Another Day In Amsterdam

So I thought I would keep writing about my current trip around Northern Europe. My next couple of days in Amsterdam were really interesting and packed with activities. Hopefully I won’t bore you with my travel tales. I may even make you feel like checking out a holiday to the Netherlands.

A view of the waterways.

I love a good museum

Popping to the Rijksmuseum was a real highlight of my trip. When I booked some tickets I had no idea what it was going to be like. Suffice to say, it did not disappoint. As someone who likes history and art, I always want to explore what museums have to offer but so many are fairly lame or samey. This one wasn’t.

Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

It had pieces of work from Van Gogh and Rembrandt which were found alongside a variety of historical artefacts such as armour, maritime objects and royal furniture.

I find this picture amusing.
Van Goph
The biggest painting I have ever seen.
This has Game of Thrones vibes
A ship. Why not?

After a hard morning of museum wandering I needed a Chinese meal and some drinks in a rooftop bar. Thank goodness for the W Lounge which sits in one of the central squares, next to the Royal Palace. I absolutely loved chilling out there with a glass of champagne and some complimentary nuts.

The view from the W Lounge
A nice finish to the day.

I did so many other things in Amsterdam but picked a few highlights to reflect upon. Amsterdam is a brilliant, bustling city full of history, culture and food. The only thing that slightly tarnished the stay for me was the constant smell of weed in the streets. It is inescapable and can make your clothes smell. Apart from this though, I have nothing but positive words about this lovely city.

Amsterdam – I Feel Welcome

I am happily enjoying the long-awaited summer holidays and have just embarked on a journey by train to a couple of capital cities in Europe. This is something that I had planned to do in 2020 but Corona got in the way. Anyway, here I find myself, emerging into a city full of interesting architecture and a general sense of busyness.

Last time I was here was in 1998 as I passed through during a University residential trip to The Hague. I remember spending a few hours wandering around the streets, taking in the atmosphere and dropping into a rather peculiar museum about ‘romance’ (at least that is a cleaner way of describing it).

First drink – had to be JD and coke

This time…

On my first wonder around the streets my mission was to buy a new coat, as I left mine at home in the rush to get a taxi. H & M provided a cheap jacket to see me through. After this I grabbed a drink in a lovely cafe, which looked more like a pub. I have come to discover that most cafes here are actually bars. Suffice to say, that first cold sip of Jack Daniels was much needed after a hot walk, seeking out H & M.

It had been a 4 hour train ride from London and I really enjoyed the journey. One of the great things about traveling by rail for me is the fact you can relax and watch the landscapes drift by. Grabbing snacks in the onboard food coach is always a highlight and provides an opportunity for leg stretching. Many people would opt for a 1 hour flight but I much prefer using the Eurostar which creates 13 times less pollution per journey. I guess if you take into account the fact that the journey is four times longer by train then you can say a plane is creating even more carbon per hour. In reality, the train is 52 times more carbon efficient.

Anyway, enough of the greener thinking for a moment. Here are some snaps from my first afternoon in Amsterdam.

The Central Station
I just love the shape of the houses.
The red light district
Pinacolada and Mojito
I wanted to go to this Chinese restaurant but it was full.
Some of the architecture is unique.

I don’t want to bore you with pictures but hope you can tell just how excited I am about being here. The only downside is the constant smell of weed wherever you go. It can be a bit overpowering and has made my clothes stink a bit. It is all worth it though and I am really lapping up the sights and sounds of this fascinating city, nestled in the lowlands of Northern Europe.

Is Las Vegas Worth The Hype?

Recently I looked back at my holiday to Vegas with fondness and decided to show one of my little videos as a YouTube short. It was successful because it included a segment of the incredible Bellagio water fountain during an evening walk down the famous Las Vegas Strip. I have never written much about the whole experience but I will admit now that my visit to Vegas definitely had an impact on my life.

There is something incredibly hopeful about this place. The famous Las Vegas Strip.

How Las Vegas Started

Vegas was founded as a stopover on the railway that had been built from Los Angeles to Salt Lake City. It was named later on by Rafael Rivera, using the Spanish term ‘Las Vegas’ meaning meadow. I suppose it was a town that had freshly emerged in the middle of a desert and came across as a meadow amongst the otherwise nothingness of that part of Nevada.

When those working on the Hoover Dam project needed entertaining, casinos and theatres began to spring up. Obviously, a lot has happened since then and we now have this incredible network of hotels, often joined up by underground tunnels which are guarding tourists from the debilitating desert heat.

Las Vegas Things To Do

Everyone assumes that Las Vegas is purely about the gambling. Don’t get me wrong, that is a major part of the appeal for many people but there are so many other things to do in Vegas. From restaurants and shops to a range of theatrical shows, Las Vegas is packed with fun.

I was lucky enough to stay in the Mandalay Bay Hotel which is right on the end of the Las Vegas Strip, not far from that famous road sign stating that you have arrived in Vegas. It was a very short drive from the airport and I could see the landing strip from my apartment.

View from my window. I was right next to the Las Vegas airport.
I had this double en-suite apartment all to myself.

My best friend had convinced me to join him and his family at the Mandalay for eight nights and when we drove up to this shiny building I was instantly intrigued. One of the fun facts about this place is that it is a resort hotel with its own extensive beach and wave pool built onto its grounds.

This is the unique beach included within the Mandalay Bay resort.

While I was there, I enjoyed the night life, both at my hotel and at some of the others. One night we explored the bars at the incredible Wynn hotel and popped into the Club Tropicana, which had me full of nostalgic Wham vibes. I was so grateful to be persuaded to go out and about as I absorbed the food, vibrancy and general feeling of happiness which seemed to embrace the whole place.

The night life in Vegas was bursting with energy.

One of my highlights was seeing a stand up comedienne known as Whitney Cummings (who I had not known of before) in the very cosy Venetian Theatre, within the grand hotel of the same name. She was absolutely hilarious and had us almost crying with laughter for two hours non-stop.

So many affordable Las Vegas shows were available at the last minute and so we also grabbed tickets to a Divas night where we witnessed brilliant singers imitating legends such as Whitney Houston, Cher and Celine Dion.

Absolutely loved this funny show in the Venetian Hotel, by Whitney Cummings.

What Las Vegas Means To Me

This was a big adventure for me as I had never been to the USA before. I was lucky enough to spend time in New York before visiting Las Vegas and I hope to write about that part of the holiday at a later date.

Even though Vegas is somewhat superficial and filled with pure indulgence, I have nothing but fond memories of the week I spent perusing casinos, eating great food and enjoying the incredible shows. If you find a time when Las Vegas becomes a possibility for you, definitely take the time to go and explore the Las Vegas hotels and see for yourself what this amazing city is famous for.

Thank you so much for reading this nostalgic post. Is Las Vegas worth the hype? Definitely. For other articles about travel, books and the environment please consider following my blog.