Exploring Amsterdam

Earlier this year I finally got to visit one of the cities on my bucket list – Amsterdam. With its unique brick architecture, countless bridges and maze of canals, Amsterdam has long been a tourist hot spot in Europe with many attracted to what this cultural city has to offer. With something in store for everyone, here’s my top things to see and do whilst visiting:

 

The Heineken Brewery

One of Amsterdam’s most popular attractions, the Heineken experience, is located in the original Heineken brewery which has been transformed into an interactive tour. I’ve visited many brewery’s around the world but the Heineken brewery has so far been the best for me! The brewery itself is no longer in use but this tour combines the history of Heineken and brewing, with a look at Heineken and their advertising in the modern world. But most importantly…free beer!

 

Canals

With over 60 miles of canals and nearly 1500 bridges, Amsterdam really is the Venice of the north! The ring of canals in Amsterdam has recently been added to the list of UNESCO world heritage sites and is the perfect place to get your stereotypical Amsterdam Instagram photo. If taking pictures on land isn’t your thing then there’s an array of boat trips to choose from for as little as €15. Head to the Jordaan, if your looking for the more picturesque canals and you can stop at one of the many indie shops and boutiques located there whilst your at it!

 

Food, food, food.

If your anything like me then your favourite thing about exploring a new country is trying the local food! You may have heard of stroopwaffles from the great British bake off, but in Amsterdam you can find these heavenly gooey treats being sold freshly baked, and they definitely make the perfect snack to nibble on whilst you’re taking in the sights. If stroopwaffles don’t do it for you, then ‘proffertjes’ definitely will! You’ll find proffertjes, which are fluffy mini pancakes, being sold at many street food stalls and they’re often accompanied by sugar, cream, butter, syrup or strawberries; it’s hard to resist this bite sized treat! If you’re feeling adventurous, then you could try the Dutch delicacy of ‘Hollandse Nieuwe’, which is raw herring served with raw onions and gherkins, which doesn’t sound the most appealing dish but is proven to be popular with tourists willing to try new things. But if you’re a fussy eater it’s probably best to play it safe and stick to the Amsterdam favourite – chips and mayonnaise!

 

Museum time

Amsterdam has some of the best museums in the world, and with over 40 museums you’ll definitely find a museum for you. The biggest and most well known museum in Amsterdam is the Rijksmuseum; the dutch national museum. Here you can a mix of both history and art, hosting some of the worlds most famous artists. But if you’re a lover of the famous Dutch artist Van Gogh you wont find your fix here…head over to the Van Gogh museum which hosts the largest collection of Van Gogh paintings and drawings in the world. If you’re not interested in art, history or museums in general then there might museum there which will change your opinion…the sex museum located in the red light district. This place is definitely not one for the shy or prude, and perfect if your up for a laugh! If none of these museums take your fancy then maybe the house of one of history’s most well known figures will – Anne Frank’s house. The house is located along the Prinsengracht canal and is house in which Anne and her family hid from nazi persecution during World War II. Here you can learn more about Anne and experience her life story with audio guiding. Even if you’re not into history it is most definitely worth a visit!

 

‘Tulips from Amsterdam’

When exploring a new city I can’t resist the opportunity for the perfect ‘instagrammable’ photo, and in Amsterdam you are spoilt for choice with the beautiful scenery. The Netherlands are famous for their tulips and in Amsterdam you can’t go 500 meters without seeing them being sold somewhere, but the most beautiful display of their national flower can be seen in the Keukenhoff gardens located a 40 minute drive outside the city centre. The floral displays are out of this world, and the best time to visit is mid-April to early May when the flowers are in full bloom. Unfortunately when I visited the flowers outside hadn’t bloomed due to a cold winter, so I was only able to get photos of the indoor displays. However if you search the gardens on google images you can see how amazing they are in full bloom.

