When a student breaks up for the summer they usually have high expectations of what is to come over the next 3-4 months, then there is the sudden realisation that they have in fact maxed out their overdraft. I was in this same sad situation. However, over the summer of 2013 I found a solution and it came in the form of a big blue bus with a podgy man dressed in yellow on the side- Megabus. By using this incredible service I was able to travel to and from Amsterdam for the extremely small fee of £30, and the only thing between me and my Dutch adventure was an 11 hour journey. Despite delays the whole endeavour went fairly quick, due to travelling with a bunch of my excited girlfriends. Being a group of poor students we were all low on funds, so we decided a hostel was the best choice of accommodation, and so we stayed in an all female one, entitled Hostelle, which was a 20 minute metro ride into town.
Amsterdam is one of the most beautiful cities I've ever visited, with every corner having something new to discover. The cleanliness for a major city was also something that was noticed and admired by me and my travel buddies. In the 3 days we spent there we packed in as much as possible, the diversity was pretty epic, one minute we would find ourselves checking out the fake willies on display at a sex museum and the next we were paying our respects to Anne Frank and all those whose lives were turned upside down in World War 2. The Anne Frank Museum was a massive eye opener, visitors are given the opportunity to visit the actual house where Anne was forced to hide for two years, and even see the bookcase which hid their secret Annexe. The house is littered with information points and videos by her nearest and dearest, offering more intimate details of what Anne Frank was like as a young girl growing up in such a chaotic time.
One of the most weird parts of the city is the Red Light District, prostitution is legal and regulated in Holland, and is one of the biggest cultural shocks I have ever experienced. Girls are standing proudly scantily clad in the middle of windows, lit up by an invasive red colour, beckoning passing tourists to come in with the wiggle of their finger. For prudish British people, Amsterdam's completely open nature to sex is something that can make you feel quite uncomfortable. Tourists are also offered the chance to see a sex show and shop at their many sex shops.
During our jam packed trip, we paid a visit to the Amsterdam sign where people climb all over the various letters hoping to take home the most unique picture they can. I found it one of the best places to people watch ever. On another day we took a trip to the infamous Amsterdam Zoo, which was huge, and it was not difficult to get lost amongst the large amount of wildlife showcased here. You also cannot go to Amsterdam without taking a trip on the canals which cover the city. It was great to view the city from an alternative prospective after being on foot all week. Although we didn't have time to hire bikes to travel around one of Europe's favourite cities it is another great option to consider, I've heard it is a lot of fun.
Overall, it was a fantastic trip which cost under £100 for hostel and travel, and I would definitely recommend not only Amsterdam, but the Megabus to all looking for a similar experience. If you were to also consider an unforgettable holiday this summer on the cheap, Amsterdam is not the only cheap destination the Megabus offers but it also travels to France, Belgium, Ireland, Germany, Scotland and Wales. Although, I would warn that the return journey is a lot less fun, and all we wanted to do was crawl back into our own beds for a well needed long sleep.* What did you do this summer?