Travels through Europe: Part 1- Amsterdam

Alex Booth
6 min readMar 28, 2021

Reflections from an enthusiastic (slightly cynical) traveller.

View from one of the many bridges in Amsterdam (taken after getting lost for the eighth time)

I am a firm believer in the positive power of words. For those in need of evidence (and some bad writing) you check out my life lesson ramblings at

Aside from a belief in self-improvement, though, I am also a big fan of travelling. Granted, I am not as hardcore as some- you are unlikely to read about my four-week trek into the deepest reaches of the Andes for instance.

That said, I do, and always have, derived a lot of pleasure from sampling different cultures and experiencing new locations. It is a little clichéd, yet it is no exaggeration to state that travel really does broaden the mind.

Anyway, what do you get when you combine a person with a penchant for writing, with a love of travelling?

A lot of travel journals.

Well, with a pretty extensive travel ban in place (certainly in the UK), it doesn’t look like I will be adding to my visited location list any time soon. Instead, I thought I would take a trip down journal lane and do my bit to bring the world to you.

So sit back, as I recount part 1 of mine and my significantly better half’s mini-tour around Europe.

Stay tuned for subsequent uploads.

Day 1: Plains, trains and…boats…?

And so our travels in Amsterdam begin. This is the first destination of a three week tour around Europe. From our first destination of Amsterdam, we travel to Darmstadt (to visit friends), then Berlin, Prague, Vienna, Salzburg and, finally, Venice. At the moment, I’m waiting for a rather rainy flight from Liverpool airport.

On the whole, the flight to Amsterdam was fine — Alice (in the interests of anonymity, this is what I will refer to my better half as) displayed her prodigious cultural awareness and asked what Dutch people looked like. Ten minutes in and I can tell this is going to be a long trip…

Thankfully, we spend only 50 minutes in the air. One crossword- rather depressingly- did us the entire flight. Might need to brush up on my general knowledge.

Disembark in slightly warmer Amsterdam and head to the train station.

Excitement mounts at my first experience of a double decker train. Excitement collapsed when I nearly fell down the stairs getting off. Probably for the best that they don’t have them in England.

Wandered around Amsterdam central train station. Despite not needing to leave for two days, I insisted that we not only bought tickets for the next leg of our journey but reserved seats for the train to Frankfurt.

Got in a bit of a faff with the ordering machine. I’m already starting to think that I might have made my itinerary a little too detailed. When I raised this with Alice, she just laughed at me and said something about buying a pastry.

I told her to be quiet then proceeded to walk in the wrong direction to the toilet. Alice laughed some more.

Spent the next hour trying to locate our hostel. Realised the reason we couldn’t seem to find it on the map was because it was a boat.

Turn away from the city centre and head to the harbour.

As dusk fell, we managed to find our floating accommodation. ‘Cosy’ is one way to describe it (cripplingly small is another). Starting to realise that maybe going for the absolute cheapest hostel going might not have been the best idea. In the spirit of embracing the adventure in our travels in Amsterdam, though, I didn’t grumble too much.

Drunks and hobbits

Was shown the ropes (or sails) by a Dutch chap named ‘Toon’. I made some joke about Newcastle United Football Club. Toon didn’t seem impressed. He just smiled and nodded.

Our room was a good size for those vertically challenged. At just over 6 foot 2, alas I do not fall into this category.

The top bunk looks like it was designed for residents of Middle Earth (Bilbo Baggins would have been right at home). On the plus side, it has a sink and there’s space to do some toe touches, so I can’t complain…too much…

On taking us to our cabin/room Toon did say that the walls were ‘thin’. After the night we had, I would say that this was a slight understatement. I wasn’t sure if people are walking down the corridor or driving cattle.

On the whole, the night seemed like an extended episode of Fawlty Towers. As soon as one person drunkenly got themselves settled another one came along- invariably singing and trying to enter our cabin.

I’m pretty sure that one bloke got locked out of his room. Either that, or he decided to practice his drumming skills on the door.

View from the (boat) bridge

Day 2: To museum or not museum?

Woke up- because eventually (and kicking and screaming) sleep did claim me- to French grime music playing next door. Would have preferred a more conventional alarm, but my clock was still running an hour behind.

Asked Alice how she slept. ‘Really well’ was the irritating response. I just grumbled.

Enjoy a leisurely breakfast on deck (continental style no less). Even after all these years, I still feel a rush at eating cheese and salami for breakfast.

Butchered a hard boiled egg, then made some lukewarm, rather insipid tea. Decided on how best to spend our first full day of our travels in Amsterdam.

In my sleep deprived state, combined with Alice’s lack of research, neither of us can decide what to do.

We compromise by wandering aimlessly around central Amsterdam. Highlights include wandering into a local cheese shop for some free samples and timing how long it takes us to reach another dead end along the canals.

Ate lunch in Amsterdam central square. Having wandered past an Madame Tussauds, we discussed the ‘point’ in waxworks. Personally, I think they’re a waste of space. If you want a lifelike representation of someone, why not look at a photo? Alice said something about me being a ‘misery’, I wasn’t listening though- my mind was occupied trying to guess the temperature at which wax would melt.

Amsterdam is world renowned for producing artists such as Van Gough and Rembrandt and literary figures like Anne Frank. Each have their own house, and fascinating museum.

Unique, idyllic waterways and boat cruises complete the package of offerings truly unique to Amsterdam.

We walked past some sex workers and went to the zoo.

Just in case you wondered what a zoo enclosure looked like

Zoos, churches and chips

As my pictures no doubt fail to capture, it was a pretty impressive zoo to be fair. Lots of animals (to be expected I suppose) and ample opportunities to sit down.

Spend an enjoyable few hours deciding which animal most resembles us. Alice got offended when I likened her to a fish.

After our hours of wanderings, the walk back was painful.

Stopped off at a supermarket to buy some water and snacks. Bought a punnet of oranges large enough for us to contract type 2 diabetes. Offset the health with a large bag of crisps.

Heading to Darmstadt next to see some of Alice’s friends, and Alice wanted to buy them a present. I suggested we get them something Amsterdam is well known for: mayonnaise and weed cakes were two suggestions I made.

Alice nodded at my suggestions and got them a tin of chocolate biscuits.

After loading ourselves up on tepid sparkling water and oranges, off we went again. Despite telling myself that we’d only have one aimless wander, that didn’t stop us spending the next two hours milling around Amsterdam.

Contemplated going to one of the aforementioned museums, but didn’t fancy queuing. Instead, we went in the Basilica of Saint Nicholas before buying a cone of chips from a street vendor. Traditionally served with mayonnaise, I fully embraced this Dutch custom.

Alice had ketchup.

Wandered back to the boat, via a couple of bars (here’s hoping that excessive amounts of alcohol can drown out the night-time cattle driving), ready to commence day two of our travels in Amsterdam.

Tulip field in the middle of the zoo



Alex Booth

Using educational insight and bad jokes to promote personal and professional development. Find out more at