Weekend Warrior: London to Amsterdam
Amsterdam and back in under 24 hours is a lot easier (and cheaper!) than you might think.
Traveled by: Stena Line
1. Sylvia Plath’s “The Bell Jar” to keep me occupied on the train ride from Liverpool Street station in London to the Harwich port in Essex.
2. My blue mirrored aviators to make sure I don’t miss anything by squinting in the bright sun all day
3. Abercrombie & Fitch high rise jean shorts to keep me comfortable and cool for walking around
4. Simple but cute breathable ¾ sleeve shirt from Zara
5. My trusty flannel from the men’s section of Uniqlo as a light cover up, a blanket to sit on, or a makeshift umbrella. Perfect substitute for any kind of jacket as it is lightweight but still really cozy.
6. My faithful converse that have seen many an adventure and walked many a foreign street with me.
7. Eos travel size hand lotion in “Fresh Flowers” scent. There’s nothing I hate more than having dry hands and no remedy.
8. My handmade leather satchel that I picked up at a street fair in Barcelona.
While visiting London, my travel buddy and I decided to take a day trip from London to Amsterdam on as low a budget as possible. After a lot of googling, we found an unbelievable deal through Stena Line called the “Rail & Sail” package. The all inclusive ticket cost around $250 USD per person and included not only a round trip train ticket from the underground Liverpool Street station to the Ferry port in Essex (a 1.5 hour train ride each way), but it also included the cost of your ferry ride into Hook of Holland! Since we wanted to be super low budget, we were also able to book a cabin on the overnight ferry so we could just sleep on the way to and from Amsterdam. There were varying options and bed arrangements much like you would find on a cruise ship and it was a reasonable extra cost considering what we got for it.
The “ferry” was more like a mini cruise ship which far surpassed what I was expecting for the awesome price we paid. It had a substantial duty free shop, multiple lounges, free wifi (that suspiciously never worked for me…), a movie theater, and a cafeteria style dining room with pretty great food. As for our cabin, we had a clean and compact bunk bed room with cable tv, a couch, and a sparkling modern bathroom and a shower that had probably the best water pressure I have ever had the privilege to stand under.
Even though I could have easily stayed up the entire ride to take advantage of all the ship had to offer, the ferry ride from Harwich port in Essex, to Hook of Holland in The Netherlands only took about 7 hours so after dinner we went straight back to our room and tried to get as much sleep as possible.
We arrived at Hook of Holland around 7 AM and then caught the train into Amsterdam, another hour or so ride (included in the price of our original ticket!). Once we arrived, we meandered around and found ourselves in the Red Light District. This is actually more than just where sex workers come to ply their trade. In this area is where you’re going to find a lot of the head shops and “coffeeshops” where you can buy your weed and various other paraphernalia that goes along with it as well as a plethora of sex shops. But don’t let this deter you. This is not a seedy area and everyone we encountered was approachable and friendly. We stopped into Hunter’s Coffeeshop based on a friends recommendation and had an inaugural smoke before heading back out to explore the streets.
We took a bus tour to quickly see all the historical sights and get an overview of the spots we wanted to hit during the day and walked along the bike lined canals. We found our way to the Anne Frank house however the line to enter was much too long for a couple of day-trippers like us to spend waiting in it as there was so much more left to see!
After the bus tour we decided it was time to escape the touristy bit and get to a more local vibe so we walked a while until we came to a street market and took our time checking out the local offerings.
After spending a while there, we decided we should head back to the Red Light District (as it is close to the train station) and grab a bite to eat at an outdoor cafe before we have to catch our train to the ferry. We walked around the canals a bit more in hopes that the district would be a bit more lively as the day started fading into night but by the time we started to leave many of the glass doors were still disappointingly vacant and actual red lights still switched off. Before we left we stopped into a head shop (again based on a friends recommendation) and picked out a pack of “magic truffles”. There is essentially no difference between truffles and magic mushrooms as they are just two different ends of the same organism. It was a family owned shop and the owner was really helpful in guiding us first timers as he held his adorable son on the side of his hip.
As our last stop we headed to Baba’s Coffeeshop for some of their well-known “space cake” brownies as a fun travel snack. The to go boxes even included a handy guide in multiple languages to ensure maximum enjoyment of their special treats. We boarded the ferry again and back into our cabin. Once we woke again, seven hours had passed and we were back in London! Easy peasy. Day trip accomplished.