So Me and Brad went to the Netherlands in June 2019 to meet up with some of our closest friends Mel and Stan! Stan actually lives in the Netherlands too, so it was a pleasure to be hosted by him in his home country! We also met out friend Kaat from Belgium, she came across and stayed a few days with us.
We had an awesome few days and did some amazing things together. These photos below don’t actually do it any justice and it was so hard to find my favourites! We did a boat tour, went to the beach in Zandvoort, the A-dam look out and Swing, so many coffee shop and also a night out on the town! So these are only a quarter of my favourite shots I took in the Netherlands because If I had a choice I would have chosen all of them.
Enjoy and let me know which ones your favourite & if you’ve been to these places below!
Before we headed off on this days exploring we had a little lay in and then headed to the supermarket across the road from our Ibis to get Croissant fillings! We got a packet of Pain Au Chocolat at the same time, as well as some crisps and cheese and had our own continental breakfast in our room. Then it was off to the tube station again for another day exploring!
Our first stop? the Arc De Triomphe! One of the most beautifully detailed pieces of architecture we had seen on the trip. The details in the statues and the sculptures is phenomenal. You have to walk underneath the roundabout to access the building and once we had a full look around we realised they were offering for people to go up to the top. NO BRAINER. Instead of standing in the huge queues in the underground pathway ticket office we bought our tickets online straight away for €13 each, perfectly reasonable! We jumped straight into the queue and headed on up. 300 winding in circles steps later, we made it. And the views were something else. Before we headed up to the terrace we entered the main section of the building where you could learn about the history of the Arc Du Triomphe before taking another 10-15 steps up to the terrace! The views were beautiful. You could see all 12 avenues coming from the roundabout of the building, the Eiffel tower, all the taller monuments and statues and especially the commercial sector. The ONLY Sector with skyscrapers!
After doing the 300+ spiralling and dizzying steps down we headed for a walk down the Avenue Des Champs-Elysees! Loads of shops and shopping malls, we even saw some super cars which you could pay to be driven around Paris in. Plenty of designer shops and non designer shops dotted all the way down the Avenue! The only thing I couldn’t shake was the police presence. They were everywhere. Lined up down every street. On every corner in groups of 5. On patrols walking or on horseback. It wasn’t quite intimidating as they all had huge guns and batons. They all appeared smiley enough though.
We dipped into one of the shopping centres to try some Macaroons! Neither me nor Brad had ever tried them before some bought a pack of 3, Vanilla, Chocolate and Caramel. They were AMAZING. I was actually sad it had taken me this long to try them! We both thoroughly enjoyed them and once we had a taste for food we had to go get something tasty. SO I don’t know about you guys. And don’t judge me here. But I will always go to a McDonald’s in another country. BECAUSE THEY ALWAYS HAVE DIFFERENT THINGS! I could’ve got a dessert BURGER. A DESSERT BURGER. Like how sick but also literally sick is that? haha! So we enjoyed a quick Macca’s for lunch and carried on!
We walked past the beautiful Grand Palais – RMN, again we wished we coddle gone in but this wasn’t the case. We did take some glorious pictures outside the beautiful golden gates of the building though. It was an opportunity not to be missed! Once we were done the space was taken by some top bloggers and photographers so we felt we hit a good one with that! We then walked over the Pont Alexandre III bridge. With 4 beautiful golden sculptures, 2 at each end of the bridge, crossing over the river Seine it was lovely. Another piece of beautiful architecture of the list.
We then took a leisurely stroll down to the Musee De L’armee, the Army museum and also home of Napoleons grave. We again would’ve loved to go inside but it was closed once more due to Covid-19, another smart move. So once we enjoyed the beautiful golden gates and cannons outside we headed on our way back to the hotel early ready for our night out in the Latin Quarter!
We arrived at La Defense tube station and as we left we played around on some Lime scooters for a bit! Personally I wish we could’ve used these every day everywhere but i didn’t have the confidence. These motorised scooters were activated by QR code on your phone on the app and charged €1 a minute. Seems quite expensive? NOPE. NOT with how fast these bad boys went. We did get a few looks as we were fucking about in the area but hey, all fun and games. After getting ready at the hotel we then fucked about AGAIN on the scooters before heading back in for dinner!
When we arrived at the latin Quarter we headed for a drink before dinner! We went to Bulls Brothers Paris for beers, the atmosphere was awesome and the pints were decent! We sat in their indoor/outdoor(?) area. We noticed that a lot of the pubs had half in half out areas where you could sit and drink and smoke but also be off the street and in the restaurant/bar. It was really nice and I like their outdoor culture.
We then headed to Rosies smokehouse for the most BOMB dinner. It was honestly amazing, we both got meat platters with 3 different types of meat, a salad and chips, as well as Meaty beans!!! The two of us were in our element. We said we would get more traditional food the next day on Sunday and try some proper French cuisine. We did think that France had been particularly quiet about their Covid-19 actions. Literally as we sat down for dinner our server informed us that from 12am that night every bar and restaurant will be closed for the foreseeable future.
We didn’t mind too much of course. Covid-19 is incredibly serious and they were taking the right precautions. We enjoyed our meal and our drinks and we also made friends with another Irish couple and we had a merry old time in the outdoor area of Rosie’s Smokehouse drinking away! Come 12am the restaurant owners told us we could drink inside as long as they closed the area. A couple of moments after we sat down they started handing us plastic cups saying that the police were doing rounds. With that it was our time to leave with our drinks in tow. It was still a fantastic night, one I won’t forget!
