Monday, 14 March 2016

5 hours in Amsterdam

A few months ago I was lucky enough to win a trip with P&O Ferries for a weekend away to a place of my choice (well.. to the places they sailed to!). I chose Amsterdam because I'd heard many good things about it.

Fast forward 4 months and the weekend finally came around. I took my mum with me and deliberately booked it over her birthday so it would be a nice treat for her.

We boarded the ferry in Hull and checked into our rooms. Honestly? The bedrooms were not up to much, with pull out beds from the walls, and a tiny bathroom area, and we weren't laden with any luxuries (not even a TV). I also very quickly realised that there were no English plug sockets, only European ones, and I did not think to bring an adapter. Images of straight hair and a fully charged phone disappeared instantly, and I felt like we were immediately going 'back to basics'. This obviously took a bit of getting used to and I can't say I enjoyed being in there.

Leaving Hull Docks
Forgetting the cabins, the ferry itself was fairly impressive considering its predominantly used for overnight crossings only. It consisted of a Starbucks, cinema, 2 duty-free style shops and several bars/restaurants with live entertainment. There were a few stag/hen do's happening, as well as lots of younger couples who were clearly treating this as a alcohol-fuelled weekend away. Feeling a little 'past it', we resorted to the more quieter bar on the top deck, where a live pianist played some soft music. After our drinks, we headed back to the room for an early night (this gave me a chance to catch up on my book too! Oh, the joys of getting old!).

The next morning, being awoken by an announcement over the tannoy at 630am, we made ourselves look respectable and docked at 8am in Rotterdam. Haven't not done any research, I wasn't expecting a 1.5hr coach trip to Amsterdam. Travel sick Tracey here does not cope well as a passenger in any moving vehicle, so sick bags were at the ready! After a gruesome journey, we arrived in Amsterdam at 1130am, and this stomach needed filling in order to battle that nausea and tired feeling.

Not having a clue which way to turn, we headed for the crowds (if in doubt, always follow the crowds!). We settled in this quirky little café called PastaBar. This made me a little anxious because before I head anywhere, I always always check out restaurant reviews - I always think life is too short to visit a poor restaurant with poor food. Always seek out the best! Luckily for us, I since checked it out on Tripadvisor and we were lucky as it had a 4* rating. We both had an English Breakfast whilst watching the world go by. After more mooching around the shops, we spent an hour on a canal cruise, learning about the history of Amsterdam, seeing Anne Franks house (although I never saw it!), and learning how the waterways/canals work over there.

Enjoying a cup of tea with my breakfast. Can I drink from glass mugs every day?

Canal Cruise

Canal Cruise

We wandered some more, accidentally stepping a few feet into the red light district, seeing a few rather rude window displays then making a swift turn-around before my mums eyes popped out of her head. Not exactly the best person to explore that kind of area with!

Cheese Museum

Cheese Museum

Clogs, clogs and more clogs!

Main Square
We ate a Nutella & Hazelnut waffle in a café, discovered a whole new street full of quirky shops and eateries only moments before we were about to head back to the coach, which was a little bit gutting. I wish we would have found this place sooner as it felt like it had a little more character to it than the other side.

Question - How do you find your bike amongst all this lot?! Pretty impressive!
Back on the coach for that dreaded 1.5hr trek back to the boat. Luckily for me I slept for pretty much the whole way, so it flew by. Boarding the boat, we had a meal at the buffet restaurant and I ate a delicious Terry's Chocolate Orange Cheesecake. Yum. We later sat in the 'Sunset Lounge' bar and watched a live singer sing some really cheesy (but good) songs. We then resorted to our rooms for our last night on the boat.

Overall, would I do another P&O ferry cruise? Probably not. To travel 12 hours on a boat with no in-bedroom luxuries, a further 1.5hrs on the coach for only 5hours in Amsterdam, to then have to repeat it all is not really worth it.

Have you ever had a weekend away with P&O ferries?

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