Tag Archives: travel

Cultured Cuppa X Amsterdam

This year, my 22nd birthday musings took place in no better place: Amsterdam. Located in the north of The Netherlands, Amsterdam is a wonderful city to visit with tonnes to do and see for people of all ages, and you’re guaranteed some gorgeous sunshine too.

I stayed in Amsterdam from July 2nd– 5th and I travelled with Aerlingus to Schiphol airport; which is ideally located 20 minutes away from Amsterdam by bus (you can also take a train or taxi). Ryanair also offers flights to The Netherlands, however Ryanair fly’s to Eindhoven which is some distance away, and the cost of a train ticket almost equals that of the cost of an Aerlingus ticket to Schiphol.

Getting around

There are more bicycles than there are people in Amsterdam. Their transport system is so easy and eco-friendly that it would put ours to shame! The roads are quite wide; each road having separate lanes dedicated to cars, the tram, bikes, and pedestrians. There are even separate traffic lights for each lane, but be careful- it’s so easy to step onto the bicycle lane without looking! Bicycles can be rented all over the city and cost on average €15 per day. The more days you use the bike, the cheaper it becomes. If cycling isn’t your thing, the tram serves every part of the city and is super easy to navigate. On average it costs €2.50 to travel up to 10 stops, and the ticket can be re-used as many times as you like within one hour of purchase. Everything is generally within walking distance.

Bicycles by day

Bicycles by day

By day

Amsterdam is filled to the brim with things to do and see- not just the red-light district! The city has an abundance of museums to cater for all interests: The Diamond Museum, The Van Gogh Museum, Rembrandt House Museum, The Science Centre, The Anne Frank House, Rijksmuseum, The Weed Museum (yep), The Sex Museum, the Heineken Experience, The Zoo, and many more. Before going, I checked out prices online to budget myself and most places cost around €30 on average. However, it turns out that a lot of the websites are outdated and most places to visit range from €9 (Anne Frank House), to €20! (The Zoo: which also includes a planetarium, insectarium, butterfly garden, and an aquarium). If you don’t feel like being indoors, taking a lazy walk around the canals with a cold drink in hand is just as good. Street parties are a regular occurrence during the summer with lots of street vendors, performers, dance parties, and live art shows.

one of the many beautiful canals

one of the many beautiful canals

street performers

Street performers

street art

street art

street art

street art

am van gogh

Rijksmuseum

The Van Gogh Museum

The Van Gogh Museum

street art

street art

By night

My beautiful apartment (which I found via Hostelworld) was located in-between Vondelpark and Leidseplein, which was perfect for me. Leidseplein is the opposite side of the city to the red-light district, but nonetheless offers a huge variety of bars and clubs – and it’s a lot safer for two young girls to be. Whether it’s a bar crawl you’re after, a late-night rave, or a deep-house club, you’ll find it all in Leidseplein. If clubs and bars aren’t your thing, Vondelpark – which is quite like our own Phoenix park- is filled with beautiful lakes, tea rooms, and even an outdoor theatre that hosts free concerts throughout the summer. Drinking and smoking is allowed throughout the park and it’s a perfect chill-out spot to relax and let the world go by.

Grub and drink

Eating out is very much in vogue in Amsterdam, and the streets are packed with gorgeous and unique eateries so you’ll be spoiled for choice. Lunch on average costs no more than €12, and dinner was around €15. Alcohol is very cheap to buy in supermarkets: 4 bottles of Sol and 4 bottles of Stella Artois cost me less than €12. Some quieter clubs charge €2.50 for bottles/pints/glass of wine, where-as the more popular spots charge a minimum of €5 (which is still cheaper than here).

dapper amsterdam

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The weather

Like much of Europe last week we too experienced a heat wave. The only downside was the lack of air-conditioning, but most bars and shops offer refuge from the heat. Most days were in the mid 30’s, and night time temperatures didn’t drop below 20 degrees – so pack lightly. Overall, Amsterdam is one of the best city breaks I’ve ever taken, and I would highly recommend taking a visit!

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#EnjoyYourCity

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Generation: hostel

Hostelling has nearly always been interpreted as the ‘cheaper option’ when travelling, and more-so used as a resting spot with little regard for any alluring demeanour; until now. A new wave of cultural entertainment and comfort is transcending onto our booming tourist industry, as well as Dublin’s young and creative community: welcome to The Generator Hostel.

Situated in close proximity to the heart of the city, the hostel not only acts as a nirvana for weary heads, but as a live venue, a bar, a café, a cinema, and cultural hub. Mark Ward is the events coordinator at Dublin’s only Generator hostel in Smithfield, I met him to learn more about the growing global franchise. On arrival to the hostel I was immediately taken aback by what could only describe as an upscale-urban retreat; I was greeted by this large open space merged with rustic and natural materials that combined together beautifully. Mark was as equally cool and laid-back.

“The first was opened by an Irish guy in London in 1997. It ran for fifteen years successfully before an American firm invested 250 million euro to develop the hostel branch. There are now eight around Europe; with a further two more opening in Rome and Paris in January. Our Amsterdam venue will also open in two years’ time- that’ll be fun!”

Each property inherits its unique ambiance from its surroundings; the Smithfield Hostel shares a home with the old Jameson Whiskey Distillery, which is visible by its primitive anterior. Inside, red and copper bricks add a warm and homely feel to large open interior.

One thing that always catches visitors’ attention when they walk in is the unique Jameson chandeliers hanging in the café, “Jameson actually didn’t give us the chandeliers; we had to make them ourselves! They’re probably the most photographed thing in the building!”