With that being said when we arrived at the hotel we were made aware there would be no food served at the hotel as well. We were lucky to have picked up our own breakfast the day before because the supermarket was also shut.
This lead to us leaving Paris a day early which you can read about in my final post!
Our First few days were lazy ones, and a crazy one too!
Our hotels didn’t have swimming pools so we had to find a hotel with a pool to lay by for the next 2 days to help us recover in the sun!
We ended up and a hotel called the Camelot on our first day! It was 1000 Rupees for a sunbed for the day which amounts to around £4.50! This hotel was so nice, it had 2 pools, a bar and was beachside. They brought around cold towels and cucumbers for your eyes and if you ordered food they delivered it straight to your sunbed! It was an awesome place for so cheap for the day. They did some amazing spring rolls as well.
As it was beachside we also all went beach exploring! Taking a walk and swim along the coastline, especially taking a fancy to their amazing fishing boats that are on the shoreline with all beautiful coloured sails and the way they are structure. Some photos on the boats were an obvious must for us gyals. The water was warm and choppy so it must take some skill to drive one of those!
The next challenge was finding our first lunch out!
Serving Sri Lankan food we jumped right in, walking down into a small open restaurant on the side of the road. The walls were covered in writing and signatures from all the other travellers who had visited this place over the years! SO WE HAD TO HAD ADD TO IT WITH OURS. It would’ve been rude not too!
We decided we didn’t want to stay in the hotel to eat on the first day we wanted to go out and try somewhere new! So we headed across from the Camelot to a small restaurant called Ammehula!
Once we sat down next to so also amazing wall art I ordered myself some Chicken noodles. Naturally they were delicious, all 6 of us who headed over enjoyed the food and we all made sure to have something different each!
That evening we were in search of dinner & a drink!
Us group of 9 girls were HUNGRY.
We headed out of the Ocean View guest house turning left down the road heading to a place the girls found on maps/recommended! This restaurant was called The Ice Bear and it was SO GOOD. Our first night and the food was already top notch.
As you arrive to the restaurant you walk down a garden pathway surrounded by trees and plants, signs also pointing out there were Tortoises in the garden! It was awesome, we then walked through an oriental archway and there was a tree swing! They also had hammocks! We all definitely had a quick go on the swing and had some pictures before heading up to get seated.
Dinner was quick and easy, I had Calamari and it was so incredibly tasty. Myself and a couple of the girls also bought fresh coconut water and this was brought to us in the coconuts with a hole in the top and a straw. I love coconut water so it was SO delicious and refreshing!
Next on the agenda, a drink. Which ended in an Impromptu night out… Oops!
Now this was not something we expected AT ALL.
We wanted to find a bar with nice music, good vibes and good drinks. After trekking our way back to the hotel we asked the owner of the Seajoy, where we all dined the night before, where was good for a drink.
He sent us right out of the hotel and all the way down the road, PAST The Camelot which is just under a mile in itself to a small bar called Dolce Vita! When we arrived it wasn’t exactly how we expected it to be but it was lovely and there was alcohol nonetheless! There were 2 men also singing and playing guitar on stage, there was a group of men dancing (who were a LOAD of fun and so funny!) and there were a few english couples there as well.
After a few drinks the girls were UP ON STAGE, Singing Despacito! We were dancing with the boys who were dancing before and buying plenty of drinks, it was a lot of fun. bUT, We wanted some more upbeat music. The same guy who told us to come to this place was there so we asked him, where to next? 2 doors down. So off we went.
Well. This was an experience. We walked into this bar, which was basically a club! The music was some awesome house music, there were flashing lights and a dance floor. A gentleman came up to us and ordered our drinks and then brought them to us. He then explained that the 3 large men stood around us were there to LOOK AFTER US.
It did get us a reputation the following days known as ‘The Dancing Girls’ out night out. The club was called Serendib! Which in the day is a restaurant and pub! We smoked shisha, were given cigarettes and bottles of alcohol. We were looked after like VIP’s in a club back in the UK. If we were sat outside and Mel and I wanted to dance? We let the boys know and one would come inside with us in and stand closeby whilst we got our groove on and then walk us back to the table outside to make sure we were not pestered.
It was fascinating and exciting to learn and experience. I also felt safe. I know that we have these boys to look after us but It felt comfortable, everyone was enjoying themselves and we were dancing with so many people! Including the boys who were dancing with us in Dolce Vita who came down to Serendib!
When the night was over at about 3:30 – 4am they even drove us back to our hotels on their Bikes & Tuk Tuks! The Tuk Tuk had loudspeakers and it was a basic party Tuk Tuk with 4 in the back and a lot of bassline! If they hadn’t of taken us back Me, Mel & Shaista would not have gotten into our hostel as the gate was locked and we were not tall enough to open it, luckily the boys were!
Our hangovers the next day were the ultimate payback.
The next day was spent at another pool, The Rani Beach hotel, a little closer and cheaper than the Camelot to crawl to in our states. We spend the day eating and sunbathing our hangovers out to prepare ourselves for the busy next few days!
That evening we had another group dinner all 28 of us and our lecturers who are also on the trip with us. We had the whole food area to ourselves on two big long tables and a buffet with a mixture of Sri Lankan curries! It was delicious and good fun, there was also some live music for us too.
After being very full and very hungover, bed was calling as the REAL University Crisis and Disaster trip started the following day!
Whats next? Negombo Lagoons, Buddhist temples and a gamma toe.