I love Amsterdam and have just returned from my fourth visit to the city! It’s got such a chilled out vibe & it’s so pretty. I think I could go over & over again and never get bored. This time I went for one night which I have done previously, I don’t mind this because the flight is so short but if it’s your first visit you might be better doing 2 or more nights.
We landed at about 9.30 am and flew back out at 6pm so we had time each day to explore. I always get the train from Schiphol to Centraal which takes about 25 minutes and is around €5 single. There’s ticket machines near entrances to the platforms.
We stayed at ClinkNOORD hostel which is in a fab location, you get a free ferry from just outside central which only takes a few minutes. The ferry runs 24 hours a day every 5 minutes or so. This is my second time staying here and I’ve always booked a private room with bathroom. I think for location, price & cleanliness you can’t beat it. I was put of a hostel at first but you barely spend any time in the room & I’d definitely look at staying in more with a private room.
I love walking around the Jordaan, the canals are beautiful & there’s some lovely bars & shops. It’s a lot more peaceful than other areas so I’d definitely recommend a wander round here.
We then did a boat tour with Friendship Amsterdam, I’ve done tours with them twice before and have always really enjoyed it. It’s €15 for an hour canal cruise and the staff are really knowledgeable & friendly. You can get drinks onboard and it was perfect having a local Gin on a sunny day.
After the boat we headed to The Museum of Prostitution, Red Light Secrets. It was fascinating to hear the story from the point o view of a prostitute , and what it’s like to Work in the red light district. Definitely an eye opener and worth a visit.
Before we headed home the next day we went for Brunch at Bakers & Roasters, not far from the Heineken experience. The food is amazing here & all the staff are really friendly. It just has a lovely vibe to it. I had the Huevos Ranchos & a mimosa. I also had a coffee which was really good. I like strong coffee & it definitely is here. Well worth a visit.
I’d love to hear your favourite places to visit in Amsterdam as I’ll definitely be going back again.
I’ve recently seen a few people do the month in review Blog Posts and I love the idea. It’s so nice to have a record & see all the things you have got up to. All the little days out get forgotten so it’s lovely to look back on.
We started the month with Easter Sunday, we had dinner at my Mum & Dad’s and a park trip to burn off the millions of eggs Finn had ate.
We then had an amazing swimming lesson from Finn, which was a big turning point. He was really nervous and held onto his teacher when he first started but this was the point he slowly began to make progress and gain confidence m.
We had a trip to Bents Garden Centre in Warrington which Finn loved, there’s a fab park & a lovely cafe.
I then ended up in hospital for 2 nights with tonsillitis, I think though I was really run down. I’d been working loads & doing a lot of late nights & early starts. Luckily a few days later we went on our Amazing holiday to Costa Teguise in Lanzarote. We stayed at the HD Beach resort which you can read about here.
When we come home we met my Mum & Dad in Chorlton & went for food & a play in the park.
Another day another park visit, followed by Finn’s favourite coffee & cake.
We went to Messy Mallie’s which is about 20 minutes away from us in Buckley. It was brilliant and Finn loved painting his own money box.
After the Easter holidays we were entitled to more hours at nursery. I was sad in one way as Finn stared doing more days so we lost a day in the week together. It’s meant though that I’ve gone from doing 4/5 late nights a week to 1/2. I’ve loved the little things like us having tea together as a family & doing bath, story & bed time.
Finn’s first go at Crazy Golf, followed by a Wagamama’s.
A visit to Little Al’s Urban farm in Eastham. We love it here.
Yet more amazing swimming from Finn, he’s managing to swim now with just the woggle & not holding on to his teacher.
Finally a zoo trip, we are members of Chester Zoo so we go all the time. This time Finn played in the sand & water for over an hour.
We have recently come back from a week in Costa Teguise and we went to some amazing restaurants. There was such a lot of choice & they were all really reasonably priced. We love Spanish food so we’re absolutely spoilt for choice.
We went here after a recommendation from a friend & reading good reviews on both trip advisor & Lonely Planet. It was a bit of a distance from our hotel but definitely worth it. When we first got there I thought it didn’t seem very child friendly but I was wrong, the staff were brilliant with Finn. I went for the prawn, spinach & ricotta ravioli to start followed by hake & mussels in a butter & lemon sauce. Both were amazing! I love mussels & I’d say these were the freshest & tastiest I’ve ever had. I had a creme brûlée for dessert which was lovely as well. Stu had the porks cheek & really enjoyed it. This was the most expensive meal we had at around €80 but was so worth it.
