Monday, 27 August 2018

Amsterdam Travel Guide

Post Updated on 01/07/2020

Amsterdam is a city I would happily return to time and time again. It's filled with so much gorgeous scenery, a bit of history (which I'm always a fan of), and a vibrant and fun centre. I've currently visited Amsterdam 3 times but I would still love to go back whenever I can! I can't quite place my finger on what it is, specifically, that appeals about Amsterdam but it's a place that whenever I go I feel so happy. I love wandering around the little streets and admiring everything that I pass. 

After my exams, some of my friends and myself flew out there for several days and I think it was one of the best holidays I've ever had. Amsterdam is such a chilled city but it has the perfect mix of fun and unique things to do whilst not being too hectic and wild - it's the perfect mix of relaxed but busy and I just love it as a place! I cannot rave about it enough and it's definitely worth a visit when travel is allowed again!

Perhaps one of the main reasons and most obvious attractions to visit is Anne Frank's House. This was my second visit but both times have been so utterly worth it. It's quite a harrowing, overwhelming and shocking experience and the house and museum really do make you reflect upon your own life and how lucky we are. Both times I've been struck by just how tiny the house is and it's amazing to think how many people lived there without seeing the outside world for such a long time, and sadly, how once discovered they didn't make it. It's an attraction that warrants a visit when in Amsterdam and it's such an important part of the world's history.

The area surrounding the house is one of my favourite parts to Amsterdam and the Pancake House opposite does amazing food! The streets surrounding the house are full of independent shops that are lovely to have a browse around and on a sunny day, the whole street is gorgeous!

You will never get very far in Amsterdam without seeing water as its canals are everywhere! Wherever you find yourself in the city you will most likely be able to see some water, and if not, maybe you're not in Amsterdam anymore! Taking a boat ride was one of the first things we did when we'd hopped off the plane and it was the perfect way to establish what we wanted to see and do whilst soaking in the sights (and sun) of the city. It was the perfect way to get a bit more information about the city and it's such a gorgeous place to sit and watch the world go by as you admire the view from the boat.

This part of Amsterdam is always bustling with tourists and there are so many museums in this area to choose from. As we were classed as students, most of the museums offer free entry so we took full advantage of this and we were able to pick and choose which museums we wanted to look at without having to worry about the price. The Rijksmuseum is probably the main museum in Amsterdam and it is huge! There are so many exhibitions and artwork throughout that you could easily spend an entire day in there and not even cover all of it. We also took a trip to the Van Gogh museum which was pretty cool. Again, it offers free entry for students and we were able to go wherever inside. I loved seeing the timeline of Van Gogh's life and his actual paintings in the flesh. Sadly, you're not allowed to take photos of them inside, though I did manage to take a sneaky pic of the sunflower painting when no-one was looking! If you're a fan of art then both of those museums are well worth the visit!

This deserved a recommendation all to itself as it's just so wacky but also kind of brilliant. It's such a fun museum with all sorts of information, videos, pictures and interactive exhibits to gawp at! The tickets are only 5 euros and you will definitely have a giggle inside. The museum, though small, is absolutely packed with information and sex memorabilia from across the ages with all sorts of weird, wacky and wonderful sex extras! One of the bits I found the most interesting were the chastity belts for women, they just seem so absurd nowadays! Oh and the background noises really make the museum come to life and you're greeted by a lovely flashing man as you enter as he tries to grab you! It's a hilarious experience and such good fun!

Regardless of where you end up in Amsterdam, the city is stunning! There are so many places to explore and I love how wacky and vibrant the city and its attractions are. There really is something for everybody as you can visit and appreciate all the culture and history of the city or you can experience some of the more unique and wild things Amsterdam has to offer! It's got just the right amount of quirky and beauty that makes me always love a trip to this city!

Have you been to Amsterdam? What places do you recommend?

