After we gained 5kgs from the pastries in France we rolled ourselves onto the train for our next destination – Amsterdam! As soon as we got off the train to try and find our way to our hostel we had someone come up and ask if we needed help with anything – which for us was kind of a shock because let’s be honest, no one really wants to help a lost backpacker. They actually have information people at the train station to help with any questions or if you need directions etc and I actually think it is a great idea! They probably have this set up in other cities but it was the first time we had encountered it and we liked it! We also had someone give us a free drink sample and just from these two things we knew we liked Amsterdam, we probably could have just lived in the train station. We did eventually drag ourselves away from the train station and technically for our first night in Amsterdam we had no accommodation but we were meeting up with our Moroccan stalkers who had very kindly said that we could stay in their room which was conveniently at the exact same hostel where we had the next 3 nights booked.
Our first day/night in Amsterdam was interesting to say the least. We got in around lunchtime so we met up with our friends and went to find some food. Now, for us it was so strange to be in a place where you could openly smoke the green stuff in the streets and buy it so freely. We were having lunch and there are just people around us smoking and because we come from a country that is so strict on stuff like that your first thought is, what are they doing – they are going to get arrested which of course you don’t. Still perplexed by the amount of freedom here we wandered around the streets of Amsterdam and found ourselves in the famous Red Light district. It doesn’t look so bad during the day; however we did come across someone walking the street in a pink gimp outfit… So, anyway we found a nice little bar where we of course immersed ourselves in some local beer and where I tried a rosé beer. Yes, you read correctly a rosé beer – it was pink and sweet and I’m not sure if you could still class it as a beer but it was pretty damn tasty! After our exciting afternoon out we got back to the hostel for a quick nanna nap before the real fun started!
We started our night with a really good meal and then wondered down to the Red Light district to check it out at night and it almost feels like you have stepped into another world. People tell you about this stuff but until you actually experience it and see it for yourself, do you realise that it’s exactly how people described it. You will see a lot of girls in windows selling themselves and you will also see a lot of men walking in or out and it kind of feels like you have stepped into a large brothel and shouldn’t really be witnessing it but you are. Just a quick note though, DO NOT take photos of the girls. They will chase you and in some cases we have heard of them smashing people’s cameras. A lot of these girls are doing this to pay for university or just to get by and they don’t want their family/friends to know about it so their privacy is quite protected here.
Anyway, after a somewhat interesting night we said our final final farewells to our Moroccan stalkers and had a very quiet day with a bit of sightseeing. Now, there are a few things to see in Amsterdam but we were quite lazy and didn’t really actively go out sightseeing but if you just wonder around you can find so much to do and see anyway. Another thing to note is that there are a lot of shops and food places and I mean A LOT! One thing is for sure, you will not starve in Amsterdam…. Unless you have no money of course, but I’m sure the bins would be filled with half eaten food anyway… Oh and another cool thing that you will see are Febo shops. Pretty much its food like hamburgers, spring rolls etc in a vending machine type set up and you just put your money in and grab your food, quick, easy and you don’t have to talk to people!
Now, I’m going to let you guys in on a little secret – Amsterdam is expensive! You can find cheap drinks and food if you look long enough but generally it’s probably average or more plus transport and accommodation are expensive. On top of that, if you need to pee most restaurants and clubs will actually charge you to go to the toilet, even though you have just spent money on food and drinks – makes sense right?
On another note, we decided to do a bike tour of the countryside. This was such a good idea and if you are ever in Amsterdam, I highly recommend doing this especially with a company called Mike’s Bike Tours. We did it through them and the guys are insanely funny, good tour guides and they generally just make it fun! To top it off they cycled in clogs, yep that’s right, clogs! Firstly I’d just like to say, cycling in Amsterdam is chaos. Cyclists get first priority, over cars, trams, buses and even people and instead of big car parks, there are bike parks, it’s really cool but as a pedestrian you’re not sure which mode of transport you will be crushed by. So after we made it out of the city alive (just) we made our way to our first main stop which was one of the last few remaining authentic windmills and then we made our way to a Dutch farm. This farm produces authentic Dutch cheese and traditional clogs! We of course got a demonstration on how they make cheese and clogs and we even got a few tasters of Dutch cheese…. O.M.G – Dutch cheese is YUM! If someone said to me I had a day where all I ate were either Dutch cheese or French pastries, Dutch cheese would win hands and feet down! I honestly wish we bought more, I am salivating like Homer just thinking about it now. Hmmm… cheese….. SO anyway back to writing… cheese… Okay after our pit stop here we made our way a bit further out in the country and then made our way through the Amsterdamse Bos, Beatrix and Vondel parks. After 4 hours of cycling we eventually made our way back to our starting point, where we were a bit sad because we honestly could have gone for another 4hrs!
After our fun adventure we went back to check out Vondel park which is appropriately pronounced “fondle”. This park is actually really nice to check out and it is massive! We sat and people watched for a bit and saw some crazies come out of the woodworks but everyone seemed to be having picnics, exercising, or just relaxing and basking in the sun.
And on that note I’ll wrap it up! So, our time in Amsterdam was brief but it is honestly such an amazing place to visit! I got such a good vibe from the city itself and the people are so friendly and happy and the city just has its own personality it’s really quite cool. The Netherlands is definitely a place I’d love to come back to and not just to Amsterdam but to check out the rest of the country!
Look out for our Berlin blog where we ate Thai food instead of tasting traditional German food – oops.