Amsterdam was always on my list of places to see. I’m not sure why exactly, but it looked like a really beautiful and unique place to go. Turns out it was one of the weirdest and funniest adventures so far.
I had one hell of a time getting there! I have originally signed on to take three separate trains from Bruges to Amsterdam. First train ride went just fine from Bruges to Antwerp. Everything went fine and was on time. The second train was set to leave about 45 minutes later. I followed the boards using my train number…first mistake…then I didn’t really notice where the train was going…second mistake. I mean, it was the right train…but it wasn’t going to Rotterdam where I needed to be. Instead, this train was stopping in Breda. It took me 30 minutes to figure this out because I don’t speak Dutch and could not read the signs so there I was typing in all the words I could into Google Translate. Once I figured it out, it was too late to go anywhere else, so I got on the train. Then I’m using all my data and battery power on my phone to figure out where to go next. So we get to Breda and I find the train that goes to Rotterdam. It apparently also goes to Amsterdam Central, but I’m an idiot and decided to get off the train in Rotterdam, then rush over to catch the original train that went to Amsterdam from Rotterdam that I was SUPPOSED TO BE ON. I mean, I got there, but after hours of lugging my backpack and myself around to four separate trains trying to navigate the various Dutch speaking train stations.
I did make it to Amsterdam and I decided to walk to the hostel since it wasn’t very far. I just had to walk down a canal, make a right and then turn right again on the third street. So I start walking and everything is fine, bikes are flying past, narrowly missing the planet that I am when I have both backpacks on, but once I made that first turn a certain smell hit me. I think you can all figure out what it was. I figured out that this smell isn’t everywhere in the city, but just right on the street where my hostel was. So I walk through the weed cloud to the street where my hostel and notice the very odd placement next to about four “coffeeshops” that only got weirder when I left to go explore and turned the corner into the RED LIGHT DISTRICT. Literally there were naked girls right next door. It was interesting to say the least.
However, I did get to have some fun. I found a pub and had a local beer and Bitterballen which are the drunk food of the Netherlands, deep fried gravy essentially. Delicious! But since I had worn myself out from traveling so much, I decided to call it an early night. The next day, I had to whole day to explore the rest of the city.
I took it easy that morning. but I still found plenty to do. I went on a canal cruise. The canals are a huge part of Amsterdam and I was really excited to see Amsterdam from the water. A huge bonus was that I booked a tour that started in the same place where the boat tour ended. It was cool having the tour guide on the boat tell us stories about Amsterdam and added some personal stories in too. The tour only last about an hour, but it was worth it and I highly recommend doing a canal cruise when you’re in Amsterdam.
Next came my tour, with a guy from Sweden as the tour guide! He was very funny and knowledgable about Amsterdam. He told us mainly stories about how Amsterdam has been so tolerant and why it is. Of course, it mainly started with the churches. No surprise there. I actually had a lot of fun on this tour and he took the time to speak to each person on the tour and find out something about them, which I really admire.
I ran to the grocery store and a restaurant for dinner after the tour since I was starving at this point (a common theme with me) and then once again called it a fairly early night. I am not keen on going to clubs and bars very much while I’m doing this for two reasons. First, it costs a lot of money that I would much rather spend on an experience and not on a few drinks. Second, I am aware that as a solo female traveler, I’m already kind of a target. I would rather not make myself more vulnerable. I’m not saying that I haven’t had a drink or two over here, but I personally feel better not doing those things. I have gone to get dinner in a pub which is similar, right? Well probably not, but still I don’t want to be vulnerable and I definitely don’t want to spend up to 8 euros on a drink.