Hotel AmicitiA

I’m dipping into my travel archives a little bit to recommend a truly unique experience for anyone looking to do Amsterdam on a budget!

If the thought of a regular hostel doesn’t quite float your boat, then the answer is simple: float on a boat at Hotel AmicitiA! Permanently docked right in the city centre, this hotel on water is the ideal location for tourists looking to cram as much of ‘Dam’s sights and culture in as possible, while also being part of the culture itself!

Hotel AmicitiA

The boat has two decks; the upper deck being a communal area with a few kitchen-y bits like a microwave and cutlery, and also a stocked fridge of drinks that has an honesty-box style donation pot. Its cosy and a great place to spend evenings playing games or utilising the free wifi. I spent a rainy afternoon curled up in an armchair, reading, writing and watching the world go by; I had the whole place to myself and it was perfect! There’s also a few toilets and access to the outside deck.

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The rooms make up the lower deck of the boat, accessible only by a very narrow flight of stairs – worth bearing in mind if you have large suitcases! Each cabin sleeps two people in built-in bunk beds, and also has a little sink and a bit of storage. They’re small, but if you’re spending all your time in your cabin then I think you’re doing something wrong, ha! At the end of the corridor, there are showers and toilets; they’re pretty small and the water pressure was a bit dodgy at times, but they do the job.

The hotel has a slightly unusual set-up when it comes to staff; for the duration of the day, there’s no staff aboard, and access to the boat is by a door code, with room keys left out on the desk in named envelopes. If you have any problems, there’s a contact number – I actually had to call it as I was having a problem with the door code and they were really helpful! The owner is around in the morning for breakfast, which is a Dutch/continental style buffet, and this is when you can sort out payment (cash only!) and checking out.

Overall Pros:

  • Great city centre location – right outside NEMO
  • Nearby underground public car park – I think I paid about €12.50 for 24 hours
  • A short walk from the train station and ferry terminal
  • Super rustic and full of character
  • Great for backpackers
  • Facilities like free wifi, microwave

Overall Cons:

  • Not really suitable for families
  • All bunk beds
  • No staff around during the day
  • Showers were a tad unreliable
  • Not ideal if you can’t stand swaying a little while trying to sleep!

I honestly loved this hotel; I know there were a few flaws but I had such a lovely relaxed time on the boat that I really didn’t mind the dodgy showers and small cabin. It was just such a unique and fun experience, and I would 100% recommend it to backpackers and budget travellers!

Would you sleep on a boat?

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Friday Favourite Five – My Europe Highlights

Aaannd I’m back to regular scheduling!

I would say you’ve heard the end of my European adventures, but I’m afraid that’s just not true because I’ve got a few more related posts up my sleeve, and as its Friday.. Wanna hear my favourite moments of my trip? (I am, of course, leaving Disneyland Paris out of this)

1. Mont St Michel

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This was always going to be a big part of my trip; its no secret how much I love Tangled, and being on the real site that inspired the most beautiful fairytale kingdom was really magical for me.

2. Neuschwanstein Castle

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Another from the bucket list, I truly fell in love with this castle, and seeing it in all its beauty truly made a difficult day a lot easier. I’d love to go back and see the inside!

3. Geneva

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I really wasn’t expecting to be blown away by a city rather than a landmark on this trip, but I had an amazing day in Geneva, and while I don’t think my heart could cope with driving the city again, I’d 100% return for a city break.

4. Chateau de Chillon

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This beauty was another place that I was looking forward to on this trip, but as well as living up to expectations, I was really impressed with it as a tourist destination; the access and information provided made it well worth the trip.

5. Amicitia

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I know it seems silly to choose a hotel as a highlight, but staying on a real canal boat in Amsterdam was great. I loved curling up in the cosy common area, and despite the small cabin, it was a real experience!

Lottie Does Europe: There and Back Again

Well good readers, thus ends my grand adventure in the great wide somewhere. This post is coming to you from somewhere along the journey home; my dad came out to meet me in Amsterdam this morning, so he’s the one driving at the moment!

As the title might suggest, I’m really feeling a whole lot like Bilbo Baggins right now. I’ve been on a truly life changing adventure, there was even a dragon at one point, but I’m also really looking forward to coming home, and a bit of normality.

