"“Ajax is on Fire”" Amsterdam Travelogue by vichatherly
Amsterdam Travel Guide: 10,684 reviews and 22,666 photos
It was off to Amsterdam, in February 2012, for a one night stay to watch the Europa League KO32 1st Leg match, Ajax v Manchester United.
My wife had taken the baby off for a holiday with her parents and so I set two alarms, one of which I failed to hear, to be up at an unearthly 03:30. Breakfast was skipped, although the shower and razor blade were both used.
04:15 left for Luton airport and parked up at the always welcoming Central Car Storage.
Unlike some other MUFC travellers, who were sinking pints at the airport bar, it was a Pret A Manger breakfast for me, followed by a short wait for the 06:45 Easyjet flight. I slept through the whole of the hour long flight, so it was over in a flash.
Getting form Schipol to Amsterdam Central was a breeze on the twenty minute train ride. I arrived in the centre of one of the most cosmopolitan of European cities at 09:40 local time. It was cold in the ‘dam and the canals were still frozen over. Bicycles were everywhere to be seen and so you had to have your wits about you to keep out of the cycle lanes … and then there were the trams … and the cars!
A few of my mates from Kent had driven over to Amsterdam the previous day in the trusty minibus along with a couple of cars, and so I went off to meet them, as they were checking out at their nearby hotel, Mozart hotel on Prinsengracht.
Some of them had to get to the ground to pick up their match tickets, but as I had a ticket in the home end, I could relax in a nearby bar for a while. We had a quick drink around the corner from Heineken brewery, where the minibus was parked. I then got a call to meet at the Old Sailor to pick up my match ticket. As we were leaving, I asked the friendly barmaid for a shortcut, but she just smiled and said “You’ll have a good time there; I’ve had a few memorable nights at the Old Sailor”.
With that, we walked into the red light district and having found that the Old Sailor was completely mobbed out, even at that time of the day, decided to get a drink at the bar next door.
Another phone call later and I found out that other friends were drinking in a nearby bar in Chinatown, so they sent out a runner and we all met up. Hugs all round.
After a few more drinks and after I heard a few stories from the night before concerning, weed, tattoos and ladies of easy virtue, it was getting near to lunchtime, 14:30. A number of us old lads had decided beforehand, via trip advisor, to have lunch at Fred’s Steak & Ribhouse, but “best laid plans” and all meant that we just went to the unnamed steakhouse across the street from the bar. The meal would best be described as functional and the service was maybe need of a smile of two, but it gave me time for a pre-match relax.
It was an earlier than usual kick off and so we headed off to the Amsterdam Arena via train. As mentioned before, I and a few friends had acquired some tickets in the home end of the ground, but with the Dutch being a friendly bunch this was not a problem. I stopped to buy an Ajax scarf before entering stadium, not really as a disguise, just because I wanted a scarf … and it was getting a bit chilly.
The match itself went off without a problem, a somewhat underwhelming 2-0 away win. Highlights being the enthusiastic pre-kickoff flag waving; I think I’m now on Facebook with my waving skills, followed by and the halftime rendition in the middle of the pitch by two local lads of “Ajax is on Fire”, cover of the Kings of Leon.
Unlike the UK lads, us “HOME” fans were let out of the stadium straight after the final whistle. Looking suitably miserable after a supposed 2-0 home defeat we got the metro back to near Amsterdam Central and then hailed a cab. It had been decided to meet up after the game nearby to the minibus, at the Heineken Brewery. We found a decent Irish bar open at about 21:30, not too far from minibus, set up camp, and waited for the others.
A rough time of departure, at about 23:00, had been agreed before the match for those who had to travel back in the minibus and cars to catch the first Eurotunnel train back to the UK.
We had a few more drinks and so 23:00 came and went. The designated drivers, who had joined us, were not too excited about hearing that others were still in another part of town, also a suggestion that they might want to go and pick them up raised a few smiles. Eventually everybody met up around about midnight.
We saw off the lads on their trip home and thoughts turned to getting our heads down for the night. I had a flight home at 21:15 the next night and so a bed was needed.
I had been a bit late in booking my flight to Amsterdam and so by the time I had done so hotel rooms had already been booked by a good mate Arthur. We thought that as he had a booked a single room already I could just bunk in with him. The unfortunate thing was that on arrival he found that rather than having two single beds, he only had a one single.
We flagged down a cab and set off for hotel Delta, near to the central station. I did, at first, feel the need for a late night kebab but this craving quickly passed and after passing the hotel once already … I wasn’t the who checked in earlier … we walked quietly past the hotel receptionist and squeezed into the tiny room. Arthur had an earlier flight home than me and so had to be out of the hotel, before breakfast, at about 07:00. He decided, therefore, that the floor would be more comfy for him, and who was I to complain. That left me with the bed
After a lot of moaning and snoring, Arthur set off about 06:45 for his 09:00 flight. I had a little lie in and made it down for a 09:30 breakfast of ham, cheese, toast, boiled eggs, bacon, coffee and juice.
After a quick checkout, where I pretended to be Arthur, I had the full day ahead of me to do as I pleased. Football day had been a resounding success and so it was now down to some serious sightseeing.
I had downloaded a free trip advisor city app guide to Amsterdam before I left home and that included some free self guided walking tours. As the “Art and History” tour started off at the nearby Central Station, I decided to have a crack at it. The tour has ten major stops on it, and was quite easy to follow, plenty of maps and info on the phone app. Amsterdam Central, Dam Square, National Monument, Royal Palace and The New Church had been visited and so point six, Anne Frank's house, was reached by mid morning.
I had been in the house before, but as the queue was small I decided to take another look. A fascinating story of WWII, the history and places of I have a particular interest in
As I was “exiting by the gift shop” I spotted another walking tour pamphlet called “Persecution and resistance in Amsterdam”. This was a walk from the Anne Frank house to the Dutch Resistance Museum. This sounded more up my WWII street than the rest of the “Art and History” tour, and so I ditched the idea of going to Van Gogh museum and hit the WWII trail.
The memories of WWII walking tour was supposed to take about 1½ hours to complete, but I took my time and took many more photos … excellent tour, highly recommended if WWII interests you. I ended up at the Dutch resistance museum, where I spent a few hours trying to understand how I would cope with being occupied for five long years … unimaginable.
It was then thoughts got back to the day in hand and to making preparations for my trip home. It was time for a late chicken salad lunch at the nearby Cafe Koosie.
Afterwards, I took a lazy stroll around the tall ships and barges at the maritime museum and passed the tasty Sea Palace floating Chinese restaurant on the way back to the central station.
Time was getting on and so I took the 17:49 train back to Schipol airport. After a read of the book and an almost compulsory purchase of cheese, I took my seat on the 21:15 Easyjet flight back to Luton.
The lads I had seen having an early morning drink in Luton airport were again on my flight home but they were doing the sleeping this time, instead of me.
Plenty of ways to have fun in the ‘Dam
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