Thursday, 16 August 2018

13 Lessons I Learnt in Year 13

Seen as it's A-Level results day and having completed my A-Levels and am off to my top uni in September (!!!) I thought a fun little list post of some of the realities and experiences that I've had across those couple of years would be nice to look back on in the future.

1. No matter how much you like a subject there will be parts of it you will come to hate eventually if not all of it.
2. You won't remember that homework for later - just write it down.
3. The AOs will haunt you for the rest of your life.
4. You're gonna have to answer that question in Spanish even if you have no idea what was just said cause you're the only person there.
5. Don't try and take 4 A-levels - you lasted a week with Maths.
6. The common room is always a distraction - if you want to work go somewhere else.
7. Don't cram revise, you've tried too many times and it doesn't work.
8. New stationery, whilst nice, is not a motivator to revise.
9. There is way too much content to learn in History.
10. Don't study the wrong book in English.
11. It's not that bad if you get something wrong.
12. Some people are idiots and you've just got to accept that.
13. If you work hard now, it'll all be worth it in the summer and on results day!

A-levels were, being completely honest, both a good and bad time in my life. Yes, they were stressful and weren't without their breakdowns but, overall did I enjoy them? Yes! On the whole, I liked my subjects, my classes and my teachers. I had good friends around me and we did a lot in those 2 years. Now that they've been finished for just over a month I've had such a great summer already and there's still lots more to come!

What have your experiences at A-level been like?

Tash x

Friday, 10 August 2018

Things I've Learnt after Working in a Cafe

Photo by daan evers on Unsplash

If you know me in real life you will know that I work in a cafe, and, having worked there for well over years now there are a fair amount of things that are regular occurrences and annoyances due to dealing with the wonderful general public.

The customer is definitely not always right - they just like to think they are. Fundamentally, a customer cannot always be correct cause if that were true half of them wouldn't pay for food or drinks as they believe the price is too high! I remember a few years ago how one man shouted at me as he was adamant that I hadn't given him the right amount of change. This resulted in a load of insults hurled at me about how stupid I am, how it's right I only work in a cafe as I clearly don't have a brain etc, etc. It's so difficult sometimes to hold your tongue and politely smile sweetly whilst inside you want to kill them and tell them how you actually only work here during holidays as you're a university student at a very good uni. He proceeded to shove the receipt in my face where I analysed the receipt and told him 'amount due' is the amount paid to me, whilst the self-explanatory 'change' is what I should give to him - and I had done correctly. No apology was issued but he walked off rather red-faced. 

Working with a coffee machine means that you can receive all kinds of crazy orders. Gone are the days when people want a simple black coffee with milk on the side. Nowadays, we have 1/4 of a shot lattes (we normally put 2 shots in), skinny, decaf, soya cappuccinos and a whole host of other options to contend with. Christmas time is the worst as hot chocolates and cappuccinos become more popular, along with our 'speciality' drinks which require you to add different flavoured syrups to each drink (then try and remember which one was which), add your coffee and milk, then cream, then marshmallows, then sprinkles, then sauce and then serve. It slows you down so much that by the time you make 2 drinks you've got 8 more to deal with. I just wish there were more simple people at times who want just a regular tea or coffee as I can deal with those!

Everyone makes mistakes, myself and the others that work in the cafe are not robots and it's natural that we might forget to give you a cake (especially when you're meant to help yourself) or accidentally look at an old drinks order and make a different drink but we're all human and apart from apologising and making it again, there isn't a lot we can do. However, the amount of people who make snide or just plain horrible remarks is ridiculous. This incident happened to a friend of mine when she accidentally made a latte instead of a cappuccino, apologised said she'll make another one and was told that 'no wonder you work in a cafe'. One that happened quite recently to me was when I served a couple their food, was told to 'wait' (in a very rude manner, as if I were a dog) whilst he tried it, then he took the tiniest sip and went 'it's cold, take it back, come back to me when you've got something edible'. His wife thought the temperature was fine but I had to take them both back and then promptly heated them up until they were absolutely boiling, served them again and hoped he'd now burn himself after being so rude and treating me horribly.

