London Day 11

Well, today is my last full day in London so I thought I’d treat myself to a musical in the West End. I’d heard a lot of good reviews about “The Book Of Mormon" at the Prince of Wales Theatre, and as it was written by Trey ParkerRobert Lopez, and Matt Stone, I thought it would be a perfect choice.



I was very impressed by this show. As you would expect from the creators of South Park, there was just the right amount of wrong. The songs were great and there was plenty of profanity. I found myself laughing through most of this production, and the audience response was fantastic. If you get the chance to see it (not sure if it will ever come to Australia) then do it! Well worth the money.

I’m flying back to Perth tomorrow (Thursday) and due to time differences, I actually get back home on Friday evening. Not looking forward to 20 hours in a plane, but am looking forward to seeing the cats and my friends and family again. 

London Day 10

Once again, London turned on the sunshine today so I ventured out to see two of the many buildings that I still wanted to visit before I left. The first was St Paul’s Cathedral which was built by Sir Christopher Wren between 1675 and 1710. This is London’s Cathedral and was the fifth to built on the site with the previous incarnations being destroyed by fire. There has been a cathedral on the site at Ludgate Hill (which is the highest point in the City of London) since 604.



This beautiful English Baroque cathedral is just mind-blowing to walk through. The ornate mosaics, artworks and exquisitely carved wood in the choir stalls took my breath away with their sheer beauty. St Paul’s also has a large Crypt that spans the entire area under the Cathedral floor, and this is where over 200 tombs & memorials ate located. These include the tombs of Horatio, Lord Nelson, The Duke of Wellington, and of course Sir Christopher Wren who was the first person to be interred there in 1723. On the wall above his tomb are the words "Lector, si monumentum requiris, circumspice" which means “Reader, if you seek his monument, look around you”.

St Paul’s is also home to the famous Whispering Gallery around the interior of the Dome which is a mere 259 steps up from ground level. I didn’t go up there as I was already getting vertigo just looking up at the Gallery, and along with my fear of heights I felt it was best to stay on the ground. You can also climb a further 271 steps to the Golden Gallery which is located outside the building at the top of the Dome and gives you spectacular views of London (apparently). I didn’t do this because, you know, sheer terror.

As was the case with Westminster Abbey, St Paul’s is a working church and you are not allowed to shoot any photos or video inside the Cathedral, but here are some shots from outside this magnificent building.


The next building that I wanted to see with my own eyes was BBC Television Centre at White City in West London. I have an obsession with this building as this is where the majority of the BBC’s television output was created from 1960 - 2013 which included many of my favourite shows.

The BBC sold the site in 2012 and the buildings will be redeveloped for mixed use. Fortunately, the main parts of the building are heritage listed, and so the “donut” surrounding the statue of Helios and three of the studios will be retained, including Studio 1 which features the famous “atomic dot” wall designed by Arthur Hays.

I would have given ANYTHING to have a look around this building, but that was impossible as it’s now a building site. 

The BBC will lease back three studios and some office space after the redevelopment.


I ended the day with a visit the the Royal Vauxhall Tavern in Vauxhall which is South London’s oldest surviving gay venue. Built in 1863, it was originally a Victorian music hall. I arrived in time to see “Short and Girly" - a lesbian improv show that was touring around the UK. The show was hilarious and the crowd were lapping it up. It was nice to end the day with a good hearty belly laugh.


Last full day in London tomorrow. Sigh.

London Day 10

Once again, London turned on the sunshine today so I ventured out to see two of the many buildings that I still wanted to visit before I left. The first was St Paul’s Cathedral which was built by Sir Christopher Wren between 1675 and 1710. This is London’s Cathedral and was the fifth to built on the site with the previous incarnations being destroyed by fire. There has been a cathedral on the site at Ludgate Hill (which is the highest point in the City of London) since 604.



This beautiful English Baroque cathedral is just mind-blowing to walk through. The ornate mosaics, artworks and exquisitely carved wood in the choir stalls took my breath away with their sheer beauty. St Paul’s also has a large Crypt that spans the entire area under the Cathedral floor, and this is where over 200 tombs & memorials ate located. These include the tombs of Horatio, Lord Nelson, The Duke of Wellington, and of course Sir Christopher Wren who was the first person to be interred there in 1723. On the wall above his tomb are the words "Lector, si monumentum requiris, circumspice" which means “Reader, if you seek his monument, look around you”.

