end up getting anything and instead decided to head back to the hotel and get some rest.

 

The following morning, the weather seemed dry and clear. We’d planned to go to the zoo so we head out about 8.15am and picked up some food from the local bakery again. We decided to sit in and eat as the zoo didn’t open until 9am. By the time we arrived at the zoo, morning had arrived properly and although it was grey and overcast, it didn’t seem too bad. The wind was picking up somewhat and there was a fair bit of sand blowing around from the camel pen. I swallowed my fear and ventured into the bird enclosure before we visited the lizard hut. We saw tiny turtles and an absolutely huge crocodile. It was apparently feeding time, so we also saw a snake devouring a rabbit and several dead mice. When we left the hut, the wind had really started to pick up and we were informed by the staff that the zoo was closing as a storm was heading in. Luckily, the building next door called Micropia was to remain open so we head inside. Although it was a little more for kids that adults, it was still pretty interesting. We were able to look through a range of microscopes at bacteria and pond life. Unfortunately, the place was full of kids from one of the schools and news of the impending storm was beginning to take over.

After a time, a member of staff come over to us, a worried look on his face and he explained to us that due to storm we would be unable to leave the building. We ended up sitting around for the best part of an hour before we were able to escape. The next problem we faced was that every single tram had been cancelled. It was a little strange. Usually Amsterdam is a busy, bustling city full of trams, cars and bikes but the storm had brought the city almost to a standstill. The roads were pretty much empty and the city felt almost silent. We ended up walking from the zoo down to Rembrandt Square and went back into the pub we’d been in a couple of days before. We looked on our phones and saw that, in places, the wind was tearing off roofs, blowing people over and, according to the news, over 230 flights had been cancelled. To be honest, as windy as it was, we didn’t feel like it was bad enough to be stopping traffic. With that being said, it was nice to stop for a while, have some wine and food and watch the world go by from the comfort of somewhere warm and dry.

As we were close by, we decided to head to the Rembrandt House Museum. Having seen The Night Watch a couple of days before it was an interesting look in to how Rembrandt lived whilst creating some of his most famous works. He was clearly a bit of an eccentric and flamboyant man, proven by the sheer size of his house, his collections of assorted art works, animal bones and other odd little things. We also saw a lot of work by Rembrandt’s students, namely Bol and Flick. It was interesting to see how they began by copying Rembrandt’s work but evolved into very different artists in their own right. There was a follow-up to the exhibition in the Amsterdam Museum. We didn’t have time to visit on this particular day but wanted to make an effort to go and visit the following day and our final in Amsterdam.

For whatever reason, I was exhausted. I wasn’t really feeling myself and realised I was being a little snappy, so Cerrys suggested that we made our way back to the hotel for a while. It’s not something that I normally do, but within about 30 minutes of being back I was asleep. I woke up an hour or so later and, though not as grumpy, I still felt a little gross and tired. I wasn’t willing to spend the night indoors so I had a quick shower and we made our way out. We began by having a slow and relaxed walk around Vondelpark. It was almost 8pm and I expected it to be quiet but there were still groups of runners and more cyclists than we could count. Even so, it was still more peaceful than many of the busy streets and clubs. Both Cerrys and I, as tired as we were, were dreading leaving Amsterdam. Coming back to reality is always the hardest part of any holiday. Whilst away, there are no money worries and no work commitments. It’s life without the everyday anxiety and stress.

 

We made our way out of the park and down towards Museumplein. Though all the museums were shut, there were still a fair amount of people around. A local group of ice hockey players, seemingly of all ages and abilities were practicing on the ice rink that had been set up over the Christmas period and there were still a few tourists around. We took some pictures and had an aimless walk around before walking back through Vondelpark, grabbing a pizza to share from Mastino and making our way back to the hotel. By this point, it was coming up on 10pm and Cerrys and I had spent our last full day in Amsterdam. There was an odd feeling as though we were looking forward to getting home to catch up on sleep – it had been an absolutely exhausting week – neither of us really wanted to leave. I’d fallen in love with Amsterdam all over again and Cerrys adored it too.

