My first birthday as a ‘MRS’ – we had to make it a special one. So, it was the perfect excuse to fly to the very nearby Netherlands and spend 4 days in Amsterdam. Being so close to the UK, we had always wanted to visit the Dutch city, and it was the perfect short city break to squeeze into the early winter days.
My birthday was on the 3rd day of our trip. So we had plenty of time to settle into the city, and by this point, had already seen some of the main attractions.
This blog post focuses on how we spent the 24 hours of my birthday – yay!
Keep an eye out for our other Amsterdam blog(s) coming up soon.
12am – Midnight Cocktails
At midnight, we were having ‘tailor-made’ drinks at our hotel bar. ‘The Tailor’ bar of the Grand Hotel Krasnapolsky Hotel, is designed with a tailoring theme, from the decor to the menu to the presentation of the drinks. The idea is based on Mr Krasnapolsky, a tailor who arrived in Amsterdam, took over a coffeehouse and started the trend of the special ‘coffeehouses’ in Amsterdam. You learn a bit of history everywhere you go here!
10am – A’DAM Toren (Tower)
Our first stop of the day was to the A’DAM Toren (Tower) in Amsterdam North. We walked from our hotel to the Amsterdam Centraal station. You can get a free ferry from the back of the station, that heads across the river IJ. There are 3 routes heading to the north of Amsterdam – we took the one going to Buiksloterweg, which is the shortest and takes no more than 10 minutes to get across.
We bought tickets to the A’DAM Lookout and Over the Edge Swing. Apart from these attractions, the tower also features a skybar and restaurants, clubs, music companies and a revolving restaurant (keep reading as we had my birthday lunch there!)
It was nice surprise to find out there was an I Amsterdam sign at the tower. There are actually 3 I Amsterdam signs in the city, you can try to get a photo at. The one at the Rijksmuseum, which is probably the most popular and therefore the most crowded; one at Schipol Airport; and a travelling sign which is currently at the A’DAM Toren (lucky for us).
The Iron Throne? More like the Metal Throne (get it? Heavy metal? Metal?).
Unless you have a reservation at one of the restaurants in the tower, you need to buy a ticket for the Lookout Observation Deck to gain access into the building. We would say the views are definitely worth it!
The A’DAM Lookout Observation Deck gives you panoramic views of Amsterdam’s skyline. We were lucky the previous days’ rain clouds had cleared for my birthday, giving us the perfect blue sky day to enjoy the views across the city.
12pm – Over the Edge Swing
The Over the Edge swing is Europe’s Highest Swing at a height of 100 metres above the ground. I thought my birthday would be the perfect day to face my fear of heights and go on the swing. The more I watched other people take their turn, the more I was starting to chicken out of it. I’m so glad Jonny held me prisoner in the queue and pushed me on to it, because it was a great experience in the end (even though I found it so difficult to open my eyes through it).
Picture 1: I’m smiling on the outside, but terrified on the inside
Picture 2: A quick selfie on the swing before I give my phone to the woman and hope and pray she is able to take good pictures of us.
Picture 3: Up, up and away!
Picture 4: The woman did good – she managed to get a photo from the front too. Ha!
Pictures 5 and 6: Swinging over the edge. That’s one to check off the list now!
1pm – Moon the Revolving Restaurant
Lunchtime! Always one to try a new experience, when we found out about the revolving restaurant in the tower, we obviously had to book my birthday lunch here!
We had the option of a 3, 4 or 5 course meal – so we played Goldilocks and got the one in between – hehe!
The outer part of the restaurant, or the seating area, revolved slowly – offering us a 360 degree view without having to leave our seats.
Most of the dishes were seafood, and probably not ones we would have picked ourselves, but we surprisingly enjoyed them. I was slightly disappointed there was no meat included. Ah well. This gorgeous Moon dessert actually made up for it. It was absolutely divine!
3pm – Walk through Amsterdam
We headed back to the centre of Amsterdam and took a walk through the streets and over the canals to our next activity. The great thing about the centre of Amsterdam is that you can walk (or cycle) everywhere. You can really save money on public transport, and it gives you a chance to photograph all the beautiful landmarks on the way.
The Magna Plaza Shopping Centre is an incredible looking shopping centre near Dam Square. The building was originally built in the 19th century and was the former main post office building in Amsterdam. It was bought over, renovated and opened as a shopping mall in 1992, when it was also added to the list of the 10 most valuable monuments of Amsterdam.
Looking at the interior, you would think this was a museum or art gallery, rather than a shopping centre.
The canal ring of Amsterdam is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is the most well known image conjured up of Amsterdam. On a sunny day, walking along the many canals, and over the bridges, makes for a very romantic walk.
5pm – Anne Frank House
I didn’t take any photographs at the Anne Frank House, because I felt it was a place you have to experience for yourself. I could have taken a photo of the bookshelf, behind which leads the way to the hidden annex where Anne, her family and some family friends hid for 2 years – but you need to walk through it yourself, climb into the annex, up the small cramped stairs and into all the rooms, in order to go back in time to Anne’s life.
It was an uncomfortable experience. The house is very busy with visitors and tourists; there is a queue all the way through the house. You need to stand in small rooms cramped with other visitors and climb up narrow flights of stairs, whilst listening to the audio guide and reading snippets of information about the different rooms. It’s not great if you’re claustrophobic and dislike crowded places – but I feel it all adds to the atmosphere, to even begin to imagine what it must have been like to live in those conditions, in that period of time, whilst fearing for your life.
It’s definitely a must see when you’re in Amsterdam. Don’t miss it.
7.30pm – Amsterdam Ice Bar
Now to the ‘coolest’ part of my birthday – grabbing a drink at Amsterdam’s very cool and chill Ice Bar. Make sure you wrap up warm because you’re only given a thin jacket (XXL so that you can wear it over your own coat) and a pair of gloves.
You’ll need to buy tickets for this bar – the ticket gets you entry and 3 drinks. First, you enter the ‘normal’ bar area where you get your first drink, which can be any of the cocktails or beers. Then at your allocated time, you get given your jacket and gloves and shown through to the ice bar itself…
Apparently you can only stay here for 20 minutes. Now, I don’t think anyone is particularly strict about that, BUT, I don’t see anyone really wanting to stay for longer than 20 minutes, once you’ve had your drinks and taken your photos.
For the drinks in the ice bar, you can choose from beer, shots or orange juice. These are all served in glasses made of ice – so make sure you do wear those gloves …and don’t go licking those glasses!
9pm – Dinner at a floating Chinese restaurant
The Sea Palace is Europe’s first floating restaurant. The exterior and interior of the restaurant is simply exquisite. The restaurant has 3 floors – the main restaurant and bar on the ground floor, the 2nd floor can be reserved for larger groups and functions, and the 3rd floor has private rooms.
Apart from the novelty of eating at a floating restaurant, the service and food wasn’t any better than what we’ve already experienced. We would say the decor was of a higher standard than the food in this instance.
So, with our bellies full and our legs tired, we walked back to our hotel for some much needed rest, at the end of an amazing birthday.
Oh, and this view.
Let’s see how next year tops it 😉
Love, DJK x