St Paul’s is also home to the famous Whispering Gallery around the interior of the Dome which is a mere 259 steps up from ground level. I didn’t go up there as I was already getting vertigo just looking up at the Gallery, and along with my fear of heights I felt it was best to stay on the ground. You can also climb a further 271 steps to the Golden Gallery which is located outside the building at the top of the Dome and gives you spectacular views of London (apparently). I didn’t do this because, sheer terror.

As was the case with Westminster Abbey, St Paul’s is a working church and you are not allowed to shoot any photos or video inside the Cathedral, but here are some shots from outside this magnificent building.


The next building that I wanted to see with my own eyes was BBC Television Centre at White City in West London. I have an obsession with this building as this is where the majority of the BBC’s television output was created from 1960 - 2013 which included many of my favourite shows.

The BBC sold the site in 2012 and the buildings will be redeveloped for mixed use. Fortunately, the main parts of the building are heritage listed, and so the “donut” surrounding the statue of Helios and three of the studios will be retained, including Studio 1 which features the famous “atomic dot” wall designed by Arthur Hays.

I would have given ANYTHING to have a look around this building, but that was impossible as it’s now a building site. 

The BBC will lease back three studios and some office space after the redevelopment.


I ended the day with a visit the the Royal Vauxhall Tavern in Vauxhall which is South London’s oldest surviving gay venue. Built in 1863, it was originally a Victorian music hall. I arrived in time to see “Short and Girly" - a lesbian improv show that was touring around the UK. The show was hilarious and the crowd were lapping it up. It was nice to end the day with a good hearty belly laugh.


Last full day in London tomorrow. Sigh.

London Day 10

Once again, London turned on the sunshine today so I ventured out to see two of the many buildings that I still wanted to visit before I left. The first was St Paul’s Cathedral which was built by Sir Christopher Wren between 1675 and 1710. This is London’s Cathedral and was the fifth to built on the site with the previous incarnations being destroyed by fire. There has been a cathedral on the site at Ludgate Hill (which is the highest point in the City of London) since 604.



This beautiful English Baroque cathedral is just mind-blowing to walk through. The ornate mosaics, artworks and exquisitely carved wood in the choir stalls took my breath away with their sheer beauty. St Paul’s also has a large Crypt that spans the entire area under the Cathedral floor, and this is where over 200 tombs & memorials ate located. These include the tombs of Horatio, Lord Nelson, The Duke of Wellington, and of course Sir Christopher Wren who was the first person to be interred there in 1723. On the wall above his tomb are the words “Lector, si monumentum requiris, circumspice” which means “Reader, if you seek his monument, look around you”.

St Paul’s is also home to the famous Whispering Gallery around the interior of the Dome which is a mere 259 steps up from ground level. I didn’t go up there as I was already getting vertigo just looking up at the Gallery, and along with my fear of heights I felt it was best to stay on the ground. You can also climb a further 271 steps to the Golden Gallery which is located outside the building at the top of the Dome and gives you spectacular views of London (apparently). I didn’t do this because, sheer terror.

As was the case with Westminster Abbey, St Paul’s is a working church and you are not allowed to shoot any photos or video inside the Cathedral, but here are some shots from outside this magnificent building.


The next building that I wanted to see with my own eyes was BBC Television Centre at White City in West London. I have an obsession with this building as this is where the majority of the BBC’s television output was created from 1960 - 2013 which included many of my favourite shows.

The BBC sold the site in 2012 and the buildings will be redeveloped for mixed use. Fortunately, the main parts of the building are heritage listed, and so the “donut” surrounding the statue of Helios and three of the studios will be retained, including Studio 1 which features the famous “atomic dot” wall designed by Arthur Hays.

I would have given ANYTHING to have a look around this building, but that was impossible as it’s now a building site. 

The BBC will lease back three studios and some office space after the redevelopment.


I ended the day with a visit the the Royal Vauxhall Tavern in Vauxhall which is South London’s oldest surviving gay venue. Built in 1863, it was originally a Victorian music hall. I arrived in time to see “Short and Girly" - a lesbian improv show that was touring around the UK. The show was hilarious and the crowd were lapping it up. It was nice to end the day with a good hearty belly laugh.


