We had had quite a relaxing first day, not much was planned meaning we just could go with the flow and see where we ended up. Day 2 however, was planned at a completely different pace and was packed full to the brim with amazing experiences.
From the get go the day was a lot more organised than the Tuesday. We woke up at 7:30 and after showering and getting dressed we headed downstairs to meet up with the other half of our party over breakfast – provided in the hotel booking. This breakfast was really nice. The hotel provided a continental spread (toast, cereal, juice and small pastries). This was very refreshing and we just what we were looking for in a breakfast and after a quick trip back to the room to collect stuff, we set out to Centraal Station to buy bus tickets and we had planned to do a bus tour of Holland. This was a great thing about this day but also something we all marveled at, the buses all seemed to run on time and at really frequent intervals (unlike the metros and buses in Newcastle).
Buying the tickets was one of the easiest things in the day, we just had to mention the 4 places we wanted to go and the women knew the tickets we needed and the money was handed over (€10 for a whole day of bus rides). We then headed up to the bus station and jumped on a bus. (This was my first mistake, we were trying to reach Edam, instead we were going through Volendam so decided that we could just stop in Volendam first (in hindsight it would have been better to go to Edam first.))
As the bus arrived in Volendam we got off fine and we were on our way to the main street when we passed Hema; now our family has fallen in love with this shop and therefore I had to stop and visit, buying some soap for my mother and a bag for me.
We then went to the supermarket next door, buying water bottles and some De Ruijter. When we left the shops we then went down to the main street and went souvenir shopping. The weather was absolutely amazing this meant that the scenery was absolutely beautiful and the views were perfect, the sun was bouncing off all the water which was so pretty.
I purchased an Amsterdam t-shirt and various other items were also bought. We also stopped into the cheese shop to take some very cheesy photos (see what I did there).
Our next stop was Edam and because of the mistake made when we went to Volendam first, the cheese market in Edam was just packing up so we missed the main part of it. However, we still saw them packing up and were able to purchase some cheese (the idea of Edam cheese for Edam was way too appealing). The cheese was very yummy and although initially, I wasn’t going to buy any after tasting it I had to, so bought a cheese cutter and garlic and herb cheese. It was a very quick whistle stop tour of Edam but a very enjoyable one.
At this point, I was very worried about the time. I have family that lives in Monnickendam, a small village located around a 20 minute car ride outside of Amsterdam and seeing as we were so close to them it would be horrible to go to the Netherlands and not see them for at least a short time. Therefore I had planned to meet them in their small village at 2pm where my Antie Jane kindly was going to treat the whole group to high tea at Coffee & Cacao.
This although being personally one of the best experiences of the holiday (as I was visiting family I hadn’t seen for around a year) it proved very stressful as I didn’t want to arrive in Monnikendam late however the bus ride was not as long as I thought it would be so we arrived in Monnikendam in plenty of time and were able to sit and relax on the harbour for 30 minutes whilst we waited for my Aunt and Cousin (Jane and Jolanda) to arrive. Monnikendam is the prettiest village I have seen. I really love walking through the streets as they always show so much character.
It was very lucky that we did arrive in Monnikendam early as it was during our wait in the sun that Melina received a call from Newcastle University about her accommodation , and although she mentioned that she was in a different country that still persisted to arrange details about her accommodation. This is one thing I just don’t understand about Uni’s they are persistent in trying to arrange this even if it means interrupting someone’s holiday and cost them more money. We were lucky though as the arrangements were sorted out before my Aunt arrived and therefore Melina was able to just enjoy the meal without constantly checking her phone.
My aunt arrived and we made our way to the cafe. The meal was so huge, and I unfortunately only took photos of some of the courses. We arrived and were served some tea (with a timer so the tea didn’t steep for too long) I had the jasmine tea. then were served a nutty chocolate thing – as a sort of starter. Our next course was soup, sandwiches, and other savoury things. This contained a fennel and prawn soup which was divine as we all started drinking it thinking it was cold only to find it was hot and really yummy. The next course was the sweets – containing a scone, cake, lots of chocolate, (and a particularly nice elderflower and white chocolate mousse which was a nice change from all the rich chocolate). This was an amazing round as we were able to try everything without feeling too greedy. Then just as we thought the meal had finished the staff brought out more tea and a chocolate fondue. We all left as well with chocolates as a favour however they were all melted by the time we got back to the hotel.
It was really nice to see my family, I hardly ever see them so it was great to be able to see them even for the short time we did. I always enjoy spending time with them and I definitely can’t wait until I see them again. What I was nervous for was if it was going to be awkward with my friends as well as they have never met my Aunt and Cousin before but conversation ran smoothly so I didn’t have to be worried. All my friends seemed to really enjoy our time with my family and they made a great impression on them, especially the fact that they are both bilingual.
After a quick visit to their house – meeting the new dog Stanley, my Aunt very kindly drove us to Marken – our next destination, meaning we didn’t have to catch another bus. Our next stop was the clog shop which not only sells the nation’s favourite shoe but shows a demonstration as to how clogs are made. The man giving the demonstration was very talented, switching effortlessly between 3 different languages to include all the different groups watching the demonstration. It was really interesting to see how the shoes were made and why they existed in history. After the demonstration, some clogs were bought and I tried on a more fashionable pair which I was really tempted by but the €45 price tag made me put them back on the shelf.
After buying clogs we went down to the harbour just to look around the island, but it was getting late so everything had closed, so we headed back to the bus stop to make our way back to Amsterdam.
When we got back to our room the plan was a 20 minute refresh before heading out to a pub, however, 20 minutes turned into 1 hour 30 and we all found ourselves engrossed in an intense Catfish episode, in which a man was catfished for over 2 years with the Catfish taking on 3 different alternate personas. But eventually, we finished getting ready and headed out in search of a pub. On the way to where I thought a pub was we became paranoid that we were being followed, so we did as anyone would do – took 4 left-hand turns – if the guy is still behind you at the end of it, you are definitely being followed, this lead us to a very thin lane which had lets just say some interesting things on show in the shop windows.
When we found the pubs however what we hadn’t realised beforehand was it was the semi-finals of the Euros and therefore all the pubs were full of insane football fans so we ended up just eating at the New York Pizza and a Burger place (Burger Fabriek) before going to explore the city some more I decided a good way to do this would be to do a 2p walk. If you want to explore somewhere this completely takes the way you walk out of your control making it random and interesting. Basically, when you reach the end of a road you toss a coin, heads = left, tails = right. This was a great way to explore the city a bit more and at the end of the walk, we accidently ended up at the end of our hotel street so just went back to the room. Overall a brilliant day!!