On our final day, we woke up a little later. We hadn’t made too many plans, so decided to get ourselves ready to leave and check out rather than heading back to the hotel to clean up closer to the checkout time. We were able to leave our bags in the hotel anyway, so it didn’t make too much of a difference. We head out about 10.30am and made our way to Dam Square. It was far busier than we’d seen it previously. I assume, being a Friday, people were arriving to spend a long weekend away. There were street dancers drawing crowds of people and someone dressed as Death, posing for pictures with passers-by. Tour guides stood, their large umbrellas held high in the sky to garner attention and hundreds upon hundreds of tourists. Cerrys and I sat down for a while and watched the world go by. It was strangely relaxing. We pottered around for a little while before visiting the Amsterdam Museum. It gave us an in depth history of Amsterdam highlighting the social and political changes, the architecture and, of course, the astounding artwork born in the city. There was also a large section on the effects that the Second World War had on the city and its Jewish population. Following this, we head downstairs to the Bol and Flink exhibitions and saw more of their astounding work as well as the work of the contemporaries. One room in particular invited us to sit down and look fully at one of Bol’s works. It explained to us in great detail the tiny intricacies and the story behind the painting. To see the details and to fully understand the painting was genuinely insightful. It was far more interesting that it first appeared.

By the time we left the museum, it was lunchtime. Neither of us had eaten breakfast so we decided to go to a local vegetarian take away place called Maoz. It was kind of like a Subway with falafel. It did cost us almost 20 Euros, which was by far the most expensive midday meal we’d had, but there was also a lot of food. As well as a pita wrap filled with falafel and salad and unlimited toppings, we also got fries with a large portion of mayonnaise. The meal was tasty, filling and incredibly quick. The shop was a little small so I had to stand for a short while but we eventually got a seat.

With no real plan for the day, Cerrys and I decided just to wander around. We ended up in the Red Light District where I bought a Belgian waffle covered in Nutella. I wasn’t hungry, I just realised that hadn’t had one since we arrived. We walked past some more of the big red doors before ending up in a quiet little Irish bar. I had a pint of lager and Cerrys a coke, but it was really just a way of wasting some time before we had to leave. We stayed around until about 3pm before deciding to head to the airport. Our flight wasn’t until sometime later, but we wanted to avoid the rush and have a wander through Vondelpark in the daytime, which was absolutely worth it. We got to the park around 3.30pm and it was even more full of the runners and cyclists we’d seen the night before. Locals and tourists alike strolled around. The sheer size of the park meant it didn’t feel too busy, but Cerrys and I spoke about how the parks in our city are wasted. They seem to be more of a place for teenagers to hang around and they close early due to the fear of anti-social behaviour. There are occasions when our parks are used well such as the Party in the Park event, which I and several other musicians played at a couple of years ago. Events such as those are few and far between though and even at those the park is filled with litter afterwards. It may only be a minority, but it’s upsetting that we can’t trust people to look after the parks that we’ve been given. Perhaps if attitudes and lifestyles change we can start holding public events on a more regular basis but until then, I’m afraid local councils won’t be willing to spend money on them.

We got back to the hotel around 4.30pm to collect our bags and made the journey back to Amsterdam Centraal. The tram was relatively quiet, so we watched Amsterdam pass us by, not entirely enthused about the idea of leaving. Our pace was slowing by the time we got into the station. We bought our tickets and made our way to the platform. We did get a bit lost on the way, but managed to find it eventually. Another 15 minute journey and we were back at Schiphol airport. We had a look around some of the airport shops figuring that we wouldn’t be able to check in but out gate was already showing on the display screens. We made our way through to the departure lounge and picked up some rum in duty free – a staple of any holiday. We were early, but time seemed to pass pretty quickly and before we knew it, we were playing games outside our boarding gate.

The flight back was calm. Cerrys panicked on take-off and seemed a little worse than usual. I think she was just over tired so her anxiety was heightened. Cerrys calmed down once we were in the air and we were back in the UK within an hour. My brother picked us up and my mum had come along for the ride. Cerrys and I ordered a Dominos on the way home which arrived shortly after we got back. We went to bed shortly after and slept for about 13 hours each. We were absolutely exhausted.

For some reason, this trip wiped us out more than Disney or Santorini. I’m not sure why. It was far more of an experience than anything else we’ve done and we took in a lot more information that we’re used to. It wasn’t remotely relaxing, but instead a celebration of art, history and culture. Amsterdam is a truly amazing city and one that holds a very special place in mine and Cerrys’ hearts.

I just hope that we get to go back one day.