Last full day in London tomorrow. Sigh.

London Day 10

Once again, London turned on the sunshine today so I ventured out to see two of the many buildings that I still wanted to visit before I left. The first was St Paul’s Cathedral which was built by Sir Christopher Wren between 1675 and 1710. This is London’s Cathedral and was the fifth to built on the site with the previous incarnations being destroyed by fire. There has been a cathedral on the site at Ludgate Hill (which is the highest point in the City of London) since 604.



This beautiful English Baroque cathedral is just mind-blowing to walk through. The ornate mosaics, artworks and exquisitely carved wood in the choir stalls took my breath away with their sheer beauty. St Paul’s also has a large Crypt that spans the entire area under the Cathedral floor, and this is where over 200 tombs & memorials ate located. These include the tombs of Horatio, Lord Nelson, The Duke of Wellington, and of course Sir Christopher Wren who was the first person to be interred there in 1723. On the wall above his tomb are the words “Lector, si monumentum requiris, circumspice” which means “Reader, if you seek his monument, look around you”.

St Paul’s is also home to the famous Whispering Gallery around the interior of the Dome which is a mere 259 steps up from ground level. I didn’t go up there as I was already getting vertigo just looking up at the Gallery, and along with my fear of heights I felt it was best to stay on the ground. You can also climb a further 271 steps to the Golden Gallery which is located outside the building at the top of the Dome and gives you spectacular views of London (apparently). I didn’t do this because, sheer terror.

As was the case with Westminster Abbey, St Paul’s is a working church and you are not allowed to shoot any photos or video inside the Cathedral, but here are some shots from outside this magnificent building.


The next building that I wanted to see with my own eyes was BBC Television Centre at White City in West London. I have an obsession with this building as this is where the majority of the BBC’s television output was created from 1960 - 2013 which included many of my favourite shows.

The BBC sold the site in 2012 and the buildings will be redeveloped for mixed use. Fortunately, the main parts of the building are heritage listed, and so the “donut” surrounding the statue of Helios and three of the studios will be retained, including Studio 1 which features the famous “atomic dot” wall designed by Arthur Hays.

I would have given ANYTHING to have a look around this building, but that was impossible as it’s now a building site. 

The BBC will lease back three studios and some office space after the redevelopment.


I ended the day with a visit the the Royal Vauxhall Tavern in Vauxhall which is South London’s oldest surviving gay venue. Built in 1863, it was originally a Victorian music hall. I arrived in time to see “Short and Girly" - a lesbian improv show that was touring around the UK. The show was hilarious and the crowd were lapping it up. It was nice to end the day with a good hearty belly laugh.


Last full day in London tomorrow. Sigh.

London Day 10

Once again, London turned on the sunshine today so I ventured out to see two of the many buildings that I still wanted to visit before I left. The first was St Paul’s Cathedral which was built by Sir Christopher Wren between 1675 and 1710. This is London’s Cathedral and was the fifth to built on the site with the previous incarnations being destroyed by fire. There has been a cathedral on the site at Ludgate Hill (which is the highest point in the City of London) since 604.



This beautiful English Baroque cathedral is just mind-blowing to walk through. The ornate mosaics, artworks and exquisitely carved wood in the choir stalls took my breath away with their sheer beauty. St Paul’s also has a large Crypt that spans the entire area under the Cathedral floor, and this is where over 200 tombs & memorials ate located. These include the tombs of Horatio, Lord Nelson, The Duke of Wellington, and of course Sir Christopher Wren who was the first person to be interred there in 1723. On the wall above his tomb are the words “Lector, si monumentum requiris, circumspice” which means “Reader, if you seek his monument, look around you”.

St Paul’s is also home to the famous Whispering Gallery around the interior of the Dome which is a mere 259 steps up from ground level. I didn’t go up there as I was already getting vertigo just looking up at the Gallery, and along with my fear of heights I felt it was best to stay on the ground. You can also climb a further 271 steps to the Golden Gallery which is located outside the building at the top of the Dome and gives you spectacular views of London (apparently). I didn’t do this because, sheer terror.

