I recently spent the weekend in Amsterdam celebrating a friend’s 30th birthday. It was such a fun weekend and I was so pleased that I was able to go. A citybreak was a completely different ballgame to the relaxing holiday I had in Barbados and I did wonder about how I would cope given my fibromyalgia and current level of fitness. However, I approached it with the same attitude of “just going for it”. As it turns out I did good and my body mostly kept its act together. I did have to rest a lot but this enabled me to do all of the things I wanted to.
My husband and I stayed at the Westcord Fashion hotel, which is a nice, trendy, modern hotel. It wasn’t too far from the airport and was easily accessible by public transport. We actually chose to take a taxi to the hotel though as we arrived quite late at night and I couldn’t face hanging around waiting on trains and trams when I was needing my bed!
The rooms were nice but also caused some hilarity. If you are staying here, definitely make sure you are very comfortable with whoever you are staying with. Not only does the bathroom have a glass door, there are lots of mirrors in the room and literally every single one gives a view of the bathroom!
The Westcord fashion hotel is located on the outskirts of town but it doesn’t take long to get into the centre of Amsterdam via trams, which run very regularly.
One thing I really wanted to do in Amsterdam was visit Anne Frank’s house. If you follow me on Facebook you may have seen me chat about listening to the audiobook of a Diary of a Young Girl. I figured that Friday was the best day to do this– given my friend’s birthday was the Saturday and I wanted to use my energy to go out to celebrate and I was worried that Sunday would therefore be a bit of a write off.
On the Friday morning I wasn’t feeling too great but felt better once I got up so we headed off into town for some breakfast. I had already made the decision to eat what I wanted on this trip and for breakfast I treated myself to a Nutella pancake in a cute little cafe called ‘Sara’s Pancake House’, which was amazing. I don’t make a habit of eating dairy or gluten though as it definitely makes me feel sluggish and a bit sore (plus I have to take an anti-histamine when I eat dairy). However, it just made life a bit easier on this trip.
I was immediately taken by Amsterdam. It was refreshing to see so many people on bikes and I loved all the crooked houses, cobbled streets and the canals with quirky houseboats.
We had pre-booked tickets to the Anne Frank house, which I would recommend as there was consistently quite a large queue of people waiting for tickets. It was really strange being in the place that I was hearing about in the audiobook. It was a little surreal thinking about the people who had hidden in the annex and how life must have been for them. I can’t imagine going through anything like that and felt deeply saddened as I walked through the hidden annex. I think it’s important to remember Anne, her story and also to remember the millions of Jews who suffered so that history never repeats itself.
[As a little side note, the Anne Frank house is not disability friendly and you definitely need to be okay with stairs to visit– the stairs inside are very steep.]
By early afternoon I was feeling exhausted and so I spent the rest of the day in bed at the hotel in the hopes of feeling as well as possible for the Saturday.
After a lie in, my husband and I made our way to the houseboat where the others were staying so that we could give my friend her birthday gifts. Afterwards we headed off to find one of the Christmas markets. I still wasn’t feeling too great and after some walking my husband suggested that we just grabbed some lunch and then headed back to the hotel so I could have a rest. I’m glad we did this as I felt much better after a few hours resting in bed.
I approached the night out with the attitude of just giving it my all and if I had to go home early then so be it. I joked with my husband that I would take the advice of Peter Griffin and I have to say– given I don’t drink these days– I was quickly merry and forgetting about how I was physically feeling.
My friends had booked a table for dinner at Molly Malones– an Irish pub in the city centre– and then had planned a pub monopoly game. It was basically a pub crawl but with added fun. They had printed off a monopoly board and changed the property names to the names of local pubs. Then they dealed out some cards, each having a different meaning. For example, a property card meant you could choose the next pub and there were some challenge cards too.
I had the best time and my friends were great– they made sure I had a seat everywhere we went. My favourite place was this quirky little pub that had football scarves lining the roof. It was tiny but had a great atmosphere and the staff behind the bar were great. They played the Proclaimers and Runrig and we all had a massive sing-along.
It was honestly so good to feel normal for a night and like my old self. I lasted until the early hours of the morning and was so chuffed with myself.
We thankfully didn’t have to check out until 12 but Sunday was a long day as our flight home wasn’t until the evening. It’s amazing what you can push yourself to do when you need to. If I had been at home I can safely say I wouldn’t have left my bed. I was actually in better shape than I thought I would be mind you. Plus, what’s a hangover to a spoonie? It just felt like a regular day to me!
Everyone decided to do the Heineken experience but I think the last place my husband wanted to be was a brewery! I imagine he was also thinking of me as he knew I’d need as much rest as possible. We basically went and grabbed some food and chilled out for the afternoon before meeting up with everyone at the “I Amsterdam” sign. How cool is this photo my friend Alex took?
It’s safe to say everyone had a great weekend. I find it amazing that I was able to go and do all that I did when this would have been impossible for me even a few months back. I did come down with a virus the week following (which is still hanging around me) but apart from that I have been doing okay. Sometimes it is worth pushing for the things you want to do and allowing yourself to forget about self-care for a couple of days, so long as you can rest and take care of yourself afterwards.
Thanks for reading and I wish you all a wonderful Christmas when it comes.