We're a very busy cafe in a tourist attraction with a rather small cafe considering the size of the place and the number of visitors we get. It's not uncommon to have full seats and a queue out of the door for at least 2-3 hours with non-stop serving of food, drinks and cakes. It's a very busy place, and I understand how in a cafe the staff are meant to clear up after you. However, we have tray racks dotted about the place so people can quickly put all their stuff in one place so it's easier for someone new to have their seat and takes us less time to clean up, but people never use them which means it takes 3 times as long to get to a table and wipe it as you have to get separate trips to remove the stuff on the table and take it to wash-up. However, we also get a lot of customers who bring their own picnics and outside food into the place and expect us to clean it up after they leave a mess. It's not even the cafe's food/drinks/rubbish so I think it's quite rude to make a mess of food clearly not bought from the cafe and then expect their staff to clean it up. We've even had people leave nappies or baby wipes around which is so unhygienic and I do not want to pick up your child's waste! In the summer, we tend to get a lot of wasps and people think it's so helpful to get a jam jar and leave it open to attract them so they're not disturbed whilst eating. However, this then means that one of us has to try and dispose of a wasp-infested jam jar without getting stung which can be a challenge. My favourite method is using the litter picker to grab it from a distance and walking with it to the bin so I don't have to get close at all - I've had a few customers say it's a genius idea and I'm always pretty pleased with that method!

Ever! We have numerous signs around the cafe directing customers as to what to do, but do people ever read these signs? Nope. Examples of signs include 'Please help yourself to cakes', 'Please help yourself to milk' and 'Make sure you have a table number before ordering at the counter', but do people ever follow these instructions? Never. The number of people who after making your coffee and saying the milk is a help-yourself service next to them that still wait around for you to give them milk is shocking and hilarious. Also, people always wait for you to fetch them cakes even though the sign says to help yourself. The reason it says to help yourself is that the cakes on the front row are very difficult to reach from behind the counter so it's easier for customers to get it than to watch us struggle for a few minutes, holding everybody else up to grab a slice of Victoria! We also have a system where every table has a number and in order to have hot food we need that table number but a good 50% of the time, people have not read the numerous signs around saying this vital information and then have to hold the whole queue up again whilst they run back to their table to get the number on it! If people read signs, the cafe would run a whole lot smoother!

I could probably continue for quite a while with things that are annoying working in a cafe, but despite all that I actually kind of enjoy it? This post makes it sound like I have an awful time working there but, to be honest, it's quite fun sometimes and you do get some lovely customers more so than bad ones! The days are never repetitive and I work with a lot of friends and good people making it a nice environment to be in. The cafe itself is situated in such lovely grounds with a grand house so there are definitely worse places to work! Although it has its annoyances, I do genuinely enjoy my cafe work, bad customers too!

Anybody else experience annoyances working in a cafe? Let me know!

Monday, 6 August 2018

An Update

Long time no see!

It's been a very long time since I sat down to write a blog post and to be quite honest it feels quite alien now. 

In the time that has passed between my last blog post and this post, a lot has changed! It's been just over a year since I last posted and since then I have sat my A-levels and have officially finished school. My next step is to wait until results day and then, hopefully, I will be off to university in September.

As you can see, my blog has also had a slight re-design along with a name change to go with it. I'd become fed up with having 2 blogs as it was too much to manage and therefore decided to merge both my book and beauty blog together, therefore, creating 'A Girl with a View'. Hopefully, this blog will not be tied into certain 'niches' in the blogging world and my aim is to post things that I want to as opposed to either book and beauty/fashion reviews which were something I felt tied to with my previous blogs.

The name 'A Girl with a View' came about due to being inspired by Forster's 'A Room with a View' - the A-level English book that I loved and therefore the new name was born!

I hope that you'll continue to stick around with me on my blogging journey and there will be something of interest for you to read in the near future!

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