As was the case with Westminster Abbey, St Paul’s is a working church and you are not allowed to shoot any photos or video inside the Cathedral, but here are some shots from outside this magnificent building.


The next building that I wanted to see with my own eyes was BBC Television Centre at White City in West London. I have an obsession with this building as this is where the majority of the BBC’s television output was created from 1960 - 2013 which included many of my favourite shows.

The BBC sold the site in 2012 and the buildings will be redeveloped for mixed use. Fortunately, the main parts of the building are heritage listed, and so the “donut” surrounding the statue of Helios and three of the studios will be retained, including Studio 1 which features the famous “atomic dot” wall designed by Arthur Hays.

I would have given ANYTHING to have a look around this building, but that was impossible as it’s now a building site. 

The BBC will lease back three studios and some office space after the redevelopment.


I ended the day with a visit the the Royal Vauxhall Tavern in Vauxhall which is South London’s oldest surviving gay venue. Built in 1863, it was originally a Victorian music hall. I arrived in time to see “Short and Girly" - a lesbian improv show that was touring around the UK. The show was hilarious and the crowd were lapping it up. It was nice to end the day with a good hearty belly laugh.


Last full day in London tomorrow. Sigh.

London Day 9

Finally! After the cloudy & rainy weather that persisted the last time I was in London, the city turns on the sunshine. 



Rather than catch the Tube, I took advantage of the glorious weather and caught a bus to Trafalgar Square to check out Nelson’s Column and the Hahn/Cock. This is also the location of the National Gallery, but unfortunately I didn’t have time to wander through as I had a date to visit the Tate Modern later in the afternoon. The Square is also where you’ll find the St Martin-In-The-Fields church - home of the Academy of St Martin in the Fields.


There were quite a few human statues busking in the square as well, so I offloaded some spare change in their direction. They added a nice touch to the busy square.


Next it was off to Waterloo Station to meet another family member who I have never met before. Judith is my second cousin (I think that’s right!) and we had a lovely afternoon wandering along the Southbank of London as we headed towards the Tate Modern which is located in the former Bankside Power Station. The renewal and conversion of this building into a modern art gallery was very impressive, and the gallery spaces were well laid out. They are also constructing an extension to the gallery behind the existing building as they are rapidly running out of room to display the artworks. This extension will double the available gallery space at the Tate.


The Tate’s galleries were full of the most beautiful modern art, including works by Claude MonetAnish KapoorBarnett NewmanMark RothkoHenri Matisse, Tacita DeanAlighiero BoettiJannis KounellisKasimir MalevichAna MendietaMario Merz, Jenny HolzerPablo Picasso, Roy LichtensteinAndy Warhol, and the photographers Eugène Atget, and my favourite Robert Mapplethorpe… just to name a few! There was also a Mattise exhibition at the gallery, but this had finished the day before so we were unable to go and have a look. 

My favourite piece (but only just) was probably this spectacular painting by Alex Katz titled “Full Moon” that he painted in 1988. Just beautiful!



After the Tate closed, Judith & I wandered back towards Waterloo Station and stopped to eat dinner at a very good Italian restaurant. I really appreciated Judith giving up her afternoon to show me around and hope to catch up with her again and meet the rest of her family when I return to London in the future.

A lot of walking today, so back to the hotel to soak my feet and prepare for my penultimate day in London before heading home. 

London Day 9

Finally! After the cloudy & rainy weather that persisted the last time I was in London, the city turns on the sunshine. 



Rather than catch the Tube, I took advantage of the glorious weather and caught a bus to Trafalgar Square to check out Nelson’s Column and the Hahn/Cock. This is also the location of the National Gallery, but unfortunately I didn’t have time to wander through as I had a date to visit the Tate Modern later in the afternoon. The Square is also where you’ll find the St Martin-In-The-Fields church - home of the Academy of St Martin in the Fields.


There were quite a few human statues busking in the square as well, so I offloaded some spare change in their direction. They added a nice touch to the busy square.


Next it was off to Waterloo Station to meet another family member who I have never met before. Judith is my second cousin (I think that’s right!) and we had a lovely afternoon wandering along the Southbank of London as we headed towards the Tate Modern which is located in the former Bankside Power Station. The renewal and conversion of this building into a modern art gallery was very impressive, and the gallery spaces were well laid out. They are also constructing an extension to the gallery behind the existing building as they are rapidly running out of room to display the artworks. This extension will double the available gallery space at the Tate.


