Saturday, 29 November 2014

Amsterdam in 24 hours

This year I set myself the ambitious challenge to see 12 countries in 12 months.  Along side this, I also wanted to make my first solo trip abroad and I won't lie, this idea terrified me!

Originally when I set myself this challenge, Amsterdam wasn't a city that was on my list.  However, a few 'cheap flight' vs. 'short flight time' searches and I discovered that I could make it to Amsterdam and back again in 24 hours, while still seeing lots of the city.  Perfect!

As you know this month I turned 27 (I know, old right?!), so my birthday treat to myself was this trip to Amsterdam solo (as well as my trip to Barcelona with my mum).

My mum was not best pleased with the announcement that I was going alone to the vice capital of Europe, but I promised to keep in touch regularly while I was there and make sure I checked into each new place I visited on Facebook and Instagram.  Which was a great way to keep track of where I had been and meant that a lot of my friends were giving me additional tips along the way.

Without further a-do here is my Top Ten for Amsterdam...

1. Dam Square

Koninklijk Paleis Amsterdam at the top of Dam Sqaure

2. Food

There are lots of cute places to eat outside which are heated to keep it cosy

The Pancake Bakery is amazing you have to go

Van Dobben Croquette

Dutch Cheese

3. Koninklijk Paleis
Koninklijk Paleis Amsterdam

4. Clogs

Because it's a Dutch tradition

5. Canals in Jordaan

Canals in Jordaan

Not too far from the Anne Frank House and en route to the Pancake Bakery

6. St Niclaaskerk 

St Niclaaskerk isn't too far from the red light district in Amsterdam

7. Central Station

Getting the train to and from the Airport is easy from here and the station is very central

8. Waag

It was originally a city gate and part of the walls of Amsterdam

9. De Bijenkorf for shopping

De Bijenkorf is like Harrods or Selfridges in Amsterdam. You can find it in Dam Square
10. Anne Frank House

Me outside the Anne Frank House

There are so many amazing things to do and see in Amsterdam, but the Anne Frank House was by far my favourite part of the trip.  I am a self confessed Art and History buff, especially when it comes to the first world war.  Walking around the annexe gave me chills and more than once filled my eyes with tears.  Of course, there was also the occasional whisper as we walked around about A Fault in our Stars too.

Since leaving Amsterdam I have also started reading The Diary of a Young Girl (or The Diary of Anne Frank), which I bought in the museum when I was there.

Here is my route that I took in Amsterdam  

Do you have any tips to add?  Or maybe some questions about Amsterdam? Join in the conversation below or through one of my social media channels...

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Birthday Celebrations

This week I turned 27 and so it was time to celebrate.  I started with a weekend in Barcelona with my mum and I arriving there last Saturday.  It was a great weekend with a few hiccups and we arrived back home for my actual birthday on Monday, to spend it with my family.

It was a nice chilled out day with a family dinner in the evening and then this weekend my friends and I made our way to the Bloomsbury Ballrooms in Holborn to step back in time to the 1920s for thier Prohibition party.

Barcelona, the good, the bad and the unknown...

This weekend I took a trip to Barcelona to celebrate my Birthday and although I had an amazing time, there were a few minor disasters that happened along the way....  So I thought I would share this round up post with you, to avoid the same mistakes repeating themselves.

If you read my blog on a regular basis, you will know that I travel often and love every minute of it.  However, unfortunately I cannot say the same of my trip to Barcelona.  It is an amazing city and it is absolutely stunning – but I fear the reputation their French neighbors have may have rubbed off on them a little. 

So here are the pros and cons of my trip here:

The weather

It is easy to walk around the city

The Gothic quarter is beautiful

Also the port is something that you cannot miss

The views

The Art

The History

  • The trains are difficult to navigate when you first arrive
  • The hop on hop off buses are not great at communicating their stop with you, so you can miss a place that you wanted to jump off at. 
  • Taxi’s are expensive
  • You need to keep an eye on your belongings (I had my ring stolen)
  • The shops close on a Sunday (I was particularly devastated by this one).
So here are some tips on making your trip a lot more stress free than my one…
  1. Email ahead and find out where your nearest train station is to your hotel
  2. Get a train from the airport (its just a little over 8 Euros)
  3. The train will take you to Central Barcelona (the station is called Barcelona Sants)
  4. On your way back to the airport you will need to make your way by train to Barcelona Sants and get the train to the airport from Platforms 9-10
  5. If you are staying in Las Ramblas (central Barcelona) then you are best to get a train to Catalunya
  6. I wouldn't get on the bus tour again but stick to the trains instead if you are pushed for time.
  7. If you are planning on doing some shopping, then do this on a Saturday and explore on a Sunday
  8. Shopping centre that is open Maremagnum Mall

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Remembrance Sunday 2014

This year marks 100 years since the start of World War I, so instead of watching the procession on television as I do every year, I joined my local town at church and then walked down to the war memorial to watch the procession there.

I captured this morning's procession in Romford Town centre here...

A huge thank you to the gentlemen who allowed me to take their photograph earlier too. 

Today was so moving and especially this poem, which was a part of the service:

When you go home
Tell them of us and say,
For your tomorrow
We gave our today.

I do have some other pictures too, which you can view here if you would like.  If you would like to use them on your own blog/website/publication, then let me know and I can send high res versions across.