Going Dutch: Travelling Solo in Amsterdam
Amsterdam is one Europe's great cities and only a forty-five-minute plane journey from my home town, so a visit was long overdue.
As a solo traveller who hadn't been abroad for a few years so was a bit anxious as to what to expect, or what to do once I got there.
That said, one of the benefits of flying solo is you can pick and choose exactly where you stay and what you do without any debate or negotiations.
Once I'd landed at Schiphol Airport and collected my luggage the anxiety subsided, and a tingle of excitement rushed over me as my trip was now officially underway.
The thing that immediately strikes you about Amsterdam is the advanced level of spoken English which made buying train tickets and food a lot easier, and generally, puts you at ease.
My ticket from Schiphol to Amsterdam Centraal Station cost €5.20 (£4.50/$5.94) and took about twenty minutes, the train was spacious and could comfortably accommodate passengers and luggage.
Upon leaving Centraal Sation the trams are right in front of you, a travel card is a no-fuss way of touring the city and is valid on trams, buses and metros, prices start at €7.50 (£6.50/$9.00) and last between 1-7 days.
I checked in at the Hampshire Hotel-Eden Amsterdam just off Rembrandtplein (Rembrandt Square) or tried to, my room wasn't ready, and the concierge was nowhere to be seen.
The four-star hotel cost £193 ($254) for two nights, the cost was something I had to contemplate for a while, but the location convinced me.
It was a five-minute tram journey from Amsterdam Centraal, within walking distance from Centrum and De Wallen (lively city districts).
Anne Frank Museum
Once I dropped off my luggage, I decided to jump into a taxi and headed for my first destination, Anne Frank's House, which took about fifteen minutes in a taxi from my hotel.
The house has been a museum since May 1960, and since then, just over 32 million people have passed through the historic doors; the museum gets 1.2 million visitors each year, mostly overseas tourists.
So it would make sense to book your tickets well in advance...which I hadn't.
This is one of those occasions I was delighted to be travelling alone as ticketless people were advised to come back at 3 pm, so I had a couple of hours to kill.
I decided to go for a drink and stumbled across Café De Gouden Florijn, which is an old pub with wooden facades, it was showing soccer from the UK and was very tight and cosy, they also had iPhone chargers, which I was in desperate need.
I went back to the museum, and the queues were, literally, around the corner. I was only there for a short period and couldn't spend hours queueing up outside, so left to get something to eat.
Three pieces of advice when visiting the Anne Frank Museum: Book in advance, book in advance, book in advance.
An adult ticket costs around £8.00 ($10.50) for adults and £3.90 ($5.00) for 10-17-year-olds (0-9-year-olds are free).
Horrible Histories - The Torture Museum
With my Anne Frank tour a bust, I decided to indulge in Amsterdam's painful past and visit the Torture Museum, which delves into the world of medieval punishments.
The museum has over 40 “instruments of punishment” from different parts of Europe, the special penalties devised by lawyers for the crimes of witchcraft and heresy.
Admission is €7.50 for adults (£6.50/$8.60) and €4.00 (£3.50/$4.60) for children and is differently worth visiting and is only a five-minute walk from Rembrandt Square.
One of the issues I have when travelling alone is what to do at night, during the day I'm comfortable enough to sight-see, dine and hang out by myself.
The evening is different, however, as you see groups of friends and couples setting off to enjoy Amsterdam's famous nightlife.
I'm not a social butterfly who can meet people on my travels and have an instant rapport with strangers who then invite me out for a drink or a bite to eat. So, I decided to get some food and head back to my hotel room around 7 pm.
After a solid night's sleep I went down for breakfast, the Hampshire Hotel had a decent selection of food to choose from in their large dining area.
On my itinerary for the day was a trip to the Heineken Experience which is an interactive tour around the beer giants former brewery.
This was a brilliant and a must when visiting Amsterdam; the tour is part guided part self-exploration with different rooms, friendly, knowledgeable staff and three free beers.
Heineken offer a series of tours, the brewery tour costs €16.00 (£13.90/$18.30), the VIP tour is again guided but includes two extra free beers, snacks and a personalised bottle of Heineken, this tour is priced at €49.00 (£42.50/$56.00).
Then there's the Rock the City Tour which involves the brewery tour, followed by a 45-minute boat trip around Amsterdam ending at Amsterdam Tower for panoramic views of the city, and for only €25.00 (£21.70/$28.60) is great value and would be fun for a group of friends.
De Klassieker - Ajax v PSV Eindhoven
After a few free drinks and some more food, it was off to the Amsterdam Arena for one of Dutch football's (soccer's) biggest games, Ajax Amsterdam v PSV Eindhoven.
For me, Ajax has been romanticised by their 1995 Champions League winning team who I saw beat AC Milan when I was ten years old.
A match ticket cost €65.00 (£56.40/$74.30) and includes an Ajax scarf, food and drink are available in the stadium too. The stadium is surrounded by bars and restaurants and next to a shopping centre with an indoor market.
The following day it was time for me to leave, I had time for a cup of tea and a look around the shops before using the last day on my travel card to get back to Schiphol Airport.
While some aspects of my solo journey were enjoyable, some parts would undoubtedly have better shared with others, and I did think this wasn't an experience I'd be repeating in a hurry.
That said, seven months have passed since my trip, and I'm considering doing it again, somewhere new, Berlin perhaps?