The Tate’s galleries were full of the most beautiful modern art, including works by Claude MonetAnish KapoorBarnett NewmanMark RothkoHenri Matisse, Tacita DeanAlighiero BoettiJannis KounellisKasimir MalevichAna MendietaMario Merz, Jenny HolzerPablo Picasso, Roy LichtensteinAndy Warholand the photographers Eugène Atget, and my favourite Robert Mapplethorpe… just to name a few! There was also a Mattise exhibition at the gallery, but this had finished the day before so we were unable to go and have a look. 

My favourite piece (but only just) was probably this spectacular painting by Alex Katz titled “Full Moon” that he painted in 1988. Just beautiful!



After the Tate closed, Judith & I wandered back towards Waterloo Station and stopped to eat dinner at a very good Italian restaurant. I really appreciated Judith giving up her afternoon to show me around and hope to catch up with her again and meet the rest of her family when I return to London in the future.

A lot of walking today, so back to the hotel to soak my feet and prepare for my penultimate day in London before heading home. 

North Sea Day 1

This morning I woke up with a heavy heart. I had to leave Amsterdam, head down to Rotterdam on the train, then catch a ferry from the Hook of Holland to Harwich in the UK, and finally a train from Harwich to London. I really did not want to leave Amsterdam.. I really fell in love with the place, and next time will spend at least a week in this beautiful city.

Once I got to the Hook of Holland, I got quite a surprise when I boarded the ferry. I thought it would just be like any regular plane/train/bus journey - you’d be allocated a seat which your were imprisoned in for the six hour journey. Not at all. The Stenna Line is similar to a cruise liner. They have a duty free shop, restaurant, bar, many different lounges to relax in, and even a casino on board. You can also wander out onto the open deck and take in the fresh North Sea air. For around €28 extra, you can even book a cabin if you feel like sleeping or need to have a shower. You can also take your car if you have one. 


I absolutely loved the ferry trip. Having the freedom to wander around and eat a delicious meal in the restaurant without the constrains of an airline seat made all the difference. The six hours flew by and before I knew it, I was back in merry old England. Anyone want any Euros?


Once through Customs, it was onto a train to Liverpool Street and then onto the Tube to Kings Cross/St Pancras where I was booked into the same hotel I stayed in last time… in fact they were kind enough to give me the same room I had before, so it kind of felt like I was “back home”. 

Days like today are the only negative parts of travelling… when you lose a whole day in transit. Fortunately the bulk of my travel was on a rather luxurious ferry so it wasn’t too bad. I’m also fortunate that I love train journeys.. so it was a good chance to see the sights which you never get in a plane. Still, it’s not the most exciting way to pass the time.

Only three more days left. Sigh.

Amsterdam Day 2

I got up early today after getting a long much needed rest, and was excited to see what Amsterdam had in store for me. The first point of call was breakfast, and right at the end of the street I was staying on was the most fabulous bakery that had everything a large boy who loves sugar could possibly want. After stuffing my face like a pig, I decided the best way to see things would be to book a canal cruise. There’s a few you can book that allow you to hop on and off as you travel along, and the ticket lasts for 24 hours so depending on what time you first get on, you can even use it the next day.


I got off the boat at Waterlooplein and wandered around the flea markets that filled the square along the canal. These were probably the best markets I have ever seen with pretty much everything on offer. I ended up buying quite a few things here, so it’s a big hello to excess baggage charges for me (hopefully not). 


I also discovered a store that sells clothing by charging by the kilo. In other words, you find the item of clothing you want, they weigh it, and you pay the “per kilo” price for that garment. Such a great idea!


After about an hour, I returned to the canal cruise and we navigated along the canals into the Amstel River. I was still blown away by the beauty of the architecture both old & modern. The city has really done itself justice with the way it has planned for the restoration of heritage buildings and the incorporation of new modern buildings that sit in harmony with history. 


I got off in the city centre of Amsterdam where the Anne Frank House is located. I didn’t bother going in, as the queue was so long, but I’ve been told there isn’t that much to see in there anyway. So after wandering around for a bit, I stopped to have lunch, and met a lovely pair of gents who suggested a few things to do in Amsterdam and also places to go in Europe. One of these gentlemen lived in rural England, and offered to show me around the English countryside if I had the time when I returned to England on Sunday. I might just take him up on that offer! 

