BAGLADY IN AMSTERDAM
All aboard the beautiful canals and cobbled streets of Amsterdam, likely the dopest place in the whole of Europe, and no, it’s not because getting stoned on dope is in fact legal to do here. Albeit solely permitted to designated coffee shops and bars littered across the city.
Many travellers deem this an A class perk to their visit for the sheer pleasure of smoking their way through an A-Z of marajuana from across the globe, or for some, to window shop in the red light district to view or consume scantily clad female displays of a sexual nature. It is quite a spectacle to see and not necessarily for the faint hearted, so be sure to avoid this area if you are visiting with children. Others however, visit to savour the cultural, social and architectural beauties of this place. Not least because of the beautiful boats and barges that fill the countless canals that entertwine throughout the city, weaving a seemless stream between the cobbled streets. It’s literally cheap as chips to book an extended weekend break or holiday here with flights starting as little as £34 each way with British Airway. Thus, many a hen nights, stag do’s, girl trips and romantic breaks are to be had here. Depending on your likes and dislikes, the city is filled with low to high end hotels to suit every budget from as little as £127 per night at the Hotel Ibis, to £611 per night at the Waldorf Astoria.
This being my third trip to Amsterdam over the years, I chose to embark in luxury and spend an extended weekend at the five star Grand Hotel Amrath. Situated a short walk from the centre of Amsterdam where one can wonder the streets for afternoon strolls, shop till one drops at the many department stores and universal favourites like Zara and H&M. Take a tram ride at your pleasure as they are frequent and on time and a good way to get around the city to sample some the best cuisines from across the globe.
My personal fave has to be the Caribbean and Colombian infused flavours of Plato Loco Caribbean Cuisine, located at Rombout Hogerbeetsstraat. Do not leave without trying their empanadas, I guarantee you will want to take a few back to your hotel for afters. If you’re also looking for a posh puff, the uptown styled Manhattan Bar on George Gershwinlaan is the place to be with the city slickers who fancy a chilled out evening comprising of good music, cocktails and of course, marijuana. Although you can smoke at this bar, they do not sell the substance so be sure to grab a bag or two from any of the coffee shops along the road. A gentle reminder that if you do choose to partake in such activities, do ensure you adhere to the smoking laws and by no means attempt to bring a bagged souvenir with you on your return through customs – A pair of clogs or key ring will do.
My top tip to get the most of the city during a short stay, is most definitely to take yourself on a canal or bus tour through the city with the latter stopping off at some the most interesting points in the city such as the blindingly blinging Diamond Museum, and the Heineken and Van Gogh Museums. All in all it will probably be one your best extended weekend break or holiday you will take and I’m sure like me you will be returning soon.
NEW YORK, NEW YORK, NEW YORK
I fell in love with New York when I fell in love with HipHop at the tender age of 13, during a six week vacation with the maternal parental’s side. I took my first bite of the forbidden Big Apple and I must confess, I haven’t looked back since. Such was the formidable influence of the city on me during my six weeks stay, I returned to London embalmed in oversized jeans, a Yankee twang, and Nike kicks to match.
On my second visit ten years later, I was duly welcomed by the city that drew me in as a teen. I Carrie Bradshawed my way through the fashion boutiques in Queens, Baby Phated my lil a$$ off hoarding matching shoes and bags and ate my way to glutinous utopia – Everyone knows the food in New York City is to die for, no literally, like you ‘can’ die, but the heavenly sensuous feelings your tastebuds get from near enough any well recommended restaurants – whether it be regular Chinese from the local take away, Bubba Gump Shrimp, or pancakes at iHop – everything tastes like heaven on a heart attack inducing platter.
I was well overdue another trip to reignite my Empire State of mind in the city that never sleeps, for at least we firmly have this commonality – for I too am of the nocturnal ilk. Upon approaching my third visit last month, a further ten years after the previous, I knew the treasures that lay before me and gleed like an inquisitive teen through the anticipation of the familiar, or so I thought.
Of all my visits this would be the shortest, a mere three days, but it turned out to be the three coldest Days of Our Lives and I was literally thrust into Another World of oblivion upon departing JFK. Bar the soap opera references, it was January, it was snowing, and everyone knows, Rudolf visits every year with Santa – ( Yes he does, because I like many have an 8 year old to deceive so bare with me here)
New York is renowned for its pretty white Christmas’ almost every year. I’d only ever visited in the summer and autumn but I was to learn very quickly, the true definition of WINTER. It was the coldest temperatures I have felt since watching Titanic. I can only liken it to when the gorgeous Leonardo Di Caprio froze to death as the ever loving Jack, saving dear Rose after the Titanic hit the freezing iceberg and sank the ship into the deep depths of oblivion in the North Atlantic Ocean. In the words of R’n’B singer Omarion, there was now an ‘Ice Box’, where my heart used to be.
My saving ‘Jack’ came in the form of my luxurious residence at the only oceanfront hotel in Long Beach, the Allegria Hotel. A hotel known to many as the hotel where, ‘Manhattan meets the Hamptons’ and I agree wholeheartedly. From the food, to the exquisite interior designs, gymnasium and rooftop pool, there’s not much else more one could want for here – apart from a real life ‘Jack’ to share it with.
I hope upon my next visit, I can have my heart melt and sink for my own ‘Jack’, to indeed share the ‘freezing ass minus fiddy degrees’ temperatures with, but until next time, I still Love you New York!