Amsterdam January 2015

Way back in October, Mike and I booked flights to Amsterdam because of how cheap they are! And when am I ever going to turn that down? Amsterdam is a place I have wanted to visit for so long as there were already things I wanted to see and do there!

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I knew the language barrier wouldn’t be a problem, as they all speak English there so I’m glad we had nothing to worry about! I knew Amsterdam was a very lively city with a similar climate to the UK, but with very different laws. There is such a range of hostels and hotels in Amsterdam, unlike anywhere else I’ve stayed, the hostels being more expensive. We opted to stay in the first 5* hostel in the world the well known, Bulldog! at €180 EACH for 3 nights, we knew it would be worth it, and it was!

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We landed early evening and headed straight to The Bulldog. When we checked in, we were told how it was illegal to smoke cigarettes in the restaurant, but weed was fine. This, I was expecting but I still found the whole concept so odd! By the time we had checked into The Bulldog, time was getting on so we headed straight out for food. We went to an Argentinian Grill where I was adamant I would try a steak, but I couldn’t bring myself to do it, so I went for a grilled chicken with salad. Safe.

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We were so full so went for a walk to walk it off. Mike had visited Amsterdam in 2012 so he knew his bearings and was able to show me things he had seen when he visited previously which was nice! We popped to a bar and got a drink before heading back to The Bulldog to chill!

Waking up the next day, we were so tired, so didn’t manage to leave the hostel till about 1pm, but we knew exactly where we were going! THE HEINEKEN EXPERIENCE! This was something we knew we were doing and were really looking forward to it! It had it’s benefits for Mike too as he used this opportunity to expand his knowledge on marketing to help with his placement and degree. The tour took about 2 hours and we were able to see the process of how Heineken is made, were told facts about it, experienced a simulator, got to drink Heineken on the way and even pour our own at the end! At just €12 each, it was definitely worth it!

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After this, I really wanted to see the famous ‘IAmsterdam’ signs, so Mike lead the way and we headed there! Still decorated with their Christmas lights accompanied with an Ice Rink, it was such a wintery feel! 

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On Saturday, we got up to visit FOAM (Foam Fotografiemuseum Amsterdam) This was a main reason for visiting Amsterdam. The photography museum of Amsterdam which has constant changing exhibitions. The two which were on when I visited were Nobuyoshi Araki’s Photography for the afterlife: Alluring Hell and also Vivian Maier’s Street photography works. After the recent events of Maier’s work and the discovery, I was really looking forward to see these on display! However, there were just 3 rooms to display her work, and the collection wasn’t too big. The works were still fantastic and I felt lucky to see these works on display.
Araki’s work I found very odd, I had studied him before in first year of University, but this was very different. Some of it I didn’t understand and it all seemed to contradict each other. ‘Photography for the afterlife’ told me that it would be quite dark works, but there would be one room with photos of dolls and flowers, with the next being a series of portraits of subway commuters. I didn’t understand the connection, however, a few of the works really stood out for me!

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I was definitely more inspired by Maier’s work, as this is what appeals to me more and the similar sort of field I see myself in. I could see a lot of other street photographers in her work! After looking at the exhibitions, we had a look at the photobook collection. There were hundreds!!

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After spending a couple of hours in FOAM, we went for a pizza and a long walk as I continued to shoot! There is so much street art in Amsterdam. Not like the amateur Graffiti you see in Madrid, but big creative in your face murals! The type that people actually stop to take photos of!

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On our last day before heading to the airport, we headed to Anne Frank’s house. We were told by many, and even read online to get there for opening due to the queues. However, by the time we got there, it was about half 10, and we queued for no more than 15 minutes which was good! Walking in, you first walk into some rooms that have been created into a museum and just tell you a bit of information about the museum, and throughout the tour, are extracts from Anne Frank’s diary printed onto the walls!
Walking into the house, it was empty as during the search, all furniture was removed, and Otto Frank, the only survivor, said that he wanted to keep it this way. The emptiness of the rooms reflected the mood to the events. I feel that is all the furniture was left in, that it might not have the same feel. Such an inspiring that has gone down in history and will do for the rest of our lives happened in these empty rooms and it was so surreal being stood where the 8 hiders lived silently for 2 years.

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We went and grabbed some food before heading to the airport! and then we had to say goodbye! 😦 But next time we see each other will be for our next adventure in Athens! Mike and I both went backpacking round Europe in 2012 a week apart, before we met and both visited the same locations and weirdly enough took the same photos from the same spots. So it’s great that we share the same interest and love for travelling – which makes it 10x better when we go places together!

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