Once again, BLOWN AWAY BY HOW BEAUTIFUL THIS CITY IS!


I finally ended up back in Leidseplein just in time to see a brass band doing a version of “Hit The Road Jack”. 



Leidseplein is also home to the most beautiful Apple Store I have ever seen.


I then ventured over to De Wallen and its famous Red Light District to have a look at this sordid little area. There were only one or two girls displaying themselves in the windows, as it was still very early in the evening. I have never seen so many sex shops, sex theatres, and houses of prostitution in the one place. 


I didn’t really like this area as much as Leidseplein, as the pubs and cafes didn’t have tables on the street. I preferred sitting outside when I ate as you could watch people as they wandered around and the atmosphere was much better than inside. I caught the Metro back to Leidseplein, and I have to say the Amsterdam Metro is very clean with beautiful stations, and lovely trains. 


I was in the mood for Chinese food, and found probably the best Chinese restaurant I have ever encountered just around the corner from my hotel. I feasted like it was my last meal, and headed off to bed. A perfect end to a fabulous Amsterdam day.

Amsterdam Day 2

I got up early today after getting a long much needed rest, and was excited to see what Amsterdam had in store for me. The first point of call was breakfast, and right at the end of the street I was staying on was the most fabulous bakery that had everything a large boy who loves sugar could possibly want. After stuffing my face like a pig, I decided the best way to see things would be to book a canal cruise. There’s a few you can book that allow you to hop on and off as you travel along, and the ticket lasts for 24 hours so depending on what time you first get on, you can even use it the next day.


I got off the boat at Waterlooplein and wandered around the flea markets that filled the square along the canal. These were probably the best markets I have ever seen with pretty much everything on offer. I ended up buying quite a few things here, so it’s a big hello to excess baggage charges for me (hopefully not). 


I also discovered a store that sells clothing by charging by the kilo. In other words, you find the item of clothing you want, they weigh it, and you pay the “per kilo” price for that garment. Such a great idea!


After about an hour, I returned to the canal cruise and we navigated along the canals into the Amstel River. I was still blown away by the beauty of the architecture both old & modern. The city has really done itself justice with the way it has planned for the restoration of heritage buildings and the incorporation of new modern buildings that sit in harmony with history. 


I got off in the city centre of Amsterdam where the Anne Frank House is located. I didn’t bother going in, as the queue was so long, but I’ve been told there isn’t that much to see in there anyway. So after wandering around for a bit, I stopped to have lunch, and met a lovely pair of gents who suggested a few things to do in Amsterdam and also places to go in Europe. One of these gentlemen lived in rural England, and offered to show me around the English countryside if I had the time when I returned to England on Sunday. I might just take him up on that offer! 

Once again, BLOWN AWAY BY HOW BEAUTIFUL THIS CITY IS!


I finally ended up back in Leidseplein just in time to see a brass band doing a version of “Hit The Road Jack”. 



Leidseplein is also home to the most beautiful Apple Store I have ever seen.


I then ventured over to De Wallen and its famous Red Light District to have a look at this sordid little area. There were only one or two girls displaying themselves in the windows, as it was still very early in the evening. I have never seen so many sex shops, sex theatres, and houses of prostitution in the one place. 


I didn’t really like this area as much as Leidseplein, as the pubs and cafes didn’t have tables on the street. I preferred sitting outside when I ate as you could watch people as they wandered around and the atmosphere was much better than inside. I caught the Metro back to Leidseplein, and I have to say the Amsterdam Metro is very clean with beautiful stations, and lovely trains. 


I was in the mood for Chinese, and found probably the best Chinese restaurant I have ever encountered just around the corner from my hotel. I feasted like it was my last meal, and headed off to bed. A perfect end to a fabulous Amsterdam day.

Amsterdam Day 2

I got up early today after getting a long much needed rest, and was excited to see what Amsterdam had in store for me. The first point of call was breakfast, and right at the end of the street I was staying on was the most fabulous bakery that had everything a large boy who loves sugar could possibly want. After stuffing my face like a pig, I decided the best way to see things would be to book a canal cruise. There’s a few you can book that allow you to hop on and off as you travel along, and the ticket lasts for 24 hours so depending on what time you first get on, you can even use it the next day.


