A Day in the Dam

So on Sunday I got home in the early hours from a twenty-four hour trip to Amsterdam. This involved a coach (twelve hours), a ferry (another three) and limited services dedicated to hygiene.

We got to spend around ten hours in the Dam and my hair started to look shit a few hours into the journey. I’d love to be one of those women who always look immaculate but I’m not going to hold my breath. My eyebrow pencil held out and I’m grateful for that.

I didn’t take many irksome stopping in the middle of a crowd to get cold fingers and take a photo that will inevitably have someone’s elbow or hat in it anyway. But for posterity and something pretty to look at –


A drinks coaster from Hunter’s Coffee Bar, a new souvenir fridge magnet and some Dutch cheese (I know my priorities)

And my leftover Euros.

Amsterdam is an incredibly busy city and is also full of bicycles – the preferred method of travel with an estimated 400 km dedicated to cycle lanes around the city. Generally speaking pedestrians and cyclists take priority over cars but cyclists take priority over everyone. It can be a little daunting at times, they come speeding from every direction imaginable (it feels like).

freight bike

A typical Dutch ‘freight bike’ used for transporting shopping (and children).


Despite the crowds, the trams and the constant ringing of bicycle bells, Amsterdam does still retain a relaxing vibe and not just because of the coffee shops (wink wink nudge nudge and all that immature claptrap). It’s a typical European city – old architecture, lots of canals and plenty of cigarettes and graffiti. There loads to do and a lot to look at and I made notes as I walked round of amusing, interesting things I saw throughout the day:

A kid on a skateboard getting a free ride holding onto the back of a dustbin lorry. This was the first time ever I had seen this outside of Back to the Future (unfortunately Huey Lewis & the News didn’t start playing).

Someone getting hit by a bicycle. It’s the kind of thing I’d always imagined happening but never actually seen. Until then. We heard shouting in Dutch – presumably something along the lines of “my brakes aren’t working, my brakes aren’t working!” then heard a huge, loud thud followed by gasps. A middle aged woman dressed for the opera had been mown down and her husband was not happy. We watched them all argue for a few minutes (obviously) before moving on.

During a boat trip I spied super amazing floating houses on the canal. I want one!
Note not my actual photography but you know how I feel about that.


And of course – “Pissed Up British Blokes Wearing Comedy Outfits”. I have never been anywhere ever and not seen this spectacle. No-one does ‘annoying holiday thugs’ quite like us Brits. But is it wrong to be kind of proud of that?

“Let’s go fucking mental, chicken oriental la la la la weh……….”

Which brings us nicely to the Beer Bike. A table on wheels that tourists can rent and pedal around the city. It also has a beer keg attached, for extra fun and danger. When two  pass on the street their respective passengers boo at each other cheerfully. Got to love that.

A lot of people say that Amsterdam is a really friendly place but I wouldn’t say it’s the friendliest city I’ve been to, especially if you’re British or American. And especially if you’re American. It’s not that anyone is rude exactly, it’s more a feeling of being underclass to the locals and slightly irritating to them, which I guess is kind of fair enough. Beer Bike and all that.

But Amsterdam does have other things to offer…

Sitting in the giant clog – a must do on your first visit, proper Tourist Wanker stuff


A visit to the Anne Frank Museum – which is inside the very same building where poor Anne and her family hid inside all those years ago. Prepare for a long wait though, the queue is always huuuuuuge.

Luckily Amsterdam is full of museums so if you don’t have enough time to wait, check out another one instead. You’ll find them everywhere, dedicated to loads of different things from beer and cheese to sex, art and handbags.

A stroll through the Red Light District – where fully naked women of the night stand brazenly in windows to entice potential punters to their door and bed or sink or whatever. You can’t do The Dam without at least one glimpse into their racy world.

On my first trip to Amsterdam seven years ago two of my male companions did more than just ‘window shop’ the red light district (cue hysterical laughter) but I won’t mention any names. We were a lot younger and to be fair – I did used to hang out with some right yobbos (as my grandad would say).

About emmakwall

Films, books, soundtracks, good humour
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60 Responses to A Day in the Dam

  1. Jordan Dodd says:

    “No-one does ‘annoying holiday thugs’ quite like us Brits”

    I think us Aussies have a similar reputation! At least that is what I hear… I have never traveled abroad 😦

    • emmakwall says:

      Haha I think you do!!!! We’re all beer louts aren’t we? 😀

      You’ll have to come and see me one day, or I’ll come to Adelaide!!! Inviting myself is okay isn’t it? 🙂

      P.S congratulations on an amazing defeat to Wales in the rugby on Saturday! I was watching it in disbelief, 2 men down and you still fought so hard and won!!! I’m cheering on Australian for the world cup win now 🙂

      • Jordan Dodd says:

        Haha! Well Rugby isn’t big in my state, its mainly the eastern states that play it. I never have understood the game if I’m honest.

        You are very much welcome here! It will be a long time until I ever have enough money to travel, plus you can experience some real weather! 😉

        • emmakwall says:

          Yay! Warm weather and cold beer. In England it’s the other way round :p

          I’ll book my ticket immediately! Oh wait, I need to save up first lol. Doh!

          I don’t understand rugby either, the rules at least!! But I do enjoy watching it especially when it gets a bit brutal!

