Basel → Brussels → Amsterdam
Hey guys, hopefully you’ve seen my interrail journey part one post. If not please click here.
This blog post features the last 3 destinations- Basel, Brussels and Amsterdam.
(P.S All photos are mine unless credited to another source)
Basel, Switzerland, was the one I was most excited for as Liam’s Grandad is Swiss and raves about it!
Our train journey from Vienna to Basel was absolutely stunning. We drove through quaint little towns, beautiful countrysides and even mountains. You can see some photos below.
Once we got to Basel, we checked into our apartment. Believe me, it was luxury compared to the 3 hostels that we stayed in. I was very pleased to get a couple of really good nights sleep.
The next morning, we began to explore the city. Some of you, like me, may not have heard of Basel before. I really didn’t know what to expect from this city, however it turned out to be my favourite by far!
We saw plenty of beautiful houses on our travels, I just love the carved shutters and colourful brickwork.
The first attraction on our list was the Basel Minster. It adds definition to the cityscape with its red sandstone architecture and coloured roof tiles, its two slim towers and the cross-shaped intersection of the main roof. It’s so much bigger than it looks here, it was hard to get it all in one photo!
Next we had a little walk along the Rhine. We were so lucky with the weather this day, it made the walk even more beautiful.
How gorgeous are these pastel houses?
I then dragged Liam to the Kunstmuseum Art Gallery which houses the largest and most significant public art collection in Switzerland. There were some really famous pieces by Picasso, Van Gogh, Mondrian and Warhol.
Next, we went into the modern side of the city which features some really unique buildings and statues. This semi-circle building is home to the a Bank but it looks like it should be a contemporary art gallery instead.
Then there was this really quirky moving sculpture.
Our final site in Basel was St. Johanns-Tor (St. Johanns Gate). It is one of the three surviving entrance gates to the old mediaeval walled city, which formed part of the fortifications.
I wish we had a bit more time in Basel as there were a few things we didn’t have time for. It would’ve been nice to escape from hostels for a bit longer too!
I would definitely recommend Basel to anyone looking for a cultural trip in Europe.
Brussels was our next stop, but we had heard from people in previous hostels that it’s not the nicest of cities. So, we didn’t have very high expectations.
Our hostel room was nice and we got on really well with the 4 girls we were sharing with which created a nice atmosphere. We all went to a bar together on our first night and had a lot of beer!
The next day, and slightly worse for wear, we headed to the city centre. We passed an awesome interior shop called La Fabrika, which had the coolest window display. So, obviously I had to stop and take a photo. They sold the famous Eames chairs along with lots of quirky, contemporary pieces.
The first building we visited was La Monnaie, an Opera house in central Brussels. It is a beautiful building that looks quite out of place in it’s surroundings.
We were now right in the heart of Brussels Old Town, in the city’s main plaza (known as Grand Place). Many of the buildings feature gold gilding, making them shine in the sun. There was a concert happening in this square later on this day, so we managed to catch a glimpse of the rehearsals.
We kept walking past traditional Belgian waffle shops, they were so tempting that I had to buy one. Obviously decided to get one covered in chocolate!
We also managed to spot a few TinTin references in the city too, here’s one example of a TinTin wall mural (sorry for the awful photo quality, I had to take the photo from across the road!). If you don’t already know, TinTin is a fictional Belgian detective who featured in a comic book series from 1929-1976.
Next, we headed over to the Mont des Arts. In 1910, the King ordered the landscape architect Pierre Vacherot to design a ‘temporary’ garden on the hill. It featured a park and a monumental staircase with cascading fountains descending the gentle slope from Palace Royal down to the Boulevard. However, the garden is still there today and has been a well-appreciated green area in the heart of the capital.
We sat at the top of the steps for a wile, it is a great place to relax and catch your breath.
The Royal palace really took my breath away as it was so dominating.It is the official palace of the King and Queen of Belgium, however, it is not currently used as a royal residence.
Saint-Michel Cathedral was the next landmark on our list. The Catholic Cathedral is a beautiful 11th Century Gothic building which is stood above an impressive flight of steps. There is a beautiful park in front of it too, which featured trees with beautiful orange leaves.
We had the most amazing meal at the Jardin Van Gogh, although we felt very underdressed in our interrail gear. I had salmon on a bed of spinach (with a few Brussels sprouts of course!) and Liam had moules marinière. My body definitely needed something healthy after a week of junk food and snacks.
Overall, we weren’t very impressed with Brussels because the area we were staying in was very run down. However, I would love to see the Atomium, Brussels’s best known sculpture, but it was too far from our hostel.
We stared our Amsterdam adventure with a trip to Wagamama. We are both big fans of this restaurant, so we thought it would be a good way to start the trip.
After checking into our hostel, we started to head over to the canals. The houses are really interesting and beautiful, with gorgeous red brick and colourful shutters.
It was a grey, gloomy day so the photos are quite dark. However, it did give some atmosphere to the images.
We managed to catch a glimpse of the Anne Frank House, however, it was closed for Yom Kippur! Luckily we got a chance to go in the next day instead. If you go to Amsterdam, you should definitely give this a visit as it is a really powerful and emotional experience.
We stumbled upon an interesting building called De Waag, which used to be a gate within the city walls. It now houses a cafe, restaurant and exhibition space.
What is one of the most famous photo point in Amsterdam? Its the I amsterdam sculpture.
Unfortunately, we were there on a Saturday so we could hardly see all the letters unless we stood far away. I really like this sculpture as it is fun and draws a lot off attention from tourists and residents alike.
The sculpture sits in front of the gorgeous Rijksmuseum building. The museum has 8,000 objects on display, from their total collection of 1 million. Among which are some masterpieces by Rembrandt, Frans Hals, and Johannes Vermeer.
The Van Gogh Museum sits in the same grounds, however, it is a far smaller and more contemporary building.
We also managed to catch a glimpse of a Polo match, which was taking place on the lawn. We were not expecting to see this today, but it was something a bit different to do.
On our final day, we took a trip up the A’DAM lookout tower, which happened to be next door to our hostel. The view from the top of the building was amazing, you could see from the River IJ to the other side of the city.
There is a swing on this rooftop so you can dangle your leg over the side of the building.
You also get a perfect view of the roof of Amsterdam central station, which features the word ‘Amsterdam’ in capital letters. Here are a couple of photos:
As it was a much sunnier day, we had another wonder around the canals. The image below is my favourite as the colours in the buildings really pop.
When we headed back to the train station, we passed this beautiful tiled mural in a tunnel. It mimics the beautiful Dutch Delft ceramics.
We had our final meal in Burgerij, a unique burger restaurant in the Central Station. There were some really interesting burgers on the menu, like my choice, Salmon Samurai. It included a salmon fillet, seaweed, ginger and wasabi.
I would recommend Amsterdam, but you don’t need to go there for long. We got to see pretty much everything we had planned within 2 days.
Well there you have it. Our first holiday was a success and we are currently thinking of places for our next holiday. I’d love to hear your recommendations in the comments.
Hope you enjoyed this post,