If you’d told the person I was a year ago that I’d make this trip, I probably would have laughed in your face. An adventure, sure, but two weeks completely by myself? Yeah right. I was the person that wouldn’t sit in a cafe or restaurant by myself, let alone go on a road trip through several different countries!

As for today, after Dad met me in the city we drove to a small town called Delft to have a little look around and grabbed some lunch before heading to the ferry. We were basically the last ones to get onto the ferry due to running a little late, but it meant no waiting around so that was a bonus really. The ferry journey was long, but it had an onboard cinema, so we went to watch Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation and also The Martian, which took us pretty much up til we docked in Harwich, and now it’s just a case of back to Bournemouth!

No pictures today as its a late one and I’m using my phone data to post this, but normality resumes tomorrow, after I’ve had a bit of a lie in!
Really glad to be home 🙂

Lottie Does Europe: Canal Boats and Adventures

And I’m in Amsterdam!

After what I can only really describe as an ‘interesting’ night, I was all too happy to leave my hotel in Brussels nice and early to get on the road, and got into Amsterdam at around 11am. I’d done some research, and found a cheap 24hr stay underground car park that was fairly central to everything, as well as near my hotel, so headed there to leave my car and do the day on foot.

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First on the agenda was NEMO, the science centre. I’ve done my fair share of museums this trip, but I’ve been dying to find a science museum, I am my mother’s daughter after all! It was literally 2 minutes walk from the car park, and in that two minutes I also spotted my hotel, so I was really onto a winner. I would seem, however, that most of the schools and families in the area had had the same idea for their day, and the place was packed with noisy kids running around, but it was fab nonetheless. With 4 floors, I spent a good few hours walking around, trying the various experiments and activities; there was something for everyone from tots to teens to adults.

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Following that, I walked along the canal and stopped off for some lunch in a Starbucks (which isn’t a place I usually frequent, but it was cold and I needed a hot chocolate and a toastie) and stayed there a little while watching the boats in the canal. There seemed to be a few ‘hop on, hop off’ style canal boats going round, so I decided to go in search of one of these tours, heading for the main ferry terminal as my first stop. This, however, came to no avail, so I continued along the main stretch of water, towards the central bus and train station. Still no luck, so I kept walking.

Eventually, I realised I had been wandering the city for a few hours, seeing plenty of its beauty, but no closer to finding any of these tours. It was getting darker, there were ominous drops falling from the sky, and I wasn’t 100% sure where I was in relation to my hotel, so I decided it was probably time to start finding my way back. I went back to the car to get my things, and made my way back to the docks.

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Yes, the docks, because you see my hotel for the night is, in fact, a canal boat: AmicitiA. I have a little cabin on the lower deck, with bunk beds and a tiny porthole window, and the upper deck is a cosy common area, which I currently have to myself, watching the boats go by outside in the rain. I’m loving it, its going to be the perfect way to end my trip!

Lottie Does Europe: A Hanover Stop-over

The hotel I stayed at last night had the comfiest bedding. Like, I almost didn’t want to leave kind of comfy. Just wow.

But I did, and you know how I’ve said the last few days about it getting colder? Well this morning when I eventually left the cosy bed to leave Frankfurt, it was a chilly 3°C out. My drive to Hanover was, yet again, delayed somewhat by more motorway roadworks, and by the time I’d arrived, it had warmed up to a practically tropical 6°C; hello big coat!

I arrived at about 1pm, and with a growling stomach, so I was delighted to see a shining beacon of hope; a guarantee of good, reasonably priced food and one of my favourite places ever.. IKEA. I mean, it would be rude not to, right? Well I thought so, so lunch and a quick browse was on the cards.

Unfortunately, due to awful wi-fi at my last hotel, I hadn’t had a chance to look up anything to do with the rest of my day, so it was down to my trusty sat-nav to find me something. ‘Find Point of Interest’, ‘Near You’, ‘Tourist Attraction’, and hope for the best.. And it came up trumps: another zoo! I love zoos, so this being the second this trip really wasn’t a problem for me, plus it was only 15 minutes away from where I was, so hello zoo trip #2!

