As mentioned in my last post, the actual travel to Amsterdam was a little rocky. I was positive once I landed everything would be great! Alas it was not to be. After grabbing my bag I went down to the station to take the train to Amsterdam Central. I was looking forward to finalllyyyy being in the hostel after a long afternoon of travel and delays. Of course, it then came to light that no trains were running straight to Central today due to track works, and they weren’t replacing the trains with buses. The wifi was crap, heaps of people were just standing around not knowing what to do and I was getting super unhappy! After about 15 minutes I decided to just jump on a train that seemed to be heading in the direction of the hostel. I then randomly jumped off the train, got a connection and made it to Central. WOOHOO. I walked out of the train around 9pm and was greeted with the cool Amsterdam air, the beautiful canals and the beginnings of Christmas lights. My cranky pants evaporated and I was once again completely taken by this beautiful city.
I stayed at Cocomama Hostel in Amsterdam. I would highly recommend it. It was clean, very social without being too full on and the staff were lovely. As I was walking out of the hostel to start my day, I said hi to two Americans who were just checking in. Michael and Tawni are flight attendants who were in Amsterdam for a quick two-day break. I quickly threw myself on them and we were off to eat pancakes. Yay!
After a hearty breakfast we headed to The Amsterdam Dudgeon, a super touristy place that presents Amsterdam’s history in a horror movie style. It was a bit a fun and I was super impressed with the actors! We then walked back to the city to take a “100 highlights” canal tour, just at the rain started to really settle in for the day.
One of my favourite parts of travelling is food. It makes up a huge part of the experience and I am always on the hunt for the best local cuisine. I had heard that Amsterdam did some really good fries and found the place that was voted to have the best in Holland. I didn’t ask them about the judging process and how they were crowed kings, but damn they were good! Unfortunately the same can’t be said for the weather. It was rainy and windy pretty much the whole time I was there. We made it back to the hostel late in the afternoon, dried off, had a rest for a bit and then walked down to the Brouwerij’tij Brewery (in the rain). The brewery is located in a windmill and closes at 8pm. As everything is brewed in house, they run out of beer around that time. I personally think they just want a decent knock off time!
After the beer, we took a stroll through the red light district, had a few hot chocolates (with bailey’s), chatted to the lovely Dutch bartender and wandered back to the hostel.
This was my second visit to Amsterdam. On the first visit at the beginning of 2014 Lozi and I did a bike tour, visited the Anne Frank House and did a night cruise. Amsterdam is the biking capital of the world and there are more bicycles then people! I remember us really just closing our eyes and hoping for the best when we were riding around, so this time I opted to walk. Both require a lot of concentration with people constantly zooming past you.
CocoMama was booked out for the rest of the week so I had to find somewhere else to stay. I went on to lastminute.com and booked one of their secret deals. I ended up getting a 4-star hotel in the Museum Square for only 25 pound a night. Such a win! I had two nights to myself in a big bed. A welcome break from the snoring dorm mates #backpackerfail
I spent Wednesday exploring the Van Gough Museum. Vincent, In his short life he was a very busy man! His paintings and sketches were just amazing. I’m not a big art person but I really enjoyed the exhibition and respect anyone who can produce over 200 pieces of acclaimed art. Especially when even my stick figures look wrong! After the museum I battled the crowds for the obligatory photo in front of the I am Amsterdam sign that is in serious need of an upgrade.
It was really starting to pour with rain and get really windy late in the afternoon, so I headed back to the hotel to chill out a bit before hunting down some steak and vegetables for dinner. The hotel was in a really nice neighbourhood and when I started walking to a restaurant a couple of hours later, there were literally HUNDREDS of little kids dressed up and walking around. I think it must have been Holland’s version of Halloween. After dodging the kids and the bikes, I was seated at the restaurant and the waiter gave me a menu and said “and here is one for when your guest arrives.” I mentioned I would be eating along and the middle aged Dutch couple sitting near me looked at me with extreme pity, and with in a few minutes said they would have loved to have eaten dinner with me If they hadn’t almost finished. I chatted to them for a little bit and then had a laugh at how often solo travellers are pitied. Most of the time it works in my favour, in the form of free food, drinks and people offering to carry my bag, despite my protests so I really don’t mind!
Before I left on Friday, I wandered around Vondelpark, and went to the Albert Cuyp Market where I found an original StroopWafel. It’s very important you get a freshly baked one, and not just the average, mass produced ones from the grocery store. Here is my happy face with the chocolate-dipped one! I rode my sugar high all the way to Antwerp! And yes everyone, that’s the only high I had in Amsterdam.
Almost two years on, I was once again thoroughly charmed by Amsterdam’s culture, the people, the canals, the crazy bikes, the history, the food, the tourists, the grunginess and the beauty.