The hostel is home to 550 beds making it the largest in Ireland, but staying is not an essential aspect of experiencing the Generator; “It’s somewhere different; we’re not a nightclub but we work work with external promoters and do one-off events where you can relax just enjoy yourself. We don’t want to draw in the typical “club-goer” crowed. It creates the kind of exposure we want and receives attention from the right people”. The hostel is also home to Smithfield’s own indoor monthly market with over 35 stalls- its lots of fun for all the family and is free of charge and a great way to see local produce.

The space is a great support system for local up-and-coming artists, musicians, and creative minds alike by providing a unique location to showcase their work; the most recent collaboration being between the Generator and urban brand, The Collective Dublin. “It’s a nice PR stunt and any showcase we can do for Le Cool or the local creatives like Block B and Block T we will try our best to support them.” Smithfield is slowly emerging away from the drug, and anti-social problems that once threatened the area; and is becoming a blossoming cultural nerve centre.

Smithfield

Smithfield

Fancy doing something different the weekend? You can take part in a guided bicycle tour of the city with the hostel for 3 hours at €15 per person- normally these run (or cycle) at €25 per person at city-centre locations!

#EnjoyYourCity

Cultured Cuppa

Social media:

Web: www.generatorhostels.com/en/

Facebook:.facebook.com/pages/The-Generator-Hostel

Twitter: Gen_Dublin

Instagram: GeneratorDublin

 

When in Rome

Everyone deserves a little bit of sunshine, but unfortunately this year I was very limited to where I could go, or what I could do, because of my back (I lived State side last Summer). Part of me was craving a relaxing holiday by the pool, but that aint what CulturedCuppa is about! I thought a city break would be ideal to try something new and explore new cultures without my back getting in the way.

Why Rome? For handiness sake it’s in the EU so no changing money; less stress, more success. Its only 2 hours forty minutes by plane from Dublin. It’s exceptionally hot- I am a sun worshiper. It is bursting with history and culture. It’s relatively cheap, but if you use your smarts- it’s really cheap. Rome seemed like a perfect option, and it was!

CULTURE

I was absolutely blown away by the raw beauty of the city. I was expecting it to be like any modern city with built up buildings and the likes- nope! Rome still holds its authentic beauty with white stone and marble buildings surrounded by the ruins of the ancient romans. It actually felt as though I stepped back in time. There is so much to see and do, and you could probably do it all in a long weekend, but I was glad I gave myself a week. It’s a hell of a lot of walking but sure when did that kill anyone? My one regret was not having a good camera, although my iPhone was sufficient. There are ancient artefacts and hidden treasures all over the city so it’s best to see it by foot rather than the Metro or a bus. If art is your thing you’ll be in the right place. Seeing a Salvador Dali or Michelangelo piece in real life is truly special. Rome can get uncomfortably hot but water is free from taps around the city and safe to drink, otherwise you could be paying three euro a bottle from water venders- no thanks.

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The Vatican City

rome

 GRUB

I died and went to pasta heaven. I am a food person although I might not look it! Italian has always been my go to meal (lasagne being my numero uno). If you want the authentic taste however, you do need to venture off the beaten tourist track. In saying that, I did find some gems along the busy streets too! Prices vary depending on where you dine. For instance if you eat by The Spanish Steps prices almost double; whereas if you head towards The Trevi Fountain and Via Natzionale you’ll get the same great food for half the price! An amazing traditional lasagne and roast olive oil and basil potatoes with wine (Grill and Wine- 2 minutes from the fountain) cost me twenty euros, and it was worth every bite. Fish is also very popular and fresh. All restaurants have outdoor seating too and is just fabulous at night time- but you need to get there early if you want an outside table.

Gorgeous traditional carbonara and just one of the many beautiful restaurants

Gorgeous traditional carbonara and just one of the many beautiful restaurants

GLAD RAGS

Just on front of the famous Spanish Steps lies a narrow street filled with the world’s finest boutiques and fine diamond jewellers. Luxury goods seemed to be the go-to-necessity in Rome and I was taken aback by the extraordinary amount of wealth in the city. You don’t dare go inside unless you are willing to spend money, but nonetheless the stores were very busy. My jealousy meter went off the scale. Further down from the ‘street of dreams’ are more shops that cater for a smaller budget like Nike, Adidas, ZARA and H&M. The stores offer a nice get away from the heat outside.

vanity

DAY TRIPS

Rome almost acts as a halfway house between North and South Italy- so there are a lot of day trips on offer. Pompeii has always been on my bucket list since I was little so I was beyond excited. Be warned though; travel expenses are not cheap. My train ticket was forty-three euro one way. There is a cheaper and longer train but tourists are advised not to get this because of the huge amount of gypsies and pickpockets around. Money aside; Pompeii is magnificent. Lying in the shadows of colossal Mount Vesuvius, Pompeii is quite a large city and takes around three hours to get around. Be sure to bring the sun block and a hat. If this isn’t your thing, visiting the beautiful island of Capri might be (who was recently visited by Mr Valentino himself). Full day tours are on offer from 132 euros by tour companies which include travel expenses and lunch but I found it cheaper to do it yourself- Just do your homework before hand so you don’t waste your own time. If you don’t have time for day trips outside Rome there is still tons to do in the city like see the wonders of The Vatican, the countless basilicas and the ancient ruins.

Pompeii

Pompeii

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kyakGOLDEN OLDIES

Okay so it’s not the roman equivalent of Ibiza, but Rome is jam-packed with bars and the odd few clubs if you head out of the tourist district. It’s not the go-to-place for mad nights out, but to be honest, you do so much during the day that a relaxing bottle (or three) of wine over-looking the Coliseum is exactly what the doctor ordered. HINT- there is an Ice bar just off Via Natzionale. Every Tuesday they have an all you can drink special for 20 euro. What adventure did you take on this Summer?

wine

Love,
CulturedCuppa x