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This zoo was a little smaller, but more efficient; it probably had more animals than Mulhouse, but not as spread out, and the map came with a marked route to take so you didn’t miss anything out. It was a really well themed zoo too: each area was set up to look like the country of origin – Africa, Australia, India etc. This pretty much took up the rest of my afternoon, chilling with the animals. And chilling is the most appropriate word there, it was so cold that I’m afraid my hands were so busy trying to warm up in my pockets that there really weren’t a lot of photos today!

It’s so crazy to think that I’ve only got two full days left before I head home..

Lottie Does Europe: Bavarian Castles

So this morning I watched the sunrise as I crossed the border into Germany at about 8am; it was beautiful and poetic with the morning mist rolling down the hills and over the little towns.

But the skies soon became pure cloud as I drove deeper, and to me this only meant that I was getting closer to my destination; the sole reason my trip brought me to Germany..

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Neuschwanstein Castle.

The Bavarian beauty that has been inspiration for so many others, and for Walt Disney classic castle designs, as well as featuring in the Chitty Chitty Bang Bang film. Sat on the hillside, it towers over the valley and lake below, way up in the clouds.

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So it was a total rookie mistake on my part to plan this trip for a Saturday; I’d arrived at the ticket centre at about 11am, by which time all tickets until after 4pm had gone, and I wasn’t going to wait 5 hours for a tour. The great thing is though, you can still see the castle from the outside free of charge, and that includes walking into the castle and seeing the courtyards – its just the rooms of the castle that are only accessible by guided tour. The walk up to the castle (although you can take a bus or carriage) was a steep winding road, lined with autumnal forest on each side, occasionally broken up by mountain streams. That in itself was beautiful, and then you reach the castle..

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I was surrounded by loud tourists with selfie sticks, but I didn’t care because this view took my breath away. I walked all around it, and further up the mountain path to look out over the whole valley, and for the first time this year it really felt like Autumn was upon us; I was in my big coat and still a little chilly, and I could see my breath. After a while of aimless walking and admiring, I headed back down the path to the village, and across to the castle on the other side. Yes, one valley, two castles.

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This was the Hohenschwangau Castle. Again, because I didn’t want to queue all day for a ticket, I just walked the outside of this pretty yellow palace, admiring the gardens and fountains. I was glad I hadn’t waited to go up to Neuschwanstein, because by the time I’d made it up the steps to Hohenschwangau, the cloud had dropped so much you could hardly see the top of the castle.

After finishing up with the castles, I headed straight to my hotel in Stuttgart for the rest of the evening.

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This morning, at around 5.30am, my family suffered a great loss as my grandad left us. Its never easy, in fact its very hard, but it wasn’t a case of loosing a battle, his mind and soul have simply been freed from the body that was holding him back, and now he can move on to greater things. I’m taking comfort in knowing that now both my grandfathers are together; both free of suffering and both at peace. I love them both very much and they will always be in my heart, but now they are with God.

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Lottie Does Europe: Chateau de Chillon

Real quick one tonight guys and gals as today has mainly be spent driving!

Another up and go kind of morning, back into Switzerland to drive to the main reason I wanted to visit Switzerland: Le Chateau de Chillon.

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Look familiar? Well that would be because its been re-created in Disney animation magic, as it was the inspiration for Prince Eric’s castle in The Little Mermaid!

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The castle itself was built on rocks just off the shore of the lake, a natural stronghold with stunning surroundings, and I spent a good few hours exploring every nook and cranny! Despite looking surprisingly small from the outside, every room/courtyard/tower is packed with history, as well as information about it. You can pay a little extra for an audioguide, but the paper guide they gave me was great; it showed routes for you to take through all the areas, as well as information corresponding with each room.

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It was truly stunning from every angle, and the perfect weather only added to the beauty!

And with that I was back on the road for the long drive to Zurich for the night! Because I’m skipping all toll roads, it was just over 5 hours, and I arrived starving hungry, so after finding my hotel, first on the agenda was finding a supermarket to buy some dinner, so I got a little wander of the city in too. Tomorrow I’ll be leaving Switzerland for Germany, and another castle! Good night!