Amsterdam, The Netherlands

So, as you can probably tell from the cover photo, we are in the last stages of our trip and have are starting to dissolve the group. So while Evita is on her way to Greece, Henry and me are chilling in Amsterdam – not originally the plan, we were just going to head home. But……it`s Amsterdam and we are young, so why not.

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I should probably note on where the cover picture was taken….this is, to date, the cooles a) Starbucks and b) train station I have ever seen, and I have seen a lot of Starbucks and train stations.

For one, the trains tation was in an unbelievably long, old red brick building and the domed roof and painted celing were an impressive introduction to the city. For another, the train station had a piano forte in the entrance hall……free for anyone to sit down and play. And the most amazing thing was that people actually sat down and played. Then on this balcony that ran around the inside of the main entrance were cafes, which, once you find out how to get there, are amazing.

So while we sat on the balcony beneath colourfully painted murals drinking our tea and coffee and listening to the echo of the piano on the dome ceiling as someone planyed Amelie we started planning our day…which at this point in the journey was reduced to “let`s just walk around and see what happens”.

So this is what happened; pancakes, cheese, and weed. Well, I guess it didn`t “happen”, I`m sure it was there before we got there, but with our little knowledge of the layout of the city and just wandering into the next side street we managed to hit the hot spot of every Amsterdam stereotype: streets packed with tourists, the shops alternating between those tacky tourist shops that sell sunglasses and I-Heart-InsertCityHere t-shirts, underground cellars that were piled high with cheese, and of course coffeeshops. The smells in the alleyways alternated between the sweet smell of weed and the sweet smell of melting sugar.

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We walked around the city and discovered there`s essentially two areas you will always find your way back to: one was the train station, the other the central square.

And as soon as we walked out of the trainstation we encountered another Holland stereotype: bikes. lots of them.

bikes!!

Walking away from the train station and the tourist packed alley ways we found the final famous attraction of Amsterdam: the canals. So that`s what we ended up doing the whole day; walking up and down the canals, dodging the occasioanl bike and admiring the house boats (though I have to say, the bunker-like contraption with the army-like boat guarded by the fluffy little puppy was by far the most intriguing).

Amsterdam I

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Finally, we followed a good tip and took the free ferry across to the other side of the water, and found that the view from the terrace behind the film museum gave a lovely place to sit and read……and enjoy the sunset over the water.

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Finally, though exhausted, we decided we could  not leave Amsterdam without seeing the Red Light district. So we took the ferry back across and attempted to find the alleys we had walked through in the morning. We did find the central Red Light…….street? canal? Basically two streets running alongside the canal, in every house a row of lit up floor length windows displaying prostitutes (no, I don`t have pictures).

We followed the masses, and although the tourist hype took away any seriousness, I think Henry`s comment summed up the experience quite accurately: “Well, that was awkward”. Either because we were not drunk, or high, or maybe because it just didn`t fulfill our idea of `entertainment`, we decided to leave the district and just stroll along the canals again.

Which turned out to be an great idea, the view of the orange light on the dark blue and black water was amazing. And I am happy to say, when I look at the pictures I took here and the ones I took at the beginning of the trip, I am slowly getting the hang of photography, especially in the dark with the light.

We made our way back home after that….home being student housing! (Special thanks to Carla and her housemate for letting us crash….all I can say it`s good to have friends and we had a geat night`s sleep!)

That brings us to our last day of the Interrail, with Henry heading back to the UK in the evening. But we had one more Amsterdam experience to go……..and it involved the beach……………..and, of course, bikes.

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Carla and a friend of hers decided that visiting the beach was a good idea (which it was), and so with four people and two biked we headed off on the half-hour journey toward the water. And oh my goodness it was terrifying.

So while we were getting used to it, the back of a bike just did not seem a very stable place to sit.

Then  once we had gotten used to that our legs started hurting, and we were given the helpful advice to just prop up our legs, which really didn`t make the whole thing feel any more stabler.

Then just as we decided that this was actually quite relaxing, WE WENT DOWN A HILL IN A CURVE OVER A BRIDGE AT FULL SPEED WITH A 90 DEGREES TURN AT THE END. Help.

So long story short we got there and back with everything in tact and one experience wiser. Special photo taking credit to Henry who managed to take this picture of me from the back of the bike.

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We found a very cool “alternative camping” site by the beach, which lots of strangely built sleeping quarters, then went for a swim in the freezing cold water and rode the half hour back home, just in time for Henry to throw his stuff in his bag and find the bus station.

So that leaves…..me. I had one more day in Amsterdam by myself before I was going to head back on the train with Carla. So while she was finishing of her work I stole her bike and had another great Amsterdam experience; after having to dodge biked walking around the city and after riding on the back of a bike I got to ride a bike into the city myself!

1118I drove up to the museums, although I discovered there that the Friday afternoon of the end of the Semester was really not the best time to go. I wasn`t really in the mood for museums anyway (i.e. I`m hoping I`ll have another delayed flight back to the UK where I have 8 hours to waste im Amsterdam and can go back at a better time), so I just walked and drove around the park and surrounding area.

My conclusion? A very beautiful and very relaxed city. Other than that? I desparately need a “Holland bike”. On that note, here`s a small collection of the best bike pictures (Henry; I`m sure you`ll appreciate this as well);

bike cover

And so concludes this interrail – I wonder what the next journey will bring?

Whatever it will be, I will be updating you. Until then, Love from Holland.

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Published by

tswilkes

Traveller, Writer, Travel Writer in the Making.

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