I found La Tabla on trip advisor & it was highly rated for Tapas. Again we weren’t disappointed. It’s on a little courtyard tucked away but it was lovely & peaceful. The tapas was brilliant value at €21 for 7 dishes and we enjoyed them all. It was so busy with people being turned away on a Tuesday evening so definitely book (the number is on trip advisor and you can send them a WhatsApp).
Another tapas restaurant we found on trip advisor, although they did a wide range of meals here which all looked really good. This was again excellent value with each Tapa priced at €3. This is some of the best tapas we’ve ever ate and we are big Tapas fans.
We fancied Paella one night and La Pardela came highly recommend on trip advisor. We opted for the seafood & it was amazing, packed with fish & seafood. The staff were brilliant with Finn and really made you feel welcome. We had starters as well but really didn’t need them as the paella was massive. It’s in a lovely location as well over looking the sea.
We never ate here but I’ve got to mention the Beach Bar, we loved it. Perfect surroundings, amazing cocktails & chill out music. We loved going at nap time and some evenings with Finn as he loved playing in the sand.
Finn was about 27 months the first time we went to Disneyland and turned 3 the second time we were there. These are the main rides, attractions & shows he loved & were the most suitable for his age.
Alice’s Curious Labyrinth- We all loved this where you work your way around Alice’s labyrinth to get to the Queen of heart castle. The view from the top around the park are amazing.
Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast- Finn’s a big toy story fan so this was one of his favourites. The queues can get quite big so we went in this using a fast pass and during extra magic hours.
Cars quatre rallye- Finn loved the cars theming of this one, I get quite travel sick so sat this one out. Queues were normally about 10/15 minutes.
Casey Jr. – this is a lovely little train ride, It was really quiet whenever we went on this.
Disneyland Railroad- We loved this, we went all the way round the park on it and you get some really good views. You can also use it to get to the different areas of the park. It always seemed to be really busy even in quiet times but we went on first thing one morning and the queues weren’t as big.
Dumbo- Finn loved flying round on the elephant, the queues never seemed to be really big for this.
It’s a small world- My favourite, even though you end up stuck with the tune in your head for days. The queues were never massive but if you stand near here to watch the parade you get a good view for that & can then walk pretty much on it’s a small world.
Le Carrousel de Lancelot- a traditional merry-go- round, Finn really enjoyed this and there was rarely a big queue.
Flying carpets over Agrabah- this was in the Studio’s you fly on a magic carpet on an Aladdin themed rides. It can get busy.
Mad Hatter’s tea cups- this was another of Finn’s favourites, the cup of tea ride he called it. This was another quiet ride.
Orbitron- Here you can ride in a rocket, the queues for this one always seem longer than they say so be prepared to wait but Finn loved it.
Peter Pan’s flight – this is a lovely ride but can get really busy. We got fast passes for this which I’d definitely recommend doing.
Pirates of the Caribbean – I was really nervous about this one as I though Finn would be scared but apart from a few drops it was quite gentle & we all loved it. We were quite lucky to just walk on this a few times.
Ratatouille- this was another favourite of ours, it gets busy but you can get fast pass. There is WiFi in the studios so we used the Disneyland app to check wait times and managed to just walk onto this one day.
Slinky Dog- Finn loved this being a toy story fan and we managed to just walk on it quite a few times. I suffer with motion sickness and this did make me feel a bit sick.
Thunder Mesa riverboat Landing- I loved this boat ride & definitely recommend you go on this. It’s a lovely little ride round which you don’t expect & has loads of little things to look at.
Toy soldiers parachute drop- I thought this would be really scary but we all loved it, you also get a fab but quick view of the castle! It can get busy.
Moteurs Action Stunt Show- This was a massive hit, Finn’s face when lightening came out was one of the highlights of our trip.
Mickey and the Magician- This is a lovely show and definitely worth going to if it’s on, true Disney magic.
Mickey presents Happy Anniversary Disneyland Paris- a fab show located on the stage near the castle. Finn loved all the Characters and them all waving.
The first time we went I read loads on Facebook groups and got advice of people who had already been. It can feel really overwhelming before you go as you want to cram everything possible in. Here’s a list of my top ten tips, there’s probably loads I’ve not covered but it’s just a few things we found useful.
Parade – the best place we found to stand for the parade Is outside the Pizzeria Bella Notte in Fantasyland or near start of the parade near it’s a small world. That way once it’s finished you can get on a few of the rides in Fantasyland with no queues. I think it’s absolutely worth getting there just one day 30/45 minutes early to get to the front as you get brilliant interaction.