If you don’t fancy the travel to Keukenhof gardens, then the floating flower market in Amsterdam is your next best option! Located along the Singel canal the market is made up of floating house boats, which have been turned into stalls. The market is amass with fresh cut flowers, specifically tulips, as well as the odd souvenir shop. A good stall to visit is the first market along the floating market which is exceptionally picturesque as it has hundreds of bunches of dried flowers hanging from the ceiling creating a colourful and innovative display. Apart from the beautiful scenery you can buy every colour and variety tulip bulb to take back home and brighten up your garden!

 

Amsterdam is such a vibrant city, and there’s so many things to see and do whilst there. My guide has only briefly listed some of my favourite things from when I visited but needless to say you’ll never run out of new things to do there. Amsterdam deserves so much more than the outdated reputation many hold of it due to the red light district and ‘coffee shops’, so why don’t you give it a go and get your own opinion on this quirky and picturesque city!

Have you got any tips for must see places whilst visiting Amsterdam?

Laura 

Staying Safe in Summer 

If your anywhere near as pale as me then you’ve probably had your fair share of sunburn. As I’ve grown older I’ve realised how important it is to look after you skin, and that ‘bright red lobster’ look is definitely not ok. Whether your a beach bum, or just enjoy soaking up the lovely British sun (on the rare days we get it), follow my tips to stay protected and keep your skin on top form!

 

Check Your Rays

Most people buy suncream only in regards to the level of SPF it contains, however it is important to also check if it protects against UVA and UVB rays. Not all suncreams protect against UVB rays, which can also cause skin cancer. So to make sure your protected get a suncream that covers both.

 

Don’t Get Star Struck

Only recently I discovered that two suncreams with the same SPF may not have the same protection level. All suncreams should have a UVA star rating on the back, however two suncreams of the same SPF level may have very different UVA star ratings. Some well known brands have been shown to have a lower UVA star rating than supermarket own brands so it’s important to check the back of the bottle before you buy!

 

Scorching Scalp

One problem I have always faced on holiday due to my fair skin is getting a sunburnt scalp. This issue is easily avoided by wearing a hat, but if you’re like me and prefer to show off your beachy waves then you may end up with a seriously sore head. I’ve always suffered with this issue on holiday, until recently when I discovered Malibu Clear Hair and Scalp Protector SPF30. At only £3.49 it’s an absolute steal, and I will no longer have to suffer from my sore scalp on holiday! A few sprays on your hair parting and your all set to go and enjoy the sun safely.

 

Acne Aggro

Most conventional sun creams don’t suit acne prone skin, and can cause breakouts which is the last thing you want when you’re on holiday! However suncreams are evolving from their thick, white, pore clogging past and there are now many ranges that offer lightweight non-comedogenic suncreams which will leave your skin feeling fab. One of my favourites is La Roche-Posay Anthelios Clear Skin Dry Touch Sunscreen SPF 60, which contains perlite silica to absorb oil throughout the day, keeping your skin fresh and matte; it also works brilliantly under foundation. In addition it is also important to use a good cleanser to remove all sunscreen residue every night regardless of whether they’re are non-comedogenic or not.

 

Moisturise, Moisturise, Moisturise. 

You can’t undo damage, but you can assist your skins repairing process by stepping up your after sun care. Being in the sun can dehydrate you, but products that contain Aloe Vera are perfect to help rehydrate your skin after sun exposure, and soothe any sun burn that may have occurred. It’s important to reapply products up to three times a day because not only does this help your skin retain its integrity and moisture, but also helps prevent the dreaded skin peeling. After-sun should be an essential part essential part of your sun care routine as it delivers antioxidants which help combat free radicals that are caused from UV exposure, and will also help your tan to last longer. Malibu ultra hydration lotion is a moisturiser as well as an after-sun lotion so it’s well worth purchasing to keep your skin looking as good as ever after you’ve been in the sun!

Just because you want to be a bronzed goddess does not mean you should permanent damage your skin in the process. Sun exposure causes premature aging and many well known celebrities, such as Madonna, will not leave the house without slapping on the SPF. The best way to stop photoaging is prevention, and the best anti-aging cream is SPF moisturiser! So if you want to remain youthful, then be proactive with your sun care routine and reach for bottle of Fake Bake instead.

What’s your favourite tips to stay safe in the sun?

Laura