Wednesday, 3 August 2016

Amsterdam, Netherlands: Day II Keukenhof (Photo-heavy)

On the second day we had planned to go to the Keukenhof Gardens. After a quick bite at the airport we then bought our tickets at the Keukenhof stall, you can either buy an entrance ticket and organise your own transportation to the gardens or you can buy a combi-ticket which includes return bus travel. We got the combi-ticket because it is so much easier, however the queue for the bus was really long. I think we queued for about an hour and it was also pouring that day, we thought okay maybe there won't be so many people going today then but no, no no. There was also taxi drivers trying to get a group of people together to pool to the gardens but obviously we had already bought our bus tickets. The bus journey itself was around 30 minutes.

The Keukenhof is massive, we easily spent a good 4 hours in here and thankfully there were spots of sunshine here and there. There were a lot of people but because the garden is so big you can just move to a more quiet area if you wished. Keukenhof is also known as the 'Land of Tulips' but they also had a number of different flowers too.

Both me and J.Y are not 'map-people' when it comes to travelling abroad so we were just walking and walking until we got peckish and just in time we found a canteen in the garden. I think we walked for about 2.5 hours at this point and thought surely we've been around most of the garden already so we just took our time eating.

In the first picture we got berry smoothies, a giant meatball and curry croquettes (we did not know it was curry until after). Also with the croquettes you get a bread roll, which we thought was pretty weird but it actually worked out good because the meatball was way too salty so we just made a meatball sub instead. Then for dessert was an apple pie slice. How the meal looked was probably how it tasted, it was not the most worst meal I have had but it was edible. After lunch came more exploring, along the way we found an Orchid house which was absolutely gorgeous inside.

There was even a small animal pen in the gardens and it had llamas! Just look at them with their cool fringes and non-moving posture. 

There was a bound-to-happen episode at the end where we did get lost but we thought we would be clever and just go with our intuitions even though our sense of directions are horrendous. However after reaching a motorway we thought okay, we should both ask for help and use the gigantic maps we were given, of the garden. After locating the correct entrance and bus stop, we made our way back to the hotel to rest up a bit and then go back out to the city centre for dinner.

Friday, 29 July 2016

Amsterdam, Netherlands: Day I

I will admit, I have a back-log of posts so here is me saving my sorry blog and for anyone who actually bothers to read it (thank you by the way, to those who do). Back in April me and J.Y went on a short 4-day trip to Amsterdam, we timed it so we could attend King's Day (formerly Queen's Day) and for the tulip season. We flew via EasyJet from Gatwick airport, both of which I have never used before however it was fairly easy to get to Gatwick, unlike Stansted; Stansted airport is my nightmare. Our flight was at 8am so we agreed to meet for 6:30, there is nothing like waking up at 4:30 am to start off your holiday. Flights from London to Amsterdam is just over an hour so we arrived pretty early to our destination. Our hotel check-in was not open until 2pm so we had a few hours to kill. First stop was breakfast!

Breakfast in Amsterdam was a hotdog and juice. Healthy? No but it sure tasted good! After breakfast we decided to explore the airport since our hotel was only 10 minutes away by train.

The famous fast-food chain. Pop the right amount of change into the machine,
select your food and the door will open, grab food and close the door.
They had 2-story trains which we were amazed by, needless to say London does not have that.
After our window shopping and exploration we made our way to the hotel to drop off our stuff and explore the hotel area instead. We booked The Mercure Hotel which is just 4 minutes walk away from Amsterdam Sloterdijk station.

The hotel interior was so pretty, behind this wall was a lounge area with 2 computers and 2 sofas with a fake fireplace.
But as you go through the doors there is another comfy lounge area just opposite the elevators.

Thankfully we were allowed to check in a tad earlier so we were able to freshen up and join in the festivities of King's Day! The hotel room itself was quite small but the bathroom was massive and the bed was comfy.

My first time having Stroopwafel, now a fan.

Making our way to Amsterdam Central station, we headed towards the canal where we were met with music blaring out and masses of orange left, right and centre. It was basically a carnival with sections of the streets with their own sound system, people drinking and dancing, but also on the canals too. Rows of boats blasting out their own music, there was a wide range of genre's being played so if one spot did not suit your taste then move on! However I was questioning how people managed to stay afloat the boats when drunk. Me and J.Y walked for quite awhile before we got hungry again.

Schnitzel with potatoe wedges whilst J.Y opted for Dutch Stamppot.
After lunch it started pouring down so we decided to head indoors and one of the major sites on my must-visit list was of course, The Anne Frank House. I had only recently read 'Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl' so the story was still fresh in my head. It was interesting to put together what I had read whilst physically being in the place it was written. Despite the rain and the fact that it was King's Day there was still a long queue to get in, I reckon we waited nearly an hour. Also you are not allowed to take pictures inside, this obviously does not deter some people but I opted to abide by this rule and to take in the full experience without my camera or phone on hand. After the museum we headed back to the hotel before nipping back out later for a quick bite.

Both of the above we found in an article of 15 Dutch Foods to Try in Amsterdam, poffertjes, which are basically mini pancakes drizzled with maple syrup and sugar; and bitterballen, deep-fried meatballs served with a mustard dip. I was not really taken aback by the pancakes but I did like the bitterballen. After this was a nightly stroll and train back to the hotel ending day 1.

Sunday, 30 August 2015

Mayfield Lavender Farm

After missing the chance to visit the Mayfield Lavender Farm last year I made it a priority for this summer. I always assumed the farm would be far away but it only took me and W.C about an hour to get to and it was a fairly easy journey, one train and then the 166 bus which stops right outside the farm's gate. I read reviews that it use to be free entry but now it costs £1, however the £1 is redeemable with purchases over £5 at the lavender cafe and shop. I did not try the cakes as I was scared the lavender would be too strong but a colleague who went before me said it had a very subtle taste and that she would definitely go back for the cake!

At the entry and behind the sign was the cafe and shop.
Empty fields! Definitely go on a weekday if you can (it was not actually empty but good timing as well).
Selfie before saying bye!

This is going to sound really weird but I am not even a fan of lavender however this place is absolutely beautiful and I actually enjoyed the fresh smell of lavender, though I will not be in a rush to stock up on lavender-scented products anytime soon. Also be careful of the bees, they are too preoccupied with all the gold in front of them but its still nice to not step on them. The amount of dead bees and trampled lavender I saw with people trying to change lanes was too much. There was even a kid who bought a football to play in the fields so the ball was just destroying all in its path.