Illuminations – Again I’d say just one day get there 30 minutes or so early for the fireworks just to get the best view. We sat on a bench just behind the statue of Goofy & Pluto and had an amazing view. We were there about 45 minutes early but Stu just took Finn off to a ride & for popcorn so he didn’t get too fed up. Another good spot was by the rope near the castle stage.
Snack packs/ drinks – we took quite a few snacks with us & little things for Finn to have in the queues. We also took water bottles to fill up as drinks can be quite dear. We took little sachets of coffee to have in the room as well as there’s none provided. Things we took for snack packs were crisp,cereal bars, raisins, little sweets, mini cookies, individually wrapped brioche etc.
Layers/ waterproofs – This obviously depends what time of year you go but we went in April & January and have had really changeable weather. At one point in January it was warm enough for just a jumper. Definitely take plenty of layers as it can get hot in queues if you’re all wrapped up and take waterproofs. The ponchos they sell are really expensive, we took Finn’s puddle suit.
Rough plan/ list – some people say go without a plan but I found it useful to make a note of what shows I wanted to see and the times. Also what rides we wanted to do in each of the different lands or areas of the studios so we wasn’t doing too much walking about between rides or meet & greets.
The picture – I’d seen loads of people getting a picture of the castle & an empty Main Street after the illuminations and was desperate to get one. We hung around after the illuminations had finished for about half an hour and just went in the shops. We were then able to get the picture.
App- the Disneyland app was brilliant, we were able to check the queue times and a few times just walked on the main rides.
Take fancy dress from home – we took all Finn’s costumes from home as they were so much cheaper than buying them in the parks. You also get brilliant character intervention when they are dressed up and all the cast members make a fuss. It’s also fab for pictures.
Personalised autograph book & pen- I ordered Finn a personalised autograph book from eBay and it’s lovely to keep for the memories. Take your own pen as well as these were expensive on the parks, a sharpie is easier for the characters to hold.
Spare battery for camera & a portable charger for phone – I took millions of pictures so made sure I had a spare battery for my camera & a portable phone charger was really handy as we spent really long days in the park.
One thing I really worried about before we went to Disneyland Paris the first time was the price of food. I’d heard people say they had spent £1000+ in a few days and this just wasn’t in the budget for us. There was no dining plan offer when we went and it was expensive to add one so we decided to just go with it and hope for the best. Both times we’ve been we’ve spent around £400 (excluding a few pre booked meals) including drinks etc.. It’s obviously not the cheapest place but you can do it without spending the huge amounts people say. We could have done it on even more of a budget if we tried as well. Here’s the places we ate at and enjoyed.
Breakfast – the first time we stayed we had breakfast included at Santa Fe, I personally wouldn’t go for this unless you get it included as I found it quite crowded & chaotic. We made do with a coffee in the room and then just grabbed something in the park when we were up the second time we went.
Annette’s- We really enjoyed Annette’s, it’s themed around an old school American diner with the staff on roller-skates. This is definitely the place We queued the longest and it was always busy after the fireworks so be prepared to queue for a while. The portions are massive, we shared 2 of the Jukebox menu’s between the 3 of us and there was more than enough food. This is €29 and included a starter, main and brownie for pudding. Finn loved the brownie.
McDonald’s breakfast – the second time we visited we didn’t have Breakfast included and Finn choose McDonald’s for his birthday breakfast as they did pancakes. I know it’s not the healthiest but we were really surprised how good value it was. It cost us €16 and for that me and Stu had meal each with a bacon & egg muffin, pancakes, coffee and juice and Finn had pancakes, hot chocolate & juice and it definitely kept us going for a while.
Rainforest cafe – We all loved the theming of the Rainforest Cafe. Finn especially loved the fish & monkeys. It is a little on the expensive side, they do have some set menus though which are a bit cheaper. We all really enjoyed our food though and would say it’s worth the expense once on your visit. Our bill came to around €80 for a children’s meal with drink & dessert, a beer, a cocktail, a shared starter and 2 mains.
Vapianos- We love Vapiano’s and find it really fresh & tasty and good value. The portions are quite big so Finn shared with us we had a pasta & pizza dish and with 3 drinks it came to about €35. The ordering system can be a little chaotic as you have to go up separately for pizza & pasta and then get buzzed when your food is ready but it’s well worth it.
Five Guys – this is another restaurant located in Disney village. We shared again between the 3 of us and 2 burgers, a large chips and 2 drinks was €40, a bit on the expensive side for a burger but they are really fresh & big portions.
