After a great nights sleep we got an early ship wide wake up call at 6am (yes thanks for that). I opened the curtains and got my first view of Holland. After getting ready in our en-suite cabin, i went up on deck to take in the air and get a better look at Rotterdam Port. The scenery was industrial, but the sunrise was beautiful, it was going to be a lovely day.
We met up at Starbucks to have breakfast and awaited our next announcement telling us when it was time to disembark. We were off the ship by about 9.30, had a very short queue to get through customs and got on the coach right outside the terminal building. It was all very well organised, you just had to ensure you got on the correct coach. Some were heading to Rotterdam and others to Amsterdam. I was impressed how good all the staffs English was. It makes my slightly ashamed of my lack of languages after GCSE German.
It took 90 minutes to reach Amsterdam, which was annoying but necessary. The traffic was light so we were not held up at all. The driver was friendly and explained where he dropped us off, would be where we caught the coach back again. And if we got lost the name of the nearest landmark to ask for. The roads turned from industrial ports to greenfields and then driving over our first (of many) waterways we entered the city of Amsterdam. I was blown away by how beautiful the buildings were. I know England has its fair share of great architecture, but taking York for example. These are usually condensed into one street or block. I can honestly say practically every building i saw throughout the day was gorgeous.
The initial visit we intended to make was The Icebar Amsterdam. We set off using GPS on a friends phone. (seriously what did we do before technology?) It was a 20 minute walk from where the coach dropped us, but it gave us a taster of the city as we passed Dam Square, with its stunning buildings, yet again! and Madam Tussauds. We had time to sample some excellent Frites. We had booked our tickets already and arrived 10 minutes before our allotted time. They let us in as they said it would give us more time in the first bar. We entered into a gloomy bar themed as an old fashioned sailing ship. We were given 3 silver coins which let us have 3 free drinks. One in this outer bar and two in the ‘ice bar’. There were several drinks to choose from plus beer. We decided on the recommendation of the barmaid the Amsterdam Cocktail. It was a purple sip of fruity delight. We sat on wooden benches and tables and soaked up the atmosphere and alcohol!
Our attention was brought to a large television screen, where our Captain asked us to help him on his voyage adventure. Aye Captain! We shuffled over to a curtained entrance and dressed ourselves in thermal jackets and gloves. My only criticism is that these were still really thin and no where near warm enough for the -9.5 temperatures to come. I am a bit of a wuss, when it comes to being cold though. We were greeted by our barmaid who would join us on our journey to the icy depths. We had two more coins to use for drinks but only one glass, so she advised us to get the first drink of beer, to get a bigger glass and then Vodka for the second drink. If we started with Vodka we would only get a shot glass.
As soon as the door opened we felt a chilly blast of freezing air. The walls, ceiling, tables and chairs were all made of ice. There was a nice photo opportunity to stick your head through an ice wall and a ice sculpture polar bear.
We got our first drink of beer and marveled at the ice glass. Took pictures of us looking cold and wrapped up in our thermal coats. The second glass i went for was chocolate Vodka, this was amazing, it tasted like Nutella. A girl came round and took our photo, which was available to buy on the way out. My camera and phone was struggling in the cold temperature so it was good we had a back up photograph. (expensive for what you got but its a great momento of the day. Once our time was up and the next party was due to enter, we left the ice bar, gave back the coats and gloves and went to buy our photograph 6Euro. You could stay in the outer bar for longer if you wished and buy more drinks, but we decided to get on with exploring Amsterdam. It was lots of fun and definitely worth doing if you visit Amsterdam.
To be continued…