I got off the boat at Waterlooplein and wandered around the flea markets that filled the square along the canal. These were probably the best markets I have ever seen with pretty much everything on offer. I ended up buying quite a few things here, so it’s a big hello to excess baggage charges for me (hopefully not). 


I also discovered a store that sells clothing by charging by the kilo. In other words, you find the item of clothing you want, they weigh it, and you pay the “per kilo” price for that garment. Such a great idea!


After about an hour, I returned to the canal cruise and we navigated along the canals into the Amstel River. I was still blown away by the beauty of the architecture both old & modern. The city has really done itself justice with the way it has planned for the restoration of heritage buildings and the incorporation of new modern buildings that sit in harmony with history. 


I got off in the city centre of Amsterdam where the Anne Frank House is located. I didn’t bother going in, as the queue was so long, but I’ve been told there isn’t that much to see in there anyway. So after wandering around for a bit, I stopped to have lunch, and met a lovely pair of gents who suggested a few things to do in Amsterdam and also places to go in Europe. One of these gentlemen lived in rural England, and offered to show me around the English countryside if I had the time when I returned to England on Sunday. I might just take him up on that offer! 

Once again, BLOWN AWAY BY HOW BEAUTIFUL THIS CITY IS!


I finally ended up back in Leidseplein just in time to see a brass band doing a version of “Hit The Road Jack”. 



Leidseplein is also home to the most beautiful Apple Store I have ever seen.


I then ventured over to De Wallen and its famous Red Light District to have a look at this sordid little area. There were only one or two girls displaying themselves in the windows, as it was still very early in the evening. I have never seen so many sex shops, sex theatres, and houses of prostitution in the one place. 


I didn’t really like this area as much as Leidseplein, as the pubs and cafes didn’t have tables on the street. I preferred sitting outside when I ate as you could watch people as they wandered around and the atmosphere was much better than inside. I caught the Metro back to Leidseplein, and I have to say the Amsterdam Metro is very clean with beautiful stations, and lovely trains. 


I was in the mood for Chinese, and found probably the best Chinese restaurant I have ever encountered just around the corner from my hotel. I feasted like it was my last meal, and headed off to bed. A perfect end to a fabulous Amsterdam day.

Amsterdam Day 2

I got up early today after getting a long, much needed rest, and was excited to see what Amsterdam had in store for me. The first point of call was breakfast, and right at the end of the street I was staying on was the most fabulous bakery that had everything a large boy who loves sugar could possibly want. After stuffing my face like a pig, I decided the best way to see things would be to book a canal cruise. There’s a few you can book that allow you to hop on and off as you travel along, and the ticket lasts for 24 hours so depending on what time you first get on, you can even use it the next day.


I got off the boat at Waterlooplein and wandered around the flea markets that filled the square along the canal. These were probably the best markets I have ever seen with pretty much everything on offer. I ended up buying quite a few things here, so it’s a big hello to excess baggage charges for me (hopefully not). 


I also discovered a store that sells clothing by charging by the kilo. In other words, you find the item of clothing you want, they weigh it, and you pay the “per kilo” price for that garment. Such a great idea!


After about an hour, I returned to the canal cruise and we navigated along the canals into the Amstel River. I was still blown away by the beauty of the architecture both old & modern. The city has really done itself justice with the way it has planned for the restoration of heritage buildings and the incorporation of new modern buildings that sit in harmony with history. 


I got off in the city centre of Amsterdam where the Anne Frank House is located. I didn’t bother going in, as the queue was so long, but I’ve been told there isn’t that much to see in there anyway. So after wandering around for a bit, I stopped to have lunch, and met a lovely pair of gents who suggested a few things to do in Amsterdam and also places to go in Europe. One of these gentlemen lived in rural England, and offered to show me around the English countryside if I had the time when I returned to England on Sunday. I might just take him up on that offer! 

Once again, BLOWN AWAY BY HOW BEAUTIFUL THIS CITY IS!


I finally ended up back in Leidseplein just in time to see a brass band doing a version of “Hit The Road Jack”. 