          What’s big in your states? Oh wait, I know. Cricket!!!! 😀

          • Jordan Dodd says:

            cricket but mainly aussie rules football, which is super hard to explain to people who haven’t seen it haha!

            • emmakwall says:

              Aussie bloody rules football!!!!!!

              🙂 🙂 🙂

            • Jordan Dodd says:

              bloody oath!!! :p

              though i don’t even watch that. I only watch the NBA and a little MMA

            • emmakwall says:

              Jordy! My sister just rung to tell me the excellent news that she got a job she applied for…………….in Australia! So maybe our dream of meeting up and watching movies and drinking beer might not be so crazy 🙂 as she wants me to visit her!!!

              Now I know Oz is a huuuuge place but who knows hey 🙂

            • Jordan Dodd says:

              oh wow congrats to her! The weather will be a shock to her system that’s for sure! I’d love to hang out and smoke bongs, drink beer and watch Minions and Despicable Me over and over!! If you ever do travel down you must come say g’day! 🙂

  2. sweetarchive says:

    Sounds like a hell of a 24 hour trip, Emma!! I so envy you for being able to do that… Amsterdam is just around the corner from you, eh? Anyways, awesome post, girl! You’re so much fun!!!

  3. Awesome article, Emma. I’ve always wanted to visit Amsterdam. Now I want a floating house too. I like how you talk of more than I expected… like Red Lights and Coffee Shops (cough cough – pass). You writing style is stellar. I want to read a whole Emma travels Europe book. Right on. Thanks for showing me a different side of Amsterdam. It reminds me of the artsy chill Kensington Market in Toronto. Being Canadian that’s as close as I’ll get to the spirit… and coffee shops.

    • emmakwall says:

      Your comment made me smile so much! Thank you 🙂 it really does mean a lot (and I’m not just saying that).

      I was especially pleased to read what you wrote about me talking of the more ….controversial bits?! Because I had that aim when I wrote it and you’re the first person to have really noticed I think 🙂

      Can you find someone to pay for me to travel round Europe and then I promise I’ll write about it for you!!! 😉

      I just looked up the Toronto Kensington Market and it looks amazing! I see they DO have coffee shops, are they coffee shops or……coffee shops? (wink wink!) haha.

      Honestly thanks so much for reading this and for commenting something so nice. It made my day!

      • Right on… Glad to oblige, Emma… Let’s say Kensington is where I ran into Woody Harrelson in an appropriate cafe.

        But I really liked your travelogue overall, every bit. I’m not sending plane tickets 😉 but write about where ever you go. You capture the experience really well. Maybe there’s some freelance gig available? Cheers.

  4. movierob says:

    sounds like u had fun!

  5. Love this post! I’ve always wanted to visit Amsterdam. One day!

  6. Jay says:

    Whew, that’s an exhausting trip! I haven’t been but will hope to make my way over one of these days. I’m not sure I’m up for the typical tourist trappings, but I think I’d love just walking around.

    • emmakwall says:

      It’s a lovely city to walk around in, just make sure you don’t go when it’s freezing cold haha (we’ve done that before and it’s not fun).

      It’s not too bad really, I mean it’s LOVELY to get home at the end but it’s do-able and it costs about the same as a tank of petrol for my car ha ha. So for a round trip to Amsterdam from England, ain’t too bad!!!

      Cheers Jay!!! 🙂

  7. I didn’t know you visited Amsterdam too Ems! You have been busy! That Beer Bike looks like a hoot, and I think I want one of those floating houses as well! Despite the yucky trip there I’m so glad you had a great time! 😊

  8. Love Amsterdam! Should be heading back for my third trip in November but oddly enough I’ve never sat in the giant clog before? I have climbed the I<3Amsterdam sign though. (Yeah that's right, I know how to do a heart!)

    • emmakwall says:

      That’s awesome! I saw you favourited my tweet the other day but I didn’t realise you were a fan also 🙂 TELL ME MORE!!!

      You know what I think climbing the I<3Amsterdam (I can do a heart too, yay!) sign is even better. that's actually pretty DAM cool (see what I did there?)
      And shhhhh don't tell anyone but I've never sat in the clog either. Everyone else has, but I usually feel too self-conscious if I'm totally honest! 🙂

  9. beetleypete says:

    I have been to Amsterdam, and I liked it a lot. I agree about the embarrassing British tourists though, and the bikes flying around all over. But it has the best pancakes, good beer, and excellent coffee. I couldn’t do that long trip for just one day though. Full marks for stamina, Em, but even when I was your age, I had to do it ‘civilised.’
    As ever, Pete. x

    • emmakwall says:

      Thanks very much Pete, really means a lot that you read my post 🙂

      The trip was pretty hard going at times, it’s not the first time we’ve done it either and the weather was actually decent this time. I’ve been (on the same coach trip) when it’s freezing cold and it’s not much fun not having a hotel or anything to go back to and literally being forced to do stuff for 10 hours!

      LOVE the pancakes and the waffles 😀

      Embarrassing British tourists tsk! They’re everywhere!! Hope you’re well Pete 🙂 x

  10. vinnieh says:

    I so gotta visit Amsterdam in the future. Sounds really cool.

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