Inventions, Disneyland Hotel – This is by far my favourite Dining experience we have done at Disney. We went for lunch for Finn’s birthday and Mickey, Minnie and the staff brought out a cake and sang to his (I Pre booked this for about €25) it was such a special moment. Inventions is expensive at €65 for an adult and €35 for a child but we added it at the time of booking so we could spread the cost. The character interaction was brilliant and they came round a few times. We got plenty of photos and Finn’s booked signed. The food was lovely as well there was Beef, king prawns, loads of salad, cheese, desserts etc.. definitely the one to do if you do one character meal.
Caseys’s Corner- This is on Main St with an area to eat inside or an outdoor eating area. The hot dogs are really nice traditional American ones & it came to around £35 for 2 hot dogs, 2 chips, nuggets & 2 drinks.
Glowtini- I loved the Glowtini cocktails which are quite fruity & come with a light up ice cube. We stayed in Santa Fe and apparently this is the cheapest place to have one.
Fuento del Orto- we ate here on the last day by chance as we were in Frontierland and had time before we had to head back for our taxi. I’m really glad we did as it was really nice Mexican food. It came to €32 and we had Nachos and 2 set meals including drinks & a side or yogurt. This was plenty for the 3 of us.
Toad Hall- this is a fish & chip restaurant in Fantasyland. We all really enjoyed it and got the Double to share with a few extra sides.
Cable car bake shop- this is on Main Street and Finn loved the Nutella muffins. They do all sorts of Disney themed cakes & snacks.
Plaza Gardens- on our first visit we had the character breakfast here. I really enjoyed it but after doing the lunch at inventions I’d say that’s definitely the better of the two. You still get the characters coming to your table but it just felt a little rushed compared to inventions and they only seem to come round once. The breakfast was really good though with an amazing selection. I’d still do the breakfast again if we got a deal but would definitely pick the lunch if we could.
Buffalo Bills- On our first visit we did Buffalo Bills Wild West show and loved it, Finn was just over 2 and he really enjoyed it but it is really noisy. The show was brilliant with character appearances and we all really enjoyed the food. You get drinks re fills as well. It’s definitely a fun experience and is really interactive.
Earl of Sandwich- We love Earl of Sandwich and normally end up eating here a few times. They do really nice sandwiches with loads of options and it’s always really quick & reasonable prices. They do a meal deal for about €12 or you can just get the sandwiches on there own.
This August Bank holiday weekend we headed to the Lakes to stay at The Swan Hotel in Newby Bridge near Lake Windemere. We love this hotel and have visited a few times. I always leave feeling totally relaxed. this time we went with my parents.
Me and my Mum started the break with an Espa Intensive facial. This treatment was so relaxing and totally worth every penny. As a Beauty Therapist I don’t always enjoy treatments as I often think how I would do them different or what I can add to my treatments but I was able to totally switch off during my facial. The Pool is also a lovely place to relax with a sauna, steam room and hot tub.
One of my favourite things about the Hotel is the riverside location,it is so peaceful. We were lucky to have nice weather so we were able to enjoy a drink in the afternoon sat by the side of the river.
We stayed in a ground floor room called a ‘lovely room’ this had everything we needed including some lovely ESPA toiletries for us to use thoughout our stay. There was plenty of room to put Finn’s travel cot.
I love the different lounges in The Swan and we made full use of the playroom, there was a TV, books and toys Finn loved it. Following the recent refurbishment there is now a pool table which is a lovely touch when staying as a family.
Every time we visit we always notice how warm and welcoming the staff are, every member of staff you pass will greet you and they always make time for conversation. If we ever have any requests I always feel like they go out of their way for you.
In the evening we ate at the Swan Inn and all of us really enjoyed our meals, I had the ‘on toasts’ to start which included various toppings like avocado, egg and capers. I then had the chicken and chorizo paella. Both were really tasty. Another thing I love about The Swan is the breakfast. There is a buffet with cereal, fruit, yogurt, pastries etc.. then there is a selection of cooked food to pick from.
We took advantage of the lovely weather on the Bank Holiday Monday to visit some of the local area before we headed home. The first place we visited was Hawkshead a lovely pedestriansed village. There are plenty of shops,cafes and pubs to visit. We then headed to Coniston, the lake here is stunning, defintrly worth a visit. We could have happily spent a day by the lake if we didn’t have to get back as there was so much going on.
At luch time we headed to Chesters by the River an amazing cafe, deli and shop. we sat on the terrace which has beautiul views over the river. My parents had stumbled across this the last time they were in the area, it was a bit out of the way for us to visit but was defintely worth it.
The last stop on our trip was Kirkby Lonsdale, to see the beautiful Ruskin’s view. this was well worth the drive and walk and I loved photographing such a stunning landscape.
I can’t wait for our next visit to the Lake District, which places do you love to visit when you are there?