Leidseplein is also home to the most beautiful Apple Store I have ever seen.


I then ventured over to De Wallen and its famous Red Light District to have a look at this sordid little area. There were only one or two girls displaying themselves in the windows, as it was still very early in the evening. I have never seen so many sex shops, sex theatres, and houses of prostitution in the one place. 


I didn’t really like this area as much as Leidseplein, as the pubs and cafes didn’t have tables on the street. I preferred sitting outside when I ate as you could watch people as they wandered around and the atmosphere was much better than inside. I caught the Metro back to Leidseplein, and I have to say the Amsterdam Metro is very clean with beautiful stations, and lovely trains. 


I was in the mood for Chinese, and found probably the best Chinese restaurant I have ever encountered just around the corner from my hotel. I feasted like it was my last meal, and headed off to bed. A perfect end to a fabulous Amsterdam day.

Amsterdam Day 1

It was an early start for me this morning as I had to catch a 6:25am train to Amsterdam. (Note to self: do not book trains for 6:25am ever again.) Train travel in Europe is the way to go - you get to see a lot of the countryside, and the trip is a lot more comfortable than flying. 

I caught a Thalys high speed train that went via Brussels, Antwerp, Rotterdam, Schiphol (Amsterdam’s airport) and finally arrived in Amsterdam. The trip was only 3.5 hours long and gave me the opportunity to finally eat breakfast, which is available on board for a modest cost.



After arriving in Amsterdam, the next challenge was navigating my way to the hotel which was in along the Prinsengracht Canal. Once again, I quickly realised that without Google Maps, I would be lost beyond words. Every sign & notice was in Dutch, but the locals are more than happy to speak English which was very helpful. Fortunately, Amsterdam also has a fantastic public transport system consisting mainly of trams, but also a Metro and some boat services. I caught a tram to the hotel and was amazed at the beauty of this city as it whizzed past me. 



After checking in, I went exploring and was just blown away at how beautiful this city is. The buildings are gorgeous, and the trees and canals give the city a nice sleepy relaxed vibe. I noticed that the people were not in a rush to get anywhere, and the whole pace of the city was very chilled. Pretty much everyone uses bikes or trams to get around, and there were very few cars for a city of this size. This definitely added to the relaxed atmosphere of the place, and I was super impressed at how the city was keeping its carbon footprint down while it’s population remained healthy through plenty of walking and bike riding. 

I only wandered around for a couple of hours before having dinner and then heading back to the hotel to get some much needed sleep (thankyou 6:25am train).

Here’s a few photos from Day 1.

Amsterdam Day 1

It was an early start for me this morning as I had to catch a 6:25am train to Amsterdam. (Note to self: do not book trains for 6:25am ever again.) Train travel in Europe is the way to go - you get to see a lot of the countryside, and the trip is a lot more comfortable than flying. 

I caught a Thalys high speed train that went via Brussels, Antwerp, Rotterdam, Schiphol (Amsterdam’s airport) and finally arrived in Amsterdam. The trip was only 3.5 hours long and gave me the opportunity to finally eat breakfast, which is available on board for a modest cost.



After arriving in Amsterdam, the next challenge was navigating my way to the hotel which was in along the Prinsengracht Canal. Once again, I quickly realised that without Google Maps, I would be lost beyond words. Every sign & notice was in Dutch, but the locals are more than happy to speak English which was very helpful. Fortunately, Amsterdam also has a fantastic public transport system consisting mainly of trams, but also a Metro and some boat services. I caught a tram to the hotel and was amazed at the beauty of this city as it whizzed past me. 



After checking in, I went exploring and was just blown away at how beautiful this city is. The buildings are gorgeous, and the trees and canals give the city a nice sleepy relaxed vibe. I noticed that the people were not in a rush to get anywhere, and the whole pace of the city was very chilled. Pretty much everyone uses bikes or trams to get around, and there were very few cars for a city of this size. This definitely added to the relaxed atmosphere of the place, and I was super impressed at how the city was keeping its carbon footprint down while it’s population remained healthy through plenty of walking and bike riding. 

I only wandered around for a couple of hours before having dinner and then heading back to the hotel to get some much needed sleep (thankyou 6:25am train).

Here’s a few photos from Day 1.